Children with mothers who practice responsive parenting are less likely to have overweight babies at their one-year checkup than those who did not, according to health researchers. This would include reacting promptly and appropriately to their hunger and fullness cues. Infants will usually triple their birth weight at one year old, but some babies gain weight more quickly than others. This weight gain is associated with their risk of becoming obese later in life.
Dr. Ian M. Paul, professor of pediatrics and public health sciences from Penn State College of Medicine says that over 20% of the 2 to 5 year olds in the U.S. are already overweight. Dr. Paul and colleagues provided a responsive parenting intervention to new moms as part of the Intervention Nurses State Infant Growing on Healthy Trajectories study. (INSIGHT)
Not A Good Idea To Use Feeding To Soothe Your Baby
They recruited 279 first-time mothers and their babies and assigned half of them to the INSIGHT intervention and the other half to a control group receiving child safety information. They were then followed up at regular intervals. JAMA Pediatrics has reported their results, but mothers in the intervention group received responsive parenting training from nurses, focusing on feeding, sleep, emotional regulation and interactive play. The easiest and fastest way to quiet an upset baby is by feeding them, however, they should not use feeding to soothe their baby if the infant isn’t actually hungry. If they aren’t hungry, crying is usually the last thing a baby will do. Learn your baby’s temperament and establish predictable routines early in life that will help your baby learn self-regulation.
Developing these skills will teach the baby to listen to their own body cues as when they are hungry and fullness. Of the infants in the control group, 12.7% were considered overweight at 1 year compared to just 5.5% of those in the INSIGHT group. The intervention worked the same for both breastfed and formula-fed infants. There are no interventions so far that have worked in the U.S. to curb obesity but this study is promising because it shows that INSIGHT works.
Materials were given to both groups corresponding to their assigned intervention two weeks after the baby’s birth. A nurse then visited the home four times through the first year and then again at the research center when the baby turned one. By teaching the principles of responsive parenting as an early intervention, it is the hope the effects will be sustained throughout the child’s life.
In order to see if the effects of the intervention are still present as the children get older, the researchers continue to follow them. Such a simple thing in the beginning seems like a great approach in helping your infant to possibly avoid obesity later in life.