Why Is My Newborn Always Hungry?

Tired, cranky, and impatient are common descriptions of newborns who are always hungry. It is said that the state of a person reflects on his or her appearance. And if you will take notice, most babies who are constantly hungry also look unkempt. Their hair is tousled and their face often appears harried with just enough time for them to catch some shut-eye. There are several reasons why is a newborn always hungry which often results in being tired, cranky, and impatient of the babies.

Read more about the development of your 2-week-old baby.

Reasons Why A Newborn is Always Hungry

Not Enough Breast Milk

Based on the calculation of your pediatrician, babies should eat every 2 to 4 hours depending on age and weight. During the first month or around 5 weeks old, a new baby who seems hungry all the time may be lacking breast milk. It is important to talk with your doctor about this matter so they can make a recommendation on how much breast milk you need to produce for your child’s proper development.

Not Enough Tummy Time

A newborn who is always hungry also has a hard time changing their position from one to another. They stay in the position that they were placed after feeding for hours or even sleep this way during nighttime. This can affect their muscle development and cause discomfort.

Underfeeding

When your newborn is always hungry, it may be because they are not getting enough from the food you provide. Hence their body seeks more nutrition by being hungry again and again.

Overfeeding

If your newborn is very active after feedings or sleeps more than usual, it may mean that they have overeaten. Overeating can cause discomfort. As result, your baby’s body produces more saliva and acid in the stomach making them feel hungry after eating. This makes their tummy feel uncomfortable again.

newborn always hungry

Acid Reflux

Some babies who are constantly hungry also suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Babies who have GERD spit up their food most of the time. This makes them lose weight even if they eat well and makes them hungry.

Inborn Errors of Metabolism

Babies who have metabolic diseases often appear hungry all the time. This is because their body is always looking for food so they can get energy from it.

Teething Problems

One reason why newborns are constantly hungry is that they do not want solid food. However, their body still craves nutrients so they cry more than usual. As a result, they lose weight quickly and become underweight. Read more about this in our article “Do babies eat less when teething?”

Chronic Conditions

Babies who have chronic conditions such as cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, type 1 Mellitus, congenital heart diseases, and congenital malformations of the gastrointestinal system appear hungry all the time. This is because their body is not able to absorb nutrients properly.

Growth Spurt

Sometimes, the reasons why newborn babies are always hungry, have nothing to do with how much they eat. It is because their body requires more energy for normal growth and development. Your baby experiences growing their height and weight quickly.

How much should newborns eat?

When deciding how much to feed your baby, keep an eye on the amount that your little one consumes from his/her feeding bottle or bowl at each mealtime. You should weigh the infant before and after feeds (ideally naked) and also weigh fresh breast milk expressed into bottles on a kitchen scale. If you have access to one of these scales, it shouldn’t be too difficult to do this for a week or so.

Every child is different! Amounts may vary depending on the age of the baby, size of the baby, activity level, and quality of food. Reminder, though, that this is a rough guideline only. It is better to ask your pediatricians first.

Amount of Intake Per Large Feed

  • Under one-month-old: 4-12 ounces every 3-4 hours
  • Over four-months-old: 12 ounces per 24 hours

Typically, babies do not require any additional nighttime feeds once they are sleeping through the night (5+ hours without waking). However, you can offer your baby an additional 5-10 ounces of formula (if your baby is under 6months) or breast milk before you go to bed.

Food Combinations

newborn always hungry

Breastfeeding

Once you go home from the hospital, it’s time for mommy to start counting! In the early days, every drop of breast milk counts. This is because babies often need help learning how to suck effectively during breastfeeding. After all, they spent 9 months in the womb swallowing amniotic fluid. Though some moms do leak colostrum during pregnancy, it isn’t nearly as plentiful as breast milk after the newborn. However, some mothers have a low milk supply.

Colostrum, the first milk to come out, is low in fat and high in carbohydrates. Babies will need to nurse frequently in order to consume enough calories and nutrients until your mature milk comes in on day 3-5 postpartum.

Breast Milk Storage

You can safely refrigerate your breast milk for five days. Some moms may be able to stretch this period longer if they follow safe storage guidelines. Never put breast milk in direct sunlight or warm it up on a stove–you’ll destroy all those healthy antibodies! The following list provides a brief summary of what you need to know about freezing breastmilk:

  1. Freeze expressed milk in 4-ounce bottles or smaller, as larger portions become too difficult to thaw quickly. If you have a deep freezer, then small containers work best.
  2. The first time you freeze your milk, it’s best to label the date and temperature on the container before storing it.
  3. Warm up frozen milk by submerging the bottle in a bowl of warm water for about an hour. Never microwave your breast milk! The microwave heats liquids from the inside out, which may not destroy any harmful bacteria. However, it will definitely damage those precious nutrients! Also, avoid setting your fridge below 40 degrees Fahrenheit as this will cause some of the fat content in your milk to turn rancid.

Baby Formulas

To avoid unpleasant experiences like gas problems or constipation, try different brands of baby formula until you find one that works for your precious little angel. If you can’t find something that meets their dietary needs, consider consulting with a pediatrician. Your doctor may recommend changing your baby’s diet, even if they’re still being breastfed, to prevent future medical problems. When in doubt about the quality of infant formula or any other products on the market, always consult with your local pharmacist before purchasing anything.

Before you stock up on some baby formula and accessories, you should know that your little one can get ill if they ingest too much cow’s milk or soy-based formula. A pediatrician may recommend a special type of infant formula, such as lactose-free, for babies with an intolerance to lactose. Also, ensure that the bottle you are using is clean to avoid the accumulation of bacteria. You may wash it thoroughly or sterilize it.

Difference Between Breast Milk and Baby Formula

Both choices share similar constituents (with some slight modifications, of course). They are made up of water, sugar (lactose), fat (vegetable or animal), and minerals. Vitamins A, D, and C are only found in fortified foods like cow’s milk, which is why it’s not recommended for newborns under one year old.

The way nutrients are supplied to your baby differs between formula and breast milk. Researchers believe this is due to the hormones (like estrogen) found in mama’s milk. Ask any pediatrician–newborns don’t need hormones in the formula. Some vital vitamins should be considered when enriching baby formula.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the reasons why newborn babies are constantly hungry might have nothing to do with the amount of food they eat. Rather, it’s because their body needs more energy to develop and grow. If your doctor finds no abnormalities during their routine check-ups, it would be best to consult them about ways how to address your child’s food intake and help him/her gain weight at a normal rate.

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