Welcoming a new baby into the family can be such a magical and fantastic experience for parents. But after the happiness, a load of worries follows soon after which will bother parents to no end.
This list of wonders seems endless. One major thing that new parents fret over is how much their child is eating. Are they giving their baby too much milk? Or are they giving them too little? Nutrients aren’t one of those things that mom or dad want to get wrong. Generally speaking, if the baby is putting on pounds and growing, and seems to have a pretty decent disposition, their food consumption is likely spot on.
In some cases though, parents are so worked up about getting enough calories into their little babe that they end up overfeeding their infant! If overfeeding is something moms think that they might be accidentally engaging in, here are 20 signs to look for. If some of these sound familiar, overfeeding might be going down.
20. PACKING ON SERIOUS LBS
We want babies to gain some lbs, but within reason! If the numbers on the scale are climbing too rapidly, overfeeding might be the reason behind that. Infants’ bodies are designed for a specific amount of calories, so anything beyond that is excessive.
Starting habits of overeating this early on can contribute to lifelong struggles with health. Children who overeat from early ages can sometimes struggle with obesity later on in life. Healthy habits do start from day one. Try and stick to the amount of formula that your pediatrician recommends and you will likely avoid many overfeeding traps.
19. OR EVEN DROPPING SOME
It makes sense that a child who is packing on pounds might be doing so because of overeating, but what’s surprising is that a child who stops putting pounds might also be feeling the effects of overeating. If a baby consistently overeats and then losses her meal or lets it fly out the other end, then they might be at risk for body mass reduction! Think about it, when you have the flu and spend the better part of the day expelling what goes into your body, don’t you lose some mass, too?
If you notice your baby is starting to look a bit thin and has a tendency to spit up or blow diapers out after meals, overfeeding might be the culprit behind all of these unpleasantries.
18. NUMBER TWOS THAT ARE OFF
Let us be frank. No number two smells good, but some are worse than others. If you notice lots of sloppy, loose and horribly smelling number twos left to you courtesy of your baby, he might be struggling from lactose overload. Milk has lactose, and too much of it can do a number on your baby’s numbers. Lactose overload is not like lactose intolerance. Overload means precisely that: the baby’s small body is taking on too much and is unable to digest such a large amount of it. Pull back on the quantity of milk, and you should see some resolution in the presents that your baby leaves for you each day.
17. UP COMES THE MILK!
Fact: Babies spit up.
A bit of used milk on the shoulder is all a part of the parenting game plan. Is your baby spitting up a lot though? Are they leaving you milky gifts after every bottle? If so, you might want to try and feed her less at mealtime. Infant tummies can’t handle more milk than they are designed to hold. Think of a cup. If you keep pouring into that cup, the liquid has to go somewhere right? The same goes for your baby. Once the tummy is full, the extra milk is going somewhere, and that somewhere is typically all over your shirt.
16. EXCESSIVE CRYING
Babies cry for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes they are tired, other times they are too warm. They cry when they want you and whimper when they are hungry. They also get loud when they have had too much to eat. Infants can not speak, of course, so crying is the only method that they have to communicate with caregivers that something is amiss. If you notice your baby crying excessively, and all of her other needs have been met, consider how much you are feeding them. It could be more than she can handle and she could be trying to tell you her belly is hurting!
Again, paying attention to what is happening with your child’s gastric system is a great way to determine whether or not they are eating too much or too little at every meal. If your little guy is overeating, he might exhibit signs of bloating. We all know how it looks and feels to be bloated. Show me one woman out there who has not struggled from a distended tummy once or twice (or literally every month). Is your baby’s tummy rock hard? Does it look round and distended? If so, then overfeeding might be occurring. Bloating is uncomfortable, so other effects of overfeeding will likely accompany it.
14. THEY TURN AWAY, BUT YOU KEEP PRESSING ONWARDS
Parents can get pretty adamant that their baby has to finish their entire bottle. They don’t want them “snacking” and then needing to eat again in another half hour. Because they want that elusive perfect feeding schedule, they sometimes ignore their infant’s feeding cues. If your baby continuously turns their head away from their bottle, they are probably telling you that they have had enough. Watch them while they eat. Moving away from their meal is their cue for “I’m gonna burst!” Babies aren’t robots, they are human, and they don’t always fall into perfect meal schedules.
13. RAPID FEEDING SESSIONS
Some babies seem to take forever to put one bottle back. I had a couple of pokey feeders myself. Other babies can manage to throw down eight ounces in the blink of an eye. It’s this second group that is in danger of becoming overeaters. It takes time for the stomach and the brain to communicate the message of “I’m nice and full!” For some little ones, they are well past full by the time the body communicates what is going on. The overeating has already taken place and now come the effects of it. Stop every so often while feeding and allow a few minutes for your baby to figure out if they need more or is fully satisfied.
12. WET DIAPERS GALORE
Soiled diapers are a good thing in the land of babies. If little ones aren’t making enough wet diapers, then they might be dehydrated and at risk for health issues. Generally speaking, babies should be leaving you eight wet diapers every day, give or take. If you notice that you are going through more Pampers than that, perhaps you are stuffing your kiddo like the Thanksgiving Day turkey.
Excessively wet diapers might indicate that your little gem is eating much more than she should at any given feeding. Discuss the amount per bottle with your doctor, especially if the excessive wetting is combined with other signs of overeating.
