Does Formula Feeding Make Babies Chubby?

5 min read

Breast milk for the newborn is the best and the most excellent choice a mother can make, but few mothers have to resort to formula milk as well, due to some inevitable reasons like:

  • Mothers who are diagnosed with some ailment or disease which can get passed on to babies if breastfed
  • Mothers who are not able to produce enough milk
  • Mothers who have inverted nipples, or any other such issues

Any of the above reasons necessitate the babies have to be given a top feed. It is safe to give formula feed to the babies as and when they demand. Infant formula is a nutritional substitute and is loaded with nutrients that help the baby to grow and flourish.
chubby formula fed baby
While there are advantages of the breastfed baby, there are equal benefits for the formula-fed baby as well. Just like the breastfed baby has a better immune system because of the antibodies that pass from the mother’s body to the baby, the composition of the bacteria in a formula-fed baby is altogether different. This is the factor that develops or boosts the immune system in the bottle-fed or formula-fed babies.

Does Formula Feeding Make Babies Chubby

It is believed that formula-fed babies generally lead to obesity later. Let us run through some important points, which lead us to the conclusion as to why and how the babies who are on formula are on the chubbier side.

1. Data Variant

The most important food for a newborn is milk, whether mothers or formula-fed, and it is itself variety specific. There are a few deductions which can be made based on the table given below:

    • The protein consumed by a breastfed baby reduces with age, whereas the protein requirements of a formula-fed baby increase after the first 1 or 2 months.
    • The ratio of Omega 6 vs. Omega 3 in formula milk also accelerates the increase in fat cells.
    • The composition of formula milk stimulates the production of more and more fat cells.
    • It can be seen that initially, the fat content of breastfed baby is really high, but as solids are introduced the energy and protein intake increases drastically for the formula-fed babies and is much more when compared to the breastfed baby

breastfeeding vs formula feeding

2. Inborn vs. Artificial

Whether the baby is taking natural milk or is formula fed, the result can be seen on the baby’s body itself. Breast milk consists of non-nutritious constituents, a type of lactogen which regulates cravings, making the babies full by the end of a feed. Whereas the formula milk lacks all of these constituents. Another reason why breastfed babies are not towards the chubbier side because the composition of breastmilk differs from one mother to another and the baby controls the quantity he wants to intake, thus not allowing obesity to set in.

3. Method of Supplying

The mode of delivery plays an important role in setting Chubbiness in babies. Breastfed babies have full control over the amount of milk they take in, and it requires effort from both ends to meet it. Thus, when the baby is tired, he stops sucking even though he is still not full, and the stomach will not become overextended. The formula-fed babies are generally overfed, and stomach extends due to that.

4. Hormonal Differences Between Breastfed and Formula Fed

The hormones Leptin and Ghrelin are very significant in regulating diet and hunger. The concentration of the Leptin hormone in breast milk becomes abundant when the baby touches the verge of hindmilk. The second important hormone, Ghrelin, is manufactured by the stomach and functions as an indicator when the baby feels hungry. Babies who nurture through formula have increased levels of Ghrelin, which means higher or increased appetite. Table 2 below validates the above-given data.
hormonal difference

5. The Hormone that Progresses the Growth

The Growth hormone controls our oily and fat tissues discharging oily and acidic elements that can be acted upon by the rest of your body. Low hormonal development leads to low metabolism and vice versa. IGF-1, a group of hormones present in the blood produced by the liver, aids in the control of tissue growth in relation to nutrition obtained by the body. The higher protein content, which is 50-80%, is present in the formula than breast milk – propels up the baby’s secretion of IGF-1. Nonetheless, this rapid increase of IGF-1 rearranges the pituitary gland in a manner that seven years down the line, children who were taking formula feed have a lower IGF-1 level. Various other studies performed on formula-fed babies and breastfed ones deduce that if breastfed among 13-25 weeks, it lessens the threat of being obese by nine years, almost by 38 percent. On the other hand, babies who are being breastfed for 26 weeks or lower the risk of hitting obesity by 51 percent. The chart given below corroborates the above data.
growth hormone
Hence we can conclude that throughout the initial 6-8 weeks of the lifecycle, there is negligible difference in growth (weight gain and length) between breast milk-fed babies and the ones fed on formula. Almost at two months of age, the babies that are fed on formula increase in weight and length measurement more quickly than the infants fed on mother’s milk. Numerous studies have proven that by the time a breastfed baby is a year old, it is comparatively bonier than a baby who is formula-fed. Scientists suggest that the instant increase in weight amid the formula-fed babies possibly denotes fat mass gain. Hence, the formula-fed babies are comparatively chubbier than the breastfed ones. Of course, we cannot deny the role of the eating habits and lifestyle of the child.


1. Can I Opt for Formula Milk to Help Baby Increase Weight?

Breastmilk is the best source of nourishment for a baby under 6 months of age. Opting for formula purely for weight gain reasons is not advisable. Please consult your pediatrician.

2. Are Babies Chubby Because of Formula?

You can never be too sure. The chubbiness of a baby is mainly genetic. If the baby’s parents or family members are chubby, the baby could be too.

3. Do Formula Fed Babies Have Better Appetite Than Babies on Breastmilk?

Some studies show they do. The different components in the milk affect the child’s hunger levels. Higher intake of food can lead to chubbiness.

4. Can Drinking Formula Milk Lead to Obesity?

If you maintain the recommended levels, it won’t. many parents don’t follow the prescribed quantities. In some cases, this can lead to over feeding and obesity eventually.

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