Overfeeding Has a Negative Impact on Infants
Infant overfeeding is a common problem, particularly for newborn bottle-fed babies. It’s a problem that is frequently overlooked because of the flawed assumption that only fat babies are overfed babies and because of false claims that it’s not possible to overfeed a baby. As a result, gastro-intestinal symptoms linked to overfeeding can be mistakenly attributed to conditions such as colic, reflux, or milk allergy or intolerance.
Overfeeding typically occurs due to a combination of the following reasons:
- Mistaking hunger cues
Hunger is one of the first things blamed when a baby cries, has broken sleep, and when he indicates he wants to suck. A newborn baby crying or wanting to suck does not provided proof of hunger. Babies cry for many reasons, most of which have nothing to do with hunger.
- Active sucking reflex
Babies under the age of 3 months have an active sucking reflex. A reflex is an automatic, involuntary action. When a baby’s sucking reflex is triggered he will suck because it is an involuntary reaction. An active sucking reflex means a newborn has limited ability to control the flow of milk from a bottle or stop when he has had enough.
- Feeding too quickly
It takes time for our brain to register the sensation of satisfaction that occurs after eating a meal in both adults and babies. The faster a newborn feeds the greater the risk he may overfeed.
- Parent’s opinion of a ‘healthy’ baby
Many parents and cultures consider chubbiness in infancy to be a sign of good health. A parent might try to pressure their baby to drink more than he’s willing to drink in order to ‘fatten him up’, or make him grow faster or bigger. Small babies and lean babies are at greater risk of being pressured to eat compared to others.