Now I am writing this one-handed at 1.56 am because the other arm is grasping my six-month-old breast-fed baby. He is helping me pass the time that I would otherwise spend pursuing such frivolous activities as getting a decent night’s sleep, accompanying my literary efforts with a varied range of low pitched growls and high pitched shrieks.
Last night he let me sleep between 3.30 am and 6 am. The previous night we were up at that same time. He likes to mix it up a bit, just so long as my nightly total remains under 4 hours.
My patience is fraying, my head is pounding and I would seriously contemplate sticking him on ebay for a solid eight hours’ kip, so part of me is going, yeah OK, there could be something in this.
But the rational part of my addled brain reminds me that this is the third child I have breast-fed. One slept like an angel, the second is still regularly waking several times a night aged 2 ½, and his breast feeding days are a long way behind him.
And I’ve tried the formula top-ups. For brand new bubbas they can pack a mighty punch, but my little ‘un now laughs in the face of Aptimel’s attempts to lure him into the land of nod.
I popped over to badscience.net to see what Ben Goldacre had to say about the methodology, but sadly he has not chosen to weigh in on this one.
So I will stick my own debunker’s hat on and give the FV view of this report, or more accurately, the FV view of this report as reported in the Daily Mail, which may very well not be the same thing.
‘A study of British infants found those who were breast-fed cried more, smiled and laughed less and were harder to soothe and get off to sleep than their formula-fed counterparts’.
How was this measured? Were they filmed over a period of days and then a diligent boffin measured the diameter of their smiles? Was someone there with a stop-watch timing the seconds taken to drift off?
No, apparently, this was measured by asking 300 mums of 3 month old babies to answer almost 200 questions about their children from how they responded to being washed and dressed to how easy they were to get down to sleep.
Hmm. At three months in I would probably have struggled to tell a researcher what my name was, so I’m not sure that I’m terribly convinced by the subjective responses of bleary-eyed witnesses.
The theory is that formula-fed babies sate themselves on the bottle, rub their bellies in a contented manner and emit a loud belch before settling down for a siesta, rather like their Dads after a slap up Sunday lunch.
Breast fed babies, who can’t over-eat, remain irritable and jumpy, like their Mums who are still trying to shift the baby weight.
However, it’s not all bad – apparently this is Mother Nature’s way of ensuring that breast fed babies eek out every last bit of attention from their frivolous mothers who would otherwise be, you know, eating, taking a shower, going to the loo.
Well, I’m sceptical about the methodology, and not really sure about the purpose of the research. The conclusion, as this tirade in The Daily Telegraph points out, is so couched in pro-breast feeding language as to be rendered pointless. Feeding your child formula will make it happier and better rested, but also fat and prone to a myriad of nasty conditions, so don’ t do it – is effectively what is being said.
Er, thanks for that. Now if someone could tell me why my baby stops crying the second I stand up to carry him, but screams blue murder when I attempt to rest my weary bones, then that would be some research worth waiting for.
Check out Breast & bottle for more articles on this subject.
Image by flickr user Sean Dreilinger