4 to 6 months

PLAYING: Hungry or full? Nine faces of feeding

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Hungry or full? Nine faces of feeding

It may seem like a whole new world now that your little one is starting to eat solid foods. While the principles of feeding you’ve been following since birth remain the same, there are some new feeding cues to learn now that you are offering your baby solid foods. Look out for signs your baby is hungry or full, and let them lead the way with how much they want to eat. 

4 mins to read Sep 11, 2019

Let responsive feeding be your guide

Your role in feeding your baby is to offer a variety of healthy foods at regular meal and snack times. It is up to your baby to decide if they will eat what is offered, and how much they will eat. As you offer your baby a variety of healthy foods—and follow their lead as far as how much they want to eat—you are establishing healthy eating habits for your little one that will hopefully last for years.

Continue to follow the rules of responsive feeding as you’ve done since your baby was born. This means providing healthy options and letting your baby decide how much to eat, without pressuring them, or restricting how much food they eat. This approach will help keep your baby on track for healthy growth.  

Remember that breast milk is still your baby’s main source of nutrition. These early days of eating are a good time to begin to teach your baby how they can continue to communicate, later with words, that they are hungry or full. Responding when your baby is hungry by offering nutritious foods, and when they are full by putting down the spoon, can help show them that they are in charge of how much they need to eat. Practicing these feeding approaches helps set the stage for good eating habits to last a lifetime.

At six to eight months old, there are new hunger and fullness cues your baby may be showing you, which are shown below.

Face of feeding: the open-mouthed lean

FACE 1. The open-mouthed lean

What to look for: As soon as your little one sees the approaching loaded spoon, they open their mouth and lean towards you.
What they’re telling you: “My tummy is ready for food!”

Face of feeding: the spoon snub

FACE 2. The spoon snub

What to look for: As you offer a spoonful of food, your little one turns their head away.
What they’re telling you: “No more thanks, I’ve had enough.”

Face of feeding: the spoon swipe

FACE 3. The spoon swipe

What to look for: Your little one tries to grab or swipe the spoon as you’re feeding them. (If they do this, you could also offer their own spoon to encourage independence!)
What they’re telling you: “I’m hungry, please listen to what I’m telling you!” 

Face of feeding: the clamped mouth

FACE 4. The clamped mouth

What to look for: Your offering of food is met with a closed mouth, or even one that’s covered by their hands.
What they’re telling you: “Enough thanks, I’m full!”

Face of feeding: the smile

FACE 5. The smile

What to look for: As you’re feeding, your little one responds with a big grin and moves toward the spoon—or opens their mouth.
What they’re telling you: “I’m still hungry, keep it coming.”

Face of feeding: the spoon shove

FACE 6. The spoon shove

What to look for: Your little one pushes the approaching spoon away before it gets close to their face. Not to be confused with the spoon swipe (or grab).
What they’re telling you: “This mealtime is over.”

Face of feeding: the fussy cry

FACE 7. The fussy cry

What to look for: Fussing or crying as they watch you get their food ready—the cries are different to those your little one makes when they need a nappy change or some entertainment.
What they’re telling you: “I’m hungry, when’s my food coming?”

Face of feeding: the ejection

FACE 8. The ejection

What to look for: Your little one turns their head away from the spoon or spits food out after they accept the spoon into their mouth.
What they’re telling you: “I’m finished!”

Face of feeding: the distracted gaze

FACE 9. The distracted gaze

What to look for: Your little one is repeatedly easily distracted by anything that’s not part of eating. They gaze around and ignore the spoon.
What they’re telling you: “I’m not interested in food any more. We’re done here.”