Babies Who Don’t Cry May Still Be Hungry

babel · March 26, 2022
This content was reviewed and approved by the psychologist Elena Sanz Martín on February 23, 2022
Most babies cry when they're hungry or have some other need. But babies who don't cry may still be hungry. Keep reading!

A baby who isn’t crying may have all his needs met. However, not all babies are the same; babies who don’t cry may still be hungry or cold and not express it. Crying is a newborn’s main way of expressing their feelings and needs, but they may not be using it.

Crying is a late sign of hunger, so they may have been hungry for a long time without expressing it. By hearing them cry, the mother can identify the need, but if she doesn’t, she should also know.

Sometimes we remain calm for the simple reason that our baby isn’t crying. But just because babies don’t cry doesn’t mean that everything’s fine. It’s best to keep track of their needs, be clear about feeding time, and remember how long we’ve gone without checking their diaper. It’s a serious mistake to let the baby go hungry.

Fundamentally, the mother should learn to satisfy her baby’s needs by getting to know the way her little one communicates. Therefore, if we wait until our baby cries, everything will be complicated when it comes to breastfeeding because they’ll already be fussy. It’s not a good idea to feed your baby in their moment of greatest anxiety, when hunger has already made them cry.

Some signs that indicate that a baby is hungry

A baby may not cry even when they’re hungry because crying is their last resort. That is, when the baby begins to fuss, they may have been hungry a long time before. To prevent them from going longer than necessary without feeding, it’s important that we watch for the signs we’ll mention below. Babies who don’t cry may still be hungry if:

A baby with big blue eyes wearing a knit cap.

  • They turn their head to look for the breast. This is a particular sign in babies that’s very frequent and easy for them to communicate and for you to understand. Almost all newborns exercise this action, as they instinctively tend to look for their mother’s nipple. When they do this, we quickly know that they’re hungry.
  • At the same time, a baby who squirms around a lot may indicate that there’s some unmet need.  They may be hungry and this is, in addition to the head-turning, and way of looking for the breast. If the restlessness continues even after feeding, you may have to look for some other unmet need.
  • They seem to be sucking on their tongue. It’s easy to notice when your baby makes a sucking sound, and may even grimace as if they’re sucking. This is a way of communicating that they’re hungry, especially as feeding time approaches.

It’s important to emphasize that during breastfeeding, a bond is created that allows mother and child to get to know each other better. Breastfeeding establishes the first bond of love to allow both to recognize feelings and needs.

This mutual connection is very special, important, and permanent because this episode could be repeated while the child doesn’t speak clearly. Even an older child may be hungry and not show it, so it’s important that we identify their own language.

Consequences of feeding the hungry baby

As mentioned above, babies who don’t cry may still be hungry, so it’s not a good idea to wait for the moment when your baby is hungriest to feed them. The reaction of crying because of hunger can come with a lot of anxiety and the baby may not know that mom is already coming with her milk. In other words, they may become too anxious because they’ve waited so long. Therefore, the consequences could be the following:

  • Fussing may cause the infant to choke on the milk.
  • As a result of fussing, the baby becomes tired while nursing.
  • Due to agitated breathing, they swallow a lot of air, which causes possible gas and pain.
  • For the mother, after her baby cries, it can generate a lot of stress that affects the production of milk, which makes it not abundant enough to satisfy her child.
  • While the child is crying and agitated, they tend to pull the nipple out abruptly to continue crying, and this can hurt the mother’s nipple.

Know your child

The signs that indicate hunger in the baby won’t always be the same. Over time, each baby will manifest itself individually, and it’s the mother’s obligation to know her child. It’s very important not to let them cry before you feed them, and if it should happen, it’s preferable to calm them down before giving them their food.

  • Ospina, J. M., Jiménez, Á. M., & Betancourt, E. V. (2016). Influencia de la lactancia materna en la formación del vínculo y en el desarrollo psicomotor. Colección Académica de Ciencias Sociales3(2), 1-10.
  • Fernández Medina, I. M., & González Fernández, C. T. (2013). Lactancia materna: prevención de problemas tempranos en las mamas mediante una técnica de amamantamiento eficaz. Enfermería global12(31), 443-451.