Dear Mark: Baby Sleep/Feed Schedule and Walking Through a Sedentary Society

Baby sleep in a baby bed.For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering two reader questions. The first comes from reader Larisa. She is about to give birth, has been hearing the “wake your newborn every 2 hours to feed” recommendation, and wonders how realistic, evolutionarily-congruent, and healthy that will be for new parents desperate for sleep. I offer a few loose recommendations that hopefully make her feel better about what’s about to descend upon her life. Second, is there such a thing as too much low-level activity? Mariel walks 10+ miles a day, strength trains, and stands when she gets tired of walking. Her coworkers think she’s crazy. What do I think? Find out below.

Let’s go:

I’m about to have a baby, and I’m curious about the recommendation I’ve had that I need to wake up the newborn every 2 hours to feed it at night, even if the baby is sleeping and not hungry. Presumably, Grok did not have alarm clocks, and presumably, the extreme sleep deprivation associated with waking up every 2 hours would make the mother an easy prey for whatever preyed on Groks in those days. What would Grok do, and are there Primal recommendations for baby sleep patterns?


Sure, if your newborn is sleeping 12 hour stretches right off the bat, something might be amiss. That definitely isn’t typical or normal. And if your baby isn’t gaining weight on schedule, you may need to wake him to ensure adequate calorie intake. If your child was born prematurely, special feeding schedules are probably necessary, and your doctor will give you guidance; heed that guidance. But if everything is going well, just let your baby decide. Finnish newborns eat every 4-6 hours at night, and I strongly believe that’s a good thing. There’s no research behind this, it’s more of a pet hypothesis, but I wouldn’t be surprised if waking and force-feeding kids according to your schedule rather than theirs has an undesirable effect on their ability to self-regulate hunger and satiety.

Consider what you’ve got in a newborn: a pristine force of human nature, the purest expression of what’s intrinsic to humans before environment and culture and upbringing get their claws in and muck about. That child is going to be clued in to whatever he or she needs, moment by moment. If he needs food, he’ll tell you. If he need sleep, he’ll keep sleeping. He’s the best arbiter precisely because he’s just going purely off subconscious physiological urges.

It’d be great if parents could just decide how their newborns slept, fed, and woke. But while there are certainly parents who’ve had success with behavioral sleep interventions, the majority of the evidence for sleep training is weak, nonexistent, or plagued with methodological errors. In my book, the best recommendation is not to impose a top-down sleep schedule for your baby but to consider co-sleeping, bed-sharing, or at least room-sharing because those enable and promote natural sleep patterns. Most pediatrics groups are actually recommending that parents room-share with their newborns because the evidence in favor is so overwhelming (although they still oppose bed-sharing).

Co-sleeping hews your sleep wake schedule to your baby’s (or maybe it’s vice versa) so you’re in tune with each other—naturally. It also changes how you perceive the wake-up. In one study, co-sleeping parents rated their night wake-ups as less disruptive than parents who slept apart from their babies. Turns out your 2 month-old son nuzzling your neck and murmuring baby nonsense into your ear is a better way to wake up than your 2 month-old wailing from another room. Who knew?

All this means you can react to the baby’s immediate needs immediately rather than try to guess with arbitrary wake-up and feeding times. Also, you’re less likely to be angry and stressed out when you do wake up (you’ll still be a little angry and stressed, of course, and that’s okay!).

Too often, parents assume their newborns are fleshy vegetables unable to accept sensory data. They’re just there, completely helpless and passive. Really, kids absorb that stuff and are subject to the same laws as us. They may not be able to think about the blue light they’re seeing, but it still affects them. Minimize circadian disruptions for the baby just as you would for an adult. That means:

Lots of light during the day. Babies who receive ample daytime light, especially natural light (yes, a bit of sunlight is perfect safe for infants) during the afternoon, are more likely to sleep better at night.

Keep the TV and electronics off once it gets dark. Don’t bathe your baby in blue light then wonder why she refuses to sleep.

The basic stuff that works for us applies to your baby, too.

