Baby Acts Hungry but Won’t Eat (Here’s What to Do) 

 September 30, 2022

By  Antonia Gorman

When a baby cries because they are hungry, it is easy to calm them down by simply feeding them. The frustration comes when your baby acts hungry but won’t eat. It is hard to calm their restlessness. If you just feed your baby their favorite food pouch and they start acting hungry a few moments later, they might not be hungry.

Sometimes, the baby is not hungry. Your baby could be trying to communicate another need. Babies feed for comfort and act hungry when they feel uncomfortable, tired, in pain, cold, or have a stomach issue. To rule out that your baby is not hungry, ensure that you are feeding them in regular amounts and ensure that they are eating.

How to Tell if Baby is Hungry

Maybe your baby is hungry but they can’t eat because of stomach issues. There are ways to tell if the baby is hungry. If your baby puts hands on their mouth, or tries to latch on the breast or bottle, licks their lips, or turns their head towards the bottle, this means that they are hungry. If your baby clenches their hands, this also means that they are hungry. If you notice some of these behaviors, it is time to feed your baby.

Is my Baby Full?

When you have a new baby, you are still in a breastfeeding/feeding relationship with them. Sometimes, one is not able to tell when to stop feeding the baby. Signs your baby may be full are;

  • If your baby closes their mouth
  • The baby slows down their feeding speed
  • If they fall asleep during feeding
  • If they loosen their grip on the breast/bottle

Why is my Baby Refusing to Eat?

You have noticed that your baby’s feeding patterns are irregular, or maybe your baby is not eating. First, you should see your pediatrician check on your baby, and rule out any serious illness. Second, your baby may refuse to eat because of;


This happens for babies who have started eating foods other than breast milk. Maybe your baby desires to explore new and different flavors of foods. Try and change the type of food flavor they eat to see if this will excite them for mealtimes.


 If your baby has just transitioned from liquids to solids, they might experience constipation which causes pain. Constipation can be eased with home remedies such as fruit juice, to help your baby to eat.

Feeding style.

 Your feeding style can encourage or discourage your baby from eating. Try to be patient when feeding your baby, do not force food down their throat or hasten them to swallow what they have in their mouth. Also, try cute and baby-themed feeding supplies such as cartoon-themed bowls or bibs for eating solids to get your child interested.

Related: Sippy cups for thickened liquids

Can Acid Reflux Prevent a Baby from Eating?

1 in 2 infants has incidents of acid reflux. It mainly occurs after feeding. Although acid reflux causes discomfort for the baby, it does not mean that the baby stops eating. The baby may pause or even fuss when they are having acid reflux, but they should resume feeding.

How to Control Acid Reflux in Babies

If you have noticed frequent acid reflux in your baby, there are ways to control the episodes. For instance, you can try holding your baby in a sitting position for a few minutes after feeding. Reducing the number of feeds and increasing the number of feeds also works in controlling acid reflux.

Another tip is to allow your baby to sleep on their back. You can also purchase wedge pillows that help with acid reflux in babies. Burping your baby frequently during and after feeding helps with acid reflux a big deal.

These are some great options for acid reflux wedge pillows;

Illnesses that Prevent Baby from Eating

Sometimes, your baby refuses to eat because of the pain caused by illnesses. When your baby is unwell, they likely feel uncomfortable when feeding. If your baby has a  throat or ear infection, they may experience discomfort swallowing food.

Digestive issues such as stomach cramps and gas also prevent babies from eating properly. Also, if your baby has a cold or fever, the discomfort may interfere with their feeding. It is good to watch out for any symptoms that might point out that your baby is not eating because they are unwell.

Final words

If a baby acts hungry but won’t eat, they might be trying to communicate discomfort or a need. Sometimes, your baby feels too tired or sleepy and they need you to help them relax. Babies like feeding for comfort.

 If you notice that your baby is full you can give him comfort using a pacifier. It is good to watch out for issues such as acid reflux, stomach cramps, constipation, infection, and other illnesses that cause babies not to eat. Once you notice such an illness, seek professional help.

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