Are You Overfeeding Baby? Signs & Prevention

Most parents consider themselves the best judges and think a well-fed baby is a healthy baby. And of course, who don’t like chubby cheeks and pudgy thighs!! 

But… let me tell you.. in many instances where a child has gone over or underweight, the parents should get highly alerted and check on the baby’s nourishment. The baby’s nourishment should be tbreastfeedaken care of from the most primal age. 

Should you be concerned about how much your baby eats??? Well, Yes!!  Because by giving both excess and dearth of nutrition to your baby can grow many issues that can be temporary as well as permanently dangerous.

Can You Overfeed a Baby?

Babies have an amazingly sophisticated self-balancing system. When they are full they will refuse to eat, when they are hungry they will keep coming back for more. Mothers often laugh at how their baby refuses to take even a single nip if they don’t want to and dig their chin in mothers’ breast searching for milk even if they had 6 ounces.

If parents pay heed to nods and cues of the baby properly, chances of overfeeding are almost zero. Nevertheless, any compulsion to reach a specific target of feeding can make satiating a possibility.

What Causes Baby to Overfeed?

If a baby is crying or bellowing, usually parents think feeding him will fix his problem. However, if he’s not really hungry, parents may end up overfilling the baby’s tummy. 

Overfeeding the baby can cause uneasiness to him because of not able to digest the intake properly. Also, the baby swallows air during bottle-feeding or breastfeeding which discomforts him and produces gas. If the baby spits up more than usual and also has hard or loose stools the parents should get alerted 

Check on the reasons why a baby might overfeed:

  • Postpartum depressed mommies– New Moms with this kind of depression are likely to overfeed the babies as they cant cope up with their baby crying and think feed will fix the problem. Mothers with this trauma are usually forgetful and less concentrated and that is why they usually end up overfeeding the baby.
  • Sleep deprivation– Lack of sleep disbalance the hormones that are vital for a baby’s appetite and makes the baby cry which eventually increases their hunger.
  • Sleep gaps– A baby who has a constant interruption in the sleep need to be fed more than a baby who sleeps more and takes longer gaps while sleeping. A child who takes short naps usually gets irritated and demands active feeding. The mothers offer them the feed and automatically the suckling calms the baby which makes the mother believe he woke up because of the appetite. But many times, this is not so.
  • Economic difficulty– Single Independent working mothers usually overfeed her child in order to keep the baby’s stomach full for a longer time until she returns from the office. This makes baby obese or sometimes emaciated. ‘Obese’ because the mothers put extra rice or cereals or fined dry fruits in the baby’s feed in a hurry which gets accumulated in the shape of fat. ‘Emaciated’ because in hurrying for the meetings, confused mothers forget to put proper nutrition to the baby’s feed which makes them puke and do motions more often.
  • Misinterpretation of baby suck desire as hunger– Babies in their primal stage not only want to suck when hungry but also when they are tired, upset, sleepy, or bored. Mothers usually interpret the sucking on cloth, toys, their cradles as a sign of hunger and feed them.
  • Active sucking reflex– Newbies in their oral stage don’t have the ability to stop or give the signal of their tummies full. Some mothers misinterpret that a baby might be hungry and overfeed the baby.
  • Quickly Feeding– Quickly feeding the baby makes it swallow more milk than the baby’s stomach can hold. The immature digestion isn’t able to digest the excessive amount of intake causing overfeeding.
  • Opting for Fortified Milk Over the Normal One– Fortified milk is recommended by the doctors for the babies who are in need of certain nutrients or are born prematurely. This milk contains high calories and nutrients that can be at times harsh for the tomato sized stomach. This is beneficial for the babies who are immature or weak but if normal baby gets the same amount of nutrition it results in overfeeding and the surprising thing is it becomes very difficult to recognize.

 Signs of Overfeeding a Baby

Mostly the signs are not recognized easily by the mothers but some symptoms coming out indicate that the preventive measure should be taken.

Here are some of the signs of overfeeding a baby:

  • Irritated– Overfeeding causes a burden on the small stomach which is not able to digest the excessive intake and makes the baby get irritated and cry.
  • Broke Sleep Cycles– Overfeeding makes the baby irritated and that is the reason most of the time the baby breaks his sleep naps and after waking up suddenly cries, go back to sleep and vice-versa.
  • Smelly and Explosive Poops and Motions– If there is an excess amount of feed present in the body, it becomes hard for the intestines to filter it all and the undigested feed remains in the intestine. This results in explosions of poops and farts.
  • Regurgitation– The excessive amount of feed usually than the baby stomach can intake causes the stomach to stretch beyond capacity. That is why the excess feed comes back into the mouth of the baby.
  • Burps– The overfeeding intakes a lot of air along with it which belch out the excessive feed from the mouth of the baby.

Overfeeding Baby with Solid Foods

It’s so overwhelming to the parents when their babies start taking a solid diet. Most parents feel they are giving healthy syrups to their babies. But this healthy gulping can be dangerous for the kids. 

In many cases, Mommies replace breastmilk or formula milk with solid foods. It’s fine to give solid foods after 6 months but it is not recommended to replace solid foods with breast milk or formula milk for the first 2 years. 

