How raising a baby is like making pizza
by Adam Kuban
Some of you may know me as the founder of Slice, the long-running weblog dedicated to pizza, which is now a part of Serious Eats. One thing I’ve learned over the years of pizzablogging (yes, Margot, pizzablogging is a thing, a weird, weird thing) is that everyone has his or her own way to make pizza and everyone’s way is THE RIGHT WAY. That is to say, if you don’t mix a dough, stretch it out, top it, or bake it the way John Q. Pizzanerd does it, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG. Variables like bake times, dough hydration, and seemingly innocuous things like whether you put sugar in your tomato sauce spark fierce debate.
My wife and I observed something similar in babyland when we were in the hospital shortly after Margot’s birth. Especially around issues of breastfeeding.
If you have ever spent the night in a hospital, you get used to a parade of nurses changing shifts. There’s the usual day shift and night shift, so you’re going to have at least two nurses. But you’ll probably meet more than two simply due to days off in the nurses’ rotation. Every nurse we met had different advice regarding bottle-feeding, the use of pacifiers, etc. And that’s before we met with the hospital lactation consultant.
One of the more contentious issues surrounding breastfeeding is “nipple confusion.” That’s the fear that in giving the baby a bottle or pacifier, she will gain a preference for something other than the mother’s nipple. I’m not denying that it is a real concern, just saying that people can be very strident about doing “breast only” feeding.
The nurses, of course, are trained not to tell parents what to do. They get around it by talking in generalities when asked. “Well, many people supplement breastfeeding with bottle feeding.” Or, “I’ve seen people give a newborn a pacifier.” But they’re not going to come out and say, “You should give that screaming baby a pacifier STAT!”
Because our baby was born C-section, we had three nights in the hospital and we tried breastfeeding exclusively. When Margot got close to losing 10 percent of her birth weight by the fourth day, the staff pediatrician recommended giving her a bottle and to follow up on this line with our regular pediatrician. You would not believe the difference that made. She calmed down, slept better, and, given continued bottle-supplementation, started gaining back her weight quickly.
If we had listened to the lactation consultant, who was very much in favor of breastfeeding-only, we might have seen slower weight gain. In the end, we continued with the formula supplements, and Margot still has no trouble feeding from the breast. I’m not going to say that we’re not concerned with inducing a formula preference (which is why we’re careful only to feed her formula on a limited regimen), but that we found a solution that worked for us.
Which is what happens in much of pizzamaking. You adapt various methods from various schools of thought to find something that works for you.