In short, your child will have strong opinions about Primal sleep patterns. They’re probably right and you should listen.

How much low level movement is too much?

I have a treadmill desk that I average 10 miles a day on. I also usually add in a gentle bike ride and there is always some outdoor walking, as well.

I also exercise (body weight and plyometric exercises plus kettlebells) most mornings.

People are freaked out by how much I walk. When I’m tired I stop walking and stand at my desk, so I don’t really see the problem. I do have an “all or nothing” type of personality in general, though.

Do you think there is such a thing as too much walking and low level movement?

Thanks so much for any input! I really value the opinion of MDA!


People are freaked out because you live in a sedentary society where people take the elevator to go up or down one floor. Where instead of using their legs, they use moving staircases. Where rather than grab the first parking spot they see, people will drive for ten minutes just to get one near the entrance. When you see these examples written out, they sound preposterous. Moving staircases? C’mon! But they’re normal, and most of us fall into the same patterns without thinking.

You’re not, and that’s weird and threatening.

I’m a little jealous of you. 10+ miles a day? Dang. I wish I could manage that much.

Let me avail your concerns: you’re probably okay. If modern hunter-gatherers like the Ache or Hadza are any indication (PDF), our ancestors walked anywhere from 6 to 16 kilometers on an average day. Another recent study pegs the Hadza as walking between 6 and 11.5 km a day on average, with women walking toward the lower end of the range and men toward the higher. Those aren’t quite 10 miles per day, but modern examples exist, too. There are rural South African women, of whom just 11.9% can be classified as sedentary (under 5,000 steps a day) and for whom an average day means walking 10,594 steps or just over 5 miles (many of them done while carrying a load). Most impressive are the Amish men and women aged 18-75 (PDF), who walk an average of 18,425 steps (about 9 miles) or 14,196 steps (about 7 miles) each day respectively.

If you’re getting enough food, have at it. If you still have the energy to do your work and train, keep up the miles. I’d say if walking starts cutting into your ability or willingness to lift heavy things (or bodyweight/kettlebells), reduce the walking and keep the training. Ten miles a day plus strength training is better than 14 miles a day and no additional training. Low level movement is the foundation, but those short, intense bouts of dedicated training are indispensable.

As always, folks, fill in any gaps in my answers down below with your comments. You’re a huge wealth of knowledge; let it shine!

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care.

TAGS:  dear mark

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

53 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Baby Sleep/Feed Schedule and Walking Through a Sedentary Society”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Mariel should also be aware that many people take on long hikes, such as the Pacific Crest Trail. They do 10 miles a day or more of hiking up and down mountains, with packs. And they live to tell about it 🙂 Nothing at all wrong with doing that.

  2. I found that my babies set their own feeding schedules. If they woke & cried, we did a diaper change & tried a feeding. When they’d had their fill, we went back to bed. They seemed to know when & how much they wanted to eat. And as their meals got larger, the time between feedings naturally got longer.
    We didn’t co-sleep, but the babies were in our room, in a bassinet right by the head of my side of the bed, for the first several months. It could be rocked by hand (or foot ????).

  3. I’m with you Marial. I walk at least 10 miles a day at work and do quite a few daily bodyweight exercises after. Even if we’re watching tv at night I practice standing on one leg while watching. Most people think I’m crazy but I’m 56 years old and can outperform even my 24 year old son in most activities including a sprint race. Let em think what they want. Lol

  4. La Leche League meetings can be very helpful, even before birth. I nursed, baby wore and never used a pacifier. I let my babies regulate their nursing. If they wanted to suck, they nursed. Non-nutritive sucking at the breast is still very important because it tells your system to create enough milk for the baby. Baby wearing, especially as they got older, was super easy. I could just “sling them the boob” as my sisters and I would call it without needing to take them out.

