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Saturday, September 5, 2009

A magic 'formula' for easier parenting??

Here is the disclaimer for this post. While of course I believe that breastfeeding is by far and away 1 million times superior to formula, I also know that there are moms who end up having to supplement with formula for one reason or another, maybe they have a medical condition, or an adopted child (though I recommend finding donated breastmilk or using raw milk formula if possible, I could write more about that later). That said, I really think it is the exception, it is really rare for a mom not to be physically able to nurse her baby, especially if she is getting the right information and support (unfortunately not everyone is).

OK that said. I heard about a disturbing new formula that is being put out by Enfamil. Have y'all heard of this thing? It is called "Restful" and it is for nighttime feeding. And here is what it does . . . according to their site, it is "specially designed to help babies feel full longer and sleep better" and "it thickens gently in baby's tummy and digests slowly".

Does anyone else find this extremely disturbing and just plain wrong? It sounds like a diet pill . . . "designed to make you feel full longer so you eat less". I'm sure you have heard those diet ads. That is exactly what this is doing. It is thickening in baby's tummy so that they feel full longer so that they don't wake up as often needing to eat and disturbing your precious sleep. Wow! What some companies won't do to make money? This is not just completely unnatural but I would go so far as to argue that this is potentially dangerous. Babies wake at night for a reason, not just because they are hungry but because they need us. I think it is part of an instinctual survival type thing, they don't want to be alone. But I googled this and found that some even think that this could lead to an increase of SIDS. I know it seems far-reaching, but if you think about it, SIDS seems to occur more often when babies are in a deep sleep, and this product would seem to encourage that by expanding in the tummy to make them feel full, thus helping to prevent them from feeling hungry which would naturally cause them to wake.

I can see some moms finding this product very appealing. I mean I am sure getting up multiple times at night is very tiring. But after 5 kids I can tell you that I have only gotten up in the middle of the night with a baby a handful of times . . . seriously! I breastfeed and co-sleep. So when baby stirs to nurse (they don't even cry) I can latch them on and go back to sleep. Sure it took me a while to get used to it when I had my first, but it is so natural and eventually became like second nature. I am with them constantly, I hear them breathing, I know if something is wrong, I am right there!! Shoot I have ALL the kids still in the bed, and I would argue that I still get way more sleep than the mom who doesn't co-sleep! It is just downright easy!


OK here starts my little rant . . . . about this "Restful" formula . . . we are really a screwed up society if we buy into this!! It kind of goes along with the age old question that every new mom is asked by everyone once their baby is born . . . "is he sleeping through the night yet?" WHY is sleeping through the night so important? WHY is this some type of milestone that most moms feel they have to reach? Sometimes I think people just ask this out of habit, because they want to ask us something. I used to get asked this question all the time and I was baffled . . . ummm, before having kids *I* didn't always sleep through the night, LOL!! I know, I know, we do miss out on sleep when baby wakes up at night, and it is an adjustment, but that is part of being a parent!! But it is like the moment a baby is born, moms are looking for ways to get their lives back to the way they were before baby. Sorry folks, that isn't going to happen!

People talk about how important sleep is, how important it is to 'train' baby to sleep. Why? Why must we train them to sleep . . . is something wrong with them? I mean they know when they are hungry, and we feed them . . . they know when they want to be held, and we hold them . . . they fuss when they are tired, and we rock, nurse, and sometimes (especially if they have reflux or gas etc) we will pace the floor to help them calm down to sleep. And they wake up again because they are hungry or uncomfortable, or they want to be near us and they are lonely etc. This is the nature of babies. Beautiful little people who need loads of attention and love all the time. We are not parents just during the day. Parenting is a 24 hr a day job, and that includes NIGHTS! Are we really so desperate that we need a magic formula to help our babies sleep longer?

Yes it is hard! Parenting in general is hard. It can be tiring and frustrating and sometimes we would love to just be able to use the bathroom in peace! And believe me, I have been known to at times exclaim "Calgon, take me away!!" (most of y'all are hopefully old enough to remember that, LOL). But when you have a baby, they come first because they are so helpless and so needy and they cannot wait or reason or understand. During my writing this Thrace (who is 3mo old and lying next to me) has woken up 4x and though I may be in the middle of a thought or sentence and I do NOT want to stop writing, I stop and nurse him (or give him my pinky to suck when he just nursed a ton and spit up 10 min before, LOL). Because that is just what I do, that is my job. And if you look at things from a different perspective, as overwhelming as it can be, you know that as mothers and fathers, we are the most important part of their lives. What a privilege that is!

