Baby being held

Misconceptions of First Time Moms: Can you really overfeed a breastfed baby?

The idea of overfeeding a breastfed baby can be a bit controversial and depending on who you’re talking to the answer to the question “Can you overfeed a breastfed baby?” will vary. 

As a first-time mom, of a now six-year-old, feeding my baby was one of my major worries – whether it be by a bottle or breastfeeding. I was constantly worried if my son wasn’t getting enough milk, or getting too much.

If you can relate, read on . . .

Within This Article [Quick Navaigation]

So, how do I know if my breastfed baby is overfed?

It’s really hard to overfeed a breastfed baby. Mostly because the time the baby is sucking from the breast determines the amount of milk that they will receive. So in essence you produce the amount your baby needs nothing less, nothing more. 

Your baby drinks the amount they need so that’s why you can’t overfeed a breastfed baby

It’s a misconception that a baby is overfed. While the baby is not overfed, there are signs that something else might be up:

  • Vomiting
  • Fussiness and/or crying after feed
  • Spitting up – spitting up after a feed, is a natural reflux and is not a sign of overfeeding. If you are unsure, it’s always best to check with a health professional

Breastfed vs Bottle Fed Babies

When it comes to deciding which is gonna be the best choice for you and your baby will really depend on the baby, you, and your situation. 

Some moms will want to breastfeed but for whatever – can’t. Some moms are able to however quickly realize it’s too hard and decide it is no longer an option for them.

Either way, it’s perfectly ok!

Every situation is different. I truly believe that as long as the baby is fed, that’s all that matters. 

I personally had experience with both breastfeeding and bottle. This was not because I wanted to but due to my circumstances, I had no choice at that time. 

My son was born a preemie so he was in the NICU for the first two weeks of his life. He was introduced to the bottle before the breast but I got a chance to try both. To be completely honest, there are both pros and cons with either.

This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I’ve recommended – at no extra cost to you, of course. Read my disclosure here.

Baby being bottle fed

Bottle Feeding

As long as the baby is healthy and fed, it really doesn’t matter if the baby is bottle-fed or not

Every situation is different and it’s your choice. Regardless of what you decided, bottle feeding can be great. Here’s why . . .

PROS

  • bottle feeding is convenient since you don’t need to worry about if you have enough milk. Whatever you make is what the baby will receive, you can control the increase of the milk that your child receives.
  • it’s really helpful for those who unfortunately have issues producing milk to feed their babies or are unable to due to unforeseen situations.
  • it allows others to help more by feeding your baby. This is a little more challenging for breastfed babies – in the very beginning anyway.

CONS

  • with bottle feeding you run a high chance of having gas issues (aka a colicky baby). Not to say that a breastfed baby cannot develop colic as well because they can. Sometimes they do but the probability is higher in bottle-fed because sometimes swallowing too much air can cause the baby to be fussy and gassy.
  • another issue that can arise is digestive problems due to the inability to break down ingredients in the formula.
African American baby being breastfed

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding, like motherhood, is one of the greatest things but can also be one of the hardest things a mom will experience. 

When most of us try breastfeeding for the first time, we all assume it’ll be easy and it’ll come naturally. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen like this. . . most of the time anyway. These are some of the things that come with breastfeeding: 

PROS

  • breastfeeding is convenient because wherever you go you can feed your baby. You don’t need to worry about having the right amount of formula & liquid to mix. Everything you need is right there – ready to go when you whip them out. 
  • allows you to bond with your baby especially as a first-time mom it really helps.
  • provides your baby with antibodies as well as builds their immune system from what they’re receiving from your milk
  • helps with strengthening and growing the jaw; as well proper teeth alignment of your little one.  So this may help you skip that trip to the orthodontists ($$$).

CONS

  • can be physically and mentally exhausting
  • lack of milk production can become an issue  
  • latching issues (including pain due to nipple laceration)
  • frequent feeding
  • babies sometimes use the breast as a pacifier

Side note: Breastfed babies tend to have fewer digestive issues including constipation and diarrhea.

How often does your baby need to feed?

In the beginning, your newborn will require more feedings. It’s usually around the clock which can amount to every 2 hours in a breastfed baby which is about 12 times within a day.  

As they get older the frequency of breastfeeding throughout the day will decrease but the length of the feeding might increase. 

Side note: This is the case a lot of the time but not all times. If you have a high demand/high needs baby they’ll tend to feed often well past the time frame of a baby that isn’t high demand/ high needs.