    I also co-slept. As long as you are nursing, not under the influence, on a firmer surface (no waterbeds or super squishy mattresses), and have limited covers, you should do fine. Again, La Leche League can help with this. Other mothers have a bassinet/co-sleeper on the side of the bed that they can just lift the baby out of and put in when done nursing. I found I always knew where my babies were in bed with me, but definitely got sleep. Families beds can be wonderful. (You can use a different bed or room for other nightly activities, if you know what I mean…) If you formula feed, you should never have the baby in bed with you because you have a different physiological relationship with the baby.

    Hope this helps! Good luck.

    1. many years ago I was a La Leche leader…I dont recall ever hearing that a formula baby should not be in bed with you. Perhaps this is a new recommendation. Formula babies dont sleep all night, either. I know the physical closeness makes it easier to feed a baby at night if he is in the room, or bed. Sad as it is, formula feeding is sometimes an absolute necessity, and the other aspects of attachment parenting can and should still be available for both parent’s and child’s sake.

    2. I have never heard that formula fed babies shouldn’t co-sleep…sounds like some old wives tale. I had twins, premature, who were breast fed as much as possible, but mostly bottle fed since the breast milk had to be supplemented with formula to ensure that they received enough calories. They coslept with me until they were 18 months old…..and are currently very happy, extremely bright, healthy six year olds.

  5. What is truly bizarre is going to the gym… everyone wants to park right near the entrance. Walking a few hundred feet across the parking lot to the gym is NOT park of the fitness plan.

  6. I had two 35 week babies, and breastfed on demand, neither baby slept with us, both had a quiet small room next door with a baby monitor so we could hear them. I am a very poor sleeper and always have been since I was born, co-sleeping made no sense to me at all. I was awake just before either of them actually cried (seemed to be tuned into them irrespective of them not being actually in the room) and with them in moments to feed them, quietly resettle and return to my own space to sleep (or often not!), until they stirred again.

    Both my children (now adults in their 20s) are excellent sleepers which I hoped would be the outcome!

    For me having one non-child room in the house allowed me the space I needed to remain sane through those early years. We always respected their rooms as their space too, from when they were born. For us it worked very well.

    Listening to what feels right for you as a family is crucial, regardless of what ‘others’ believe is correct. It’s so easy to enter the guilt complex whenever what you are doing doesn’t align with others.

    Babies know (99% of time) when and what they need, it’s us adults that don’t listen!

    1. +1!!!! I had to move baby out after 2-3 weeks because I would constantly wake. Figure out what works for you and baby. There’s more than 1 right answer.

  7. Larisa: 2 hour feeding is a little ridiculous. First, how is that measured? My daughter would take almost an hour to feed, so 1 more hour or 2? When the time comes, use common sense. Acclimate your baby to day/night. Feed at night with no/minimal light, no talking or extras and put back to sleep. Don’t wake up baby at night (unless you think something is wrong). During the day you may wake to feed but part of that may be to acclimate to having more awake time during the day. On Day 1-2, she was not interested in feeding but then got busy. Eating every 3-4 hours is plenty. A lot of these issues will answer themselves when baby comes. If baby is gaining weight you will be fine. Look at those general parameters (i.e. when to double weight etc) and timing (how often to feed) will be up to baby unless not gaining/growing. It goes by so quick, enjoy!

  8. Once our daughter (who is now 5 months) was abut 10 weeks old, we followed the general advice of a few books we read on sleep/eating scheduling. We gradually started increasing and spacing out her feedings until she got to 4 feedings per day at 4-hour increments, then slowly weaned her off of the night-time feedings. She took to it very fast, and in about a week she was happily sleeping 12 hours per night.

    YMMV, but I can tell you that for a modern schedule with two working parents, getting a full night’s sleep is essential to our happiness. Sure, babies may not have slept this long in Grok’s time, but there were also many other people in Grok’s close community (including other mothers) to help manage the rough nights and feedings.

  9. I know there are different theories out here on how parentally-driven a baby’s sleep and feeding patterns should be. . .

    but wow – who would actually tell a new mom she SHOULD wake and feed baby MORE often in the night than baby does naturally? Very bizarre! Also cruel.

