Think You're the Only Mom Smartphoning While Baby Feeding? This Study Proves You're Not

According to a new study, plenty of moms are 'distracted' (or, more accurately, multitasking) while feeding their babies. But is this actually a bad thing?

Mom on Smartphone with baby Halfpoint/Shutterstock
Mom life is a busy life. Between feeding, changing diapers, putting a baby to sleep, comforting, cleaning, bathing—not to mention possibly juggling multiple children or work obligations alongside all that—well, it gets pretty crazy from time to time. If you're a mom, we don't need to tell you that baby feeding is time-consuming stuff whether you're breastfeeding and formula feeding. 

And if you're maximizing your time by checking your emails, reading the news or catching up on TV shows (because yes, moms are allowed to do fun, relaxing things too!) while feeding your baby...well, you're not the only one. A recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior based on the observation of 75 mothers (some of whom were enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants, and Children) suggests that many moms out there are doing other things while feeding their babies: About 43 percent of the feedings among the moms surveyed involved "distractions."

While the study isn't calling out this practice as harmful or negligent, we doubt most mothers like the idea of being called "distracted" while caring for their babies—we prefer to think of it as simply "multitasking," which is sort of what motherhood is all about, isn't it?

While the study's authors acknowledge that more research is needed to really understand the implications of all this, we have to ask: Is there really anything wrong with juggling baby feeding alongside another task or activity? 

We caught up with Pamela Berens, MD, an OB/GYN with Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and UTHealth to learn more about any possible drawbacks to multitasking while feeding—and if you're a smartphone-scrolling mama, this news will probably reassure you.

"I think that there’s a lot of things at play here," Dr. Berens told Fit Pregnancy. "I don’t know that this is really different than the mother 50 years ago who would be distracted by her other five children while she is nursing her baby. I don’t know that this is either surprising or detrimental—and the study doesn’t necessarily suggest that it’s detrimental, it just says that women are doing this."

But according to Dr. Berens, there are a few things moms should consider if they choose to multitask while feeding. "I do think it’s important, regardless of how you’re feeding your baby, that you pay attention and don’t overfeed the baby," she said. "When women are breastfeeding, the baby will typically fall of the breast when it's satisfied. That's one of the advantages to breastfeeding, there’s some sort of self-regulation with the baby. My caution with the bottle-feeding moms would be to pay enough attention to look for signs that the baby is satisfied and doesn’t need to continue eating."

Breastfeeding moms also have something to consider where this issue is concerned. "We know that things that cause pain or anxiety [can] interfere with how well you have the let down reflex when you’re breastfeeding," Dr. Berens explained. "For some women, doing these other tasks while breastfeeding might be stressful, in which case it would be bad. But for other women, doing these other tasks would be relieving of their stress because they’re getting things done. It’s really all in a matter of how a woman views these tasks...I really do think it depends on the woman."

In other words, you do what makes you happiest—and ensures your baby gets fed.