Jump to content

Why CAN'T you overfeed a BFed baby?
Just curious


  • Please log in to reply
33 replies to this topic

#1 runnybabbit

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:06 PM

I've heard it said so many times that you can't overfeed a breastfed baby, but why is that? If the baby is sucking for comfort rather than nutrition, and gets extra calories incidentally, might that not lead to overfeeding? If a formula fed baby can be given too many calories by being given more milk, can't a breastfed baby be given too many calories as well?

Just curious -- it's what my husband and I were mulling over at stupid o'clock. wink.gif

#2 cinnabubble

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:12 PM

Breastfed babies may nom on the nipple a bit, but they tend not to extract and ingest milk when sucking for comfort.

#3 FeralAlpacaWarrior

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:12 PM

I don't know about extra calories, but until last week, whenever DD2 was crying or upset I BF her, which was about every 2-2.5 hours during the day. She is 5 mo, and turns out all the feeding was causing her to get tummy pains, and to cry, and then I fed her again and so the cycle continued. She now feeds every 3-4 hours and has been settled, sleeping during the day and much happier. So in our case, yes you can overfeed a BF baby.

#4 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:15 PM

Well...and I should warn you....this theory isn't popular on EB...but according to the hospital Paed who I saw after DS2 was born - you can.....he reckoned DS 2 was comfort sucking, was getting too much of the lactose rich fore milk as a result, and that was making him colicky and windy.  The Paed told me to retry a dummy (he wouldn't have a bar of it) and failing that, a bottle of cooled boiled water...NOT for hydration, but to satisfy his sucking reflex without letting him take in the milk when he didn't need it....

TBH, I tried the bottle of cooled water a couple of nights, I don't think DS ever took to it, the colicky issues resolved, he continued to cluster feed in the evenings.....I don't really know if the Paed was on the money with his advice....but you did ask!



#5 Just Another Cat

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:20 PM

QUOTE (cinnabubble @ 25/01/2013, 10:12 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Breastfed babies may nom on the nipple a bit, but they tend not to extract and ingest milk when sucking for comfort.


I think this is true. Also, it's much easier for a baby to get milk from a bottle

Plus some parents keep persisting with feeding even though the baby is full just because there is milk left in the bottle.

#6 ShamelesslyPooks

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:20 PM

You can over feed them. It's not as easy as with a ff baby but yes, you certainly can. I was at the LC once and another woman there had so much milk, that came out so fast, that her son was coughing and spluttering and throwing up some excess, and had tummy pain. I, on the other hand, couldn't get enough milk into my baby. We joked that she could have fed them both. In eras gone by, perhaps it would have been a good solution!

#7 libbylu

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:25 PM

Perhaps in the short term a baby might overfeed if they are doing a lot of comfort sucking, but I think over the long term it tends to even out.
I guess the saying comes from looking at babies weights - breastfeeding doesn't tend to create obese infants but occasionally bottle feeding can, but this might be more about parent behaviour than baby behaviour - not sure.  Perhaps some parents are encouraging the baby to finish off the bottle when they don't really want it.  I reckon there is some kind of built in desire in mothers to see their kid 'finish off' what is on their plate and I guess this might extend to the bottle as well.  It obviously can't extend to the breast as you can't see what they are taking.

#8 ShamelesslyPooks

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:30 PM

Yes I had a mum in my mothers group who would spend 2 hours trying to get her baby to finish her bottle (ew), I would not have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself. I think the stats for weights get skewed by this kind of behaviour. I think there needs to be more education about how to bottle feed, like with this sort of thing and with the flow of the teats, not feeding baby lying down.

#9 *mylittleprince*

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:30 PM

I used to believe this but I think you can. If you misinterpret their hungry cues and use boob for everything, then maybe you can overfeed?

I have 15 week old twins which are exclusively breastfed. I feed them both when one wakes or is hungry. My girl twin is usually the one who wakes to feed and is hungrier before her brother. My boy twin coudl probably do with less feeds but the nights that I've fed her and left him sleeping, he's woken up a little while later and then I've been up all night. He weighs more as a twin baby than my other son at the same age! (He is 15 weeks old and around 7.5kg).

#10 Starletta

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:32 PM

QUOTE (Pooks_ @ 25/01/2013, 10:30 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Yes I had a mum in my mothers group who would spend 2 hours trying to get her baby to finish her bottle (ew), I would not have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself. I think the stats for weights get skewed by this kind of behaviour. I think there needs to be more education about how to bottle feed, like with this sort of thing and with the flow of the teats, not feeding baby lying down.


Ugh my daughter is like this. She hates eating, I swear!

