This site is intended for health professionals only

Breastfed babies are 'more irritable and cry more'

Breastfed babies are more irritable, cry more and are "harder to soothe" than bottle-fed babies.

However, the study of 316 babies aged 3 months by the Medical Research Council (MRC) still supports the notion 'breast is best'.

Researchers claim the irritability caused by breastfeeding is a natural part of communication between mothers and their babies, rather than being a sign of distress.

"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," said Lead Researcher Dr Ken Ong, a Pediatrician from the MRC Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge.

"These approaches could potentially promote successful breastfeeding, because currently many mothers attempt to breastfeed but give up after the first few weeks."

While the study found bottle-fed babies appear more content, it suggests these infants may be over-nourished and gain weight too quickly.

Dr Janine Stockdate, a Research Fellow at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), urged health professionals to be cautious in accepting the study's conclusions.

"The evidence needs to be seen in a greater context before we start to draw conclusions on this research and we should continue to do all we can to promote and increase the rates of breastfeeding," she said.  

The DH recommends mothers exclusively breastfeed for the first six months after birth.


Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"Lack of support, especially first time mothers. Early return to work for working mothers. Lack of breastfeeding area in supermarket or restaurants. Anxiety about baby not getting enough. Unsettled baby or hungry baby. Not enough breast milk or breast milk dried up too soon. Baby not latching on breast. Sore nipples." - Bibiana Aribo, North London

"To be honest in all the years I have been encouraging same many have just not really wanted to continue on sometimes due to all sorts of hang ups. I have never pushed it as I believe it has to be right for the individual. Absolute codswallop that the bottle fed are more settled. I have helped manage mums for over 50 years, have breastfed 3 of my own and been there for my own young ones feeding their offspring. Nothing more natural and satisfying." - Clodagh Scott, Australia

"What nonsense is being published now! Look at babies in developing countries and watch how they are fed. Mostly they get a little feed if they cry 'out of hours' and if they are a bit irritable for a few weeks then its just the two of you getting used to one another. Throw away all the books and do what comes naturally." - Sally Mould, Gloucester

"Going back to work! But rarely are they encouraged/advised/explained that they can do BOTH! Breast first thing in the morning and in the evening. Many are really sad that no one explained this to them and they thought they just had to stop." - Pauline Filby, Chelmsford