    I let my son set his own nursing schedule for his first few months,and right from the start he was into big feedings and long intervals in between. (Now 4, he remains a square-meal-eater, not a snacker.) He would sleep 6 hour stretches more nights than not, starting from less than a week old. I always thought that was a lucky gift, not a problem.

    1. My eldest daughter was premature and could not be trusted to wake herself to eat; so we had to wake her on a 3 hour schedule round the clock until she started gaining weight. Once she was about 6 lbs. they gave us the OK to feed her on demand at night. I continued to wake her during the day because she tended to sleep more during the day and be too wakeful at night. I did this with all my subsequent babies — I woke them during the day and fed them on demand at night. It helped them get the day/night thing sorted out because all of my kids defaulted to being awake all night, sleeping all day if left to their own devices.

      1. Of course if the baby has special needs that require it – by all means! I just thought it was terrible advice to give an expectant, first-time mother who has no reason to think her child will have a problem getting enough nutrition.

        1. “but wow – who would actually tell a new mom she SHOULD wake and feed baby MORE often in the night than baby does naturally? Very bizarre! Also cruel.”

          Sounds like a perverse way to get revenge on Babykind – “No, we won’t let the little blighters wake US up, we’ll be the ones doing the waking! Mwah-haha-ha!”

          Seriously, special situations aside, that seems likely to wreak all kinds of havoc, not just to natural appetite/satiety, but even to circadian rhythm, if early on the baby’s body & brain doesn’t have experience in waking naturally, and learns that sleep is always cut short by an external force, and then reinforced with food…

          I read things like this and wonder what the heck these “experts” are thinking?!

  10. My 2 Mooselets both slept in a bassinette next to Mrs Moose for the first 9 to 12 months. It was easier on everyone, including the older Mooselet who was in his own room by the time Mooselet 2 came along. She often reported in the morning only having a vague idea of having woken up and fed one of them. Yet every morning they were content and happy and in the bassinette…She also carried them most places in a papoose style carrying cloth, and therefore circumvented all of the breast-feeding in public debate by simply letting the babies do their thing under cover, while no-one ever knew she was feeding them. They also wore cloth nappies and (we believe therefore) toilet trained early and quickly. It’s painful how few babies get this simple, Primal treatment these days…

    On the walking and gym front, I used to work for a gym chain, and designed a few interior walkways. My predecessors always tried to design the gym to maximise the walkway into the gym, on to the changing rooms, then to the exercise areas, then back to the changing rooms, then out again. People hated it. I inherited one example where the entrance was on the middle floor of 3, the changing rooms on the lower floor, and the group exercise rooms on the top floor. The fact they had to go up and down stairs multiple times was too much for some and they quit their membership over it. If they were there to exercise, they wanted to choose what to do. They would happily be forced to walk a much shorter distance to their favourite treadmill, and then walk miles on it, as long as when they got off again, they only had a short trip to the stretching mats and then the shower. Human nature!

  11. Mariel one thing you should be aware of is that treadmills change the way you use you muscles. In a nutshell, because the ground is moving toward you, it does the work of the backsweep for you, meaning that you don’t use your posterior muscles like you would if you were on solid ground. Needless to say, it’s not a good thing. This is something that Katy Bowman has talked about if you’re interested.

    1. It’s a bad thing in the sense that’s it better to walk for real or it’s a bad thing in the sense that’s it’s worse than not doing it and just stand?

      1. It’s a bad thing in the sense that you it’s not like if you didn’t use the treadmill you would be just standing (or sitting) there; you could still use that time to walk and move. Just do it outside. I don’t think it’s a good idea to use the treadmill just because you would otherwise not be moving (there’s always some way you can move). The tradeoff of using your muscles in an unnatural and potentially damaging way isn’t worth it.

        1. You should be able to reverse this by some walking backwards – probably NOT on the treadmill (safety issues with the controls) but round a largish running track maybe, for safety from trip hazards? Footballers do this a lot in the Uk to build those muscles up.

  12. Larisa,

    I’ll admit to being biased as I’m a member but there is a great forum called Natural Mamas ( UK based but with many international members. They have loads of infomation on Slings and how to use them but also forums about breast feeding, cloth nappies, even Paleo/primal eating. In fact it was Natural Mamas that introduced me to MDA.

