Friday, May 29, 2009

Mayim Bialik blossoms as an attachment parent

Mayim Bialik breastfeeding and babywearingAnd now, for the lighter side (again), I bring back my celebrity breastfeeding updates! You know you were missing them.

Blacktating just mentioned on Twitter that Mayim Bialik is a crunchy mama, and I had to go see for myself.

This is a nice little blurb about how she views parenting her toddler and baby as "the best job I ever had." She says that her purpose in life is "to create a generation of sensitive, wonderful people." And, it has that lovely breastfeeding-while-babywearing photo attached. Do you think anyone even realizes that's what she's doing? Also, is that an ERGO baby carrier I spy? And maybe even some BabyLegs, or am I just unduly obsessed?

On the other hand, I thought it was interesting that this little article — at only three paragraphs long — still manages to get the word out in the last paragraph in an indirect quote that attachment parenting is "very tiring." (Isn't any sort of parenting at times? Well, since Bialik and Co. admit they don't use outside childcare.) And it spells Dr. Sears's name wrong, but oh, well.

Here's a cute little promo for Mayim's upcoming mommy makeover on TLC's What Not to Wear, airing tonight at 9:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Hello, nipple!" and other toddler breastfeeding stories, plus a breastfeeding carnival

breastfeeding icon contest — smile

This article from Babble made me laugh so hard:

Uncover Your Nipples! 7 Gems from the Mouths of Nursing Toddlers, by Miriam Axel-Lute

I especially thought this was funny:

"'Hi. Milk. Smile,' said [my toddler] for a while, betraying our attempts to explain what, beyond the technical words, constituted asking nicely."

I love it when kids are literal.

And this — "the gourmet who says 'Yum!' whenever he passes by the bras at Target" — reminded me of my recent breastfeeding-toddler experience: Because we're trying to decide how to decorate our family boudoir (we've lived in our apartment for two years and are still getting things on the walls...), I've been going through artsy, black-and-white photos we took of my growing tummy during my pregnancy, culminating in shots of me cradling a very newborn Mikko to my breasts. (Yes, in some of them we are completely starkers, which is why I'm trying to decide what I want on the wall, back in our private bedroom...or maybe the closet? They're so beautiful, and yet so...breasty. Hmm...)

Anyway, Mikko was befuddled by these pictures. "Mama?" he'd say, pointing. "Baby?" And then he'd repeat it. "Mama? Baby?" I figured he was trying to decipher why his mama was cheating on him with this other infant, because truth be told, he no longer looks anything like himself at that age, whether he could understand the concept or not.

But then he spied something reassuring in the naked series. Nummies. Ahhh... He settled in for a nice feed, having been reminded.

breastfeeding icon contest — semi-finalists

There's another Carnival of Breastfeeding going on right now, where participants are sharing their breastfeeding stories. Surf on over and enjoy a good read!

There are, for instance, stories about weaning a toddler, how breastfeeding comforted a mother through grief at the loss of her brother, how one mother's breastfeeding experience inspired her to start a new career plan, donating expressed milk across the miles, traveling with a nursling in Sri Lanka (check out how close the elephants are!), good breastfeeding advice from a usually unreliable guy friend, helping other mamas feel comfortable nursing in public, successful breastfeeding after breast reduction surgery, and my personal fave, celebrating breastfeeding by getting two dermal anchor chest piercings! And many more! It's a terrific carnival, so read and comment away.

breastfeeding icon contest — most artistic

I took the idea from the Babble article to decorate with
pictures from the Mothering.com breastfeeding icon contest.
The winning entry is in the sidebar to the right.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Poem on elimination communication

Here's a third parenting poem I wrote for the PAD Challenge.

Prompt 11: "For today's prompt, I want you to write a poem about an object (or objects)."

bblp baby bjorn little potty mother babyThis is a poem that only my fellow EC-ers will appreciate, so I knew I had to post it here. Mikko's BabyBjörn Little Potty was sitting on the bedside table next to me, the fleece of its potty turtleneck bright with a pattern of red cherries, so that's what my eyes focused on. For some reason, it got me all sentimental. I don't think it's a very finished poem yet, but I'm in the mood to share.


