Breast milk is the perfect food for newborns up to the age of 6 months and even 2 years. However, there is an assumption in society that babies are fat because breast milk can increase the risk of obesity and health problems. Is that right? Check out the full facts below.
Is it true that breast milk can cause children to be fat and obese?
Babies who drink exclusively breast milk in the early months may be obese. Some people call fat even similar to children who drink formula milk. This raises concerns that breast milk can cause obese children even in obesity. Babies who are obese because of breast milk may be caused by breast milk that contains high fat (hindmilk). Over time, the child’s weight will adjust.
So, breast milk does not cause obesity or obesity in infants. In fact, breastfeeding can actually reduce the risk of obesity in infants and children as adults. Various studies have proven this. Babies who are breastfed are less likely to be overweight or obese later in life. Breastfeeding directly from the mother’s breast is known to contribute to healthy eating habits and maintaining a healthy weight throughout childhood to adulthood.
As research in the journal Pediatrics, breast milk can prevent obesity in infants by:
- The growth of good bacteria in the intestines. Breastfeeding supports the growth of good bacteria in the baby’s digestive system. These good bacteria play a role in metabolism and the immune system.
- Self setting. Breastfed babies are able to regulate the amount of milk their mothers produce and the amount of milk they need while breastfeeding. That way, babies can learn hunger and fullness cues from an early age.
- Delay the introduction of solid foods. Getting breast milk for 6 months can delay the baby’s time to get solid foods earlier. Shorter breastfeeding duration or earlier introduction of solid foods (before 5 months) was associated with a higher body mass index (BMI) at 12 months of age.
In addition, breast milk also has benefits in regulating hormone metabolism, such as insulin and leptin in the regulation and storage of body fat. This is what makes breastfed babies less likely to be obese than those who get formula milk. Direct breastfeeding has been shown to be able to maintain a healthy weight, while preventing obesity in infants.
However, this effect can weaken or even disappear because it is influenced by several things, namely:
- Amount of breast milk given
- Breastfeeding from a bottle (not directly from the mother’s breast)
- Formula feeding
That way, the assumption that babies are fat because of breast milk is a myth that develops in society. Breast milk is the best food for babies. Adequate breastfeeding can actually maintain a healthy baby weight.
How to prevent baby obesity
Fat babies are adorable, but being overweight or obese can actually increase the risk of health problems in infants and children. You also need to pay attention to breastfeeding your baby to help your baby grow optimally. Here are some ways you can do to maintain a healthy weight and prevent obesity in babies:
Give exclusive breastfeeding
As much as possible, give exclusive breastfeeding to babies until the age of 6 months. Exclusive breastfeeding means that the mother does not give other food or drink other than breast milk. Exclusive breastfeeding until the age of 5 months has been shown to reduce children’s BMI and prevent obesity, especially in children with a genetic risk for obesity.
Watch for signs your baby is hungry or thirsty. Avoid overfeeding. Especially if you give bottle milk.
Manage milk supply
Excessive milk supply in both or one breast can make breastfeeding not smooth. Even an oversupply of breast milk can lead to early weaning. This oversupply of breast milk usually occurs in the early weeks of birth. Sometimes this makes the let-down reflex more difficult. It’s not uncommon for babies to gasp for air or choke while breastfeeding.
This excessive supply of breast milk can also result in an imbalance between foremilk and hindmilk. If this is the case, try using the same breast several times while feeding. The supine position while breastfeeding can also help regulate the flow of milk.
Use a pacifier
Sometimes your baby may continue to suckle for his own comfort, meaning he’s not really hungry. To prevent excessive breastfeeding you can give your baby a pacifier, aka a pacifier.
Do light physical activity
Playing with the baby without a swaddle can also make the baby more movement and physical activity. This will make the baby’s weight more ideal because the child is so active. Make sure you put the baby in a safe and comfortable place.
Introduce solid foods with care
When entering the age of 6 months, you may start introducing complementary foods to your baby. Avoid giving sweet foods, sugar, or juice to babies. Make sure you provide healthy foods from the start to create healthy eating habits.