All content of this blog is my own opinion only. It does not represent the views of any organisation or association I may work for, or be associated with. Nothing within this blog should be considered as medical advice and you should always consult your Doctor.

Oil Pulling For Children?? You Raging Hippy You!

So when I first mentioned oil pulling on Facebook, the replies were interesting.  My previously cavity free just turned 8 year old has developed three in the last six months, and as someone always plagued by needing loads of dental work (despite all the oral hygiene measures as advised by the dentist) I was interested in exploring natural approaches that may prevent further decay in my daughter.  Some were horrified, including one mum who replied; "I would never ask a child to do that!"  Some were interested and wanted to know more, and of course given how cool Armadillo readers generally are, some were already doing it.

What is oil pulling?
To be honest you can dress it up in various ways, but the bottom line is it's a traditional Indian folk remedy that requires sesame, olive or coconut oil (all virgin cold pressed) to be swilled around your mouth for 5-20 minutes (depending upon which website you read) pulling it through your teeth before spitting and brushing; swallowing is not recommended  Optimum appears to be first thing in a morning, but some do twice a day - generally the guidance seems to be 4hrs after eating (not sure I ever go that long!) and 1hr after drinking...

Er why?
Well proponents of oil pulling claim it pulls toxins from the body, which can help a whole host of health conditions.  From eczema to acne and joint issues, diabetes, migraine, hypertension, ischemic heart
disease, liver & respiratory conditions; Google and you will find someone claiming oil pulling cured them.  I don't honestly see how toxins could be pulled through the mucous membrane as some websites suggest, which I will discuss more in a moment; but as it is also reputed as excellent for oral health, getting rid of toothache and reducing gum disease, I decided to read more.  What's interesting about oil pulling is that there's no big pharma heading up this campaign, posting fake reviews etc; clearly people who advocate pulling believe it helped them.

There are those however who take the claims of oil pulling to another level, particularly  Dr Karach MD - feel free to do your own digging!

Ok as I said above, I'm not convinced toxins can be pulled through the mucosal surfaces of the mouth; however things can certainly pass into the bloodstream sublingually - think of the tiny pills or spray that people put under their tongue during an angina attack.  In fact this route is faster and the substance is only exposed to saliva before entering the bloodstream; anything swallowed has to pass through the digestive tract where enzymes get to work.

A little digging turned up a paper entitled "Oil pulling – Unraveling the path to mystic cure", Alaka Hebbar* Vaishali Keluskar** Arvind Shetti*** *Post Graduate Student, **M.D.S, Professor and Head, ***M.D.S, Professor, Department of oral Medicine & Radiology, KLES V.K Institute Of Dental Sciences, Nehru
Nagar, Belgaum, Karnataka, India. Published in the Journal of International Oral Health 2010 states:
"Sesame seed oil has a high concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids and is a good source of vitamins. The antioxidants present in it are namely sesamin, sesamolin and sesaminol. These lignans have certain actions on the living tissues like- Detoxification of toxins, antioxidant effect, potentiates the action of vitamin E, prevents lipid peroxidation and antibiotic effect in that it helps in the destruction of microorganisms. Sesamin has found to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol as well as its production in the liver, reduces lipogenesis and exhibits an antihypertensive action."
You can find it here and is well worth a read if this subject interests you.  This suggests amongst other things that the oil hit alone is responsible for some results.

