A bundle of data

Child data is fascinating. Despite being filled with a lot of statistical noise, I find that analyzing their data is more interesting than adults. Because children don’t have opinions on their own psychology, they let their data speak for them (adults have way too many introspective opinions).

When cogscibaby was born, like many other yuppie parents, we were meticulous about tracking his physical data… from inputs (e.g., how many mL drank per feeding, how many minutes on each breast, left? right?) to outputs (e.g., how many poopy diapers). My husband and I considered record-keeping on paper or getting an app (e.g., Baby Connect looks interesting but we didn’t want to pay $5) — but finally we settled on a simple google drive spreadsheet. That gave us the freedom to write spreadsheet formulas to do calculations for us and eventually have the raw data for graphs and other analyses.

Here’s what I appreciate about data: we often can’t see change in the day to day but we can see change with coarser units of time (e.g., weeks, months). Methodically collecting data allow us to take a step back and recognize overall patterns. The big obvious milestones like rolling over (cogscibaby has only done it when he is completely naked) or sleeping through the night (I still remember the night when I first had 5 continuous hours of sleep… such bliss) are few and far between. But most of growth is so subtle that one can miss it when snuggled up close to cogscibaby’s fluffy little cheeks. Cogscimom needs the cold hard distance of graphs.

Data collection stopped on Mo’s 94th day because we went on an overnight trip and decided it was a good excuse to stop logging. So without further ado, I present to you the first 93 days of cogscibaby’s life.

Cogscibaby’s day to day data looks messy (and was literally messy as well)… is there even a pattern here?

But looking at the same data aggregated over weeks shows that after the first month, the number of wet diapers remains roughly constant but solid diapers is on the decline. The number of feedings trend downward as well (the elimination of night time feedings is probably the biggest factor). Note that no rigorous statistical methods have been applied… just my eyeballs.

Here I plot the number of diapers (separated by type) by the amount of milk consumed that day. Just for fun, I fit a regression line to this data and found that milk consumption predicts wet diapers (beta = .64, p < .001) but does not predict solid diapers (p = .20)… ha! Poo is a constant!

In hindsight, I realize there are some variables that might have been fun to play around with but sort of inconvenient to measure. For instance, in this graph, I really wish I had Mo’s daily weight to examine against his daily intake… but we don’t have a bathroom scale and we’re too cheap to buy one. Oh well.

But in the midst of planning for these graphs and analyses, I came across this article (“The Data-Driven Parent“) in the Atlantic Monthly. On a practical note, it lists all the apps and websites useful for this obsessive type of parenting. New parents can go nuts with the (aforementioned) Baby Connect, Total Baby, Baby Log, iBabyLog, Evoz, Johnson’s Baby Bedtime, and (web-based) Trixie Tracker. More broadly, it identifies a new era… that the datasexuals have now settled down and made babies. Not only that, but take the obsessive coolness of datasexuals coupled with the intensive new approaches to parenting (komodo-dragon-pterodactyl-liger moms on black hawks) and you have the potential to produce crazy levels of kid-comparison.

I’m not sure I want to know if Mo is peeing at the 86th percentile compared to his peers. I vow to only perform within-subject comparisons… and after all is recorded and charted, there are moments like this that are hard to quantify.


6 thoughts on “A bundle of data

  1. juliepark says:

    just when i think you can’t get any weirder, you reach a new level of weirdness. congratulations mama! and congratulations momo on 100 days!!!

  2. treevalley says:

    cogsci mom, you have changed my life with your data-driven world view. happy anniversary dear. – notsocogsci dad

    • cogscimom says:

      Happy anniversary notsocogsci dad! (Although, I must admit, you know a lot about cogsci… I think that means you are a really good listener! Thanks for listening to my cogsci rants!)

  3. helen kingery says:

    your sentence about datasexuals and new approaches to parenting made me laugh out loud!

    i was a trixie tracker girl, but only after about a month and a half, i stopped because i didn’t have internet for a few days and then never went back. for the time that i used it, those little dots and graphs comforted me somehow.

    • helen kingery says:

      PS: poo is definitely constant. i actually thought he might slow down by now, but our mo’s still going strong.

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