In the beginning, it can feel like a constant guessing game. Does your baby need to eat, or is it something else? As parents and babies learn to speak each other's language, the grown-ups learn to discern between one cry and another.
Sometimes that tiny wail is a sign of gas, at others, they just want a little snuggle. Parents learn to develop an arsenal of soothing tactics to ease their little one's discomforts, but some researchers think that parents need to rethink their primary soothing techniques.
Immediately reaching for the bottle when your little one cries could impact their health later in life.
Find out why feeding to soothe could set your baby up for health problems later in life...
The New York Times recently sat down with Dr. Ian Paul, a professor of pediatrics and public health sciences at Penn State. As one of the leaders of the Insight Study, he's helping parents to develop better strategies to read their babies' signals.
“Many people tell mothers to feed on demand, but they never define what ‘on demand’ is,” he said.
A distressed baby who isn't actually hungry will calm down if they're given a sweet liquid, but this correlation of consuming something sweet to feeling better could lead to emotional eating later on in life.
Dr. Paul explains: "their normal ability to regulate their emotions becomes overridden with a food reward to soothe them and that then projects later into life — when they are upset or depressed, food becomes the mechanism to soothe these emotions.”
While the trial does find a correlation between feeding on-demand and weight gain, the trial doesn't take into account the different appetites among babies. Like adults, no two babies are the same.
Another study published in JAMA Pediatrics found similar results, but author, Dr. Julie Lumeng, advised the Times that more research would be required to truly understand what babies want.
Still, it's always handy to know alternative soothing strategies for your baby. Just don't feel like you're doing the wrong thing, if it calms your infant. After all, parents know their babies best.
When you soothe your baby, what do you do first?