Cue based feeding (1632)

Key points below

Cue-based feeding is a process used to get your baby ready to feed.  It helps you learn readiness and stress cues from your baby. A successful feeding is safe and efficient.  It is judged by the quality of the feeding experience rather than by how much your baby eats. 

Early positive experiences provide a positive base for successful feedings. This starts before oral feeding begins. Some things you can do to help are:

Before all oral feeding:

Turn on the indirect lights about 1/2 hour before you want to feed your baby. This lets your baby gently wake on their own.

A baby must show 3 signs that they are ready to eat before you start oral feedings.  These signs are called readiness cues. Your baby needs to:

1. maintain energy by keeping arms and legs close to body. 
2. open and move their mouth towards a pacifier and start to suck on it.  This is called the rooting reflex.
3. have normal color and breathing.

Often, you will see these cues around 32 to 35 weeks old. Your baby may not be able to coordinate the suck, swallow and breathe until 37 weeks old. 

When all three readiness cues are present, you should start the feeding. baby holding

During the feeding your baby will need to coordinate sucking, swallowing and breathing.

What are stress cues? 

If the infant shows stress cues: 

Your baby is finished feeding when they:

Feeding should last no longer than 20 to 30 minutes.


Call your child’s doctor, nurse, or clinic if you have any questions or concerns or if your child has special health care needs that were not covered by this information.