Some of my kids have been better sleepers than others but none of them sleep as well alone as they do with me (or on me). Why? because they are BABIES, they are completely helpless, their whole being screams to be close to us, to be held, to be protected by us. We are their only source of food, we provide comfort. They know our voice, our smell they are bonded to US. For young babies, they spent the majority of their lives inside our bodies. Why on earth would they not want to be with us every second of their short lives on the outside? So what do we moms do? Lets see . . . we spend most of our time trying to schedule their feedings, trying to get them used to not being held too much and ignoring their calls for us (don't want to spoil them right?) and trying to get them to to sleep through the night so we can sleep undisturbed and shoot, if a formula comes along that will help with that, then woohoo!! Lets buy it!!

As a mom who carries her babies everywhere, nurses them till they are ready to wean, sleeps with them, nurses them throughout the night, and answers their calls promptly, I can attest to the fact that they DO learn to sleep through the night on their own eventually, . . . when they are mentally and physically ready to do so. I help them sleep and do things to encourage sleep (sleeping with them, making them warm and comfortable, wearing them often, keeping them close). But I don't have to 'train' them to sleep, they always end up doing it on their own in their own time when they have matured a little (and every one is different in this way).

I encourage you to respect these little people the way that they are. Respect their little bodies, how God designed them. Respect the fact that they need us so much and those ingrained needs are a part of every fiber of their being.
What an amazing thing to have a person who needs us and loves us so desperately. And they don't just need and love us because we give them food, but because we are their parents. These little people who can spot you across the room, who know your voice when you think you are out of earshot, who look to you for comfort when a stranger is near and who can't stand for you to even leave the room. They do grow, they mature and change, this is but a brief moment in life. We don't need a formula to help make parenting easier . . . we need to simply cherish every moment!!

10 comments:

KozyWare said...

Great post Kelley. I'm looking forward to experiencing this with my little one. Love ya sis ~ Kristi

JP Stories in Bogotá said...

Brilliant!!! If only there were more voices like yours to support us as parents -- mothers and fathers. It is not easy, but it is the most magical journey to watch our little angels grow. And you are right... sleep comes as it comes in its own time, and these early days pass so quickly in the grand scheme of life. Thanks for your post... as I enter a stage of less sleep with my second baby (just about to turn 7-months) it was wonderful reminder to read your words!!

Melody Strayer said...

GREAT post!! Seriously, I needed to read this!!

And I agree, that formula is appalling. And just plain gross-sounding. Thickens in your tummy?!? Yuck.

caedmyn said...

I agree with most of your post, but I have to comment on the part about sleep training. I co-sleep with my 9 month old. I exclusively breast-fed until he started solids. I cannot count the number of times I have been up in the night with him, because he likes to wake up and SCREAM his head off, no matter how many times I nurse him. There's nothing wrong with him, he's just a very intense baby who fights sleep like crazy. After 9 months of spending several hours each day trying to get him to sleep (I have spent at least a month of his life bouncing him to sleep!), only to have him take a 30 minute nap and wake up crabby and then wanting to sleep again less than 2 hours later, we finally did some sleep training (and no it did not involve CIO). Now he goes to sleep so much easier (most of the time!). I can actually put him down once he's asleep, and when he wakes up after 30 minutes I can often get him back to sleep so he's not exhausted all day long. I'm not as frazzled, and I actually have some extra energy to spare for my older daughter, husband, and house instead of being so exhausted from fighting him to sleep that I don't want to do anything else.

I just wanted to give a little different (but non-mainstream) perspective on sleep training. For us it was essential. It wouldn't have worked when he was a few months old, and I don't hold out any hopes of him sleeping through the night any time soon, but sleep training has made our family life a little more peaceful...I don't know if we would have made it if we'd continued waiting for him to "grow into" better sleep habits.