Overfeeding in a baby with solid foods can be due to:

  1. The baby is fed more solids than recommended
  2. Baby  drinks less milk and gulp solids more
  3. The solid food does not contain the exact proportion of important nutrients

What Happens if You Overfeed a Baby

  • Vomitings– Tomato sized stomachs will only allow the nutrients that are within the capacity of the intestines to push out. Unnecessary intake makes the baby vomit the excess nutrient that is beyond the capacity of the intestinal tract to churn up.
  • Irritations– When a baby’s stomach gets pulled beyond the normal stretched range, the baby becomes irritable because of the excess consumption of nutrients.
  • Obesity– Overfeeding gives excess calories that accumulate inside the stomach and cause the baby to gain abnormal weight. This may be harmful in the long run.
  • Sleep disturbances– Gastric action inside the body of a baby can cause a baby to varying degrees of physical discomfort and hampers the sleep of a baby.

How to Avoid Overfeeding Baby

  • Breastfeed a baby– Doctors say that there are fewer chances of overfeeding when the baby is fed from the breasts. Because if a baby endures the nipple for a longer time, they won’t get regular milk supply as they get from sipping a bottle.
  • Make a fixed feeding schedule– Make the fixed schedule for the baby feeding and make his hunger adjust to the plan. The baby will eventually get a craving at the same time every day.
  • Try a pacifier– When the baby starts crying don’t attempt to feed his stomach, try giving him pacifier or toys that are big and are safe to suck.
  • Don’t force the baby– If a baby is running from eating don’t try to feed him unnecessarily. It might be because of a gastric problem or he is not really hungry.
  • Try paced bottle feeding technique– ts a kind of technique that prevents the baby from chugging a bottle and control the flow of milk from the bottle.  It helps to mirror the breastfeeding and makes the baby feel like they are sucking on a breast nipple.

Who is at Risk of Overfeeding?

Overfeeding can be observed in any baby or toddler. Babies who are below 6 months are at higher risk because they can’t help themselves to control the milk flow. It can cause them to drink a lot more than their grape-sized stomach. If a baby is on bottle-fed, then control of the flow becomes difficult as compared to breast-fed.

Is Vomiting Due to Overfeeding?

If a baby is vomiting more than frequently then he might be overfed. A baby has a peach-sized stomach and the potion that is going inside the baby’s stomach should be accurate and exactly how much it wants. 

If a baby is overfed, the intestine can’t help to throw it outside the body. The feed gets accumulated and baby vomits out through the mouth or it may cause a gastric issue to a child.

Signs Your Baby is Actually Hungry

  • Continued sucking– If a baby continues sucking the bottle after it gets finished or holds on to the breasts. The baby is letting you know he is not finished yet and is still hungry.
  • Crying– When a baby is hungry he cries with a low pitch and this cry is for a short time and with gaps.
  • Putting hands in the mouth– If a baby puts his hands or fingers in mouth after waking up from sleep, or between playing or even after being fed then the baby is still hungry
  • Awake in between the sleep– If a baby wakes up between his deep sleep and starts cooing that means he woke up because of hunger.
  • Rubbing the face– If a baby rubs his face hard it means he is irritated because of hunger.
  • Moving inside the crib hastily-If a baby wakes up, doesn’t cry, and moves inside the crib and shows irritated faces that means the baby is hungry.
  • Making sucking noises– The sucking noises are usually made by a baby who is under the age of 8 months. If your baby makes sucking noises or pouts his mouth that means your baby is hungry.
  • Flexing arms– If a baby is flexing arms, hands or even legs these very unpredictable signs are of hunger.
  • Turning towards the breasts– If you are holding a baby in your arms and baby turns towards the breast location it means he is hungry. 
  • Cooing or sighing– If a baby sighs or makes low pitch cooing that is again a sign of hunger.

 How to Soothe Baby Without Overfeeding

 Soothing a baby is very important because

  • Give them a try with a pacifier– Babies have a habit of sucking, a pacifier will give them a comforting sucking without letting them overfed.
  • Play with them– If a baby is crying, play with him instead of overfeeding. Take him to the balcony or terrace and show him leaves, flowers, kites, birds. Inside the house, you can rattle different things for them like plates with spoons to excite your baby.
  • Get a baby swing– Baby swing provides soothing movements that help him to calm down.
  • Give him good sleep– If a baby is crying unnecessarily don’t feed him. It might be because of the rest he wants after a long time of playing or because of the irritation of sleeping
  • Play soothing music– Try to move in a calm place with the baby, sing a lullaby for him, or play soothing music on your phone. It will definitely work.
  • Rock the baby in arms– Hold the baby in your arms and make him swivel back and forth with a humming lullaby. You can use a rocking chair as well.

When to Consult a Paediatrician?

Babies have unique growth charts. If a baby is growing as per the growth curves and gaining weight accordingly, then there is no reason to bother at all.

If a baby is gaining a tremendous increase in weight or fails to reach the appropriate growth dots, then only the parents should get concerned and rush to the pediatrician.

Farha Naaz

Farha Naaz is a mother of a 10-month old baby.