Does your baby always act hungry and unsatisfied, even though he just ate? Learn 5 reasons your newborn is constantly hungry and crying.
You knew babies ate often, but this much?
Your baby eats, but then half an hour later, will start screaming and acting hungry, furiously sucking on his hand. Offering the pacifier doesn’t help—he just spits it back out and keeps crying. He might quiet down for 10 minutes, but starts crying once again.
Feeding seems to be the only thing to get him to stop, but you’re he’ll end up with a stomach ache (causing him to cry even more). You knew you’d be up all night with him, but hearing him scream the whole time is getting frustrating.
You’re left either feeding him to keep him quiet, or listening to him cry when you don’t.
Newborn constantly hungry and crying? 5 reasons why:
We’ve all been stuck with that predicament: Feed your baby constantly, or hear him cry the entire time. More than once I’ve wondered, He can’t possibly still be hungry, as I fed my baby yet again, so soon after the last feeding.
He’d act hungry even though he just ate, never satisfied with what he had consumed. In fact, he wanted to breastfeed all the time (especially at night), always hungry for his next meal.
Now, I love me a baby who wants to eat, but for the exhausted, sleep-deprived mom, it can feel like you’re literally stuck with your baby all day.
I was either feeding him or putting him to sleep in my arms, because not doing either would incite even more tears. The short bouts of time he was awake—when he could simply be content—seemed few and far between.
But as I learned more about why babies eat so often, I also discovered several tactics I could try. We can’t expect our newborns to take three square meals a day at this point, but we can certainly observe, adjust, and meet their needs along the way.
Take a look at these five reasons your newborn is constantly hungry and crying (and what to do about each one):
1. Your baby is overtired
You’d think that when babies are tired, they’d simply fall asleep right on the spot. But I learned that they can actually feel overtired from being awake too long. Nonstop crying also adds up to even more exhaustion and sleep deprivation.
And since feeding is such a comforting experience, they want to nurse or feed to settle themselves down—even if they had just eaten.
If you suspect that your baby is overtired, help him reset his sleep patterns and catch up on rest. The constant crying is exhausting for him as well, so try to get him to settle down and sleep. For instance, you could:
- Bundle him in a swaddle and rock him to sleep
- Hold him “skin to skin,” with his skin in direct contact with yours
- Put him in the swing for a nap
- Go for a car ride or stroller walk if he tends to sleep that way
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2. Your baby isn’t actually eating
Does your baby still act like he’s hungry, even though you had just fed him 30 minutes ago? Does he begin to root around, or act fussy until his next meal?
But he just ate! you think to yourself.
Or… did he?
If your newborn is constantly hungry and crying for more, it might be because he’s not actually eating while he nurses.
Now, this might not apply so much if he’s taking the bottle, especially when you can measure how many ounces he consumed. But if he happens to breastfeed, you can’t exactly see how much he drank.
Either way, try to keep him awake while he feeds, bottle or breastfed. This ensures that he’s drinking milk and not just sucking for comfort. You could…
- Switch positions often
- Tickle him
- Unbutton or remove some clothes
- Burp him during feedings
- Talk to him
How can you tell if he’s actually drinking (instead of just sucking)? Look at his throat. If he were truly swallowing, his throat would also move as the milk makes it way down. And listen for a swallowing sound, another telltale sign that he’s drinking.
3. Your baby has gas
Another reason causing your baby’s discomfort—and therefore the need to comfort feed—is gas. Babies have immature digestive systems, causing them to trap gas or struggle with pushing food through their bodies.
Even though he may not be hungry, your baby feels comfort with feeding (even when he’s not actually eating).
Check with your pediatrician to rule out any significant causes of gas. If you suspect that normal gas is the culprit of his constant hunger and cries, help him relieve these discomforts. You can:
- Put a warm washcloth on his tummy for a few minutes
- Massage his belly gently
- Give him gas drops
- Burp him often
- Feed him after waking up from naps, not before
4. Your baby is overstimulated
At many family parties I’ve attended, it wasn’t unusual to see a baby being passed around from one person to the next. And sometimes, the baby was fussy and crying, overwhelmed with all the new people and sights he was seeing.
We forget how easily stimulated babies can get, and not just in rowdy family parties. You might have run an errand in a loud, new place, or even played with him for long stretches of time.
To keep him from being overstimulated, watch his sleep cues or even the clock so you can put him down for a nap when he’s sleepy. You might want to go in a dark room at the first sign of a yawn, or turn white noise on to muffle sudden sounds from outside.
Keep things subdued, from what he sees and hears to where you go to how much you engage with him.
5. Your baby is going through a growth spurt
I would shoot dagger eyes at anyone who suggested that my baby was hungry. As the only one who could feed him, I resented the idea of constantly nursing him every time he cried.
Later, when I had my twins, I learned that feeding on demand is part of the game, and more importantly, a temporary one. Just because you’re cluster feeding your baby, that doesn’t mean it’ll always be like that.
Follow his lead, especially if you’ve confirmed that he’s actually eating during those feedings. They might seem excessive, but this could be his way to increase your milk supply to meet his growing needs.
Because, at the end of the day, the reason he could be eating so often is simply because he’s hungry.
It’s never easy dealing with a newborn constantly hungry and crying, especially when you’re not exactly sure why. And with feeding such a comforting experience, hunger isn’t always the most obvious reason. Hopefully you’ve now seen a few common causes as well as possible solutions to help.
To start, your baby could be overtired, turning to feedings as a way to comfort himself to sleep. Maybe he’s not actually eating, which explains why he’s still hungry even though it seems like he had just eaten. He could also have gas, contributing to even more discomfort as he tries to sleep.
He might be overstimulated from his surroundings, making it harder for him to tune things out and rest. And finally, he could simply be going through a growth spurt, which explains the constant feedings.
No matter the reason, rest assured friend that this isn’t permanent. You’re not always going to be glued to your baby with constant feedings. Yes, he eats often, but soon he’ll fall into a more predictable pattern of eating—and hopefully in stretches longer than 30 minutes.
Get more tips:
- Is Your Baby Nursing for an Hour and Still Hungry?
- Newborn Life: Expectation vs Reality
- 6 Ways to Handle Your Newborn Constantly Feeding
- 12 Things to Do When Your Newborn Fights Sleep
- 4 Newborn Sleep Cues That’ll Help Baby Sleep Longer
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