New mums should be reassured that breastfed babies cry more than babies fed with formula milks, experts have said.

Researchers from the Medical Research Council (MRC) have said this irritability is natural and that if women had more realistic expectations, more would stick with breastfeeding.

Currently, within the first months of birth, the rate of breastfeeding mums drops to a third. The most common cause given for cessation is that breast milk didn't satisfy the child. The MRC scientists say irritability is often seen as a negative signal, but is often just a natural way of communicating their needs to their mother.

Lead investigator Dr Ken Ong, a paediatrician from the MRC Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge, said: "There is an overwhelming body of evidence supporting breastfeeding as the normal and most healthy form of infant nutrition and our findings do not contradict this.

"Bottle-fed babies may appear more content, but research suggests that these infants may be overnourished and gain weight too quickly.

"Our findings are essentially similar to other stages of life; people often find that eating is comforting."

The MRC study looked at the temperament of more than 300 babies who were either bottle fed, breast fed or fed with a mixture of the two. They found that breastfed babies had "more challenging temperaments" and tended to cry more.

Posted by Robert Mair on 11/1/2012