    The members there are all very knowledgeable, very accepting of others views and always willing to share with and support mums and dads no matter what their question or problem.

    I strongly encourage you, and anyone with or thinking of having children, to check them out and see if they can be part of your community.

    Best wishes for the rest of your pregnancy.


  13. Three cheers for listening to yourself/baby’s/family’s needs, in no particular order, because the order of importance changes by the day/hour/minute sometimes. It’s a dance that you do and will (continue to) figure out as you go along.

    I have shared beds with both my babies, in succession, for seven and a half years now, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. When baby is little, for me personally, I cannot sleep at all if baby is not right next to me.

    Personal anecdote aside, Dr James McKenna’s Mother Baby Sleep Lab at Notre Dame (cosleeping dot nd dot edu) and kellymom dot com are both resources I have appreciated greatly as a parent of infants/young children.

    Best wishes for an excellent time, Larisa.

  14. Larisa,

    When I had my children 40 years ago, they slept next to my bed and fed on demand. I had 3 children in 2 1\2 years which left me quite sleep deprived. I was so happy when my second child starting sleeping through the night at 6 weeks. He was shot hungry, he was so hungry he would nurse voraciously and then throw it all up. I had to set an alarm and feed him. He could nurse in his sleep, but it woke me up. He was able to sleep through at 5 – 6 months without throwing up in the morning so he was back to feeding on demand. I remember there were women who, if the doctor said feed every so many hours, that is exactly what they did. They would sit sobbing with their baby screaming in hunger and not feed the baby until the exact time they had been told was reached. How ridiculous and against nature can you get. As long as a baby is making positive progress in weight gain and health, I believe they should eat when they want to.
    If I had the ability to do anything different now, it would be to have a blue blocking light I could turn on when I got up at night. The gentle red light allows you to see without blocking melatonin production in you or baby allowing you both to return quickly to a deep sleep.
    Best wishes to you on your new arrival.

  15. My babies (who are now both driving) co-slept with me and nursed when they were hungry. I never imposed a schedule on them, they each fell into a routine. I never would have woken them up to fed them…they were clearly getting plenty to eat.

  16. Tale of two babies:

    First, co-sleeping was NOT an option. I had shoulder issues and couldn’t handle a baby when I was lying down. I had to be sitting fully upright, with props to hold and feed a baby.

    Our first slept in our room as we had a 1 bedroom apartment at the time. She woke herself every two hours or so, but didn’t have any ability to get herself back to sleep so we had to feed her to soothe her and when she’d finally fall asleep in our arms it was a difficult process to get her back to the crib without waking her. She was a tired, grumpy baby a lot of the time and didn’t nap well either. She had two sleep-deprived, tired, grumpy parents, too. When we moved and she had her own room, putting her to bed at night was a nightmare–she had to fall asleep in our arms (often feeding), then we would have to somehow get her to the crib and get out of the room without waking her. The creaking floorboard in her room was known as “The Parent Trap”. If she heard it, it could mean another hour of rocking her to try to get her to sleep. She didn’t sleep through the night until she was 3 1/2 years old and it took months and many tears (hers AND mine) to get her there.

    In preparing for my second child I read a book (The Baby Whisperer) that emphasized teaching the baby self-soothing techniques. The basic premise was that when the baby woke, our first goal was to feed her as much as she would take, and then try to keep her awake until she reached the quiet and calm but awake stage. In the first few weeks, this is only a minute or so–you have to catch it. One way to remember it is “Eat-Play-Sleep” (Feed immediately, play to keep the baby awake for just a few minutes at first–including a diaper change–then put the baby to bed while awake but calm and sleepy to drift off to sleep). The idea is to put your baby down to bed WHILE STILL AWAKE but just about to drop off to sleep. The baby learns to put herself to sleep. I added a big smile and praise because my baby was so brilliant she could help herself go to sleep. I loved to see the big smile on her face when we’d lay her down in her bed.

