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  Sucking hands
I have a four-month-old baby who is fully breastfed. She is doing well weight-wise according to the clinic and usually only wakes once in the night for a feed. However, she sucks her hands and fingers a lot, and my mother says that it is a sign that the baby is hungry, and I should change to formula feeding. I am confused, because my baby seems so content and I really would like to continue breastfeeding?

A four-month-old baby is one that is both starting to get teeth, and discovering the world around her. Her favoured method for exploring this fascinating world is using her mouth! That is one of the reasons that babies need to be watched so carefully, and small objects such as beads should be kept away from them. It is also one of the reasons that baby toys need to be carefully monitored, for signs of loose eyes and so on. Your baby is exploring her hands the best way she knows how, and they are providing her with plenty of information and entertainment. She may also have itchy irritated gums caused by teeth which are beginning to erupt, and she has discovered that she is clever enough to have a handy tool for easing the irritation – her very own hands.

This careful and ongoing examination of hands is an important and normal stage of development. Unfortunately, it can cause plenty of dribbling and drooling, which is one of the reasons that the conclusion of hunger arises! You know your baby better than anyone, and your instinct is that your baby is not hungry and that she is very content on the breastmilk. Follow your instincts! You will have to find a gentle but firm way to tell your mother that in this case you disagree with her.

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