Bottle-Feeding Causes Overeating And Weight Gain In Babies

Feeding time is when you get to bond with the baby. The moment you hold your baby in your arms, closer to your breasts, they know it is the time to feed.

While feeding your little one, it won’t come to your mind whether they are overfeeding. A mother only worries if the baby is hungry or hasn’t fed properly. But, why you may need to worry about overeating when your munchkin is still tiny and growing.

With the rate obesity is spreading across the world, the horrifying truth that has come forth is that around two third of the US population is either overweight or obese. The eating habits that people have developed today could have its roots in the feeding habits that they got accustomed to as babies.

The number of children in the US aged between 2-5 years and 6-11 years that were found to be overweight was 5% and 6.5% respectively in 1980. However, by 2008, there was an increase in the number—about 10.4% overweight children were in the age group of 2-5 and 19.6% of overweight children in

6-11 age group.1

This wasn’t just restricted to grown up kids—obesity in toddlers between the age of 6 to 23 months was found to increase from 7.2% in 1980 to 11.6% in 2000.2

Such baffling results were attributed to the habit of formula-feeding and feeding through super-sized bottles. By why are bottles to blame? Bottle feeding and childhood obesity are closely linked together.

A research was conducted, which included 400 infants who were 2 months old and feeding only on formula milk. Half of the infants’ families used feeding bottles that were less than 170 ml, while the other half used bottles with more than that capacity.

After 6 months, the research team found that those

babies who were feeding formula from larger bottles had gained comparatively more weight—their weight-to-length ratio was also higher than those babies who were fed from smaller bottles.

When larger bottles are used, the babies are encouraged to finish the left-over milk even when they are full. This small quantity accounts for extra calories over time and can lead to an excess weight gain.

For babies fed in small bottles, babies tend to finish the feed faster—if they are still hungry, you can always prepare it again.

The size of the bottle, plate or glass is strongly linked to the amount of food intake. Sadly, this is also the strategy that companies use to propagate the message of big portions and more benefits.

Bottle feeding also increases the risk of uncontrolled weight gain. While during breastfeeding, the baby has to suckle to get milk and unlatch to stop the feed when they are full, bottle-feeding tends to be more of a passive task for them.

This is because feeding from the bottle is a lot easier as compared to breastfeeding, where babies need to suckle when they need more

feed. Such effort is not required in bottle feeding and they tend to drink more than required.

Feeding mother’s milk through the bottle also has the same effect on the baby. Studies have clearly associated bottle feeding with the risk of quick weight gain in babies.3

Breastfeeding should be the first and not the alternative for your baby’s diet. Expressed breast milk could also be considered as a good choice.

However, when it comes to bottle-feeding, encourage your baby only when they are still hungry to finish that last 10 ml of milk in the bottle. Follow your baby’s cues that indicate they are still hungry—for instance, if they are crying, sucking on hands, repeatedly opening and closing their mouth trying to get in feeding position—closer to your chest.

Every baby is different—you need not worry that your baby isn’t appearing plump or looks lean. It is more about developing

food eating habits that encourage them to eat only when they feel hungry and leave the feed when they are full. You could always consult your pediatrician or a lactation specialist to know more about your baby’s nutrition and growth.