Parents worry that their little one is getting enough to eat, some worry that they eat too much. Is it possible to overfeed a baby, and does it contribute to childhood obesity?
As a new parent, you focus on what your child is eating because they do it so often. If you are nursing, you are attached to your little one and bond with them for multiple feedings. You don't see the amount of milk you provide, but you feel it in the fullness and emptiness of your breast.
If you are bottle-feeding, you are measuring and counting ounce by ounce. If the feeding chart says that your baby needs three ounces per feeding, you are excited each time the bottle is drained or get concerned when there is still an ounce left over.
No matter what method you use to feed your baby, you worry whether your baby is getting enough. At the same time, your baby may be demanding more than what has been recommended to you. That is when you worry about overfeeding your baby. With the knowledge of childhood obesity on the rise, do you wonder if more time nursing or another few ounces of formula will make your baby's chubby cheeks too chubby?
Your baby is very young, but they still know when they are full and when they are not. Breastfed babies have the advantage here because they are in control of how much they feed. They eat when they are hungry and stop when they are satisfied. Formula-fed babies, on the other hand, have that instinct as well. The difference is that the parent who is holding the bottle may see that there is still some food left and may encourage their little one to take in a few more drops. Even though baby formula costs more money than breast milk, parents need to resist the urge to promote an empty bottle philosophy. Trust that your baby is full enough.
Pediatricians recommend that infants are exclusively fed breast milk for the first six months. If you feed your baby formula, they recommend that you hold off on introducing solids such as infant cereal until your baby is at least six months old. If you introduce solid foods too soon, your baby is at risk of developing a food allergy later in life. Even sweetened drinks such as fruit juice is too much during this period in their lives.
When you do introduce solids at six months old, start healthy habits from the beginning. This includes fresh, healthy foods without extra sweeteners or artificial additives.
Your child's doctor charts your baby's growth, so all of your efforts in your baby's nutrition and development will show with each visit. As long as your baby maintains steady growth and no spikes in weight, there is little concern about a little extra flesh on their tiny legs.
Obesity is not as apparent in the infancy or the toddler years. After they turn two years old, your baby's weight may reveal whether or not you should be concerned with obesity at that time. However, with appropriate activity and healthy eating habits, your baby has a better chance of leading a healthy lifestyle.