My daughter was a very chunky baby. I worried she would become an obese child, but every study or book I read said that breastfed babies have lower risks of becoming overweight. She’s now a slender child, and my worries certainly did not make me change her on-demand feeding habits.
A new study has found that breastfeeding helps children with appetite “self-regulation”, a skill that enables you to stop eating when you are full, even there is still food left on your plate.
Coined the “Bottle Effect“, “Babies who are bottle-fed early on may consume more calories later in infancy than babies who are exclusively breastfed.”
Interestingly, researchers found results were similar for pumped breast milk or formula fed via a bottle. It is the bottle that is to blame, not the contents. Reuters explains:
In this study, self-regulation was measured when the babies were 7, 9, 10 and 12 months old; mothers were asked how often their babies drank an entire bottle or cup of milk (formula or pumped breast milk)…
Babies who had had more than two-thirds of their feedings via bottle in early infancy were twice as likely to routinely empty their milk cups as babies who’d had less than one-third of their feedings via bottle.
What’s more, the pattern was seen whether those early bottle-feedings contained formula or pumped breast milk.
I wonder if it is actually the bottle to blame or the feeding habits of adults. I have heard parents, grandparents, and caregivers say to babies many times, “Just finish the bottle.” I think adults encourage infants, no matter their age, to consume entire bottle contents, whereas with the breast, their is no visual clues as to how much is left. I know from personal experience serving my son pumped breast milk in the hospital after open heart surgery, I really didn’t want to throw away any of that precious liquid I had squeezed out of my breasts.
Whether the adult or the vessel is responsible for the bottle effect: it is important for parents to be aware of the obesity risks that may result.