Overfeeding your baby?

 Q: I’m bottle-feeding our baby and I’m worried about overfeeding. Can you share your tips to avoid giving her too much?

A: This is an excellent question. Infants, for the most part, take in only the calories they need to maintain their current health and provide for good growth. They rarely over-eat — or under-eat. 

If your baby’s going through a growth spurt, she’ll need more to eat than what the feeding charts recommend. If she’s more active than average from a motor-skills standpoint, she’ll use more calories as well. If she’s a taller baby and her weight matches that, she’ll likely need to eat more for that reason. 

In general, if your baby seems hungry, it’s very likely she needs the calories. It’s really hard to overfeed your infant. 

However, where families do get into some problems with overfeeding is when they use a bottle as a pacifier or are feeding to simply stop the baby’s crying. 

Parents may also end up overfeeding if they’re propping a filled bottle in the baby’s mouth so that she or he doesn’t have any option not to drink even if he or she is already satisfied. These are both very easy to avoid.

Remember, your daughter’s clinician can assess her height, weight and activity level to help you determine a more precise suggestion on caloric intake based on her specific needs. 


Dr. Peter Dehnel is a board-certified pediatrician and medical director with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota. Send questions to drdehnel@mnparent.com. This column is intended to provide general information only and not medical advice. Contact your health care provider with questions about your child.