I love data, trends, and insights. I was also new to parenthood in December 2021. So making sense and trying to have a semblance of control of a new, chaotic, and ultimately life-changing experience became a journey for me (us) to document our baby’s daily life in its data minutia.
What does that mean?
Well, first on paper and then via Google Docs, we documented every single thing that went into our baby’s mouth (breast time, pumped milk, formula, solid foods, medication, supplements) and came out the other end (pee, poop). This included the time that it happened, as well as all the context around it (e.g., traveling and time zone changes, illnesses, vaccinations/doctor visits). It should be noted, a lot of parents who do any form of data collection on their own offspring tend to use apps as described here in this Guardian piece from 2019.
Why does it matter?
Well, I suppose it doesn’t — I mean, other than to both of us, as her parents. However, anyone who has been a parent has likely asked their partner, their pediatrician, Google, family, friends, and/or themselves, “Is this normal?” In other words, is whatever my baby doing now, in terms of developmental stage or symptoms, normal? And are they on track relative to the average baby?
So what is our story?
As noted above, we became first-time parents to a baby girl in December 2021. This included a fertility journey that concluded with a baby conceived via IVF (in-vitro fertilization). She was born with the help of a birth doula and a typical medical team in a Manhattan hospital. Plus, with both sides of our families many, many hours away by plane, we also had initial support from a night nurse (newborn care specialist/NCS), and then later a full-time daytime nanny once we both went back to work.
Luckily for us both, we had, at least by U.S. standards, respectively generous parental leave policies, which was helpful not just for baby bonding and learning how to parent, but also was invaluable as a nice break from our jobs. Even more importantly, back then (and still, knock on wood, to date), mom had recovered well, and baby was “healthy” by any typical measure of well being.
During the early newborn days, with encouragement from nurses in our birth hospital, we documented everything with baby’s feeding and diapers to keep ourselves on track. The pediatrician would be asking questions regarding feeds and baby’s output at each appointment, so it was good to have a documented journal. We were encouraged and mandated to feed baby at least every three hours.
All that documentation suddenly became valuable immediately as we both were concerned (not knowing any better) that our baby wasn’t pooping as much as the hospital’s guidelines suggested, and were bombarding our pediatrician’s email inbox. So we could always look back at the documentation on paper to tell them what happened.
Additionally in those early days, breastfeeding was challenging, as we just weren’t sure our baby was eating sufficiently from the breast despite the fact that after evaluation from two different lactation consultants, she had a “perfect” latch. The conflicting wisdom from many of the so-called “lactation experts” or IBCLCs (International Board Certified Lactation Consultants) did not help. Baby just wasn’t gaining weight relative to the World Health Organization (WHO) percentile charts (she even dropped off the chart briefly).
At about one month old, baby was confirmed to have a “weak suck,” and was just not capable of transferring adequate milk directly from the breast. This also had the doubly negative effect of hurting mom’s milk supply, given that milk supply operates based on supply and demand. Being four weeks into the journey, this meant mom had to do something to catch up. Hence, our baby feeding journey became a pumping (breast milk) journey!
In addition, we learned very early on, through experience, that what mom consumes may/will make its way into the breast milk in some form; seeing baby’s reaction to breast milk in the first week, a day after mom consumed some particularly spicy (hot) food, was a baptism of fire for us both in learning to calm a screaming child.
We learned a lot, as most first-time parents do, in those early days, and very quickly, out of necessity.
I thought this was about data?
Yes, this post, and the series to come, is and will be about data. The above mini synopsis is just putting a human touch on our particular story. I was fascinated during this early period, as crazy and chaotic as it was, and really wanted to document our daughter’s journey on paper to firstly see the development, but also to help us make more informed, data driven decisions about what to do next.
“Did this work?” “Did that work?” “Should we pivot our strategy?” “How do we balance breast milk and formula feeding?” “Is our baby pooping enough?” “When should we reduce bottle feeds?” “Is my baby eating enough to sleep through the night?” “When should we start solids?” “How does travel and time zone change affect baby’s feed schedule?” “What happens to feeding when baby gets COVID or another illness?” We answer all these questions for our baby with her own data.
In this 12-part series (in addition to this introduction – A Baby Feeding Journey over 14 Months (a 12 Part Series), we are going to cover in depth with data the below topics:
- Feeding by Month – 14 Months of Feeding a Baby in Data
- Pumped Milk v Formula – Pumped Breast Milk vs. Formula in Data
- Mom’s Pumping Journey – A 1+ Year Breast Pumping Journey in Data
- Feeding vs. Diapers (Pee + Poop) – Baby’s First Year of Diapers (all the pee & poops)
- Feeding by Time & Daily Schedule Changes – Baby Feeding by Time of Day in Year 1
- Feed Changes Over Time – Number of Baby Feeds per Day in Year 1
- Traveling & Baby Feeds – Baby Feeding on Planes & Traveling Globally Told Through Data
- Baby Feeds, COVID, Vaccinations, Illness and Pumping (Milk) Supply – Baby Feeding & Diaper Impacts from COVID, Vaccines & Illness in Data
- Sleeping Through the Night and Feeding – Getting a Baby to Sleep Through the Night in Data
- Various (Baby) Formula Comparison – Feeding our Baby Various Formula Types in Data
- Solids Journey & Food Types – Year 1 Solid Feeding & Introducing New Foods to Your Baby in Data
- Fun Baby Trends & Summary – Fun Data Facts About Baby’s 1st Year of Eating Solids, Drinking Breast Milk & Formula, and Diapers
As a little teaser, I will display the chart below with no context, which is our baby’s lifetime liquid feed journey (more explanation to come in future posts).
Chart 1: Lifetime Baby Feeds of Pumped Breast Milk & Formula Over 14 Months (427 Days)