I recently came across an ad for a new kind of formula which advertises that it “specially designed to help babies feel full longer and sleep better.”
The ad also states that it “thickens gently in baby’s tummy” and that it is a “natural way to keep your baby feeling satisfied.”
In short, the message is if you feed your baby this new kind of formula, it’ll digest slowly enough that your baby will sleep for a longer period of time, which would presumably let the parents sleep for a longer uninterrupted stretch of time. It implies that the only reason a baby awakens during the night is because of hunger. Therefore, if the baby eats this formula, he won’t get hungry, so he won’t wake up.
I am the the very first person to feel empathy for a new mama, whether she be AP or not, who is suffering from sleep deprivation. I’ve been there myself. My kids are both school-age now, so thankfully those days are far behind me. But oh how vividly I can recall those days of desperation for some sleep. It is not a happy place to be. There are times when the only thing you want in the world is some uninterrupted sleep.
And as such, I can certainly see why this product would sell. When a new mama has been awake for 24 hours straight, something that promises to make your baby sleep can seem like manna from Heaven! And how innocuous it sounds: it’ll be gentle in my baby’s tummy, and it’s natural!
It’s natural? Did it really say that?
Is it as natural as the milk that my own body produces for my baby? My milk doesn’t thicken gently in my baby’s tummy; my milk doesn’t thicken at all. My milk is the exact consistency that my baby’s immature digestive system can handle.
Does my baby really need to sleep for longer periods of time? Babies have different sleep cycles than adults; they need to awaken periodically in the night to ensure that they don’t fall into too deep of sleep from which they can’t awaken. Additionally, babies don’t awaken just because they are hungry. They can also awaken if they are lonely or cold, or other reasons as well. These can be solved pretty easily by co-sleeping. Thusly, I question the advertisement’s claim that it helps babies sleep better. Sleeping better is sleeping safer, which means allowing a baby to awaken during the night with a parent close by to tend to him.
The ad continues with a proposed bedtime routine for baby; sing a lullaby, soothe with a warm bath, turn down the lights, feed the formula, and give a kiss goodnight. I do agree with them on this point; bedtime routines can be very helpful in calming down a baby or child for the night. But our bedtime routines with our babies involved cuddling, rocking, massage, and nursing. My babies slept better with this cuddly routine than I believe they would have with a sterile, non-touching one.
This new formula, which promotes sleep, was not around when my kids were babies. I never missed it.