We may all have different definitions of wellness or what health means to us, but it’s a pretty much universal truth that there’s an ideal type of adorable baby out there. I don’t mean personality or how well they sleep through the night (although there’s an obvious winner in that category). I’m talking all aesthetics.
People love pudgy babies. I'm talking chubby legs, chubby arms, and cheeks for days. The Michelin Man is more or less the ideal baby. Just poofy rolls that are so perfectly chubby in a way no adult can ever achieve. Anyway, despite our wishes for children to be nice and plump in their formative months, a newborn can become overfed. Some think it's especially easy when they’re being breastfed since that’s not measured out in the same way as a bottle.
Of course, there are also huge pros for breastfeeding — quantity is just a consideration to take into mind. Anyway, just as a thick baby isn’t necessarily overfed, a more slight baby isn't necessarily underfed. It’s all about signs and clues and context. Good thing we rounded up the biggest giveaways of an overfed infant! If these seem familiar, it’s just an issue with a pretty simple solution.
20 Baby Has A Lot Of Gas
It’s not as sweet smelling as the top of a baby’s head, but it shouldn’t necessarily be super ripe or all that frequent. Near-constant easiness in an infant is typically a sign of overfeeding because the baby is swallowing air during feedings, which causes abdominal discomfort and gas. Swallowing air might happen if the baby is feeding too quickly or if they’re not being fed properly. Adults and children are able to recognize stomach upset and tell others what they’re experiencing, but of course, an infant can’t. If there’s regularly odors but the diaper is empty, it could be an excess of gas.
19 And Spits Up Frequently
Until a baby reaches the four-month mark, their stomach can only comfortably contain a very small amount of milk. The stomach itself is surprisingly small in adults, so it tracks that a newborn has a positively tiny tummy. A little bit of spitting up is totally normal, but when they’re regularly overfed and most parents track how many ounces of milk their baby ingests. However, possibly more important than numbers are your babies cues and actions. If a parent tries to “make up” for a small meal beforehand with extra milk, the baby probably won’t be able to process the extra bit.
18 Is Fussy Often
Every parent knows that a baby’s crying can mean any number of things are wrong. Parents are like sleuths in that way. It’s up to the new parent to learn the language of crying, whether through research or even if it’s just through the process of elimination when certain soothing actions don't work to calm the infant. However, the rare overfed baby is experiencing digestive discomfort and may be more grumpy than usual. It’s hard to have a marker for their mood when they’re so young and have revealed very little of their personality, but fussing with seemingly no solution may be a sign they’re overfed.
17 Baby Has 8 Or More Really Wet Diapers Daily
When an infant is overfed, their body can’t properly digest all the food in their system. It’s exactly like the old maxim, “too much of a good thing.” In moderation, formula or milk is one of life’s building blocks. Since the baby’s body is just trying to make some room in that tiny tummy of theirs, their BM’s aren’t coming out as healthy and way more frequent than usual. This one should be pretty obvious and easy to spot a difference of development in. The air that’s also swallowed from overfeeding certainly doesn’t help the situation, since their new little body is overworked.
16 And Doesn't Sleep Well, Or For Long
It’s difficult for an infant to stay asleep when they’re in discomfort. Their entire lives are focused on being comfortable in their body and gradually mastering the body’s many functions, so something seemingly innocuous as a tummy ache is literally seismic. Babies definitely aren’t at that stage where they can soldier on even with some cramping- they’re focused on the discomfort and are going to let everyone know about it. Anyway, sleep is another essential ingredient to their healthy growth and if they’re being overfed, it’s likely they’re also not sleeping enough. Nothing sounds crankier than a sleep deprived baby — there’s just no reason for it!