11. GASSIER THAN DAD
Excessive gassiness can be due to those giant-sized bottles that your baby sucks down. If your husband and your infant could go head to head in a full-blown “gas-off,” then you might be feeding both of them too much. Gassiness again comes from that sucking in of air when your baby is in the midst of putting back a giant-sized bottle. Once that gas gets trapped, there are only a few ways to relieve the body of the discomfort that the trapped air creates. Babies can burp it out or let it go the out the other end. If you have a miniature Homer Simpson on your hands, think about whether or not you might be feeding him too much at each meal.
10. HOMER SIMPSON SIZED BELCHES
Does your infant finish off his meals with a belch that could rattle a grown man? If so, the reason might be because of all the excess air he sucks down when he is taking his meals. This intake of air and outtake of burps is usually associated with overeating. While some burping after the bottle is entirely reasonable, other belches are cause for concern.
If the burps are man-sized and bring some of the bottle up with it, then you might be overfeeding your baby. Try using bottles that are designed for less ingested air flow or pause the feeding session after every couple of ounces and pat the burps out little by little. This will help minimize those large pockets of air in your babies’ bellies.
9. NOTICEABLE SLEEPLESSNESS
Sure, babies awake in the night when they want a snack, but they will also experience patterns of sleep disruptions when they are too full. If you fed your baby a massive bottle before bed in hopes that it would keep him down for the count, you might find that you just accomplished the opposite of what you were trying to achieve. One study found that mothers who fed their babes more than 11 times in a day were more likely to have night owls than mothers who pared that number down. The parents who overfed tripled their risk of the baby being unable to sleep at 12 weeks of age.
8. GENERAL IRRITABILITY
If the baby is not screaming their head off to the heavens, yet still seems continuously irritable, overfeeding might be taking place. Parents typically look for visible and obvious signs of something being wrong, and excessive crying is undoubtedly one of the telltale signs that the baby is not happy, but so is general irritability.
If there is fussing and unease happening after a bottle, it might be because your baby has too much liquid in his belly. Pay attention to how your tot is acting after their meals. Just because they don’t raise pure hell doesn’t always mean that they aren’t stuffed to the max.
7. CRAMPS AND TUMMY SPASMS
Babies can also develop cramps, much like adults, if they overeat at one feeding. You might have to spend a bit of time studying your kiddo’s belly region to figure out if spasms are taking place, but if there are other overfeeding signs present, like bloating, crying and excess gas, cramps, and spasms could also be present and causing your infant unnecessary levels of pain. If your baby’s belly looks hard and distended, and they are continuously pulling their legs into their chest, then it might be time to discuss these symptoms with the doctor. No one wants their baby going through life with cramps!
All moms have joked a time or two about their infants falling into the elusive “milk coma” after downing a giant bottle of milk. While we jest about this, there is some truth to what is happening here.
A baby who overfeeds might exhibit signs of lethargy and sluggishness after they pound their bottle down. Think of how Uncle Tony looks after Thanksgiving dinner. If your baby is looking like Uncle Tony after most of his meals, then it might be time to re-evaluate the number of ounces he puts back. He could be eating so much that he can’t do much moving around.
5. EMPHASIS ON FORMULA ONLY
It’s possible to overfeed a breastfed baby and formula or expressed milk-fed baby, but generally speaking, the bottle babies are at a higher risk for overfeeding. When using a bottle to get nutrients into a baby, we parents become nearly obsessed with counting the number of ounces. We fixate on how much the baby is eating and tend to ignore the infant’s actual feeding cues. If a baby turns away from the food source, they are probably done. If they are grasping at the bottle and begging for more, even though they just ate their usual amount, then they are trying to tell you they are still craving milk. Watch them and not the numbers on the side of the bottle and you might evade overfeeding.
4. SWEETENING THE DEAL
Just because us adults like a little something sweet to snack on or drink doesn’t mean that our babies have that same desire. You know the old saying, you can’t miss what you don’t know? This theory applies to babies and sweets. Moms who fill bottles with juice might be met with plenty of baby smiles, but they may also be greeted with conditions such as bottle rot and obesity. Juices tend to be packed with calories and sugars, neither of which your little one needs in excess. Stick to breastmilk and formula, and you will have far less of a problem than if you start handing over juice at an early age.
3. A DISPOSITION TO DEPRESSION
Mothers who are combatting postpartum depression might be more prone to overfeeding their infants. Babies typically cry when they want food, and as parents, our instinct is to feed them immediately. Babies cry for other reasons too though. Moms who are exhausted and drained by their own emotions might use feeding as a go-to method for quieting a disruptive infant. Even if it isn’t food that baby is looking for, they will generally settle after a bottle. This pattern of mad baby, stick a bottle in them, get some temporary relief is deceiving and can lead to accidental overfeeding by moms who mean no harm.
2. ECONOMIC HARDSHIPS SOMETIMES LEAD TO OVERFEEDING
Mothers who struggle financially also tend to overfeed their babies. When money is tight, moms will look for ways to stretch the dollar, and in turn, they end up trying to stretch the formula. One way moms who are strapped for cash try and achieve this is to add rice cereal to their formula. Infant formula is expensive, but rice cereal is cheap. Many moms also believe that it keeps kids full for much longer, too. The problem is adding rice cereal to bottles also contributes to overeating and consuming too many calories on the part of the infant. The formula alone is plenty for their tiny bodies.
1. ALLOWING A SNOOZE-BOTTLE
There are a lot of reasons why you should not put your infant to bed with an evening snack. Aside from possible tooth decay, babies who sleep with a bottle learn to associate food with being tired, not being hungry. When you start creating a habit of eating when hungry AND eating when tired, you are creating a lot of additional opportunities to overeat. As they say, old habits are tough to break, and your little one might have a hard time relearning that she should only eat when she is hungry, not when she is bored or tired.