Hungry infants

Hungry Baby by BabyYumYumEven though our little ones’ “tummy problems” remain frequent topics of discussion, I have recently noticed that more and more mommies are asking me about “hungry” babies. This may sometimes also go along with the other problems, such as spitting up formula, colicky symptoms, cramps and even waking up several times at night – as if you are not losing enough sleep already??!!! The main concerns amongst these mommies seem to be: is my baby feeling satisfied (full and not hungry), should I feed my baby more – can this cause my baby to spit up even more/ have reflux? I think the most concerning question that arise is whether the formula should be changed or whether solid foods should be introduced to the diet earlier?

Here is a good example of what a mommy asked me earlier this week:

Hi, our baby girl is one month old. She is on formula, but vomits it out a lot of the time. She is also very hungry and can’t seem to get enough to drink. Is there another formula that will help her to stop vomiting and will feed her properly???

So let’s start with a general definition of a hungry or “greedy” baby.

When I did a bit of research, I came across quite an interesting article about hungry babies. There the definition reads as follows: “’Greedy’ infants are defined subjectively; they usually either ingest too much daily milk or cry due to excessive hunger when the ingested volumes are limited.”

To answer some of the above mentioned questions I think that we first need to look at the risks associated with over feeding or starting solid foods too early.

In the same article, it clearly states that the infants who were fed excessive meal volumes and/or were introduced to infant cereals or solid foods too soon (intended to satisfy their appetite), as a result, experienced excessive weight gain. In another article they found that excessive weight gain due to over feeding during the first few months or years in a child’s life, results in an increased risk of obesity later in childhood or adulthood. It was reported that infants were over 9 times more likely to be obese and 31 times to be extremely obese during childhood, if they experience rapid weight gain between birth and one year.

To be socially acceptable in today’s life is hard enough as it is. The last thing that we want to do is to open up doors for our children that can make this even harder.

Another risk of starting with solid foods too soon, or before 4- 5 months is that babies’ digestive system is not mature enough to digest these new substances properly and this could lead to unnecessary complications like constipation, cramps and more vomiting or “reflux”-due to over feeding. This may cause your baby to be more irritable and can increase crying time and number of times waking up at night. Furthermore, one should always be aware of the sugar intake of your infant or child. When saying sugar I mean “sucrose” or things like “corn syrup”. These are very refined sugars and can contribute to weight gain and sleeplessness.

If I think that I have a hungry baby, what can I, as a mommy, do which is safe yet effective?

BabyYumYumIf your baby is less than 4 months old and you are breastfeeding, continue to breastfeed as per routine or as your baby needs. It might just be that your baby is going through a growth spurt. As a nursing mommy, you might feel the urge to increase your own daily intake, this is normal and it is your body’s way to ensure that you have enough resources to produce enough milk. If your baby has already been introduced to solid foods (after 4-5 months), or if you feel that you cannot keep up with breastfeeding, you might consider to try a formula top up that might help your baby to feel more satisfied.

This brings me to possible infant formulas that might assist your baby to feel “fuller”.

I visited a pharmacy in my area and had a look at the baby section formula shelf again and also made an effort to speak to the clinic sister of the pharmacy for some advice on this matter, and to my surprise found only two formulas that were known to keep a baby “fuller” NAN Lactogen and Novalac SD. I think we all know Lactogen quite well, but if the baby were to have other problems over and above the “hunger”, it would not be able to address them, the sister explained. However, she did seem impressed with the Novalac SD. It is a formula that is suitable from birth and has a normal protein and energy content. The clinic sister in the pharmacy highlighted to me that the abbreviation SD stands for “Satiety Disorder” or “Sweet Dreams”. She then went on to elaborate on the composition these “fuller” formulas highlighting that they contain more casein protein than whey, has an added thickener and reduced lactose concentration. This enables the formula to keep the infant feeling satisfied for longer without increasing the actual volume or energy intake of the infant (so it will prevent your baby from gaining excessive weight, but keep your baby feeling fuller). When we analysed the formula further, we concluded that the thickener can also help to reduce reflux or the number of times your baby spits up or vomits the formula, as well as address a lactose sensitivity or as we would like to say “colicky symptoms”. Remember we were also talking about sleeping at night. The chance that your baby will sleep for longer periods in the evening, because baby feels fuller for longer (the satiety effect) is almost a definite. So this is actually an all in one for a “hungry” baby. And guess what, the SD one is sucrose free too!!! Wow, I wish I knew about this earlier!!!

Remember that it is always important to establish which “problem” is the biggest concern at a particular point in time. Sometimes this very same baby who is constantly hungry, but also presenting with reflux might actually need to be on an Anti-Reflux formula instead! At least with these formulas you will definitely address the reflux problem if that is your biggest concern, but would also have a satiety effect (feeling of fuller for longer) too! If you want to know a little bit more on reflux, go read our other blog post here.

If you are one of the mommies that can continue to breastfeed or perhaps your baby is formula fed and only hungry in the evenings, it is also safe to use these formulas as a top up or night feed.

So to get back to that mommy’s question … what would you have thought would be a good alternative?

Disclaimer: This post is based on personal experience and personal brand preference of the content author and has in no way been paid for or sponsored. BabyYumYum reserves the right to its opinions and fully supports the notion of promotion that breast is best in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) infant feeding guidelines Breast milk is the best food for infants. Good maternal nutrition is essential to prepare and maintain breastfeeding. If breastfeeding is not applied, an infant formula may be used according to health professionals’ advice. Preparation and storage of any infant formula should be performed as directed on the tin in order not to pose any health hazards.