Feeding babies on demand may increase their IQ, but it's exhausting!

When my babies were newborns, I pretty much went with feeding on demand. It seemed only natural, especially at the beginning, to feed them whenever they were hungry. Eventually this became extremely exhausting and I'll never forget how it felt like my son always wanted to be eating. As a breastfeeding mom with also a toddler to worry about, it soon started to turn into something no longer pleasant or sustainable. So, as soon as I was able to get my children to sleep through the night at about 4 months old, the practice of feeding on demand went out the door. 

Too bad because now a study is saying that babies fed on demand may have higher IQs.


The British study used data from more than 10,000 children and found that babies fed on demand scored four to five points higher on IQ tests when they were 8 years old than those babies who were fed on a schedule. Published in the European Journal of Public Health, the study also found an association between higher scores in school tests at ages 5, 7, 11 and 14 and babies fed on demand. 

Luckily, the researchers, from the University of Essex and the University of Oxford, also found that mothers who kept to scheduled feedings scored better on well-being measures and reported feeling more confident and less tearful (allowing me not to feel so bad about my decision). And that's why they urged caution when it came to interpreting the findings. 

"At this stage, we must be very cautious about claiming a causal link between feeding patterns and IQ ... more research is needed to understand the processes involved," according to lead researcher Maria Iacovou said.

While feeding on demand works extremely well for some mothers, for others--like me--it's really exhausting and might not be worth the possibility of helping our children go from being ranked 15th in his class to being ranked 11th. 

What do you think? Did you feed your babies on demand?

Image via sean dreilinger/flickr