In terms of dental health the claims are it breaks down plaque and neutralises harmful bacteria - resulting it whiter, cleaner, healthier teeth and gums and fresh breath.  The paper above also explores this:
"The mechanism by which the oil pulling therapy causes plaque reduction is not known. The viscosity of the oil probably inhibits bacterial adhesion and plaque co-aggregation. Other possible mechanism might be saponification or the „soap-formation‟ process that occurs as a result of alkali hydrolysis of fat.  Sesame oil is a vegetable fat and when it is acted upon by the salivary alkali like bicarbonates, the soap forming process is initiated. Soaps are good cleansing agents because they are effective emulsifying agents. Emulsification is the process by which insoluble fat like sesame oil is broken down into minute droplets and dispersed in water. Emulsification greatly enhances the surface area of the oil there by increasing its cleansing action."
Interestingly there is, particularly pertaining to dental health:
"AIMS: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of oil pulling with sesame oil on the count of Streptococcus mutans in plaque and saliva of children, using the Dentocult SM Strip mutans test, and to compare its efficacy with that of chlorhexidine mouthwash. 
RESULTS: There was a reduction in the S. mutans count in the plaque and saliva samples of both the study and the control groups. The reduction in the S. mutans count in the plaque of the study group was statistically significant after 1 and 2 weeks (P=0.01 and P=0.008, respectively); the control group showed significant reduction at all the four time points (P=0.01, P=0.04, P=0.005, and P=0.005, respectively, at 24 h, 48 h, 1 week, and 2 weeks). In the saliva samples, significant reduction in S. mutans count was seen in the control group at 48 h, 1 week, and 2 weeks (P=0.02, P=0.02, P=0.008, respectively) 
CONCLUSION: Oil pulling can be used as an effective preventive adjunct in maintaining and improving oral health." (1)
and in another study:
"The effect of oil-pulling on the reduction of total count of bacteria was determined. There was a remarkable reduction in the total count of bacteria. The process of oil-pulling reduced the susceptibility of a host to dental caries." (2)
and another:
"The oil pulling therapy showed a reduction in the plaque index, modified gingival scores, and total colony count of aerobic microorganisms in the plaque of adolescents with plaque-induced gingivitis." (3)
"Oil pulling is having dental benefits. Hence this holds a chance to be added to other oral hygiene measures" (4)
I think the paper discussed above; "Unravelling the path to mystic cure", sums things up well in its conclusion:
"Inspite of all the advances in the field of health science, traditional healing methods still have a major role to play. These methods are born out of native wisdom of very high intellectualism. They are untouched and unspoiled. If they are analysed on scientific backgrounds they stand the test of time. Hence oil pulling is one such method which improves the oral health and benefits various systems as well."
So do you oil pull?  Has it helped?  Are you planning on trying?  If so please keep us updated!

1.  Effect of oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans count in plaque and saliva using Dentocult SM Strip mutans test: a randomized, controlled, triple-blind study. Journal of the Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry (2008)
Volume: 26, Issue: 1, Pages: 12-17

2. Effect of oil-pulling on dental caries causing bacteria, African Journal of Microbiology Research Vol.(2) pp.063-066, March, 2008

3. Asokan S, Emmadi P, Chamundeswari R. Effect of oil pulling on plaque induced gingivitis: A randomized, controlled, triple-blind study. Indian J Dent Res 2009;20:47-51

4.  Effect of Oil Pulling on Plaque and Gingivitis, J Oral Health Comm Dent 2007 ;1(1):12-1

Home Educated Children Lack Socialisation...

This is by far the most common concern I hear raised about home education.  That children will miss out on socialising;  forming a peer group, team sports and so on.

This assumption appears to make sense; school = large group of children, home = parents plus 1+ child.  As most people send their children to school, this is the norm, the basis for comparison.

The reality could not be further from the truth.

Before my eldest started full time school at 6, we did part time flexi schooling.  This meant she attended the Montessori for 2-4 days per week and was home schooled the other days, an arrangement that suited us really well.

During this time I dipped my toe into the home schooling pond for our "days off" and was quite surprised to find just how many people in the area were home schooling!  There are several area networks within easy reach and the range of activities running on a regular basis is vast; ice skating, gymnastics, french club, construction clubs and open groups that include creative writing and themes such as countries and so on.

Our favourite was an open group run in a local gymnasium - some bits of climbing equipment and a huge open space for the children to run and play.  Team games, creative stuff, instruments - the children always had something going on.