BBLP

Molded white plastic
with a fleece turtleneck
to protect tender buns from the chill
of plastic against thighs in the night.
We’ve been peeing you on this potty
for months now,
ever since you were nine days old

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sharing is a dirty word

baby sharing toys with dog

The downside to having watched the Baby Signing Time DVDs is that we've learned a couple signs that I don't know what to do with.

The two signs in contention are "nice" and "share" (the first half of this sign).

Don't get me wrong — these are helpful, positive words. When used helpfully and positively. Whereas often they're used to shame and coerce and deny.

For instance, here are some alternate uses of the words in question:

     • "You love your daddy, don't you? He's so nice!" (I will actually say this when Mikko gets excited that his father is coming toward him.)
     • "Wanna share an entree?" (Sam and I share meals all the time when we're eating out.)
     • "Share the truck with your friend. No, don't hit! Be nice!"

Can you see that the last one is not actually about sharing or niceness? It's about enforcing certain behaviors, without the emotional context that should exist behind them. Mikko can call his dad nice, because Sam acts nicely toward Mikko, so when I call Sam "nice," I'm not trying in any way to engineer Sam's behavior toward Mikko or Mikko's response to Sam. I'm simply stating a fact. When Sam and I share a meal, it's because we've both chosen to, because we like the variety that comes in sharing a couple dishes or the cost savings if we're not hungry enough to eat a whole meal individually.

So, we were out the other night, meeting with some friends at the mall food court, and had a drink that Mikko was commandeering. He does this all the time now, to the point that we've stopped asking when we'll have to buy him his own meal when we eat out to when we'll have to buy him his own drink. When we're home, he wants whatever we're drinking, signing "water" (his new favorite sign) to mean drink: actual water, juice, milk, soda, coffee for heaven's sake. I've drawn the line at margaritas! I'm a diet soda fiend, but I'm reluctantly considering switching to all water all the time when Mikko's awake, so that he doesn't become similarly attached. (NB: I hate drinking water. It makes me thirsty. No, seriously.)

Well, the drink we had that night was a smoothie, and Sam and I were very thirsty. Not to say that Mikko wasn't as well, but at least he had nummies as an additional (free) option. He held onto it, intently signing "water" whenever we'd wrest it out of his grip for our own sips. I finally said and signed to him, "Are you going to share with Daddy? Let Daddy have a turn." And then I immediately felt weird about it.

In some sense, this was simple fact: We were all three sharing the drink, although Sam and I had chosen to, and Mikko was now being forced into the scenario. So, in the other sense, it seemed a little manipulative, like, Let me tell you what sharing means for you as a kid: It means you don't get what you want.

That's what irks me about using the words "share" and "nice," as well as praise like "good boy" — it's not that they're wrong in themselves, but it's how they've been appropriated by our culture. If I emphasize the word "share" with Mikko, even in its bestshare your toys poster sense, it's with the understanding that he'll hear it out in the wider culture from other grownups and children to mean something different, something less. "Nice" and "good," for instance, generally mean, "whatever is convenient for grownups." So, for instance, a child isn't good just for who he is inherently — he's good because he picked up all his toys, or because he kept quiet during the movie (neither of which Mikko can achieve, and yet I still think he's a good kid!).

It's an issue that worries me about school, too. Ever since Mikko started attending preschool, I've been faced with the consequence that he's rubbing against language and values with which he wouldn't have come into as extended contact if we'd kept him solely at home with us. I see the benefits of his attending this part-time school, but it has been hard to watch something as seemingly innocent as his new technique of clapping for himself and saying "Yea" every time he completes a task. This wasn't something we'd shown him, so I can only imagine it came from preschool. I don't have a problem with it if it's Mikko's genuine enthusiasm expressing itself, and for now I think it is, but it worries me that it could eventually be used coercively against him, in a behavioral training sort of way — as in, Do what we tell you and we'll clap and cheer for you when you've done it.

