It can be difficult to deal with a crying baby, so news that breastfed babies may cry more than those who are bottle-fed does not sound like a good sales pitch for breastfeeding. However, the authors of the new study stress that this display of irritability may be a communication issue between mother and child, and that moms should hang in there and continue to breastfeed.
Breastfeeding offers infants many benefits
The health benefits associated with breastfeeding have been well publicized, including the fact that there is an “overwhelming body of evidence supporting breastfeeding as the normal and most healthy form of infant nutrition,” as noted by the new study’s lead researcher Dr. Ken Ong, a pediatrician from the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge.
For example, breastfeeding has been found to protect infants and children against development of infections (including ear infections), eczema, allergies, asthma, and both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In addition, breastfeeding helps reduce the risk of obesity and is associated with better cognitive development.
New breastfeeding study results
But a cranky, crying baby can cast a shadow over breastfeeding if mothers believe their infant is unhappy with being breastfed. Therefore in the new study, the researchers evaluated 316 babies aged 3 months and asked the mothers about their infants’ crying habits and their ability to soothe the babies.
Compared with mothers who bottle fed their infants, those who were breastfeeding or who used both bottles and breastfeeding said their babies cried more and were harder to console. Dr. Ong emphasized, however, that “Bottle-fed babies may appear more content, but research suggests that these infants may be over-nourished and gain weight too quickly,” which is undesirable given the high rate of childhood obesity.
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