On top of this were numerous days out to museums and learning events - often heavily discounted or free as the joy of home ed is you can access everything whilst everyone else is at school.

Aside from all these arranged social gatherings, what it's worth remembering is that social encounters are numerous even just going about normal daily business.

As one mum during a discussion on Facebook highlighted:
"Don't underestimate how everyday life produces opportunities to learn. Trips to the supermarket? Maths, budgeting, socialisation, reading, writing (a list). Its all there!"
another added
"Being with a parent while socialising with peers has many benefits too.
In a school environment it's like the blind leading the blind.We get told they "need" to go to nursery / school to "learn how to socialise" but in actual fact WHO are they learning from? If all kids are going to "learn" then who is teaching them? The adults."
When you think about it, whilst classrooms are a good way to provide an education to "the masses", nobody has ever proven, nor attempted to that schools are the best way for children to learn; or that grouping 20-30 all same aged children together improves the outcome in any area including socially (see research below).

When home educating, younger children learn from watching and role modelling themselves on the older end.  For those a little older, helping and mixing with younger ones not only builds confidence, but also develops social skills further as they are used to interacting with a wide age range including adults.  Just like those educated in a mainstream school, the older home educated children arrange sleepovers and have play dates, attend after school clubs or groups - they do not live in a cave ;-)

Something rarely mentioned in the "pro social skills at school" argument is the downsides of a large group of same aged children with one or two teachers (who tend to direct with discipline rather than role modelling)

Again the discussion on Facebook mentions a few:
  • Bullying
  • Playground politics
  • Peer pressure
  • Need to conform
Indeed in non mainstream settings there is much less of a boy/girl divide, play is often mixed.  Similarly there is less pairing off with a best friend noted, whilst of course closer friendships develop, play tends to be inclusive and spanning a wider age range.

One mum raised a concern that again I think is common:
"In a school environment your child learns a lot by being around other children and they make friends. Obviously they can make friends elsewhere if they are home schooled but the interaction is different because in school they aren't with you"
But when you really think about it, what exactly does a child learn away from you that they won't learn with you?  To stand up for themselves?  Do we assume that if a disagreement gets too much and the child seeks support from his parent he will end up a pushover or unable to solve a disagreement without his mum?

Children in mainstream seek a teacher, and they step in and deal with matters appropriately (or not depending upon how good the teacher is, previous "reputation" of the child, what they witnessed and so on).

When home educated children play out of earshot of their parents (which they do, they aren't chained at the ankle) if there's a disagreement they too seek help - it may be that an older child playing negotiates a solution, it could be a carer/parent.  But if it's the latter they talk to the child about what has gone on and help him come up with solutions to resolve what has happened - setting him up with the skills to progress and do this himself as he matures.

I've never witnessed any physical fighting, name calling or bullying at a home education session and I can't personally see any reason it would be beneficial for a child to endure any of the above?

It was really interesting today to hear from a mum who was home educated herself too:
"I think the socialisation concern is the most common misconception I have always encountered, I am 32 and people always seem amazed I can string a sentence together when they find out I didnt go to school. The only socialisation I recall from my brief time in school is being mildly bullied and feeling generally bewildered at what was going on socially. There are 4 of us so I did have siblings with me all day then went to play out when school ended with kids on my street who did go to school. Also had lots of pen friends ( probably dont exist now lol) who were home ed. Home ed is what you make it and my mums approach was very laid back so I pretty much taught myself from reading and doing little projects.  Btw I have excellent communication skills and 2 degrees so I thoroughly advocate home schooling to anyone and feel I gained more than I could have ever missed out on."
The Research....
"Despite the concerns of the general public, the typical home educated child participates in a wide range of activities outside the home (Mattox, 1999). In 1992, Prof. Larry Shyers assessed whether or not home educated children suffered from retarded social development and found that public school children had significantly more problem behaviours than did home educated children. Possibly this is because the primary models of behaviour for the home educated are their parents, rather than their peers. Shyers also concluded that there was no significant difference between home educated and schooled children in terms of either self-concept development or assertiveness. According to Prof. Thomas Smedley's research, home educated students are more mature and better socialised than those in either public or private schools (Smedley, 1992). Dr Raymond Moore's research indicated that home educated children were happier, better adjusted, more thoughtful, competent, and sociable (Moore, 1986). A Cornell University study showed that schooled children become peer dependent while those who learn with their parents had more self-confidence, optimism and courage to explore".
In terms of whether schools offer optimum learning.....

