Confessions of a baby tracker

The other day when I raved about breastfeeding cookies, I was disappointed that nobody wanted to see a graph of my pumping output. Sure, it’s not very scientific because my data doesn’t control for hydration, time since last nursing, or other foods… but that’s what a tracking mom lives for: being able to answer inane questions at the drop of a hat.

Well, here ya go!

You’re welcome.

My friend, and fellow Industrial Engineer, Rachel knows, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Though I can’t manage my children in this sort of way, I am addicted to trying. I want to be able to accurately answer these questions (without the constraints of new mommy brain) even though I can’t:

  • When did he start sleeping through the night? I don’t know.
  • When did he drop his third nap? I’m not sure this baby has one.
  • When did he start eating three solid meals a day? Hmmm. Don’t know.

Holden was first born, RookieDad Alec and I made notes about his feedings and sleeping schedule. Not satisfied with what the hospital provided, we invented our own paper-based spreadsheet. I looked for patterns. The baby was so darn fussy, we clung to any method for tracking progress. We rationalized that our system prevented middle of the night arguments fueled by our faulty memories.

Eventually, his baby ways grew more predictable — and we decided to write-off all fighting past bedtime — but I couldn’t stop writing my squiggles on the chart. Whitney talked me into putting down the pen for three days but I missed it too much to stop. At the end of each nanny or babysitting session, I would jot down all their notes onto my paper. For eight months. Around then, I finally admitted to myself that Holden had settled into some regular naps and I wasn’t learning anything new. I just loved keeping track. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Before Milo was born, the Itzbeen baby timer was born. Somehow, its very existence validated my neurosis as legit. I longed for it, but I stuck with my paper spreadsheet. Again for eight months. Because, come on, it would just be rude to the second child to stop any sooner, right?

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During my baby-making hiatus, two important things happened: I lost my blue folder with sixteen months of practically-useless baby data AND the iPhone was released with heaps of apps to track babies.

So I could begin anew.

No longer tethered to my old-fashioned paper chart, I modernized with Baby Connect. Charts! Graphs! Email! Photos! Multiple devices! Bliss!

Each day when I pick up Sawyer from his childcare center, I photograph their daily notes to enter them into my records.

I know that keeping all this data is a feeble attempt to control the uncontrollable. I know that my son is more than the sum of his ounces of milk and minutes of sleep. I know that entering in “NAP FAIL” or even “EPIC NAP FAIL” on an iPhone app doesn’t make it any less frustrating. But it is so hard to stop. It all comforts me. In the nerdiest possible way.

Breaking up is hard. No longer insistent on “making it to eight months,” I figured that I’d be that much more of a laissez-faire mom if I quit a few days early.

I quit cold turkey over the weekend.


Not sponsored. At $5 for the app, I wish!