New research suggests that mothers distracted by cell phones and technology are overfeeding their children and lack bonding with the new baby. The study claims that when mothers have one eye on a cell phone or television and the other eye on their child, they will sometimes miss important cues that a baby is full. Instead, they will allow the baby to continue “mindless feeding,” which may be responsible for excessive weight gain in the child. Additionally, the lack of eye contact between mother and child may make it harder for the pair to bond.
The Daily Mail reports that the California Polytechnic University studied the effects of technology on the mother-baby bond and found that distracted mothers were more likely to overfeed their babies and had a more difficult time bonding with the child. The researchers claim that mothers who multi-tasked by feeding their baby while watching television or using a cell phone were more likely to miss cues that their baby is full. Therefore, the child would often revert to what researchers called “mindless feeding.” This “mindless feeding” resulted when a baby was full but continued to eat simply because the bottle was left in the mouth.
Researchers claim that this “mindless eating” sets a precedent in the child’s mind that eating while distracted is normal. Therefore, the child may continue to eat after full and continue the trend well into adulthood. In addition to the potential of overfeeding babies while distracted, mothers also have a harder time bonding with their children if they are distracted by technology such as cell phones or televisions.
“Because feeding interactions make up a large proportion of all mother-infant interactions, it would follow that to promote secure attachment, these interactions should have synchrony, making maternal attention important.”
The researchers pointed to the fact that eye contact is missing when mothers were distracted by television or other pieces of technology. Despite the study’s findings, some are questioning whether formula-fed babies could really overeat that often, as the bottles are premeasured. Some of the naysayers claim that in addition to a premeasured bottle, babies will naturally stop eating when they are full, whether breastfeeding or bottle feeding. However, former midwife to the stars, Clare Byam-Cook, says that overfeeding could take place on a small scale if a distracted mouth pushed a bottle back into the baby’s mouth after they were finished eating. Even if there was just a little bit left in the bottle, the child may drink the formula remaining simply because the bottle was placed back in the mouth.
While the researchers claim that distraction by technology can result in over-eating or a lack of bonding, they also noted that the study was performed on a small scale, which included just 41 mothers. Additionally, former midwife Byam-Cook says that distracted mothering will not result in obesity across the entire country. However, it is a cause for concern and should be discussed with new mothers.
“I am not saying it will cause obesity all over the country but any kind of eating without full attention can result in eating more than needed.”
Do you think that technology-distracted mothers are overfeeding their babies resulting in a higher obesity rate among youngsters? Should new mothers be given more adequate information on the dangers of feeding while distracted?
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