Saturday, February 02, 2013

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well - Virginia Woolf

There are many areas of parenting that cause controversy and when to feed a baby is one of them. There's two schools of though: either to feed on demand or feed on schedule (usually 3 or 4 hourly). When Tahu and I became parents we made a series of decisions from our gut instincts. We went with what felt right to us and a big one was when to feed Knox. We chose to demand feed. Now I've just finished a (terrible) book called Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracey Hogg. In this book she talks about how if you demand feed your baby, by 3 months old your household will be chaos. You will have no time for yourself or time with your husband/partner, your house will be a mess, you'll probably not be able to find time for a shower, the baby will rule, you'll never get to go out, you'll constantly be feeding the baby. Basically demand feeding is the worst decision you can make. I am pleased to say that at 3 months (and actually at all months), this was not the case for us! By demand feeding Knox  he is happy, not hungry! We always have dinner together, we have time to ourselves, we go out when and where we want. Knox is a huge part of our lives but he does not "rule" our lives. I am not constantly feeding him! I can also confirm I do find time for showers!! I was shocked to read such strong things against demand feeding from someone who clearly had never tried it!

Now we chose demand feeding by our instinct, it felt right to feed him when he was hungry and to learn his schedule and what suited him from him, not from a book. And I'm so glad we did. But there is also strong scientific research to back up what we have said! In another book I read called Baby on Board by Dr Howard Chilton, he discusses how a breast takes 30 minutes to fill and a baby's stomach takes 35 minutes to empty (using ultrasound to determine this). Now why would I feed my baby every 3 or 4 hours if I know his stomach has probably emptied at 35 minutes?

He also talks about the make up of breast milk from humans and other animals comparing then how often the babies are fed. For example, a rabbit has a very high protein content in the breast milk and feeds their babies once a day. Then going through other animal and how often they feed and when you come to humans they have the least amount of protein and this indicates that human babies should be fed very often, probably half hourly! As the baby grows and is able to drink ("eat") more then the times between feeds increases. Babies shouldn't have to wait 4 hourly for a feed!

Of course parenting is a very individual thing and everyone has to make their own choices and so there's plenty of people who will totally disagree with this post but that's ok. I just wanted to be an example of how demand feeding and/or going with your gut instincts is awesome and can totally work well.

And that's the end of another installment of Why I Do What I Do.


Sharyn said...

Love this blog. Hope I become a mum like you xxx

Jo said...

Aw thanks! I have no doubt that you'll be a fantastic mum xx