Mikko's so good at sharing right now genuinely. He offers toys and pens and food to everyone around him. He wants to share because he sees us doing it (he started feeding us because we would often pop bites into his mouth) and because he wants to connect with the people he cares about, and maybe because he wants to give others a taste of the pleasure he's discovered. I don't want to associate that wholehearted, natural sharing with some narrow definition of "You really want this, but you can't have it right now." I want to preserve that innocent goodness as long as possible.

For now, I'm going to just try to police myself and use these loaded words and signs in the contexts that I think are, well, the nicest.

Photos courtesy ChroeZoe on flickr (cc)
and andycarvin on flickr (cc), respectively

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Never check out anything from the library again

Here's another of the parenting poems I wrote for the PAD Challenge.

Prompt 29: "For today's prompt, I want you to title your poems "Never (blank)" with you filling in the blank with a word or phrase. Then, write a poem based off your title...."


Pile of open books

Never check out anything from the library again

You might as well give up, lame-o.
You’ve once again returned twenty items
of which you paged through two.
You have a baby now,
and reading’s not for you.
It’s gone the way of concerts and plays,
quiet church services where you could hear the sermon,
eating peacefully in a restaurant
without someone swooping your food off your plate
with a clumsily wielded knife,
then screeching to make heads whip around and glare,
and pushing the high chair over
from knee height.
Reading’s not for you,
that careful paging through of paper,
tender paper that tears so easily you’ve found,
covers that get bent and dust jackets ripped off.
And there’s so much to reading,
getting lost in the story,
in a paragraph,
just one damn sentence, please,
and it’s no use,
because he won’t let you now.
The lights are off, anyway,
for hours each day,
as you try to coax a raging monkey-child
to nap or bed,
and assuming there’s light from the blinds,
he tears the book from your hand,
and assuming there’s not,
it’s a moot point in the end.
You keep a mini-library on the back of the toilet,
hoping to read a page while you pee,
but he follows you in,
and the stack grows taller,
until it’s time to return them,
these unused, unread books,
that people who still read
are waiting for.

---

It's true! It's all true!

Photo courtesy sanja gjenero on stock.xchng

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Book review: The Bilingual Edge

The Bilingual Edge — Kendall King and Alison MackeyI posted an offhand observation about a couple pages I disagreed with in The Bilingual Edge: Why, When, and How to Teach Your Child a Second Language, by Kendall King and Alison Mackey.

I thought I should return to the book as a whole and give it a fair shake of a review. It's due back at the library today, so no time like the present!

So, to sum up, I really like this book. I think it's written fluidly and accessibly, with lots of real-life examples and acknowledgments of real-life struggles. It doesn't attempt to push parents into a certain bilingual mold (e.g., "You must do One Parent, One Language, or else!!!"), but it does gently encourage practices that have a proven track record of increasing bilingualism.

As a monolingual (attempting) raising a bilingual baby, I was initially resistant to use an OPOL setup, for fear of feeling tongue-tied in German and excluding my husband from conversations. I settled on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday course for when I would speak exclusive German to my 23-month-old. Mikko also attends a German immersion preschool for two half-days a week so that it's not just me babbling at him.

I found this book's gentle acceptance of my plan just the sort of encouragement I needed to prompt me to add to it. If the authors had been more preachy and insistent, I might have just given up altogether. But they use common sense to point out, first of all, that there are different levels of bilingualism, and a lower level might be sufficient for you and your family. They also point to statistics that show that as little as 20 percent total exposure in a language (e.g., 2.5 hours a day for a 2-year-old who's awake for 12 hours total) can produce quite a productive speaking vocabulary. (I have to decide if and how well I want Mikko eventually to learn to read and write German, but that's for another day.) I realized that I could do even better than that paltry amount, and yet that I'm not too picky about what sort of language competence Mikko ends up with, so I felt encouraged and inspired to interact as much in German as possible (and as remained pleasant for both of us).

I thought that a book called The Bilingual Edge might be on the uppity side, as in, Aren't we so smart to be bilingual? As a monolingual, hearing things like that makes me feel like I'm being talked about as some sort of doofus while I'm in the room. Sure enough, the book starts off with a summation of the research showing how many advantages there are to bilingualism, but it wasn't presented in a snooty tone. In fact, I kind of skimmed that chapter, because it didn't really go too in depth. The bulk of the book is concerned with the nitty-gritty of how to do bilingualism, and the why is accepted, either due to the reasons outlined up front or, as I'm prone to thinking about it: Why not?