#11 EBeditor

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:38 PM

Maybe it's because there is a finite amount of milk your breasts can produce in one sitting? So if baby is comfort sucking when teething or sick, they will only be getting a very small amount of milk until the supply has built up again.

#12 lucky 2

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:39 PM

QUOTE (runnybabbit @ 25/01/2013, 10:06 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I've heard it said so many times that you can't overfeed a breastfed baby, but why is that? If the baby is sucking for comfort rather than nutrition, and gets extra calories incidentally, might that not lead to overfeeding? If a formula fed baby can be given too many calories by being given more milk, can't a breastfed baby be given too many calories as well?

Just curious -- it's what my husband and I were mulling over at stupid o'clock. wink.gif


It isn't just the type of milk that is different (ie formula vs breast milk) but the method of delivery. A baby can overfeed with a bottle, and that could be breast milk or formula. But at the breast a baby will come off, you can't force a baby to stay on the breast but you can push a baby to "just drink a little more" with a bottle (if you felt so inclined).
Formula fed babies apparently have a higher risk of developing adolescant obesity.

So I don't think you can over feed a bf baby as such, ie baby comes off the breast and on, it is consentual.
But, a pp mentioned what is often called a lactose overload or imbalance, when baby is drinking frequently and not draining one breast well (not they are drained anyway, at most feeds a baby removes approximately 67% of what was stored) and tending to ingest milk with a high lactose amount, this causes water to move into the bowel and can lead to squirty yellow poos (sometimes > 10 each 24 hrs) and a frequently feeding and unsettled baby, uncomfortable belly.
A way to manage this is not to give a bottle of water, the use of the dummy can be helpful but what often helps is putting baby back to the 1st breast if baby wants more milk soon after a feed, to help remove milk from one breast before moving on to the 2nd.
I think overfeeding is not a term that suits bfing well, it's more that the pattern or manner of bfing can sometimes make a baby feel upset or troubled, with lactose overload mums also can experience breasts that are overfull and uncomfortable/oversupply so it can negatively impact both mother and baby.

#13 bjk76

Posted 25 January 2013 - 10:33 PM

Like a couple of PPs, I overfed DS when he was a few weeks old. - He had only ever fed to sleep and then he stopped feeding to sleep, so I kept feeding him to try to get him to go to sleep, then he got a sore tummy from too much milk, so wanted to keep sucking and then ended up with a sorer tummy.... You get the picture!

I started walking him to sleep from then on and a MCHN told me not to feed him more than every 2.5 hours, so that's what I did for the next few months. He'd generally feed about every 3 hours, unless he was having his long overnight sleep. He did a lot of growing between 3 and 5 months and was at his 'skinniest' (although still had rolls of fat on his limbs) and only pooed once a week, so I guess he needed to be fed that often.

#14 Amberlily

Posted 25 January 2013 - 10:56 PM

It's also probably got something to do with the flow from a breast slowing down as the breast empties, so the baby has to work harder and harder to get more milk. (This assumes that the baby is having well spaced "long" / boob draining feeds). Whereas a bottle will have the same flow (same teat same size hole) for the full duration of a feed...

So a breast fed baby will find it harder to overfeed (than a bottle fed baby) unless they "snack" feed (lots of little short feeds). Which ends up with the foremilk issues PPs have mentioned.

#15 runnybabbit

Posted 27 January 2013 - 08:19 PM

Thank you everyone for your input! So if I'm assessing the consensus correctly, generally an "overfed" BFed baby would be one with fore/hindmilk imbalance? What if the mum was offering the same side until that breast was relatively empty? Could you get a baby doing nice yellow poos but "too much" in terms of caloric intake?

I guess I'm a little confused because my four-week-old hasn't been a great sleeper and I've been using boob, boob, boob to settle. I don't think he's ever really HUNGRY as a result, if he is he certainly hides his hunger signs well. But I've been offering the same side over and over again (also to deal with engorgement earlier on) so poos have still been nice and yellow. I don't think he's gone more than 2.5 hours without a feed since day 3. :/ He's also stacking on weight -- 500 g/week over the past two weeks. I mean, I know babies don't gain weight linearly and it's silly to worry about a four-week-old being obese; it just got me wondering about the "BFed babies can't be overfed" adage and how much truth there was to it.

#16 purplekitty

Posted 27 January 2013 - 08:33 PM

In my personal experience it's possible if you have a large milk supply and a strong letdown.
I had two little chubbies who put on large amounts of weight being breastfed exclusively until they started to walk.
My paediatrician with my first even went to get another pair of scales because she couldn't believe the weight gain.
I don't know how to counter it.I did introduce a dummy for comfort sucking.
My doctors were never worried but I wonder about it.