Bear in mind because your baby is being breastfed they do require frequent feedings due to the fact that breast milk is easily digested compared to formula.

I had many, many, many sleepless nights due to my baby crying and needing to be fed.

Needless to say, I survived (barely) with help from a lactation specialist.

She was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! She answered many of my questions by clarifying some of the many misconceptions we have as first-time moms.

I highly recommend getting help when needed.  Ask the hospital where you birth your child and/or look for other options (locally and virtually).  There are local groups and FB groups that will offer the help and support you’ll need when breastfeeding for the first time.

Should I put my baby on a feeding schedule?

Whether breastfed or bottle fed, putting the baby on a schedule would be wonderful, however, it really depends on the individual baby and the parent.

In most cases, there is a need to develop a routine however when that happens really depends. 

You’ll want to try it with your baby – especially if they’re bottle-fed. 

Not that you can’t do it but there are different factors that need to be included when doing the scheduling.

For example, do you have enough milk in both breasts or do you have to wait for more to come down? 

You’ll need to see what works better for you and the baby. 

Baby drinking a bottle

As time goes by and things get settled, you can see how often your baby feeds on the breast. When you switch from one breast to the other,  you’ll be able to get into a rhythm and then be able to make a schedule based on that rhythm of you and your baby.

Just keep in mind the first month or two are going to be rough for you and your newborn. But if you stick with it, as time goes by you’ll learn and adjust accordingly.

Just be mindful that nothing is set in stone.

Everything can be adjusted and before you know it within about the third to the fourth month you’ll probably have developed a schedule and be able to put your baby on one.

But, why is my baby feeding all the time?

In the beginning, a baby will be feeding more frequently but as they get older they taper down on how often they feed.  You do always want to check to make sure that they are getting what they need and don’t have any issues. 

For example, my son was tongue-tied so he was constantly needing to be fed because he was having issues latching on. Once it was corrected he was okay. He didn’t feed as often because he was getting enough milk and didn’t have to work so hard.

Breastfeeding for comfort is really a thing?

Absolutely! Babies may tend to comfort feed during growth spurts, are in pain, fighting sleep, or just looking to be close to you. 

When your little one is constantly eating for short periods of time, usually, it’ll last for a couple of days sometimes more but it should settle down once the baby adapts to their feeding routine. Things associated with breastfeeding for comfort:

  • Cluster feeding – this is when your baby feeds way more often than usual. It typically happens within the first 2-3 months of life.
  • High Needs/High Demand – having a baby that requires much more attention and energy isn’t talked about as much as it should be. There are so many moms that are suffering alone. If you have a high needs/high demand baby, comfort feeding is something they’ll do and it can be extremely frustrating as a mom. 

So how do I know my baby is full?

You’ll know when your baby is full because they’ll . . .

  • push away or move their head away from the breast or the bottle
  • fall asleep
  • become fussy because they are done feeding
  • slow down the suckling motion 
  • relax their body and have their hands open
  • get fussy after they feed and you offer them the breast or the bottle again
  • stop suckling and/or extend their arms, fingers, and/or legs – they’re basically milk wasted. Ha!

How much spit-up is normal for a breastfed baby?

It’s normal for a baby to spit up.

For breastfed babies about once a day. We could say one to two teaspoons. Anything more than you’ll want to keep an eye on it. When in doubt it’s always good to just check with your pediatrician because too much spit up can mean there are some digestive issues going on. Just to rule out anything just get it checked out.

Breastfeeding baby

What are the consequences if you “overfeed” your baby?

If in the rare case a baby is overfed, they’re gonna have issues with their stomach, not going to be comfortable, they’re going to be fussy and crying as well as issues in the change in the color of their poop and some reflux.

Tips to Soothe Your Baby When You Know the Baby is Full

Sometimes even when your little one is full they may still be a little fussy and need some form of reassurance and soothing. Here are some methods to try to see if you can help soothe your little one after they are done feeding but still a little cranky.

  • Try using a pacifier
  • Moving to a quiet room with not many stimulating visuals
  • Using low pitch white noise to help calm your little one

Next Steps

At the end of the day whether you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding all we’re trying to do is make sure that our little ones get the best – without us losing our minds.

If you decide to go the breastfeeding route just bear in mind that even though breastfeeding is natural doesn’t mean it always comes naturally to you but with time and some planning and getting help when needed you will get through. Even if you have some hiccups you’ll get the hang of it whichever route you choose.

Happy breastfeeding!

 

– Anonymous Mom

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