Every good bilingual guide will include a debunking of bilingual myths, and this book is no exception. The authors do a good job of shooting down objections to raising children bilingual, such as that exposing them to two or more languages will confuse their young brains, that errors should be corrected immediately and ruthlessly (not true in any language!), that children should never mix languages, that bilingual kids will be late talkers, or that plunking them in front of a DVD will do the language-teaching job for you.

One of my favorite myths to be debunked, of course, is this: "Only native speakers and teachers can teach children second languages." Phew. They explain why that's wrong:

"One of the most amazing things about a child's first language learning is that it happens naturally and flawlessly despite the lack of perfect speech that surrounds (and is directed at) children. All children end up knowing how to speak much like the adults around them even though much adult speech (in any language) contains false starts, hesitations, interruptions, backtracking, sentence fragments, and grammatical errors. (Indeed, when researchers analyze recordings of adult native speech, we are often hard-pressed to find many full and grammatically complete sentences.)

"If someone is speaking her second language (and is not a highly proficient or nativelike speaker), then she may say simplified and sometimes ungrammatical sentences. However, these sorts of imperfections do not harm or impede children's language learning. ... What is critical is not that children hear complete sentences but that they are directly engaged in conversation. ... Even parents with limited second language proficiency can interact with their child in the second language, providing important language input. The value lies in the interaction. This is not to say that non-native-speaking parents should not supplement their own input by finding other opportunities for their children to interact with native speakers. However, it's a myth to assume you need to be a native speaker to provide quality second language interaction for your child."
(p. 22-23)

An interesting chapter in this book deals with myths about when language learning must start. It's become common lore that young children learn language better and faster than adults or even older children, that there's a developmental "window" to become truly proficient in another language. The authors take apart this myth and will make you breathe a big sigh of relief if you ever thought it was hopeless to try learning another language at your advanced age!

They explain that there are advantages and disadvantages to language learning at any age, and that the different age groups simply learn differently, but they can all end up at roughly the same destination.

The one thing that does seem to be age-determined is native-like accent. It does seem that the brain can process accent better the younger the child, so it might partially be this aspect that convinces people that children are speaking better than the late-learning adults, who might sound clunkier in the second language.

Beyond that, the authors point out that children learning a language have several advantages in that the complexity of the language being presented to them is rather low, and that children on the whole are less self-conscious and more accustomed to looking foolish (without feeling foolish) and attempting things without fear of failing. The older we get, the more we guard ourselves socially. So a young child might immediately start babbling with friends in a different language, the vocabulary of hide-and-seek not being that difficult to pick up. Whereas an adult thrown into a foreign situation might find herself needing a very specific professional or social vocabulary to be able to give a presentation at work or converse about politics at a cocktail party. So it might seem that the child is learning faster, but it's simply a whole 'nother set of circumstances.

Anyway, I found all this fascinating and encouraging for my own growth in German and perhaps some other languages down the line! And it also assuaged any guilt I felt at not being fully bilingual in my raising of Mikko thus far, because the authors' consensus is it's never too late.

Since the book encourages language learning at any stage, it also gives pointers for how each group might prefer to learn. Younger children, like my toddler, learn best by immersion, exploration, and self-correction. Older children and adults can benefit from having more concrete grammar lessons, so they can see the structure of the language. I know Sam and I both have benefited from knowing how a word is spelled to help remember and pronounce it, but obviously that would be of no use to a baby.

The Bilingual Edge also has practical tips and worksheets to audit your family's use of a language, the resources available to you, and your goals for the language, so that you can make changes based on what you've learned. I haven't done any of this hard homework, by the way, but just thinking about it has made me more aware of a desire to step up my game. I've been ordering some cheap German children's books I can find online (such as on Half.com), and I downloaded some good German children's music from Amazon and put it on our iPod rotation.

