There seems to be a lot of confusion around mothers who are breastfeeding on demand ie whenever their infant cries. Personally we found this method hard to implement as infants cry for many more reasons than just hunger.
I just can’t understand how we can let our tiny children tell us how they should be raised and when we should feed them. Do they know better than us?
Yes, yes, I can already hear all the commentary about how can a man even comment on such a thing? The fact that I am a man (If us house husbands are still considered men) means that just maybe I can be a little more analytical and a little less emotional about the whole process.
The post natal period is an extremely emotional one and the average breastfeeding woman can be very easily caught up in the “is my child eating enough, are my breasts producing enough, is my milk nutritious enough or am I a good enough mother” guilt spiral.
It is impossible for my judgement to be clouded in this way as I do not have breasts nor do I produce milk. My insecurities lie in many other areas.
The common issue/complaint I have noticed among breastfeeding women is that they do not know how much their infant has eaten. This does not occur when you bottle feed and perhaps coincidentally I do not know anyone who has bottle feed on demand.
It would appear that the problem with on demand feeding is that an infants only form of communication is crying so whenever your child cries it gets fed. There are a hell of a lot of other reasons a child cries. It also means that when your child demands, it gets, which is, I think, is setting you up for a whole lotta trouble down the track.
I’ll give you an example. We were out with a friend who is on demand breastfeeding. The child woke up and started to cry so mum went to feed. No problems so far. After about half an hour mum comes back with a happy baby.
After about twenty minutes of play the baby starts to cry again so what is the first thing that mum does? Yes, that’s right, she feeds the baby again! Come on guys! Surely you would check a few things first like a nappy or wind or hot or cold or stimulation or a cuddle or even a sleep?
But no – it’s food, food, food. The baby then falls asleep on mums’ breast after three minutes and mum says, “See, she must have still been hungry”. Holy crap! I’ll bet everything I own that the baby was tired and just wanted a bit of comfort and not hungry at all.
The solution for us was a three or four hour cycle of wake, feed, play and sleep as you would if you were bottle feeding. You might find that your breasts will be fuller (and so it will be more obvious when they are empty) and your child will feed better.
I guess what I am asking is, Should babies be encouraged to see food as the solution to all of their problems? And, should babies be allowed to demand anything? Isn’t it our job to show them what to do?
From an purely outsiders (male) point of view, the practice of on demand feeding seems to advocate a cry and reward scenario based on food that puts the infant in the drivers seat. It also makes me wonder if it has anything to do with the recent rises in eating and behavioral disorders ?
Food for thought….