#17 greenthumbs

Posted 29 January 2013 - 09:41 AM

I only have my own experience to draw from.

DS was (and still is) a big feeder. He cluster fed every night for hours. I fed him to sleep, co-slept so he snacked often overnight. If he cried or pretty much made a peep, I fed him.

Looking at photos, he looked really bloated at about 5-8 weeks, but he wasn't, just content and ready for a growth spurt. He was never overweight, and always weighed less than his friends who were ff.

I always started a feed with the breast he last fed from (unless the other one desperately needed it). I would tend to agree with pp who suggest there's only so much storage in the breast. Also, you just cannot force a baby to take the breast. They might latch on for comfort or out of habit, but will very quickly drop off (in my experience anyway).

I would also be very hesitant to limit feeds as it could mess with the supply or even cause problems with blockages etc.

Congrats on your new bub!

#18 HRH Countrymel

Posted 29 January 2013 - 09:47 AM

Try not to stress about it... my mother was a breastfeeding counsellor for many, many years.. it is nigh on impossible to overfeed a breastfed baby..

However may I present 'exhibit a'?

Not 'over' fed but 'well' fed you will have to agree!





*that is me in the hat btw.

Edited by countrymel, 29 January 2013 - 09:53 AM.


#19 Copper and May

Posted 29 January 2013 - 09:53 AM

The ABA have researched this question in great length and you cannot overfeed a breastfed baby. When they comfort suck, they don't really get much milk as they only lightly suck away until they fall asleep - maybe. Paeds and doctors don't know enough about breastfeeding and they need to go to some breastfeeding education classes, which the ABA have for the professionals.

#20 Milamum09

Posted 29 January 2013 - 10:08 AM

QUOTE (countrymel @ 29/01/2013, 07:47 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Try not to stress about it... my mother was a breastfeeding counsellor for many, many years.. it is nigh on impossible to overfeed a breastfed baby..

However may I present 'exhibit a'?

Not 'over' fed but 'well' fed you will have to agree!





*that is me in the hat btw.


Awww you were so gorgeous CountryMel!!!

#21 lucky 2

Posted 29 January 2013 - 10:26 AM

You look so healthy and vibrant mel, gorgeous picture, thanks for posting original.gif .

#22 Tesseract

Posted 29 January 2013 - 10:29 AM

QUOTE (runnybabbit @ 27/01/2013, 09:19 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thank you everyone for your input! So if I'm assessing the consensus correctly, generally an "overfed" BFed baby would be one with fore/hindmilk imbalance? What if the mum was offering the same side until that breast was relatively empty? Could you get a baby doing nice yellow poos but "too much" in terms of caloric intake?

I guess I'm a little confused because my four-week-old hasn't been a great sleeper and I've been using boob, boob, boob to settle. I don't think he's ever really HUNGRY as a result, if he is he certainly hides his hunger signs well. But I've been offering the same side over and over again (also to deal with engorgement earlier on) so poos have still been nice and yellow. I don't think he's gone more than 2.5 hours without a feed since day 3. :/ He's also stacking on weight -- 500 g/week over the past two weeks. I mean, I know babies don't gain weight linearly and it's silly to worry about a four-week-old being obese; it just got me wondering about the "BFed babies can't be overfed" adage and how much truth there was to it.


At birth we all have innate appetite control. Babies feeding exclusively from the breast maintain this control. If they need milk, they drink it; if they need comfort, they comfort suck. Yes they might get a bit of milk while comfort sucking, but they will either throw it up (this is what DD used to do) or they will have less later - over say a 24 hour period they are perfectly regulated. Hence the saying "you can't overfeed a breastfed baby". (As an aside, maintaining innate appetite control is the motivation behind baby-led weaning - the baby remains completely in control of intake so overeating does not become a habit.)

The foremilk/hindmilk issue is something different. Even it is not strictly 'overfeeding' more a supply issue. If you have this issue you will know about it. I always feed 4+ sides a feed because DD was extremely fussy on the breast and switching calmed her down - I never had a foremilk/hindmilk problem. So others reading this please don't get too concerned about keeping baby on one side etc - if your baby and your breasts are healthy then it's all going fine, only look into this if you are having issues with green poo, oversupply etc.

