How Do Penguins Feed Their Baby?

Every living being takes care of their young one by feeding them, protecting them, and teaching them how to protect themselves from predators, etc., but it’s exciting in the case of penguins. We get the question of how do penguins feed their babies? Let’s see how the process goes.

Adelie Penguin Feeding Food To The Chick

Hunting food

Penguins feeding their chick have some steps like first they hunt the menu, then they feed the baby. All penguins hunt their food deep underwater. Depth hunt depends upon the species. All penguins fed on fish, krill, squid, and other aquatic organisms.

Chinstrap Penguin Feeding The Chick

They have sharp beak and tongue to catch the food without slipping due to the presence of sticky tooth-like bars present on the roof of the mouth. They don’t have teeth so they won’t chew the food. Instead, they swallow the whole fish. There are three different ways that the penguins adapted to feed the babies. They are a regurgitation of the food, refrigerating the food, and milk feeding. Let’s look at the three ways of feeding.

Regurgitating the food

Penguins hunt, catch and swallows the food. They partially digest the food in their stomachs; this process may take a few hours together. When the time arrives for feeding the chick, they secret back the partially digested food to their mouth, which is in the form that the baby can eat, and transfer the digested food to the chick’s beak. 

Gentoo Penguin Feeding The Baby Penguin

Refrigerating the food

Refrigerating is one more way to feed the chick for penguins. As said above, they swallow the whole fish. During this process, penguins store the food in their stomach for many days before feeding the baby. The food gets refrigerated at penguins body temperature, special enzymes present in the body stores the food without getting spoiled.

Penguin’s Milk Feeding

Another way for penguins to feed chick is milk feeding. Some species of penguins can supply the young one after the complete digestion of the food. Form curd with full of nutrients gets ready to feed the chick. Such nutrient is necessary for the baby penguin to survive in a new environment.

How do penguins secret the milk?

Penguins secrete milk to feed their babies. Penguin’s milk named ‘crop milk.’ It secrets from the same hormone ‘prolactin’ as in the case of mammals. This milk is highly rich in protein, fats, nutrients, and benefits compared to mammals milk, which is highly necessary for baby penguins. Fluid gets secreted in the lining of the penguin’s crop, which means in the pouch of the throat.

It is not sufficiently liquid-like mammals milk; it is semi-liquid or has thick like curd, which barfs into baby penguins beak or mouth. In the case of mammals, the only female feeds the milk, but in penguins, only male penguins can make this. By this crop milk, baby penguins can sustain for two weeks, and male penguins feed this milk as long as it can or until the female returns.

How do penguins take care of their babies?

Female penguins leave the colony after laying eggs for hunting, and males incubate the egg by keeping them warm. After hatching of eggs, emperor or king parent penguin keep the chick in their brood pouch and cover them with skin folded fat layered, and feather-covered surface because they don’t have a nest. But other species of penguins form nests and take care of their young ones.

Chick feathers are white, brown, black, or gray. Both parents penguins take responsibility for caring for baby penguins. When a male penguin is with baby female goes for hunting and vice versa. They fill their stomachs with food and walk for miles to meet and feed the baby.

Parent Penguin Taking Care Of The Baby Penguin

How long do penguins take care of their young?

Both the parent’s penguins pamper the baby until they get a juvenile feather and undergo complete molting. Chick’s active growth depends upon the amount of nutrition they get from their parents. Once they get the juvenile waterproof feathers, they begin to walk and swim with their parents in search of their food independently. The period may long for two months in the case of Adelie penguins and around 13 months for king penguins. This period of getting feathers depends on the species of penguins.

Young King Penguin With Parents


Penguins use a different way to provide abundant protein and nutritional food for their babies. Regurgitation, refrigerating, and milk feeding is the ways to feed the baby. Like mammals, they don’t breastfeed their babies. Instead, they use their beaks as a spoon to feed the chick. Chick keeps its small whole mouth into the penguin and takes the semi-solid milk to survive until getting mature.


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I got interested in penguins from a young age and as I grew I realized that penguins are such fascinating birds. I made it a mission to create a website where all information about penguins could be accessed in an easy to read format.

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