Home-schooled students may have the academic edge over their public schooled peers, according to a new study from the Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science.
"The study, which examined the test scores of 74 students ages 5-10, found that kids educated in structured home school environments actually outperformed their public school counterparts in math and reading. 
Researchers found that public school kids tested either at or above their grade level, while home-schoolers tested about a half-grade higher in math and 2.2 grades higher in reading.
“Structured home-schooling may offer opportunities for academic performance beyond those typically experienced in public schools,” author Sandra Martin-Chang, a professor at Concordia University, said in a statement about the results. The test score differences remained even after researchers controlled for income levels, the mother’s education, employment and marital status."
"According to the U.S. Department of Education, "Virtually all the available data show that the group of home schooled children who are tested is above average." Such impressive results have been observable for at least 15 years with home-educated children in the U.S. surpassing the national averages on both the major college-entrance tests. Time Magazine reported that "the average home schooler's SAT score is 1100 - 80 points higher than the average score for the general population." Dr. Lawrence Rudner's research covered 20,760 home-schooled students and found that in every subject and at every grade level, they scored significantly higher than their public and private school counterparts. Similarly, a Moore Foundation study of parents who had been arrested for truancy found that their children ranked 30 percent higher on standard tests than the average schooled child."
"Interestingly, Rudner found that having at least one parent who is a certified teacher has no significant effect on the achievement levels of home-schooled students. Test scores of children whose parents had ever held a teaching degree were only three percentile points higher than those whose parents had not. Children who were taught at home by mothers who had never finished high school, still scored well above public and private school students. Students who had been home educated for their entire academic lives scored higher with SAT scores improving from the 59th percentile for those home educated for one year to the 92nd percentile for those home educated for seven years. (Ray, 1997). According to Rudner's research, home schooling families typically have an above average income, are two parent families and have above the average number of children."
When you think about it logically, this kinda makes sense.  A classroom situation has to try and ensure all have grasped the lesson.  This means those who have grasped quickly can be waiting for those who haven't to catch up, similarly someone that needs more support in a specific area may need more than that dedicated lesson.  When learning is individual, things grasped quickly can be expanded upon rapidly and more time and focus can be given to areas that don't come as easily.

"Homeschooled children can accomplish in a few hours what takes a typical classroom a week or more to cover. In a recent interview, John Taylor Gatto, New York City Teacher of the Year and a 26-year teaching veteran, said that in many classrooms less than one hour out of each school day is spent on "on task" learning." 

Jane from Playful Minds agrees, when asked how long she thought it would take to cover in a day what is typically covered in a school day, she replied:
"Going by my extensive experience of being in 100's of schools as a freelancer.....I would estimate 2 hours tops!"
Add no homework to that and you can see why home education is becoming a viable choice for a growing number of families.

Further Reading:

Struggling with breastfeeding? Have a hug from us

Today I wanted to send some inspirational words to a family I'm supporting who are having a tough time with breastfeeding.  Baby had an undiagnosed tongue tie and so the "technical" side is taking a little time to resolve. Emotionally and mentally though mum was finding things hard going, wondering if she should continue when it's so difficult and really needing to hear things will improve.

The replies I received on Facebook were so kind (did I mention just how cool some readers on my FB group are?), I thought it would be nice to pop them in a blog post.  Then should any other mum need a mental hug, it's here for all.

