It is a general notion that babies are healthy when they are well-fed. Parents and people in general love those chubby cute babies. But as a new parent, you have to be aware of childhood obesity, and for that, it is important to take precautions since the baby is born. Can you overfeed a newborn?

Well, it is difficult to believe that you are overfeeding your baby, but this is a fact that often newborns are overfed. It is important to take care of their nutrition from an early stage to present childhood obesity.

According to Alanna Levine, MD and pediatrician at Orangetown Pediatric Associates, “Different cultures have different feelings about how much a baby should eat, how often they should eat, and what they should look like.” The cultural perceptions may differ, but when you are feeding your baby, there are certain things that you should keep in mind.

Can You Overfeed A Newborn?

Well, you might be relieved knowing it is next to impossible to overfeed a baby, and there is nothing to worry about when it comes to your baby’s food intake and how they look. Levine says, “If a baby is gaining weight and growing and your pediatrician isn’t concerned, you don’t need to worry.” Every baby grows at different levels and eats different amounts. 

Can you overfeed a newborn_

Babies have an in-built self-regulation system. They eat when they feel hungry and stop when they are full. So, if you find your baby turning away from your breast or the bottle, that is a sign that they are actually full. But if they are coming back for more, that means they still have some room left.

Overfeeding Formula-Fed Babies vs Breastfed Babies

But somehow, if you are overfeeding your baby, then breastfeeding has some advantages over bottle feeding. According to the American Academy Of Pediatrics or AAP, babies who are breastfed can regulate their feedings according to their demands.

Overfeeding formula-fed babies vs breastfed babies

Parents do not understand or cannot check how much the baby is feeding from the breast. But when a baby is fed from the bottle, most parents force their child to finish the whole bottle. Also, breast milk is digested fully. Thus it affects how the body uses all the calories. Thus, breastfed babies are almost never at the risk of overfeeding.

With bottle feeding, parents often add supplements to their baby’s formula, like juice or rice cereal. But for the first year, you should not give them anything other than formula or breast milk. Nothing extra is needed at this point. Giving them fresh fruits or freshly squished juice is preferred to anything else. 

AAP warns parents about adding rice cereals to their baby’s bottle. This can lead to excess weight gain. People might have told you that if you add rice cereal, your baby might sleep for a longer time, but there is no actual proof of that. Do not add rice cereal to their formula without consulting the doctor.

How Can You Tell If You Are Overfeeding Your Newborn?

If you have a cute chubby baby, there is nothing to panic about. It could be something good as well. It is not necessary that it means they are obese or will develop a problem of obesity when they grow up.

How can you tell if you are overfeeding your newborn

For the first few months, you take your baby to the pediatrician, and the child’s weight gain is tracked. Their feeding patterns are also checked. But you should not rely on their weight to decide whether you are overfeeding your baby. Spiting up could be a possible sign of overfeeding. 

If your baby spits up just after you force them to finish the bottle, this means you probably overfed them. But spitting up could be a possible sign of reflux. But if you are thinking that they are being overfed or frequently vomiting after they are fed, then that is probably the answer to your question “can you overfeed a newborn.”

How To Avoid It?

To avoid overfeeding, parents should try:

  • Try to breastfeed them if possible.
  • Stop feeding them when they are refusing.
  • Do not give them sweetened drinks or juice.
  • Introduce them to fresh food when they are about 6 months of age.

What Could Be The Possible Causes Behind Overfeeding?

What could be the possible causes behind overfeeding

There are a few factors that often lead to overfeeding. Those are:

Postpartum Depression

If you or any mother is going through postpartum depression, you have a tendency to overfeed your babies. This could be because they do not find any other way to cope when their baby cries other than feeding them. You might even become forgetful if you are going through postpartum depression.

Economic Hardship

Mothers who are going through a hard time or are single mothers often add rice cereal to their baby’s bottles. They try this to stretch on the formula more or to keep their baby full for a longer period of time.

When Should You Consult A Doctor?

As a parent, you have to remember that your baby has their own growth curve. If they are gaining weight appropriately in their personal growth chart, then there is nothing that you should worry about.

But if you find your baby not content with their feeding routine, then it is probably best to consult a pediatrician. Babies have regular spurts in regular intervals in their first years. They need some extra nutrition during this time. 

But it is best to consult a doctor if your baby is vomiting or spitting up after they are fed breast milk or formula. Or if they are not getting full and are always asking for more or when they suddenly start gaining weight and go against the growth curve.

Can you overfeed a newborn? Well, yes, sometimes you can. So, starting early with healthy eating habits is something you should try. This is the first step you should take as a parent. It doesn’t matter whether you are bottle feeding or breastfeeding, talk to your pediatrician and track their growth.


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subhasree nag
Subhasree is a content writer who is passionate about traveling, writing, and reading books. In her leisure time, she is seen listening to music and watching web series. Writing along with music and dance are ways in which she expresses herself.

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