Has data-driven parenting run amok? Are spreadsheets to measure every poop output and breast-milk intake necessary? Do we need a time stamp for each “ga” “mmm” and “da-da”? Or is this just, frankly, insane? A way to try to ease the sometimes overwhelming anxiety of parenting with cold, emotion-free numbers?
For writer Amy Webb, a so-called “digital strategy expert,” measuring everything her child does makes loads of sense. In her controversial and truly mind-blowing piece on Slate last week, Webb revealed the process by which she documents every minuscule element of data on the kid’s existence.
During the first feeding at home, I put my laptop on the nightstand beside my bed and filled out the chart as I tried to burp my daughter:
Time: 11:15 a.m.
Breast Milk: 75 milliliters
Formula Supplement: none
Wet Diaper: 1
Yellow Scale (1 = clear, 10 = call the hospital): 3
Dirty Diaper: 1
Poop Scale (1 = Dijon mustard, 5 = pâté, 10 = tar): 5
At 2 a.m. the next morning, I attempted the same routine. Laptop on left nightstand, baby attached to right boob.
But it doesn’t stop there: “At 15 months, we knew the 37 complete words she’d mastered and the 11 miscellaneous vowel sounds that meant real-world objects… By her 18-month pediatrician visit, she could point to her throat, ankle, eyebrow, teeth, shin, knee, and belly button when prompted, and we’d tracked it all in our series of spreadsheets, which we’d prepared for our appointment.”
Webb claims all this poop-measuring and morsel-tracking is state-of-the-art parenting, with myriad benefits for the child. In this approach, nothing is left unrecorded: “When she was 6 months old, we added a tab to the spreadsheet for new foods. Rice cereal, 2 teaspoons, on Oct. 3. Steamed, mashed carrots, 1 ounce, on Oct. 30; didn’t like at all. Steamed, mashed sweet potato, 1 ounce, on Nov. 10; liked even less. Steamed, mashed peas, 2 ounces, on Nov. 18; wanted more.” Continue reading