Krystie: Just take it one feed at a time. also the saying that helped me when i had really bad after pains with every feed for 3 days, "This too shall pass"

Sarah: If they are tiny all they want and need is cuddles, clean bum and boob, boob boob. our culture has made us think that is wrong and it is not. and do some research on cosleeping and baby wearing. get people to look after you, the mother needs to be mothered also.
Sarah S: ♥ that it will be ok! 
Emma:  The rewards are given by the baby themselves once they are able. Although I had a fairly smooth bf journey i did go through an awful biting phase that really made me question whether to continue and at 15 months we are still going strong with smiles, strokes and cuddles thrown in :) You are doing a great job xxxx
Arabella NN: No inspirational words, sorry, but do let her know that many will be thinking of her and her baby, willing her on and admiring her determination and love for her child.
Lynn: For me I needed to know when it would get better. We had latch and supply issues and it was a nightmare. I had a friend say to me "Hang on, around 12 weeks it gets soooooooo good.' And it did. And I did. ♥

Rachael: Go back to bed, and stay there, cuddled up with baby. Feed, sleep, change bum, get someone to feed you, feed, sleep, feed, sleep. Breast feeding is really difficult, I gave up after 12 weeks due to lack of support/information and have regretted it ever since. Its a learning curve for you and your baby, practice makes perfect. Your a breast feeding star, keep going, it DOES get easier x
Megan: ‎"This too shall pass" became my mantra too. I struggled with some things in the beginning but by the time son was older and it was easy, I can't even count the number of times I said "I'm so glad I'm still breastfeeding". For a variety of reasons.  My local LLL leader also told me that there are lots of moms all over that would be trying to feed their babies at the same time I was - I felt a lot of solidarity with women I didn't even know, especially in the middle of the night. :)
Tanya: The best thing anyone said to me was, "in the whole of their life, this is such a short time. It won't last forever and you'll even miss the toughest of days when it's gone" and I have to say after 27 months of feeding it's true :)
Luisa: Once all this is over you'll be so fricking glad that every feed is a piece of cake and you'll never have to worry about whether to take hot bottles cold bottle or how long you'll be should you take 3-or 4 and can you keep that many hot or warm..
Tracey: I agree with the one-feed-at-a-time mantra, it got me through a whole heap of pain from untold damage caused by a missed tongue-tie, and several blocked ducts. Oh and also I say get a sling. Once I had one I was like "OMG! Why didn't I do this earlier!!!"
Also let her know we're here for her, night or day ♥
Anna: She's doing great and what is best for her baby. I heard a lot of.... Its not you doing anything wrong its just you and baby need to learn the right technique so as with anything new it takes a while to perfect x
Hannah: It will get better and you will look back on this time as a short period in your breastfeeding journey. And tomorrow is another day - never make any decisions in the middle of the night. Hugs to her
Cassaundra: You ARE capable of doing this. women's bodies have been doing this for millions of years. an YES, you are in a society that isolates women and makes it as hard as it can possibly be. YES, the difficulty you are having IS real. but YOU are stronger and better than all that society can throw at you. you CAN do it!  That is the "one" message i would send.and blessings and hugs :)
Katy: It wont last forever and it will be so worth it the long run

Sarah Sc: The tough days at the beginning are eventually eclipsed by the lovely feedings where your baby helps you recharge your emotional batteries. Where baby strokes your cheek or holds your breast tenderly. I haven't forgotten the early days of tears, confusion and pain but those days have somehow made our successes greater, our bond stronger and my breastfeeding resolve reinforced.
Kate: Things do get easier......I clearly remember my lo was 8 weeks old when I finally thought....I can do this........8 weeks is a long time to think everyday I can't do this, every feed, but it gets easier & is the best thing in the world & you are doing amazingly well!!!!!
Also get yourself to some support groups. You will be so proud of yourself, don't give yourself a hard time at all........this phase will pass!!! Promise!
Don't give yourself any goals, just go with it as much as you can!
Melissa:  Whenever I think about breastfeeding, I think about the fact that I am not doing so for MY benefit. I am doing it to give my baby the best start in life that I can. Every little problem will just make me stronger, strengthen my resolve and make me more confident in myself because I was able to work through my problem and the tribulations.

