Can You Overfeed A Breastfed Baby
One of the biggest concerns new moms have, heck I had them too, is whether or not you can overfeed a breastfed baby.
Many moms end up questioning this because their once calm, happy breastfed baby all of the sudden begins spitting up more often or their doctor brings up baby’s fast growing weight.
As moms, naturally, we always wonder about the what-ifs — so what if we could overfeed our baby…what would it look like and how can we tell if we’re doing it or not?
Can you overfeed a breastfed baby?
The good news is, it’s almost impossible to overfeed a breastfed baby that nurses from your breast.
In fact, according to KellyMom, it’s totally NORMAL for your breastfed baby to gain weight more rapidly during the early months of infancy compared to a formula-fed baby.
More importantly, she states that there is “NO evidence that a large breastfed baby will become a large child or adult“.
3 Reason’s It Is Almost Impossible To OVERFEED A BREASTFED BABY
Related post: 10 Ways To Naturally Increase Milk Supply
1) Different babies grow at different rates
Babies all grow at different rates. Using baby’s weight as the sole reason to say they’re being overfed isn’t a very accurate way to do so.
It’s also important to remember that baby’s typically nurse for two things: Nutrition & Comfort.
If your baby isn’t needing one of those things, they are very good about letting you know by unlatching themselves or turning their head away from your breast when they’re finished.
2) Babies are self-regulated
As I mentioned above, babies do an excellent job of self-regulating themselves, primarily when it comes to hunger and eating.
Unlike us adults, when babies don’t need food, they simply stop eating! Just another reason it can be pretty tough to overfeed a nursing breastfed baby.
3) Baby’s stomach is much smaller than most people realize
Did you know that a 1 month old’s stomach capacity can hold around 4 oz of milk? [SOURCE]
The cool part is, even if you have an oversupply of milk, your baby will only drink what he/she needs at your breast AND over time if your breasts aren’t being fully emptied, they’ll naturally adjust so that your supply lowers and is only what baby needs.
Pretty neat, huh?
Can You Overfeed A Breastfed Baby With A Bottle?
On the contrary, it IS possible to overfeed a baby when they’re being bottle-fed. This goes for both breast milk AND formula.
3 Reason’s You COULD Overfeed A Bottle-Fed Baby
1) You don’t REALLY know how much they will eat
Feeding a baby by the bottle during the early days can be tricky as we don’t really know how much they need to eat. Often times as parents, we worry they aren’t getting enough nutrition so we offer more than what’s actually needed.
Your baby SHOULD react by turning away from the bottle if they truly don’t need food, but if you’re persistent enough, you may find baby will continue to eat despite being overly satisfied.
2) It takes less effort to drink from a bottle
As much as different companies will market their bottles and nipples to be “just like mom”, there really is no true alternative to a woman’s breast.
That being said, it takes a lot of effort for babies to suckle from their mom’s breast. Compare that to a bottle where half the time bottles will slowly drip milk from the nipple with no suction at all.
That’s why it becomes a lot easier for baby to unintentionally gulp up more milk and get too much from their bottle.
3) Mixing other foods into baby’s bottle
I don’t know about you, but I have heard about some seriously WEIRD concoctions that people will offer their babies in a bottle to help them sleep, help with reflux, etc…
Unfortunately what these parents don’t realize is that they could be packing on the calories for their baby without even realizing it! Not to mention, babies less than 6 months old SHOULD only be on formula or breastmilk (unless otherwise discussed with your pediatrician).
Signs Of Overfeeding Breastfed Baby By Bottle
If you or your doctor thinks your baby is being overfed, there are some pretty clear signs you can start paying attention to.
- Rapid Weight Gain – If your baby is packing on the pounds month after month, it could be a sign that they’re overeating. However, it’s important to realize all babies will grow at different rates as well. But the important part here is if your baby is rapidly gaining weight with no signs of slowing down.
- Vomiting – A baby who is vomiting during or after their feeds could be showing signs of being overfed OR possibly a food sensitivity. If you notice your baby is vomiting during or after their meals, please contact your pediatrician right away.
Technically you could say that a more agitate or gassy baby is also a sign of a baby being overfed because if you could imagine, having a tummy that’s too full probably doesn’t feel well for anyone.
However, the 2 signs above are the more obvious ones to pay attention for.
How To Prevent Overfeeding An Infant
Considering you’d have to try pretty darn hard to overfeed your infant baby, there are some things you can do to make sure they aren’t being overfed.
Not to mention these tips below are also really good tips to follow with bottle feeding, in general, to make sure baby is eating correctly & efficiently!
- Practice PACED Bottle Feeding — The idea behind PACED bottle feeding is to try and mimic the same pattern of feeding your baby would naturally do at the breast. This means you’d feed baby on their hunger cues vs a set feeding schedule by letting them draw the nipple into their mouth, feed them in an upright position, give breaks during the bottle feeding about every 1 oz, and then let them relatch. For more details, KellyMom has a wonderful article.
- Offer LESS milk upfront — Yup, instead of making a big 8oz of breast milk or formula, try offering baby their milk in 2-3 oz increments. If they need more, they will definitely let you know and it’s always better to make more vs. waste the milk or unintentionally overfeed your baby.
- Pay attention to baby’s feeding cues — I couldn’t emphasize this one more. As a breastfeeding mom who HAS offered bottles of both breast milk & formula for my first, it’s so important we really hone in on their cues for hunger. When they begin mouthing at their hands, smacking their lips, visually looking for a breast to suckle, these are the times their bodies are working to tell us “hey, I’m hungry”. If we can better learn to be in tune with their cues we may just find a happy medium in trusting that they know when and how much to eat.
I hope this post puts your mind at ease knowing it’s nearly impossible to overfeed a breastfed baby, EVEN with a bottle.
Have you ever worried your baby was being fed too much? How did you handle it?