    This is still on the baby’s schedule, although at about 3 or 4 weeks I began to stretch out the time between feedings just a little–say 5 minutes after waking before starting to feed–AS LONG AS THE BABY WAS NOT IN DISTRESS. Use a little common sense here–a baby crazed with hunger is not the object! Usually (after the first few weeks) there are a few moments to play before the baby needed to start feeding–and we never took her to the limit. The goal was simply to stretch out the time between feedings just in very small increments.

    Our second child was calm and happy and gained weight better than her sister (who did have to eat every two hours and seems to have blood sugar regulation issues to this day). Our second slept through the night at 8 weeks and NEVER woke in the middle of the night after that. She napped beautifully. I finally moved her to her own room because there was more danger that we would wake her than that she would wake and “need” us. The “parent trap” was still there, but I could walk over it while she was still awake, say goodnight, turn out the light, and never hear a peep from her until morning. We slept all night too (baby monitor on to let us know if there was a problem but there never was), and were much happier and healthier as a family.

    My kids are similar in temperament, so I wouldn’t say it was that which accounts for the difference. I really think that teaching our little one the skills she needed to soothe herself made a huge difference in her sleep patterns, which in turn affected growth and development.

    During my second pregnancy I also read Barry Sears book and got excited, briefly–about the idea of “baby wearing” and trying to figure out how to physically co-sleep–it’s really romantic to think about that constant bond with your child. Until I remembered the sleep deprivation and frustration at seeing my first child SO tired but unable to sleep even with our help on which she depended, and how that affected her overall. Our goal as parents is to help our children learn life skills, and self soothing to sleep is one of the earliest lessons we can teach in a loving and gentle manner.

    The EPS system should start the day you bring the baby home from the hospital. I think it would even work for co-sleeping, but the key is help your baby learn self-soothing skills rather than being the soother for your baby. Our babies are very smart and have incredible capacity to learn with our support and love.

    1. Great insight – my parents were in the first scenario you describe, I wake at the drop of a pin, I think as a result, and now 48 have been unable to re-programme myself despite decades of following all manner of ‘systems’.

      I was determined to avoid this with my children, I never crept around and even used the vacuum cleaner when they napped to ensure they didn’t become super-alert to the slightest noise.

      Happy parents who feel rested far outweigh, IMHO, the idealised visions of bonded families co-sleeping – it may work beautifully for some, but for a lot it really doesn’t.

  17. I wear a FitBit and average 10,000 steps a day in addition to my workout and feel just fine.

  18. We worked out a good routine for our babies – they would be put down in therIr own room next to ours and when they woke in the night, hubby would bring them in and they would co-sleep for the rest of the night. This ended up with a late feed and an early morning feed/cuddle by 18 months.
    We realised that hubby could fall back asleep quickly, but getting up made me wide awake! The breast feeding in bed soothed the baby and the hormones made me relaxed and go back to sleep.
    It worked well for us – it’s worth finding out what works for both you and your partner. Mine was anxious at first and clung to the edge of the bed for fear of squashing the kid, but relaxed into it after a time. If you co-sleep it’s also god to have a spare bed for hubby for those nights when the baby is fractious and he has to work the next day … the soothing hormones just didn’t work for him somehow.

  19. As a mom of sixteen, all breastfed, I have a few things to add to this excellent discussion. First of all, I love that breastfeeding is more socially acceptable these days, when I see a mama nursing in public, I want to say, “You GO, girl!!” I think taking care of newborns is more instinctive than we give ourselves credit for, babies let moms know when to feed them. Larisa, if you give birth in a hospital, don’t be surprised if you are nagged at to wake that baby up for feedings, and are given dire predictions that if baby goes too long without nursing, your milk won’t come in. Not true. Babies are usually interested in feeding right after birth, then they take a long doze-y sleep where they only want little bits..this is where they get their colostrum. Take this time to rest up yourself, and congratulations on the upcoming birth! Good luck!

