Can You Overfeed a Breastfed Baby?


Why You Cannot overfeed a Breastfed Baby

1. Your baby will nurse when he/she needs comfort, and will nurse when he/she is hungry; both of these needs should be met. Read about comfort nursing.

2. The weight of a baby is primarily determined by genetics.

3. Breastfeeding protects your baby against adult obesity.

4. Baby will start to lose weight when he/she begins to move around; you could see the extra fat stores as energy reserves.

5. Limiting your baby’s feeds will restrict growth and brain development.


Reasons why your Baby is feeding more often than usual

Other reasons why your baby might be breastfeeding more than usual

If you allow your baby to drain one breast as much as possible before offering the other, your baby will be receiving the substantial hindmilk too, instead of mostly watery fore-milk, which causes the cramps and gas. With the next feeding, you can start with the opposite breast.

Read more about foremilk and hindmilk imbalance.

overfeed a breastfed baby, fat baby, overweight baby
  • Growth Spurts: Another reason why your baby might be drinking more than usual, is possible because he/she is going through a growth spurt.
  • Acid reflux: This can also cause your baby to drink more than usual. Your baby might drink more to subside the pain; this, in turn, escalates the problem even further.
  • The mother might be misinterpreting why her baby is crying. Other reasons why your baby might be crying.
  • Your baby is comfort nursing.
  • Rare reasons: Heart failure, renal anomalies, and endocrine disorders, which all make continued breastfeeding even more essential.


Overfeed a Breastfed Baby
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How Much Should a Newborn Eat?

How often should I breastfeed?

A mother should breastfeed on demand “whenever her baby wants to." When breastfeeding on demand, a baby will usually feed every 2 – 3 hours. But some babies might breastfeed every hour for the first few weeks. Most feedings range between 15 – 30 minutes.

Breast milk is digested very easily, much faster than formula; this is why your baby will need to drink frequently.

attachment parenting, dad and baby, image of dad with child

Read more about breastfed babies and their bowel movements.

After a few weeks, the mother’s milk supply will be more adequate, and her baby will have acquired the skill of breastfeeding aggressively, which means more extended time periods between feedings.


Overfeeding Formula?

Formula fed babies

Formula fed babies will usually drink between 2 – 3 ounces of formula per feed by six months of age. The amount should increase to approximately 6 – 8 ounces. The frequency of feeding usually drops to 4 – 5 feeds per day.

If your baby is drinking formula more often than five times per day after about five months, then it is time to start adding solids to the diet.


Do I Need to Give Baby Anything Else to Drink?

Overfeed a breastfed baby

Interesting fact

A mother should exclusively breastfeed, until six months, then only should she start adding foods to her baby’s diet. Giving your baby any other foods or drink before six months, is unnecessary and can cause excessive weight gain.


Babies who are exclusively breastfed do not need any water or other liquids. Your breast milk has all the water and nutrients that your baby needs.

If your baby is not picking up weight due to low milk supply, you can supplement with donor breast milk or formula and use an SNS.

An SNS is a device that can be attached to your breast with a little tube; the milk flows out of the pipe and encourages a baby to suck, thereby increasing a mother's milk supply.

Video on using an SNS.


Overfeed a Breastfed Baby?

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Normal Weight gain

Breastfeeding baby weight gains that are normal during the first year:

• 4-7 ounces (between 112-200g) per week for the first month. 

• 1-2 pounds (1/2 to 1kg) per month for the first six months. 

• 1 pound (1/2 kg) per month from six months to a year. 


Preventing Obesity

  • Breastfeed for as long as you can. It is recommended to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months, and then continue solids while breastfeeding for another six months.
  • Avoid solid foods until your baby is six months of age.
  • After six months, you should offer the breast first and then the solids. This is so that your baby gets most of his/her calories and vitamins from the best source first.
  • Never force your child to eat. Let your little one eat when he/she is hungry. Read more about hunger cues.
  • Make sure that your little one is playing and moving around.
  • Read more about weaning here.



Other pages on breastfeeding problems  in connection with overfeeding a breastfed baby

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