Is It Possible to Overfeed A Breastfed Baby? The Truth About Overfeeding And Breastfeeding

Myths about Breastfeeding

Parenting is one of the most interesting discussions among mothers. However, there are times when information overload, particularly through ‘word of mouth,’ leads to misinformation. One particular topic commonly talked about by mothers is breastfeeding. Through time, there have been some misconceptions formed on breastfeeding.

A lot of women believe breastfeeding comes naturally easy. But obviously, this is one myth that deserves debunking. Breastfeeding is an instinct that most babies have; however, for mothers, breastfeeding is a skill that can be learned and mastered through experience.

Another myth is that doctors are knowledgeable about breastfeeding. But this is not the case because most doctors do not consider breastfeeding relevant to their role. As a matter of fact, the majority of doctors have limited judgment of the functional aspects of assisting a nursing mom to overcome breastfeeding problems.

There are still other myths surrounding breastfeeding. But there’s one myth that most mothers still believe up to this day – overfeeding a breastfed baby should be avoided. Breastfeeding mothers are often told it is not good to overfeed the baby. What is the truth behind this myth? Is It Possible to Overfeed A Breastfed Baby?

The Benefits of Breastfeeding for You and Your Baby

Breastmilk is an excellent source of nutrition for babies. It has a combination of fats, proteins, and vitamins that your infant needs for growth and development. Breastmilk has antibodies that aid in fighting off bacteria and viruses. Breastfeeding a baby can help reduce risks of allergies and asthma attacks. Breastfeeding provides reassurance and comfort to the baby. Moreover, when babies receive breast milk in the first six months, they are less likely to be exposed to respiratory illnesses, ear infections, and diarrhea, and lower incidence of hospitalizations.

Some studies claim that breastfeeding provides the right nourishment to the baby and is associated with high IQ scores in children, particularly during their late childhood. In addition, the eye contact and physical closeness develop the bond between mothers and babies and make the latter feel more secure. Most importantly, breastfeeding performs a crucial role in preventing the occurrence of SIDS or the sudden infant death syndrome.

As for mothers, breastfeeding helps burn the calories; hence, it is a potent aid in losing weight after pregnancy. When a mother breastfeeds, the oxytocin hormone is released. This hormone aids the uterus in returning to its size and may diminish the incidence of bleeding in the uterus after giving birth. Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer. Likewise, it may reduce risks of developing osteoporosis.

Signs of A Hungry and A Full Baby

Feeding a baby can be stressful. There are many questions to consider such as how often should you feed a baby, how do you know if the baby is full or hungry, and a lot more. Nevertheless, if you know the simplest and most basic truth that your baby is the ultimate indicator in giving hints to his or her stomach condition, there is surely nothing more to be concerned about.

You will know that your baby is hungry through his or her cry. When the baby is hungry, he would usually exhibit a low-pitched cry. Other behavioral signals that one will notice include the baby being overly stressed to begin eating easily. A baby is also likely to be hungry when he wakes up and behaves restlessly. He would usually move around and bring his hands to his mouth. Also, you will know that your baby is hungry when you stroke his cheek, and his natural response is to turn his head toward the breast or bottle and produce sucking motions.

On the other hand, your baby is full when his lips are closed and he starts turning his head away. Your baby will also fall asleep when he is already full. At other times, he will pay more attention to his surroundings than to your breast or milk bottle.

Is It Possible to Overfeed A Breastfed Baby?

So, going back to the question: “Is it possible to overfeed a breastfed baby?”, the answer is, yes and no depending on how this question is understood!

Breastfeeding a baby takes a lot of hard work. First, when the baby breastfeeds, he is using approximately 40 facial muscles. Hence, if a baby is not in need of hydration, nourishment, comfort, or pain relief for combatting diseases, or does not need some entertainment because of anxiety or boredom, then they will not look for their mom’s milk.

Babies usually breastfeed due to various reasons. They breastfeed because they seek comfort; they are hungry, thirsty, and needs protection from illness; or they want some entertainment or relief from pain. It is the baby’s biological norm to breastfeed for reasons not related to hunger. From the point of view, it is not wise to have what is typical behavior of a breastfed kid to then cause obesity, rapid growth, and weight gain.

Research suggests that during the 3rd to 12th month of their age, breastfed babies have slower growth compared to babies that are formula fed. This is a clear sign that babies who are bottle fed consume more than those of their peers who breastfed. The World Health Organization further supports this claim. They discovered that babies who are breastfed have optimum development than those who are formula-fed.

When the baby breastfeeds, he would usually suck larger amount of breast milk. But as the baby starts to feel full, he will slowly withdraw and fall asleep. Hence, it is impossible to overfeed a baby.

Overfeeding a baby with breast milk does not pose any danger. Breast milk can be digested quickly compared to formula milk. Hence, even if the baby overfeeds on breast milk, he or she will be able to digest it quickly. Once the baby is full, it will continue to suck on his or her mother’s breast for pain relief or comfort.


Whether it is possible or not to overfeed a breastfed baby is entirely dependent on the basis of the question. Overfeeding a breastfed baby is not possible because babies have their instincts and know when to stop when they are full. On the other hand, even if the baby overfeeds on breast milk, it does not pose any danger because breast milk is easily digestible.

Author Bio:

Mary Ross is a mom of four. She loves using her energy to help other people improve their lives. She started The Impressive Kids to help first-time moms and dads overcome the challenges of being new parents. She’s a foodie, and always finds time to cook for her family.


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