I am detail orientated. I usually feel the more detail the better. So, when Natalie was a newborn, I kept detailed notes about feeding and diapering. I wrote the time she started the feeding, how long she ate on each breast, and the contents of her diapers (often including notes about color or consistency!). I did this for about seven or eight months carefully keeping track of the new foods we introduced when nursing became routine.
William got far less documentation. Instead, I took a notebook and drew a line vertically down the page. On one side, I kept track of feeding times and on the other I kept track of diapers. After the first few weeks, I stopped recording how many minutes he fed and on which side he started feeding. By then, I knew if he had eaten well without watching the clock and could tell which breast to start on by touch. But the real reason that I scaled back on the information I recorded was because it was so hard to record everything when I nursed him while I watch Natalie play in the living room or out in public. Even at night, I found I would fall asleep with him and not know what to write.
I think William's documentation was sufficient, but Natalie's is more useful when someone asks me a question about when she was nursing.
If I were to set up a new system, I would recommend:
For the first few weeks,
- Keep track of everything. Caring for a newborn is a hormonal, exhausted haze. Its unfair to expect yourself to remember when the last poop was or how many feedings its been today. Writing it down until some patterns start to emerge will help you also spot any potential problems with baby's growth and your milk supply.
- Use an easy grid. Mine for Natalie had columns that went: time, left, right, diaper, notes. I deliberately had left and right in that order so that it matched my boobs so I could just think about it physically. The one from the hospital had right first and I was always writing things in wrong. Notes would be where I would write how many ml pumped or any usual behavior.
- Write down the feeding times, but don't worrying about the minutes per side unless they are unusual.
- Keep a tally of the pee and poop. Maybe write the times for the poop when they become less frequent. Both of my kids had a period around 3 months where they went every other day.
- Keep a log for new foods, no matter what feeding method you use. This can help you track possible food allergies or intolerance. For example, when William was about 6 months old, we were able to determine that yogurt made William spit up more, so we held off on it for several months before reintroducing it.
- If you don't want to grope your boobs in public to determine which side to feed on first, I'd suggest using a ring or bracelet instead. Move the bracelet to the side you start on as you begin feeding, then refer to the bracelet's position to know where to start the next time.
- Always note any medications including the dosage and time administered.