Babies and Feeding: The Mistakes That Could Raise Their Obesity Risk

A new study published online in the journal Pediatrics sheds light on some feeding behaviors that could actually boost your baby's risk of obesity later in life.

I nursed my youngest son on demand, and when he cried, my first instinct was usually to offer him a boob. If he was crying at night, there was a good chance that that boob was offered from the living room couch, with Mad Men or Project Runway or some other show on TV in the background.

But according to a new study published online yesterday in the journal Pediatrics, some of that behavior could actually boost my son's risk of obesity later in life.

As HealthDay reported, "Researchers found that of nearly 900 parents of 2-month-olds, many reported at least one habit studies have linked to increased odds of childhood obesity—including putting their baby to sleep with a bottle, "always" trying to get their baby to finish the milk or offering milk every time the baby cried." Furthermore, "nearly half reported watching TV half of the time they fed their infant."

I find this study, which involved a racially diverse group of low-income parents who were participating in an obesity prevention trial, disheartening, because it reveals all sorts of mistakes that parents make that could lead to weight problems for kids. (And while the study only involved low-income parents, these behaviors obviously aren't limited to low-income families.) Check out these surprising findings:

*Only 19 percent of parents were exclusively breastfeeding. (Many studies have found that breast-fed babies are less likely to become obese.)

*12 percent had already introduced solid food.

*66 percent of parents didn't follow the AAP's guidelines for "tummy time."

*43 percent of parents put their babies to sleep with bottles.

*20 percent offered milk every time their baby cried.

*38 percent always encouraged their baby to finish all of the milk offered.

*90 percent of infants were exposed to TV.

It looks like I did one thing right, at least: Both of my sons were exclusively breast-fed. At this point, I'm hoping that will even out the inadvertent screen time.

Image of baby with bottle courtesy of Shutterstock

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