Eating Habits As Newborns Linked To IQ

03.22.12 On-demand feeding makes babies smarter, new study says.


Do you live by a feeding schedule as a new mom? It might be time to unchain yourself from that clock when it comes to baby's chow time for the benefit of your little one, British researchers say.

A new study finds that feeding an infant on demand may increase his or her IQ, Time magazine reports. Using assessments from more than 10,000 children, British researchers found that those who were fed on demand as 4-week-old babies scored four to five points higher on IQ tests at age 8, according to the study's findings, published in the European Journal of Public Health. The study cites that their results held up regardless of the baby being breastfed or bottle-fed, Time reports.

The Time article suggests that it comes down to a matter of whose priorities are more important — mom vs. baby. "Mothers who feed their babies on a schedule indicate that they feel better and more confident about themselves than moms who feed on demand."

Your baby is used to being rocked and fed continually in the womb, so he or she will probably feel most comfortable being held and nursed on demand for the first month. Check out our All The Answers page for expert advice on the 10 most pressing infant-care questions from moms-to-me and new moms.

A nursing schedule can work as long as you have a plentiful supply of breast milk. Our Nursing Know-How page ofers you answers on how to make breastfeeding easier and more natural with time.

If you feel like you're feeding your baby all the time, remember that this is normal. Breast milk is digested more easily than formula, so breastfed newborns need to eat more often than formula-fed infants. We're talking an average of 10 to 12 feedings in 24 hours.

—Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.