15 They Pull Up Their Legs To Their Abdomen
A baby doesn’t have many means of self-expression at this stage in life. They’re way too young for the over-the-top poetry that is the salvation of even the most removed of teens, or whatever outlet more athletic kids tend towards. And of course, babies don’t have the same outlets for frustration that adults have. A baby’s upset or anger comes in more visceral, subtle forms and actions. If they’re tightening their muscles and it has nothing to do with movement, tummy time or playing in general — they may be expressing discomfort from too much content in their stomach.
14 It Takes Less Than 15 Minutes To Finish A Regular Bottle
This is more difficult to have an exact measurement of when it comes to breastfeeding, but it should be fairly obvious if a parent is using the bottle. Regardless, a mother who's experienced with breastfeeding most likely knows the rough amount that qualifies as a meal. If the infant is finishing that in record time, it’s not a great thing. No awards for competitive eating just yet- that comes years down the road. This can be aided by removing the nipple from the infant’s mouth so they have to wait and digest the milk, although this may be incredibly frustrating for parents dealing with issues latching.
13 You're Feeding Them A Bottle They've Repeatedly Turned Away From
Babies are typically pretty good about feeling out when they’re full. They may not have any concept of ounces or what weight they should be and they definitely don’t know about caloric intake, but they do know when they’re full. So a baby will usually avoid a bottle if it's full- it’s common sense. However, a pushy caregiver can absolutely get a baby to feed when they’re already full. It’s such an innate skill linked so deeply in one’s mind to survival and availability of resources — that may be part of why even the best of us overeat given the chance.
12 They're Chewing The Bottle
We’ve all been chided for playing with our food. Now, at a slightly older age, this could be because it’s very fun when nuggets are dinosaur shaped and French fries have smiles. But at this young age, an infant is playing with their food is a big tip-off that they don’t want to eat. Babies typically don’t take more food than they want and need — this isn’t about limiting portions or guilt from indulging. Babies, fortunate for them, don’t know to feel those ways. So if the nipple is becoming more of a toy than a transport for food, that’s your baby’s very polite way of saying thanks but no thanks.
11 They Cry After Feedings
A baby shouldn’t be crying after a feeding — it’s too soon after eating for them to need a clean diaper and their needs have just been met and satiated, ideally. If a baby is crying immediately after feedings, it’s most likely a sign that something about the feeding was wrong. As they digest the milk or formula, the crying is being initiated by their discomfort. Distracting them may help with this process, although be especially gentle with rocking. We’ve all been nauseous and an unwelcome motion sent us over the edge. If crying after a feeding has become regular, that’s because they're not being fed properly or regularly.
10 Their Growth Has Slowed From Spitting Up Milk
It’s an odd little irony that an infant whose being overfed might become underweight. Some parents may see a plump infant and worry about weight issues down the road, but most of us see the puppy pudge as a necessity to keep a developing baby safe. Baby padding is like the rubber covering on cords and wires — it’s padding to keep everything safe and sound! Anyway, since an overfed baby isn’t properly digesting their milk, their body may just pass the food through without harvesting its nutrition. This is how an abundance of food can paradoxically lead to a slimmer baby than is ideal.
9 They Act Colic-y
The signs of colic are intense and really not enjoyable. Whether it’s a face red and flushed from crying or crying during bodily movements (never a good sign) or just the general wrath of a baby with clenched fists and taut stomach muscles. There’s also the symptoms that are more outwardly directed — like crying with seemingly no solution. It’s believed that the crying only intensifies the colic (or symptoms of colic caused by overfeeding), since more air is swallowed as they bawl. If colic’s been ruled out, the best approach is to stop overfeeding them (obviously) and for now, distract them to ease the crying.
8 They're Bloated Or Cramping
Now, a newborn doesn’t know the difference between bloating and cramping. It’s a nuance I have trouble with too when I’m complaining to my friends about why I don’t feel like doing whatever. Of course, the difference is so important — if you’re always using bloating as an excuse to get out of stuff then you’re probably underusing cramping as an excuse! Anyway, if a newborn seems to have a very sensitive stomach (as in, sensitive to physical touch — not sensitive to allergens or foods), it’s likely they’re experiencing one of the two. Or both! Aww, poor baby. Feed ‘em a little less! They’ll appreciate it, even if they don’t have words to say so.
