Breastfeeding has hit the headlines again following a study that suggests breastfed babies cry more than formula-fed babies. However, researchers are keen to point out that this is perfectly normal behaviour and that breastfeeding is still the best option.
Study leader Dr Ken Ong, from the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge, said, “There is an overwhelming body of evidence supporting breastfeeding as the normal and most healthy form of infant nutrition, and our findings do not contradict this.”
Dr Ken added, “Rather than being put off breastfeeding, parents should have more realistic expectations of normal infant behaviour and should receive better understanding and support to cope with difficult infant behaviours if needed.”
So what else should parents know about these findings? First off, the study was small – just 316 mums were asked to comment on the temperament of their baby and to state whether they were using breast or bottle. This broke down to 137 babies being exclusively breastfed, 88 babies being exclusively bottlefed, and 91 having a combo of formula and breast milk.
Secondly, it could be that overfeeding may play a role in the calmer nature of the babies in the study. “Bottlefed babies may appear more content, but research suggests that these infants may be over-nourished and gain weight too quickly,” Dr Ken said.
As Rosie Dodds, of the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), commented, “It would be interesting to compare this with countries where almost all babies are breastfed.
“We often hear from mothers who say that once both they and their baby got the hang of it, breastfeeding was a breeze.”
Does this small study ring true for your family? Or is it the opposite in your home, with a calm breastfed baby or cranky bottlefeed baby?