Isolde: Only ever feed lying down until it all feels better. and watch out the expression on munchkin's boob-drunk face afterwards - that look of pure peace, contentment and slight inebriation is worthy it 100 times over.
‎(obviously I'm working on the premise that everything is better when lying down!)

Jen: That it will be so so so so worth these initial struggles...
Georgina:  Hold on in there, it is so easy to say that but a lot harder to do, i know because i have been there, but its the best feeling when its working out and you will be so so proud of yourself, big hugs to you, it will be OK and you can do it x x x
Samantha: My message would be that there is ALWAYS a way to get over whatever hurdle you've hit and that there is nothing like looking back and congratulating yourself for getting through it.  I had mastitis, thrush, cracked nipples, a baby that wouldn't gain weight (not all at the same time!) and every time I persevered, I was so proud of myself for getting through just one feed at a time. "This too shall pass" - great mantra!
Amber: Stick at it, every tough feed takes you a step nearer the easy ones, when you can just go out and feel secure that you can feed your baby anywhere, anytime. And think how much chocolate you can buy for the cost of one tin of formula. Then multiply it by the hundred or so tins you wont need :)
Hayley: I also went through a nightmare breastfeeding at the beginning, didn't know if i could continue but was emotional at the thought of stopping. nipples bled, got flu like mastitis, worried my son was dehydrated. Things that helped me were finding programmes that took my mind off the pain and saving them on sky+ to watch at feeding times, keep trying different latch/holding methods, someone else making nice comfort food meals for me. And eventually (feels like a few weeks in my memory but eternity at the time) it got better. I'm still feeding at nearly12 months and it was worth all the tears. x
Rachel C: My advice would be never be afraid to ask for support and advice. I have an amazing support from my online mummy friends (words can not describe how grateful I am for their patience and support), my partner and the breastfeeding supporters locally. I just wish I had the same support for my first two children ♥
Sally: I had really tough time and it hurt so much I didn't think I could keep it up... But it all seems so long forgotten, it seemed long ago even a week after getting it sorted. But I still remember how far off it seemed whilst still in the dark grim haze of pain and misery. But hope is just around the corner... I have been amazed by the strength and determination of women whilst have overcome impossibly huge obstacles, much greater than mine. Their example makes me feel confident that I could overcome ANY bf obstacle that presented itself.   I reckon now, that appropriate technical support is essential, first and foremost - but the magic that makes it all work and help overcome anything is determination. And get.thee to a good supportive group. My local LLL is where I have met all the inspirational bf mama that have spurred me on.
Clare: You can be really smug when your baby/toddler doesn't ever get ill when all the bottle fed babies are keeping their mums up at night (after they've bragged for months about them sleeping through whilst you were the walking dead) and your contented angel has passed all these early problems! We all feel distressed and overwhelmed, go to bed for the day, stay there with lots of naughty foods (and healthy ones) watch TV, sleep or whatever indulgence will make you feel better.
Shelley: We had a REALLY tough time too :( (all came down to a undiagnosed posterior tongue tie and bad dvice) 12 weeks of massive nipple trauma from a popped friction blister, mastitis, severe thrush which lasted 10 months and pumping for 8 weeks while blister healed and TT divided, things improved dramatically at 12 weeks. A very close friend of mine said " look back to this time last week not this time yesterday". I could always see an improvement even if it was a small one. This kept my spirits high at the darkest of days. I hope you can look a week or more and see that something has improved. My thoughts are with you and your family. You are strong to have gotten this far. Well done. Not long now:) xxx
Kaye: Once you get past the difficult first stage you will love every minute. There is nothing that can compare to it. I struggled at first, my nipples split and I cried at every feed. But I am so glad I was too lazy to get up in the night to prepare bottles! You are doing an amazing thing for your little one. As you are probably aware it will do wonders for your health as well as your baby's, it also protects against SIDS. You can get through this. Cuddle up with your baby, sleep when he/she does and have a relaxing bath. I'm sure I can speak for all of us here when I say if you need anything you can get a message to us and we will encourage and support you in any way possible.

