Just when you start to relax, now comes word that you have to be careful not to overfeed your baby! Always ready to pack for a guilt trip, having grownup children doesn’t save us from second-guessing what we did back then! Not to worry! Relaxing and having good times with feeding your baby is the way to go. But let’s lay the issue to rest.
Prescription vs Consideration
This message comes from the well-publicized (but ineffective) obesity prevention INSIGHT study, conducted by researchers at Pennsylvania State. The core intervention: Use food for hunger only and not for soothing, reward, or punishment. Go through a routine, says the study protocol, to make sure your baby really wants to eat: change the diaper first and then try other techniques, such as swaddle, change position, shush, etc. INSIGHT teaches that babies cry up to 3 1/2 hours per day. It also addresses feeding solid foods: increase vegetable intake, control portion size.
Knowing what your baby wants
Three-year-olds who were in the study had the same BMI as those who weren’t. But what of parents who spent the three years worried that their child was eating too much? I doubt if researchers intended this, but it is, understandably, easy to worry parents. Consider the careful and reassuring way Ellyn Satter addresses the same issue in the Child of Mine breastfeeding and formula-feeding chapters (pg 167 and 216): “You might want to get in the habit of sorting out what he wants, rather than feeding him first thing. Part of the problem with fussy, irregular babies is that they haven’t learned yet to maintain a quiet alert state. They work themselves up and benefit from some help getting calmed down and staying calm. Review the soothing techniques discussed on page 131 of chapter 4, and go through the routine with him. Keep in mind that you are not trying to stave him off and get him to eat less or less often. You are only going through a process of trial and error to figure out what he does want. If, however, you go through the routine and he seems to be hungry, go ahead and feed him. You are not trying to deprive him of food with these tactics; you are simply giving him a chance to settle down.”