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7 Signs You're Overfeeding Your Baby When Supplementing

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Trying to figure out how much your baby should eat in the first year can sometimes feel like rocket science. Babies often have erratic sleeping and eating behaviors, leaving you clueless as to how often both things should occur. Things can get even more complicated when you start supplementing with formula, and mothers who bottle and breastfeed often wonder if they're overdoing it. Thankfully, there are signs you're overfeeding your baby when supplementing that you can watch out for.

“Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to overfeed babies,” pediatrician Sara DuMond M.D. tells Romper, adding, “babies who are overfed are at risk for increased disturbances in sleep patterns, self-regulation/self-soothing patterns, and abnormal growth pattern.” Consistent overfeeding can lead to weight problems as well. "Once a baby’s stomach is stretched out, it is hard for the baby to feel satiated with less volume of milk," pediatrician Dyan Hes M.D. tells Romper in an email.

Overfeeding your baby once or twice is unlikely to lead to long-term problems. To avoid doing it on a regular basis, though, take generalized milk/formula guides as just that — general. “At every stage of infancy there is a recommended volume of breastmilk or formula for a baby to drink," Dr. Hes explains, but "there is a lot of wiggle room depending on the size of your baby.” Additionally, Dr. DuMond encourages parents to learn how to recognize their baby’s unique hunger cues, because crying doesn’t always mean it's time to eat. These are seven signs could indicate that your baby has been overfed, so you know to adjust for next time.


Your Baby Spits Up Frequently

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This sign is a little tricky because sometimes babies can have reflux caused by something else. But according to The Bump, if you notice that your baby turned away from the bottle a few times during a feeding and then subsequently spit up that may be an indicator that the baby is taking in too much at one time. This spit-up may even look a little different than normal, says Dr. Hes. "Sometimes it is not true vomit, but literally the milk pours out of the babies like a slow fountain.”


Your Baby Is Really Fussy (And Often)

Just think about how you feel when you know you've overeaten. You feel bloated, your stomach might actually ache, and you just feel generally uncomfortable. It's the same for babies. If they have too much milk in their stomach, the New Kid Center website noted that babies will get fussy because they feel discomfort with an overfull belly. This fussiness can even begin during the feeding, says Dr. DuMond.


You Are Changing 8 Or More Heavily Wet Diapers Per Day

The elimination habits of babies will change constantly over the first year of life. A good general guideline for determining if your child is getting enough milk is if your baby has four to five sopping wet diapers per day, according to Kelly Mom. This applies to all babies older than six weeks. If you're changing upwards of eight fully soaked diapers a day it may be time to ask your pediatrician if that's normal for your baby.


You Are Changing Several Runny Poop Diapers

Part of analyzing the health of your baby is checking out the appearance of their poops. As the Baby Center website explained, formula-fed babies have pasty, peanut butter-like poop. It can be yellow or greenish brown. If your formula-fed baby has frequent, runny poop, it could be a sign that they're getting more milk than they need.


Your Baby Has Lots Of Gas

If your baby is burping or passing gas a lot it might be time to look more closely at their milk intake, because Dr. DuMond says that’s a common sign of an overfed baby. The Baby Care and Advice website explained that if you're overfeeding your baby they can get lactose overload, which occurs when the baby is taking in too much lactose from too much milk and doesn't have enough enzymes in their stomach yet to break it all down. The baby isn't necessarily lactose intolerant, just unable to digest it all.


Your Baby Has A Hard Time Sleeping

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Think about how often your sleep is disturbed if you drink a lot of liquids before bed. You're constantly waking up to go to the bathroom, or might feel really uncomfortable and have a hard time falling asleep. Same with babies. “In general, babies who are satiated will follow a very predictable sleep-wake-eat-play-sleep pattern, as opposed to a more erratic feeding/awake/sleep pattern,” says Dr. DuMond.


Your Baby Is Gaining More Weight Than Average

Just like adults, if you're eating more food than your body needs you will gain weight. The difference between adults and babies is that babies need to gain a certain amount of weight regularly because they are growing. However, if a baby is taking in more calories than they're burning they will gain weight more rapidly according to the website Kids Spot.

Using weight as a marker of overeating gets challenging and relying solely on your child's weight as an indication of overfeeding is not advised. Instead, Dr. DuMond recommends regular check-ups with your pediatrician to track your baby’s growth appropriately.

As a new parent you're bound to question just about everything involving your baby, including how much they eat. Some babies might be super vocal and very obvious in their eating patterns, others not so much. Remember, you don't need to hyper-focus on the ounces and the numbers on the bottle, you just need to monitor how your baby is acting to get a good understanding of what their individual body needs.


Sara DuMond, M.D., FAAP, Founder & Chief Medical Officer of Pediatric Housecalls and a Dr. Brown's Medical Expert

Dyan Hes, M.D., Medical Director of Gramercy Pediatrics

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