Runnyrabbit - your baby sounds completely normal. It's FANTASTIC and entirely appropriate that your baby is never ravenously hungry. That is how it is meant to work. Little babies need very frequent small feeds - this is how they are designed. Small, frequent feeds supply their growing brain in the way nature intended. They are designed to want boob all the time (for comfort, sleep as well as hunger) because they need the frequent feeding. Have you also thought that maybe you are already so well attuned to him that you feed him intuitively - almost like you know when he needs it even before he does?

DD also had big weight gain early on - when she was born she was 50th% for weight, by 4 months she was 90th%, oh those fat rolls on her thighs! Very rapid weight gain that then evens out a little is extremely common in breastfed babies. She is now a tall and lean toddler. Letting your baby control his intake by feeding him whenever he needs it (which is often) is the best way to prevent obesity because he maintains his innate appetite control.

Sounds like things are going perfectly for you, he's not eating too much.

#23 Feral-as-Meggs

Posted 29 January 2013 - 12:51 PM

QUOTE (countrymel @ 29/01/2013, 10:47 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Try not to stress about it... my mother was a breastfeeding counsellor for many, many years.. it is nigh on impossible to overfeed a breastfed baby..

However may I present 'exhibit a'?

Not 'over' fed but 'well' fed you will have to agree!





*that is me in the hat btw.


So glad I clicked on this thread  biggrin.gif

#24 purplekitty

Posted 29 January 2013 - 01:14 PM

QUOTE (Winterdanceparty @ 29/01/2013, 09:53 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The ABA have researched this question in great length and you cannot overfeed a breastfed baby. When they comfort suck, they don't really get much milk as they only lightly suck away until they fall asleep - maybe. Paeds and doctors don't know enough about breastfeeding and they need to go to some breastfeeding education classes, which the ABA have for the professionals.
If you have an unlimited milk supply and a strong letdown they still get a lot of milk.
I know this might be rare but it is possible.

I found the ABA unhelpful because my experience wasn't common.
I could fill a bottle from the breast that I wasn't feeding from (not expressing from it)and both breasts would be full again by  the next feed.

This is really OT and I don't know whether it is relevant to the OP or not but I found it really hard going to get advice when people didn't understand exactly how large a supply can be.


Countrymel. original.gif
My son had such "condition "on his wrists at 12 months it took 90mins and an ever increasing number of staff to get an IV line in his wrist.


#25 HRH Countrymel

Posted 29 January 2013 - 01:22 PM

QUOTE (meggs1 @ 29/01/2013, 01:51 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
So glad I clicked on this thread  biggrin.gif


Wasn't my Mum gorgeous?  
She's 41 in that photo and sucking on a mint, on a boat, with a massive fat baby on her lap and she still looks gorgeous...!





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

 

11 things that will happen when you're breastfeeding

After having three children and various degrees of success feeding them all, there's one thing I can tell you: virtually nothing will go as planned.

Surgery for baby born with a tail

A baby born with a tail has had it removed after doctors feared the birth defect might cause long term damage to his lower body.

When 'skin to skin' becomes a family affair

An adorable photo of a little boy and his dad enjoying skin to skin contact with newborn twins is melting hearts everywhere.

35 hilariously weird 'top tips'

Who would have thunk it? We never knew there were so many uses for feminine hygiene products. 

Pregnancy skin woes: acne, dry skin, itchy skin

Here are some of the most common skin complaints in pregnancy and how to tackle them, face on.

Watch this fun dance class for babywearing dads

Is there anything sexier than a babywearing dad?

Parents, this is how to cut grapes to avoid choking

One mum has learnt a harrowing lesson about the best way to cut grapes to make it safe for toddlers and little kids to eat.

When your kids have totally different temperaments

Sometimes it has felt like whiplash parenting. She perches watchfully while I vacuum; he tries to climb on and go for a ride.

How do our stress levels influence our baby?

Since having my second baby a number of people have commented on how placid, content and settled he is and, similarly, many have commented on how this is a reflection of how I am with him.

Separation anxiety isn't just for kids

Despite its prevalence, most doctors tend to be reluctant to diagnose adult patients with separation anxiety.

A charm bracelet, a boy, and my beliefs questioned

I was staring at the face of my son, realising that my once steadfast decision to be open minded was quickly unravelling at the seams.

Why I'm so grateful for Hayden Panettiere's PND honesty

There are baby steps and giant leaps forward. But there are steps backwards, too. And, oh, how they can hurt your heart.

The heartbreaking story of little Moko

The mother of 3-year-old Moko Rangitoheriri said she should have picked up on the signs. {Warning: distressing content}

Kate Beckinsale and teen daughter recreate birth photo

Kate Beckinsale has recreated her daughter Lily's birth photo, 17 years after she was born.

