PDF is an acronym for Parent Directed Feeding. As Babywise puts it, "PDF is the center point between hyperscheduling on one extreme and attachment parenting at the other" (page 36).
Hyperscheduling is a feeding philosophy that basically says, "you will feed your baby every three hours." That is it. No caveats. No, "unless...." Just every three hours (or whatever time table has been set). This is done no matter what other cues are present. The clock rules the feeding schedule.
This is what many people erroneously believe Babywise to be. Babywise is not hyperscheduling. It is PDF.
Attachment Parenting is more than would fit on one post, but so far as feeding goes, you basically offer baby the breast every time baby cries, even if it has been only 10 minutes since baby finished eating. Time is of no consequence. Many attachment parents will say that they know baby isn't really eating much if it has been 10 minutes since he just ate. That isn't really the point of them offering the breast.
Back to PDF. PDF is the center point between the two. That means if falls in the middle. With PDF, parents consider both the cries of the baby and clock. That means sometimes, you will be feeding baby sooner than the "clock" says it is time. That also means you will sometimes be feeding your baby before she cries to be fed. Parents are to "use parental assessment to decide when to feed based on actual need" (page 37).
Page 39 reveals the simple equation for the PDF parent:
Hunger Cue + Clock + Parental Assessment = Feeding Time
So what does that mean in non-mathematical terms?
Parental Assessment is you. You are the parent. You analyze the situation and make an intelligent decision based on what you see and what you know. You factor in many variables. You know what? Sometimes you will be wrong. Sometimes you will think, "My baby is hungry." And when you try to feed her, she will refuse to eat. You will take that and apply it to your experience base and try to remember that the way she was acting does not mean that she is hungry. Sometimes you will think, "She isn't hungry. She is tried." And after you spend 15 minutes trying to get her back to sleep, you will come to realize she probably is hungry, so you will feed her and she will eat a full meal.
So parental assessment doesn't mean "without mistakes." You are human. You will mess up sometimes. Take it as added experience. As you get to know your individual baby better, you will get it right more often. Just correct your mistake, learn from it, and move on.
The clock is an amount of time. For a normal weight, healthy newborn, you will know she will need to eat about every 2.5-3 hours. You keep track of when she is eating and factor that in while you are making your parental assessment.
There is also the factor of hunger cues. Is she acting hungry or not? These cues include crying, waking up, and rooting. Your baby might have other cues, also.
Sometimes, you will be feeding baby sooner than the normal 2.5-3 hours. That is fine. That is 100% normal--especially during growth spurts. Sometimes you will be waking your baby up at 3 hours to eat. Again, normal for some babies. Sleepy babies might not signal for food. McKenna didn't for a long time. Other times, you will attempt to wake your baby up at 3 hours and she will refuse to wake up. Try not to stress out about it. Give her another 30 minutes and try again.
As you are assessing, keep in mind "When hunger cue is present, the clock is submissive to the cue, because the hunger cues, not the clock, determine feedings" (page 40).
RELATED POSTS/BLOG LABELS:
- Feed Baby When Hungry:http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2010/02/feed-baby-when-hungry.html
- Growth Spurts:http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2007/12/growth-spurts.html
- Growth Spurts (Baby Whisperer):http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2009/09/growth-spurts.html
- Baby Whisperer: Growth Spurts :http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/08/baby-whisperer-growth-spurts.html
- Sleepy Newborns:http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2007/12/sleepy-newborns.html
- Newborn Blog Index: http://www.babywisemom.com/2010/04/blog-index-for-newborns.html
- Babywise Book One
- babywise theory