Baby Schedule V Routine

A lot of the books I have read that encourage a schedule, claim it results in a perfectly content baby because all babies thrive from the security of a routine, of knowing what comes next.  It therefore follows that living life to a timetable creates stability and predictability that a baby loves.

But I'm not at all convinced that a routine is synonymous with a schedule.

Dictionary definitions:

Noun: A plan for carrying out a process or procedure, giving lists of intended events and times: "we have drawn up an engineering schedule".

Noun: A sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program: "I settled down into a routine".

So a schedule is a list of events and times, a routine is a sequence of actions - but is there a time implication?

When I wake up in the morning I have a routine - a pattern of events that has naturally evolved.  First I make coffee, then breakfast, then whilst the children are getting washed/dressed/teeth brushed I tend to have a quick check of emails and Facebook, then I get ready, finish off any bits eg hair brushing for the squids, we collect lunches, sports kits and out the door.

This does indeed run roughly to a schedule, because we have to be at the school bus for a set time - but even when both were flexi - schooled and we had a couple of days at home, we followed the "routine" but generally an hour later on non school days.  The routine was not interlinked with the time.

For many routines are instinctive human behaviour, and we implement them naturally.  Following a pattern in the morning, or have an order in which things are done before bed and so on (even if it's as simple as one person lets the dog out whilst another gets the lights).

Non of this means we do the routines to a stopwatch - sure life generally has some constraints that force a schedule, but we have variety too.  During the week one may be forced to eat lunch at a set time, does this mean at the weekend an alarm is set to ensure this doesn't vary?  We at least sometimes have brunch, if we're out and about we may get lunch at whatever time is convenient, if we've had snacks we don't normally have we might eat later!  Some days I may eat numerous snacks, other days I don't feel as hungry...

Ditto getting up - how many who have to leave for work at 5.30am during the week choose to rise later on their days off?   That same person may have a pattern of going to bed at a set time during the week so they feel awake enough to wake at 5.30, yet decide to go out the night before their day off because they have no forced schedule?  Not having a schedule is often relished, the freedom it brings.

Whilst routines provide us with a sense of comfort, schedules are not an integral part of human nature and in fact they can for many be hard!

Suggesting a baby needs to wake, eat, sleep, snack, snooze at the same time and for the same duration every day - based on the fact humans like routines makes little sense to me; it doesn't reflect "normal life".  Whilst most babies adopt a rough napping pattern and some do sleep almost like clockwork, many vary; for example one baby taking two naps per day may sleep longer one day compared to another, perhaps after a busier than usual morning, or an appointment that prompted an earlier start than typical.  Some mums have a wide and varied pattern to their routine, with school runs or after school commitments, meaning nap times change on a day to day basis; it's OK to live life around one baby's routine until you have several children!  

Even if we take sleep out of the equation, how healthy is it to teach a baby to eat and drink to a clock?  Not when hunger and thirst strike but to a clock?   How can this in any shape contribute to self regulating appetite and recognising hunger and satiation when older?  How often do you go four hours without eating or drinking anything?

Many baby books warn should you not follow a schedule your baby will never sleep resulting in shattered, unable to function parents and babies who cannot stop snacking! (but that's one for another blog entry)  Yet omit to focus on the fact that following their plan means you are tied to a schedule 24/7 - the aim your baby will wake at a set time and if not you will wake them. No weekend lay ins  following a bad night teething, no visit friends at the weekend and staying slightly later knowing you can all sleep longer in the morning.  Mind you, given some routines state you must always put baby to nap in their cot, if following this visiting friends for longer than a couple of hours is ruled out anyway!  Even in the very early days when baby is super portable and sleeps anywhere.

And that's the less tiring option?