New borns use their body to interact and communicate their needs with us. They use cues. When the caregiver responds to the cues appropriately it fulfills a need. (Feeding, changing a diaper, helping baby to go to sleep, getting baby warmer...)
Full term, healthy infants show feeding cues almost immediately after birth if the conditions are optimal.
Caregivers are highly encouraged to start feeding the baby when they notice early feeding cues.
Infants may show their readiness to feed by the following cues:
- Rooting; baby is turning his head with searching mouvements.
- REM (rapid eye movement) baby is still sleeping but you can see mouvements of the eyes under the closed eyelids.
- Flexing arm and legs, mouthing with sucking motions (video)
- Hand to the mouth and sucking on their fist
After showing those early cues baby may show his discomfort by crying. It would be considered a late feeding cue.
It might be a little harder to calm baby down to feed so that's why responding to early cues is encouraged.
It is called "feeding on demand" and it can be used for breastfed infants and for bottle fed infants.