  20. I’m a nurse, so I’ll just give my two cents. For new moms, the recommendation is usually to wake the baby up at night until she has regained any lost birth weight. With the exception of the very first night when your newborn will be very tired, chances are your breastfed baby will want to nurse very frequently anyway, so you won’t have to worry about this. Remember that your breasts will make small amounts of colostrum for the first few days, not large quantities of milk. Your baby may want to nurse all the time (or at least, it will feel that way) which is great for your milk supply. It’s a good idea to wake your baby for the first night, because some babies will be too lethargic and may experience low blood sugar (and then become more lethargic). After that, you are right about needing the sleep! Good luck and congratulations.

    My 8 month old twins still nurse frequently at night, and the lack of sleep is starting to wear me out,even with cosleeping. Any thoughts Mark?

    1. The lost birthweight thing is very tricky when you’re talking about a hospital birth because babies’ weights are abnormally higher in most hospital births due to the plethora of interventions, mostly the IV saline. Epidurals and pitocin cause lethargic babies, and again, low blood sugar is another symptom of unnecessary medical interventions. If you have an intervention-free birth, there’s no need to worry about any of this.

  21. when wading my way thru some anthropology I re call that the modern hunter gatherers who we have lest as examples have an optimal walking distance. In other words, once the animals and plants start to get to far from the camp they move closer. From memory, this was around 8km per day. Of course in addition to their aerobic walk (and similar activities) they had the intense shorter activities 2-3 times/week and the all out (life or near death) thing once every week or 2. All sounds similar to the prmal blueprint really. Occasionally they will walk further- drought, calamity, a visit to the neighbours can involve much longer treks of 20-50km spread over 24hours or a couple of days.But these are occasional 1-2 times every month or so. Where they do more in one of these spaces you can bet there is more rest taken.

  22. One word of caution about letting babies sleep. While we generally just fed on demand, our child had some health issues (tongue + lip tie) as well as multiple severe food protein intolerances. We were lucky; my overactive let-down probably prevented my son from ending up with Failure To Thrive, which is associated with both of those conditions. Many other parents in my support groups weren’t so lucky. When a baby isn’t getting enough food (such as what might happen with an often-overlooked medical condition like tongue tie,) he/she will often become lethargic and won’t wake to eat, which creates an awful downward spiral. I think this is probably partly why parents are told to wake their newborns so often: it helps keep potential problems from quickly spiraling out of control. I realize this is probably a small portion of families, but it’s so hard to recover from a bad start to breastfeeding that the amount of feeds early on is definitely worth keeping an eye on, IMO.

  23. Mariel, just remember a previous discussion abut the difference between ‘normal’ and ‘common’: people are so used to everyone being overweight, that a fit person seems ‘too thin’. Same principle. People balk at the idea of paying money to run a 5k, but happily pay to supersize their fries. You just keep moving and be strong!

    1. If McDonald’s would cook the fries in pasture-raised beef tallow I would happily pay extra to supersize them!

  24. Trust me, sweetheart, if your baby sleeps 2 hours or more, you should play the lottery (I know this happens, but I’m just pissed that it didn’t happen to me). My daughter woke every 45 minutes to maybe an hour and a half for AT LEAST 5 or 6 months. You think you’ll have “severe sleep deprivation” waking every 2 hours?? You’re in for a nasty surprise. You’ll hear, “You should sleep when the baby sleeps during the day!” …and you’ll want to do laundry or dishes or whatever, but take their advice. That other stuff can wait…your sanity can’t.

    1. Lol this was my thought, too. If your baby sleeps 2 hours or more right off the bat…congratulations! 😉

  25. The reason for new moms being told to wake their babies at night to eat is basically the aftermath of a medicated birth. Moms who’ve had lots of drugs birth sleepy babies. Sleepy babies don’t wake to eat. Lack of breast simulation for long periods at night leads to low supply. Low supply leads to artificial milk supplementation. Artificial milk leads to scores of chronic illnesses.

    So if you’ve had a medicated birth, wake your sleepy newborn until the birth weight is regained plus some and milk supply is well established. Or better yet, try to give birth normally and avoid all the other problems.

