After I took my baby Peony to her 6-month well-baby doctor’s visit a few months, out of curiosity I got out my older daughter Petunia’s baby book to compare their stats. They were the exact same length at 6-months-old, but Peony weighed two pounds less. And Peony was a pound heavier at birth than her older sister, who is now almost 4.
I can’t account for the difference, but I kind of can: Peony has never touched a drop of formula, while Petunia started on a regimen of breast milk and formula when she was two-weeks-old, going to all-formula at 4-months-old.
A new study out of the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta just revealed breastfed babies gain less weight in their first year compared to formula-fed babies, according to Fox News.
But here’s what I’m wondering: Is this really new news?
According to the findings of the study, the weight difference in the types of feeding “may come down to how much of a role babies play in deciding when to stop feeding, instead of mothers or fathers forcing them to finish a bottle,” according to the lead author, Dr. Ruowei Li. “If the babies are fed by the breast, the baby plays a very active role, because they are the ones who decide when to suckle and when to stop.”
On the other hand, babies fed by bottled “gradually lose their self-regulation of their energy intake and the internal cues of satiety and hunger.”
Close to 2,000 babies born in the mid-2000s were followed for the purpose of the study. Bottle-fed babies gained about 3 three ounces more per month compared to those who were bottled fed. (The study also looked at babies who got breast milk directly from the source as well as from the bottle, and babies who had a combination of breast milk and formula.)
Li concluded that, “breastfeeding really is the first feeding choice for the babies,” although supplementing with breast milk from the bottle was a “good second option.”
The study supports other recent findings that breastfeeding newborns can help prevent obesity later in life. And, another study found that breast milk can also help prevent underweight babies.
For babies not able to be breastfed for any reason, the suggestion is to “pay attention to the signals a baby sends out to prevent overfeeding with a bottle, such as keeping their mouth shut or not wanting to suckle.”
I know with Peony I let her decide how much she’ll nurse each time. With Petunia, we definitely felt like she was supposed to take in a certain amount of ounces per feeding. Reading that bottle (and formula) fed babies are heavier? No surprise to me. How about you?
This isn’t a judgment on breast vs. formula, but really, does anything in this study surprise you?
Photo credit: iStock