This is one of the questions I hear all the time from new parents: "Can I overfeed my newborn baby?" Well the answer is yes and no; it depends. It depends on whether your baby is drinking from the breast or the bottle.
Breastfeeding is a normal function of newborn babies: bottle feeding is not-- though necessary for many babies if their mother chooses not to breastfeed or needs to supplement her own milk production with donor milk or formula or returns to work during her child's infancy.
Breastfeeding is not just about food--it is also about appetite regulation.
Babies that feed from the breast are less likely to become obese--studies have consistently shown this. Now CDC researchers have found that babies who are breast-fed in early infancy will better self-regulate their milk intake when compared to bottle feeding babies.
Recognizing your baby's cues and responding to those cues is
a crucial part of your child regulating her appetite.
While working as a labor and delivery and post partum nurse, I saw many parents and nurses feed two to three ounces of formula to an hour old baby. The stomach on day one only holds about one half teaspoon and can not stretch those first 24 hours. Day one of life and the baby is already expected to eat on schedule and to "finish the bottle." This sets the precedence for the rest of the baby's first year and life. Finish the bottle! If the parent decides how much the baby should eat, how can the child learn to recognize his hungry or his satiation?
You'll find the latest findings in Pediatrics: "Do Infants Fed From Bottles Lack Self-regulation of Milk Intake Compared With Directly Breastfed Infants?"
Although only 27% of infants fed exclusively at the breast in early infancy emptied the bottle or cup in late infancy, 54% of infants who were fed both at the breast and by bottle did so, and 68% of those who were fed only by bottle did so.
- Breastfeeding babies regulate their own appetites.
- Breastfeeding babies stop eating when they are full.
- Breastfeeding is associated with lower rates of obesity.
- Oh, that's right: Breastfeeding is the natural way.
I wish I had been breastfed-- Karo syrup and evaporated milk and lots of struggles with weight. Arrgh. It was worse for my friend-- sweetened condensed milk and obesity.
Thanks Michelle Obama: "Getting children a healthy start on life, with good prenatal care for their parents; support for breastfeeding; limits on "screen time"; and quality child care settings with nutritious food and ample opportunity for young children to be physically active."
What do you think?
By the way, the little girl above exclusively breastfed for eight and a half months. She is still breastfeeding at 21 months. Look at those cheeks!
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