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What Are the Causes of Overfeeding Infants?

By Sharon Perkins ; Updated June 13, 2017

Babies can't get up and walk to the refrigerator to get themselves another bottle. If your baby is eating too much, it's because you're overfeeding him, for one reason or another. An overfed baby can turn into an overweight baby and toddler. Being overweight in childhood can lead to obesity in adulthood. To break this cycle, pinpoint why you're overfeeding your baby and change your feeding pattern.

Too Much Milk

Breast-feeding moms who produce enough milk to feed quintuplets but who only have one baby as the recipient of this bounty may end up inadvertently overfeeding their infant. The first milk that comes out, called foremilk, contains less fat than the hindmilk produced at the end of the feeding. Moms with an overabundant milk supply may fill their infants up on foremilk without the hindmilk that keeps the baby full longer, especially if they switch sides before the baby gets the hindmilk. The foremilk may pass into the intestines so quickly that the milk sugar lactose doesn't break down completely. The baby then develops gas and abdominal discomfort and acts like he's hungry. Another feeding worsens the problem. Feeding from just one breast per feeding may allow your baby to get the hindmilk and reduce the gastrointestinal symptoms that make him act hungry.

Parental Insecurity

Parents who worry that their baby is hungry every time the baby fusses could end up overfeeding their baby. New breastfeeding moms, who can't measure the amount of milk they just served their infant, may be especially prone to this. A baby who just ate 45 minutes ago is probably not crying out of hunger. Try burping, walking, talking to the baby, changing his position, cuddling him or giving him a diaper change before giving another bottle or nursing again.

Starting Solids Too Soon

Starting solids too soon can lead to overfeeding, according to the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. Parents often start solids in the vain hope that it will help a night-owl baby sleep through until the dawn, but this usually doesn't work. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not starting solid foods until your baby is at least 4 to 6 months old.


It's easier to overfeed a bottle-fed baby, because it doesn't take as much effort to drink from a bottle as it does from the breast, the KidsHealth website explains. Bottle-fed babies also have a harder time stopping the flow of milk from the artificial nipple. A baby might drink whatever you put in his mouth because he wants to suck more. Make sure the nipple holes aren't so big that formula pours into the baby's mouth without much effort on his part. If he's choking and snorting through his feeding, the holes are probably too big.

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