Many parents, especially new ones, spend a lot of time doubting and wondering if their baby is getting enough to eat, while some are afraid that they might be overdoing it.
Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, it is always better to pay attention to your baby’s cues. Let's discuss the possibility of overfeeding, how it can happen, signs to look for and how to avoid them.
Can Newborns be Overfed?
When you ask the question, “Can newborns be overfed?” technically, it is possible that you can sometimes “overfeed” your baby, but generally, it is typically uncommon. This is because babies know how to self-regulate their intake whether it is breast milk or bottle milk. Babies naturally know how much to eat when they are hungry. Also, they will stop once they are full.
A very simple sign to keep an eye out for is your baby’s reaction. When your baby turns away from the bottle or the breast and refuses to be fed, it means that he/she is full. And if your baby comes back for more even though you think they had enough, it means that he/she is still hungry.
Difference Between Breastfeeding and Bottle-Feeding
Breastfed babies feed on demand, this is why it can be harder to judge how much they are drinking and how full they are. When a newborn baby breastfeeds, it could be 8 to 12 times a day. One month old babies will typically breastfeed at least 7 to 8 times a day.
In the case of bottle-feeding, newborns drink about 2 ounces of formula every 3 to 4 hours in contrast to breastfeeding which is more often. You may notice that sometimes, babies do not finish the entire milk bottle.
When it comes to the difference between bottle-feeding and breastfeeding, babies who are bottle-fed are more prone to overfeeding compared to breastfed babies. For babies that are bottle-fed, the milk usually goes down quickly and it does not give the baby a chance to stop. On the other hand, breastfed babies are most likely to pull away from the breast when they are full.
What Leads to Overfeeding?
Here are some reasons why overfeeding may occur.
- Eating expectations – Many parents have expectations about what their baby should eat, and how much they should eat according to their body weight. Having a fixed set of goals can cause parents to ignore when their baby is full.
- Weight expectations – When a baby lags behind in terms of their growth charts, parents worry about weight gain and this leads them to overfeed their baby.
- Misread cues – Parents often think that crying it’s a sign of hunger and offer food to satisfy the baby, but crying can be due to other reasons as well.
- Bottle-feeding – When a baby drinks from the bottle, more amount of milk is consumed in each gulp. Many parents also tried to coax their baby to finish the bottle even though their baby is full.
Signs of Overfeeding a Baby
If you want to know whether or not you are indeed overfeeding your baby, here are some signs to watch out for.
- Keep an eye on weight gain – You will be visiting your baby’s pediatrician in the first few months after your baby is born. This is a great way to keep track of your baby’s weight gain. Higher weight could be indicative of overfeeding.
- Spitting up – If you force your baby to take in extra fluids and your baby spits up after drinking, it may be an indication that they had too much to drink. But bear in mind that, sometimes, spitting up could also be an infant’s reaction to reflux.
- Your baby is fussy – When your baby has too much milk in their stomach, they will feel discomfort and get fussy.
- Your baby can’t sleep – Too much liquid in the stomach can give babies a hard time while sleeping. The same happens to adults when we drink too much water before sleeping.
- Many heavy diapers - If you are changing more than eight heavy diapers in a day it may be an indication that they are drinking too much. Babies over 6 weeks normally have 4 to 5 heavy diapers in a day.
How to Stop Overfeeding Your Baby?
Now that you are aware about overfeeding and know the signs to look for, in order to stop overfeeding your baby, look out for those cues to see when your baby is full. We now know that if they turn away from the breast or from the bottle before usual, understand that they are not hungry at that moment.
As long as they are meeting their target on their weight charts and have been given the green signal by their pediatrician, you have nothing to worry about! All babies grow at different rates - some may be thin whereas others may be chubbier. It does not mean that they are not healthy or not normal. Feed your baby until he or she indicated that they are satisfied.