Kelley said...

Thanks for the kind words guys!

Hey Caedmyn,
Thanks for writing!! You make a great point and are absolutely right!! There are ALWAYS exceptions to the rule, with everything. I have even experienced some of them (like the fact that despite nursing on demand, no supplements, or paci's, co-sleeping, napping with baby etc. I have gotten AF back as early as 10 wks!! What is up with that??). I can say that birth is safe, because for the most part it is, but there are rare times when it isn't safe and we need intervention (placenta previa, cord prolapse, Pre-E etc). Same goes for our kids. They are all different, and while I think that for most of them, things like co-sleeping, nursing, being worn, being held etc. just come natural, I know that there are some babies that are just an exception. Yes, I have heard from people whose babies dislike co-sleeping and being worn (shocking I know, LOL!!). There are also babies who have issues like reflux or colic that require special attention, and babies who have trouble nursing for one reason or another. But for the most part, I think the largest majority of new moms have babies who don't need training. But regardless, they are so concerned with training them to sleep because of advice from well meaning relatives, or their dr, or some book. I often think that they are stressing over nothing and if they just let their baby lead the way with no expectations, everyone would be happier in the end. And those are the people I am hoping to encourage.

So glad you found a way to get your son to sleep! It sounds like he was very unhappy and in turn it made everyone unhappy. By gently (no CIO) training him you were following his lead, because he was letting you know that he needed more help, which you gave him!!
What did you use? I have the No Cry Sleep Solution and from skimming it it seems pretty good, I just have never felt that we needed it so far. If I needed help getting them to sleep that is one thing, but so far I am fine with them waking at night to nurse and I nurse them down for bed and naps till they are 3-4 (meaning I am usually nursing 2 down for sleep and when I am pg with another baby the older one is usually fine to go to sleep without nursing when the baby comes).
I also think that you balance your child's needs with what you think you can physically do and maintain your sanity, LOL! No one should end up resenting their child because they are extending themselves far beyond their limits, that isn't good for either mom or baby.

Leah said...

Hey Kelley - heard you were blogging; LOVING what I've had chance to read so far; oh and BTW my Kozy is my all time favourite sling, they are amazing!!

This post is fantastic, I haven't heard of that formula in the UK but I'm sure it won't be long till it's here LOL! I also co-sleep and breastfeed (baby-led) and life is peaceful. Well done for speaking out - we need more (loud) voices like this to help mothers embrace their wonderful job as Mama's.

Refreshing to read, thank you...Mmmm, now I think I need to shop for another Kozy, my hubby keeps using the one we have, everyone should have two right?!! :)

Tandy and Jeff said...

Ugh, wow. I agree! That formula is pretty frustrating. Another mainstream item "teaching" moms misleading things.

"Is he sleeping through the night yet?" is also one of the most frequent questions I get asked with our first, now 7 months old. My inlaws have been trying to convince us to use baby cereal since he was a week old to supposedly "make him sleep better." Nooo thanks!


Side note... we've been doing baby led weaning since 6months. I tried to give DS some actual pureed baby food the other day at almost 7 months; he was not interested AT ALL. I don't know why people feel it is so necessary to push it! He didn't want it, and does better shoving things in his mouth by himself (and it's 'real' food).

Anyways...
You put it into words so well! I'm terrible at describing my feelings or WHY I try to do things a certain way. I completely agree with you about how babies simply need more attention and aren't meant to be independant.

Kathleen said...

A friend linked to this post on Facebook. That formula makes me cringe! I am glad you're speaking up about it. Great post!

Tracy said...

Great Post! I am definelty going to pass this along. I haven't heard of this formula, I mean to me all of its nasty and I would rather buy from a milk bank before ever giving my children this ____.

rumantic said...

We have this kind of formula in the UK - fortunately it is only allowed to be labelled as for babies over 6 months which is some small mercy, but one company which makes the "goodnight milk" also makes baby foods, so they have a "weaning pack" available to buy on their website (In the UK weaning refers to starting solids, not ending nursing) - and they recommend this as "An ideal gift for a new mum" - with sachets of the goodnight milk inside. Grrrrrr. If that isn't the most underhand marketing... It makes me so mad!

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