The adult-size stroller you'll want to test drive

It's one of the biggest baby related purchases they will make, so it makes sense that parents-to-be get a chance to road test a stroller.

Pregnancy announcement shows the reality of IVF

It's a long way from baby booties or bump shots people have become accustomed to in social media pregnancy announcements.  

Soleil Moon Frye welcomes fourth baby

"Punky Brewster" is a mom again, for the fourth time. Soleil Moon Frye announced the birth of her baby boy, Story, on Instagram Wednesday.

Mum breastfeeds baby found abandoned on the street

A woman has been praised as a "beautiful mother" after breastfeeding a baby which had been abandoned at the side of a street. 

A birth with a difference: the 'natural caesarean'

We've shared stories of gentle caesareans before, but a new video shows a new option called a 'natural caesarean'.

Baby name inspiration by music genre

If you're all about the music, then you'll need a musical name for that baby. We've got all the lists for you by music genre.

Giving effective instructions to toddlers

One of the most common errors made by parents is in how they give instructions to their children.

 
Advertisement
 

Top 5 Articles

Advertisement
 
 
 

What's hot on EB

The babies who are one in 70 million

Bethani Webb was excited to find out she was pregnant, but the first time mum did not realise she was carrying four babies not one.

Cafe offers breastfeeding mums a free cup of tea

A Sydney cafe is offering breastfeeding mums free cups of tea in a bid to show support for the right of women to nurse their babies wherever they choose.

To snip or not to snip? When the decision is not clear cut

Jamie Oliver, who considered a vasectomy, is to be a father again. A fellow dad reflects on his own decision 11 years ago

Doctors stunned by rare twins born almost six weeks apart

To everyone's surprise, Kristen Miller "kept doing better each day", keeping her second baby safe.

Baby book ideas for modern parents

Before my son was born I was given a lovely baby book full of blank pages waiting to be filled with weights and heights and first words.

The adorable smile of a baby seeing his mum clearly for the first time

There is no doubt seeing their child smile for the first time is an unforgettable moment for parents everywhere.

Mum tells how toddler 'nearly hung himself' in cot mishap

When Alison Johnson put her 18-month-old Caleb down for a nap, she had no reason to believe her son was in any danger.

Babies are still switched at birth? Yes, it can happen

All my panic and tears aside, my biggest question looking back is about the kind of security measures used in the maternity ward.

Doctors slammed for taking selfie with newborn

Everyone who visits a mum in hospital in the days following childbirth wants to get a photo with the new baby.

ergoPouch Twosie Sleepsuit for winter breastfeeding

Finally, there's a way to keep warm while breastfeeding through winter.

Health check: How long does sex 'normally' last?

What to do with this information? My advice would be to try not to think about it during the throes of passion.

When breastfeeding sucks: fixing common problems

From niplash to tight boobs, biting to milk supply issues, Pinky McKay looks at common breastfeeding issues and how to solve them.

10 things I've learnt in my first six months with twins

Six months on we're all still alive, and the more we get to know each other the easier the days become.

Mum's loving kiss leaves baby fighting for life

Kirsty Carrington thought nothing of giving her newborn son a kiss, little did she know it would leave the baby fighting for life.

When doing chores is your new 'me time'

After children, 'me time' looks a little different.

Get going: 14 travel strollers for families on the move

A stroller can make or break travelling with a baby or toddler. Here are 15 great single travel stroller options.

10 ways toddlers are terrific

It always pays to remind yourself of how terrific toddlers can be - they're little like this for such a short time

 

Vintage Toys

The toys of your childhood

Take a trip down memory lane with these vinage and retro toys that you may have had in your childhood or your parent's childhood.

 
Advertisement
 
 
Essential Baby and Essential Kids is the place to find parenting information and parenting support relating to conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids, maternity, family budgeting, family travel, nutrition and wellbeing, family entertainment, kids entertainment, tips for the family home, child-friendly recipes and parenting. Try our pregnancy due date calculator to determine your due date, or our ovulation calculator to predict ovulation and your fertile period. Our pregnancy week by week guide shows your baby's stages of development. Access our very active mum's discussion groups in the Essential Baby forums or the Essential Kids forums to talk to mums about conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids and parenting lifestyle. Essential Baby also offers a baby names database of more than 22,000 baby names, popular baby names, boys' names, girls' names and baby names advice in our baby names forum. Essential Kids features a range of free printable worksheets for kids from preschool years through to primary school years. For the latest baby clothes, maternity clothes, maternity accessories, toddler products, kids toys and kids clothing, breastfeeding and other parenting resources, check out Essential Baby and Essential Kids.