Cue-based feeding is a style of infant feeding that is dependent upon a mother’s interpreting her baby’s nonverbal communication with her.
Newborn babies don’t use words to communicate.
In fact, it will be quite a while before they learn our language and use words to tell mom that they are hungry.
But they do communicate!
If we pay close attention, we see that babies communicate very effectively. Babies tell us that they are hungry, and that its time to eat, by using their hands, by sticking out their tongues, or even by rooting around looking for the breast. These are all descriptions “feeding cues”.
In the hospital setting we encourage skin to skin care immediately after delivery and continuing in the early postpartum period. Moms who are skin to skin with their babies notice these cues and are able to respond to their baby’s feeding interest. This leads to breastfeeding on demand…. the most appropriate way to feed a healthy newborn. Cue based feeding also allows for the changing needs of a baby, such as cluster feeding during a growth spurt.
Advantages for mom
Skin to skin and breast feeding on demand leads to early bonding between mom and baby
Moms are less likely to suffer from nipple pain when they feed with early cues from baby. Baby may be more patient in achieving a good deep latch. Babies who are fed on a rigid schedule may, at times, be overly hungry and impatient while mom is trying to position. They may get frustrated when the milk doesn’t let down quickly enough, causing them to come off the breast; pulling, and re-latching poorly.
Cue based feeding also reduces the risk of milk insufficiency in mom by meeting the needs of baby according to mom’s milk storage capacity.
Advantages for baby
Cue based feeding is also advantageous for baby because he is being conditioned from birth to eat when hungry and stop when satisfied.
Babies who feed at the breast, with cues, are less likely to be overweight.
Higher test scores and IQ among babies who are fed “on cue” compared to breast or bottle fed babies fed on a schedule.