7 Their Belching Is Large
If your baby is burping like a bad houseguest (or a very polite and appreciative guest at a dinner party, depending on which culture you ask), it’s possible they’re being overfed. While overfeeding usually manifests in spitting up milk that didn’t fit in their stomach, the excess air being swallowed has to go out somewhere. There are only two directions for that air, so it’s either emerging as a belch or as gas. There’s a normal amount of belching for anyone, but if it seems like your baby has started doing this way more frequently than usual — overfeeding might be the cause.
6 They're Irritable
An overfed baby is a grumpy baby. They don't know the term "food baby" yet, probably because that would just be a "food me" to them. Their most important job, which is to grow and develop, is getting impeded! Plus, it’s uncomfortable! Who wouldn’t be upset by that? So while an overfed infant is fairly rare and a grouchy baby is more than common for a whole host of reasons, if it seems your baby’s mood has darkened — this could be it. The good news is that they’re not inherently curmudgeonly, or at least just yet. The other good news is this is a problem you can totally fix with some thoughtfulness and moderation.
5 They Associate The Bottle With Sleep Too Much
While most of the responsibility of an overfed baby falls on the parents (as the culpability will for many years to come), the baby may also be sending mixed signals to the parent. If the bottle is frequently used to comfort a baby and coax them to sleep, a baby may be truly asking for help going to sleep (i.e. being rocked, sung to, gently spoken to) but instead request the bottle. They’re misidentified the cause of the experience with the result it corresponds to, if that makes sense. If baby has eaten recently but is overdue for a nap, it might not be the right time for a feeding so much as a lullaby session.
4 Dramatic Change In Size
It’s a pretty undeniable truth that when any human (or animal — we’ve all encountered a very chunky squirrel whose struggled up a fence or tree to steal more bird feed) ingests more calories than necessary, they gain mass. That’s just one of the truths that make the world go ‘round. So while a baby may pass the majority of the excess milk in any number of ways that signify their body rejecting it, it’s also likely a baby will just gain too much. This is where it can be helpful to check in with doctor-approved charts or call the pediatrician.
3 They're Eating Way More Ounces Than Normal
An overfed baby typically sends out cues to their caregiver that they’re full, but they can still be motivated to eat. It’s less so that the meal looks so appetizing (like when you know you should stop eating that Chipotle burrito but it’s just so difficult and then — whoopsie daisies — the whole thing is gone) and more so that learning to eat is such an automated response it’s hard to deny. So if your baby’s overall input of food has really spiked, it’s possible that they don’t even want to be eating that much. It’s just what their body has been set up to do, and with good reason- that’s one of the most important survival skills!
2 They're Falling Asleep During Bottle Time
Babies are a notoriously sleepy bunch (one of the many perks of being a baby), but they’re also a very food motivated crowd. If a baby is eating the amount they want to eat, they’ll generally stick around and stay awake for the span of the feeding. A full tummy makes even the best of us want to nod off, but for an infant to fall asleep well before their meal is over is a sign they don’t particularly want or need the food. Respecting these cues is the best way to avoid overfeeding your baby. Just like you know when you’re full, they do too.
1 They're Spitting Up, Like, A Lot
What happens when you pour too much liquid in a cup? It’s an obvious question with a straight-forward answer, but the same thing happens when a baby’s stomach is filled with too much fluid. There’s just not enough space for “topping off” if the tank is already overfilled. Spitting up is totally natural, but incessant throw-up or especially intense spitting up may be a sign that the portions are out of control. While spitting up is typically a normal reflex for infants, if this is bordering on projectile vomiting then you have an issue. It may be an intolerance to formula or an indication of overfeeding.