The Bigger the Bottle, the Fatter the Baby

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A big baby bottle may make for a big baby, a new study has found.

Pediatricians asked parents of new babies fed only infant formula to show them their baby bottles. Some bottles hold two ounces; others hold 11 ounces or more.

After controlling for other factors that influence weight gain, the researchers found that using a large bottle when the baby was 2 months old was associated with a more rapid increase in weight gain by the time the babies were 6 months old compared to those who used smaller bottles.

While babies should gain weight, rapid weight gain in infants is a predictor of later obesity. Using a smaller bottle could be an easy step to take to help ward off excess weight gain, said Dr. Eliana M. Perrin, the study’s senior author and a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. The paper was published in Pediatrics.

Earlier studies had found that larger bottles are associated with more formula intake, she said.

It’s important for parents who feed by bottle to pay attention to cues of both hunger and satiety, said Dr. Charles T. Wood, a research fellow at U.N.C. and the paper’s first author. A crying baby doesn’t always mean a hungry baby, and a baby who bats the bottle away or gets distracted and turns away from it may be full, Dr. Wood said.

If that happens, Dr. Perrin said, “Don’t force them to finish their bottles.”