Baby Feeding

Reporter: Belinda Wilkinson

For years, it's been in, and out, of fashion ... now there's evidence to suggest feeding babies' formula milk, may even make them fat. "The amount of food that the baby consumers during the first week kind of programs the body for the amount of food that they'll eat later on." Lactation consultant Kay Hoover from the Philadelphia Department of Health says studies have proven a direct link to obesity and formula fed children. "When the babies are receiving a cow milk based formula it's harder for them to digest so they take in more milk and they feed less frequently compared to the breast feeing baby who is getting the milk that was meant for his body and his system. "

The statistics are frightening. "From 1980 to the year 2000 there was a doubling of obesity in children 6-12 years of age and a tripling of obesity in children 12 to 17 years of age, that's shocking." It's just one of the reasons, the Australian Breastfeeding Association's, Kirsten Tannenbaum encourages all Mums to think twice, before giving newborns a bottle. "Formula milk doesn't have everything the baby needs and certainly not in the correct proportions" According to Kirsten, there's a strong temptation for parents to overfeed their child when giving them formula. "Even if the baby is full there is a need to sort of finish what's in the bottle and feel you've actually" completely fed your baby

Natalie only stopped breastfeeding her little boy Aden, because he was sick. Once on the bottle he began to grow ... but she admits it's hard to judge how much is too much. "On the back of the container it actually says how much they have at a certain age and I have looked and sometimes he wasn't having that much, and I thought oh he wasn't eating ... why wasn't he eating"

In America this controversial health campaign shows pregnant women doing dangerous activities ... the add suggests NOT to breastfeed is putting their baby, at similar risks, "recent studies show babies who are breastfed are less likely to develop ear infections respiratory illnesses and diarrhoea ... babies were born to be breastfed" The World Health Organisation and UNICEF recommend babies are only breastfed, for at least the first six months.

Kirsten says "babies who are breast fed are able to regulate their own intake of milk ... when they feel full they stop breastfeeding" in WA, ninety four percent of new Mums breastfeed when they leave hospital ... but it's estimated that drops off to less than fifty percent by the time the baby is six months old. Amy says "I thought it would be quiet a natural and easy process to start you know here's the baby, heres the boob attach and your away, but it was quiet difficult for probably the first 3 months" Like these Mums, many parents believe breast is best ... but it's not possible for everyone, "I was having problems with her attaching and everything else and she was a big baby wanting feeds every couple of hours"

Since putting her little girl Maddison onto a bottle, Tarryn says she's content, and knows when enough is enough, "I don't force the bottle down her throat if she's had enough you as a mother will know she's had enough" While the experts are convinced there's a 'link' between obesity and the bottle, there's no hard statistics to say how many formula fed babies are fatter children. ":I do think we need a greater body of information and research which is done on a group of children large enough to see there is a statistically significant information" Until then, Kirsten recommends all parents learn as much as they can, so when the time comes they can make an informed choice.