  26. I’m yealous of the threadmill desk… My boss won’t even get me a standing desk. Apparently they are way too expensive

  27. I love Mark’s comments on respecting babies as sentient human beings.

  28. I think I was told to wake every 2 hours during the day and every 3 hours at night (UK, five years ago, natural birth with just gas and air which I suspect is much more normal here than in the US). My understanding is that it was partly about establishing a good milk supply and because some newborns are too sleepy to feed. I ended up with a baby who was a terrible sleeper, despite cosleeping – and a rubbish milk supply! Feeds would often take over an hour so that didn’t leave that much time inbetween.

    Second-time round, I ignored the advice, though I probably wouldn’t have let him sleep for more than 4-5 hours as a newborn. I was really religious about avoid artifical light at nighttime and didn’t do any rocking, patting, shushing etc. just feeding and hugs. He quickly became a much better sleeper and is generally much more chilled out. I don’t know how much of that is personality or being a second, but I’m pretty sure that it helped that I wasn’t setting alarms in the night to wake him up!

    One book I did find quite interesting was ‘The 90-minute sleep solution’ – which talks about the ‘Basic Rest and Activity Cycle’ which is a 90-minute cycle – the rough idea is that if you put your baby to sleep a multiple of 90 minutes after they last woke up, then they will go to sleep much more easily because it fits with that cycle.

  29. Mothers should breastfeed exclusively and babies should be fed on demand for the first year. Solids should not be introduced until 6 months at the very earliest (otherwise the gut-lining does not have a chance to properly form and food particles can enter the blood – similar to leaky gut). Babies can be exclusively breastfed for up to a year (my son had no solid food until 9 months and only very little until 1 year – he’s 3 now and 32 lbs). Also, make sure your doctor uses the “weight gain chart” for breastfed babies, not formula-fed, if you must place stock in such things, as there can be a significant difference in the weight gain rate between the two. The other important factor here is co-sleeping. This allows you to nurse on demand without having to get out of bed (and babies shouldn’t sleep in cages).

  30. Back when people used to sleep on the hard ground, it was probably less likely that you’d roll over onto your baby without feeling it. Today, in a big, squishy bed, it’s more likely that one tired parent could roll over enough to block a baby’s airway without noticing it.

    In med school, while on my psychiatry rotation, I had the terrible task of riding along with the mobile psych unit to a house call. The father woke up with his baby wedged slightly under his arm. Baby was already gone and couldn’t be revived. Both parents, still in their pajamas with paramedics walking in and out of their house, were in shock. Went to bed a family of 3, woke up a family of 2 with a huge gaping hole in their hearts and their life.

    If you’ve met anyone who lost a baby while co-sleeping, you would never advocate for co-sleeping. The benefits of co-sleeping don’t outweigh the risk of death.

    1. Baby in a basinet-or-equivalent
    2. No bumpers, no pillows, no stuffed animals
    3. Baby on his back
    These things have been associated with a decreased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Mark has a subscription to PubMed and can verify this.

  31. This is only speculation, but I wonder how many of the lives cut short by decades due to addiction to alcohol and other drugs (including compulsive over-eating), stem from an early inability to self-soothe prior to sleeping, leading the adult to prefer a chemically-mediated sleep onset? I wonder how many people lying terrified and alone as babies in a dark room came to fear bedtime, that moment of losing consciousness, without even knowing it…

    I can’t help but think if you spend the first months and years of your life being terrified by something, as an adult there’ll be a deep pattern of avoiding it whenever possible, without being able to consciously recall why.

    And the link between circadian rhythm problems, depression and addiction is just now being untangled.

    Like I said just thinking aloud here, I think the bolt-on cots that fit next to a bed but can’t be rolled into look like a good compromise, but I’m no expert.

  32. If you’re baby has high biliruben levels and is at risk of Jaundice, a frequent feeding schedule will help clear the biliruben levels through bowels.

  33. The every 2 hour crap is crap, lol. Formula fed sugar babies need the roller coaster feedings to remain in a sugar high; avoiding hypoglycemia.