Infants have a sophisticated vocabulary for communicating their needs. When a mild hunger begins, you'll start to see early signs your baby is hungry, such as putting his hand to his mouth, and making mmmm sounds. These signals occur 2-3 times an hour.
What happens if you miss an early sign? Don’t worry; your baby won’t give up. Next, he will send you more demanding middle-hunger cues. These include rooting (moving head from side with an open mouth, looking for a nipple), open eyes and more active movements. If he still hasn’t gotten your full attention, he’ll shift into late hunger cues: wriggling, fussing and crying.
Of course, you should never ignore your baby’s hunger signals. In fact, if your baby fusses for more than 10 minutes after the last feeding, you should still offer a bit more milk. (Some babies finish a feeding, but fuss a little later when they realize they need just an extra ounce to “top off the tank” in preparation for sleep.)
But, ignoring early hunger signs to get a bit more sleep is actually smart. An extra hour of rest can improve nursing by reducing depression, preventing mastitis and boosting your milk supply. That’s why hundreds of breastfeeding clinics help moms succeed by teaching them swaddling and the other S’s during Happiest Baby classes.
Note: During the first month or two, you will encourage better nighttime sleeping by waking and nursing your baby every couple of hours…during the day.