A 2007 article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is just one of many studies that indicate a link between overeating during childhood and becoming overweight or obese as an adult.
More than ever before, moms and dads are becoming increasingly aware of the connection between nutrition, fitness, and the risks for various diseases and conditions. As the focus on improving health increases, a growing number of mothers have become concerned about the potential consequences of feeding their baby too much.
Is it Really Possible to Feed a Baby too Much?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not as straightforward as it might seem. In general, most doctors recommend that you allow your baby to nurse and feed as often as they wish, especially during the first year of life.
During these 12 months, babies grow rapidly as they approach and surpass a number of developmental milestones. So, it is very important that your infant receives enough nutrition, including calories, during this crucial time.
Understanding the Differences in Calories and Nutrition between Formula Fed and Breastfed Babies
An important thing to keep in mind, however, is that the nutritional and calorie needs of a baby that nurses at the breast and a bottle fed baby can be very different. This is because it takes a lot of physical effort, and calories, for baby to breastfeed. For this reason, it is almost impossible for a breastfed baby to overeat.
Due to the way that artificial bottle nipples are designed, it physically doesn’t take a bottle fed baby as much effort to drink the formula. This may lead to baby consuming their formula too quickly.
Also, when mixing baby’s formula, it is very easy to add a bit too much of the powdered mix to the water, which can add additional calories. As expensive as formula can be, it’s also tempting to try to encourage baby to finish the entire bottle in one feeding. Other times parents might be tempted to feed their baby a little bit extra than what baby is really hungry for, to space out the time in between feedings.
In all of these scenarios, a bottle fed baby may consume a few extra calories than a breastfed baby would. Even if this should occur, it’s unlikely that your baby will drink too much formula. This is because most babies will simply spit up the excess formula or breast milk if they have eaten too much when feeding. This is one of the main reasons why most pediatricians continue to recommend that babies be allowed to feed as frequently as they wish, whether or not they are breastfed or bottle fed.
What if My Baby seems to be Gaining Weight too Quickly?
One reason why it is so important for parents to take their baby for regular checkups is so that the pediatrician or other health care professional can monitor their growth and development and make certain that baby is thriving.
On average, your baby should double their birth weight during the first 3 to 4 months of their life. By the time your baby is a year old, they should weigh nearly triple their original birth weight. Of course, these figures are averages, and your baby may gain a bit more or less during their first year. It’s also normal if your baby doesn’t gain the same amount of weight from week to week.
While your baby will likely be ready for some soft, solid foods by the time they are 6 months old, it is important to continue allowing them to breast or bottle feed during their first year. When you introduce solids, you can help your child maintain a healthy weight by avoiding food choices that feature a lot of added artificial sugars and fats.
Make nutritious choices such as soft, poached, steamed, broiled, and pureed fruits and vegetables and soft, lean meats. These types of first foods will help your baby to get the vitamins and minerals that they need without adding unnecessary calories and additives.
If you still have concerns about your baby’s weight and rate of development, it’s important to share your concerns with your baby’s doctor. Pediatricians and other healthcare professionals can best advise you if your baby’s weight and height are normal for their stage of development, so check with baby’s doctor first before you make any adjustments to their diet.