Breast-fed babies tend to cry more and laugh less when compared to their bottle-fed counterparts, who are the best behaved, a new study has revealed. A study of British infants also found that those who were breast-fed were harder to soothe and get off to sleep than their formula-fed babies.
However, the Cambridge researchers have asserted that the irritability linked to breastfeeding is only natural, and is not an indication of stress or even necessarily hunger. Instead, it is the baby's way of bonding and seeking attention and security, the Daily Mail reported. Apparently the bottle-fed babies look more content because they may simply have eaten too much.
Researchers said that a crying baby may merely be seeking the comfort and closeness of its mother. In one of the first studies of its kind, the temperament of more than 300 babies was analysed when they were three months old.
This was done by asking their mothers to answer around 200 questions about their children from how they responded to being washed and dressed to how easy they were to get down to sleep. Although the results varied little between boys and girls, socio-economic status of the parents or the mother's age, there was a clear relation with the method of feeding.
"If anything, what might account for the difference is that bottle-fed babies possibly get more nutrients than is typical," Researcher Ken Ong, of the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge, said. "Research suggests that these infants may be over-nourished and gain weight too quickly. Our findings are essentially similar to other stages of life; people often find that eating is comforting.
"Rather than being put off breast-feeding, parents should have more realistic expectations of normal infant behaviour and should receive better understanding and support to cope with difficult infant behaviours if needed," Dr Ong added. The study has been published in the journal PLoS ONE.