Another insight that seemed unique to this book is looking at what way your child learns best, for instance, through movement or through visual stimulus, so that you can adapt the language learning to suit that style. Another unique suggestion in the appendix was a plan for making a language-oriented scrapbook to celebrate your children's achievement in the target language. Less unique but still undoubtedly helpful, there are practical responses to when your extended family, or your own children, put up resistance to learning another language.

In general, the book affirms that bilingual families and children come in all sorts of flavors and suggests strategies for each type. There are families who speak the majority language at home and others who speak the minority, and each might require taking a specific tack. The book also gives tips to account for birth order and gender differences, and to help children who have particular personalities and levels of language aptitude.

This point is not about this book in particular, but I've found that reading books like this, and websites of other bilingual fans, and meeting the parents at my son's school, helps me see myself as part of a larger population, instead of a lone linguistic freak. The preschool Mikko attends has quite a few children with one or both parents as non-native German speakers, so that's encouraging for me.

There are so many books out there for parents seeking to raise bilingual children that when I'm trying to decide whether to recommend a particular volume I ask two questions:

(1) Does it have the basics covered? That is, does it debunk myths, present benefits of bilingualism, give advice on how to make bilingualism work, and suggest solutions to common problems? In other words, if someone were to buy only one book on bilingualism, would this be a good enough fit?

Then, (2) Is there something about this book in particular that makes it stand out? That is, if someone were to buy many books on bilingualism, should this specific one be included for some unique slant or information that other books lack?

I think The Bilingual Edge does a good job with both (1) and (2). As far as basics, it seems to have covered them competently. For the second point, I've noted a few unique angles that this book gives. I also think it's admirable in being well written and organized—a good level of readability, not talking down to its readers but not straying too far into dry scholarly prose.

So there you have it. I'm in the middle of reading several others and will post my recommendations as I manage!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Parenting poetry

For National Poetry Month, I participated in a Poem-a-Day Challenge sponsored by Robert Brewer of Poetic Asides.

monkey mother and child babyI thought I might share with you a few of the parenting poems I wrote during that month. I'll post them gradually so you don't get poemed out.

This first one I'll post here was actually the last one I wrote for the challenge, based on Prompt 30: "For today's prompt, I want you to write a farewell poem."

I wrote it thinking about Mikko's foray into preschool.


Separation Anxiety

Clinging like a monkey
and your wails following me like guilt
to the coffeeshop down the street,
where I write my novel
and count the minutes
till I pick you up again.

Will you become the child
who lets go of her mother’s hand
without a backward glance
and runs to greet her friends?

And am I ready for you to?


----

Incidentally, over the past few weeks, Mikko has become the child who waves me out the door, blowing me a kiss distractedly and saying, "Tschüß," while he starts in on his playtime.

It's been an odd experience.

Photo courtesy Biju Joshi on stock.xchng

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Elimination communication and potty training: the toddler months

potty baby elimination communicationWe've been doing elimination communication with Mikko since he was nine days old, but we've been somewhat lackadaisical about it, using cloth diapers as backups and not sweating the misses. This was particularly helpful in those early days of pees every five minutes and constant runny breastmilk poo.

If you're unfamiliar with elimination communication, basically it's the traditional practice of offering your baby opportunities to pee or poop other than in their pants.

Here are some good sites:
     • DiaperFreeBaby.org
     • Free to EC
     • Infant Potty Training
     • DiaperFreeBaby.com
     • Part Time EC!
     • Happy Pottying!

and some good books:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Breastfeeding carnival roundup: the nursing toddler and breastfeeding how-tos

Mary Cassatt mother and childI found out that there's a carnival today called "This is What Nursing a Toddler Looks Like," sponsored by It's All About the Hat. (And it is all about the hat, isn't it?)

Since I just found out about it on the day of, obviously I'm not a part of it, but I recommend zooming over there to read the carnival participant links, particularly if you are (as I am) the mother of a toddler nursling. There are beautiful photographs, pictures of tandem nursing, a retrospective from an 11-year-old who remembers his nursing days fondly, links to research on the benefits of extended breastfeeding, and funny, funny stories of the shenanigans nursing toddlers go through.

I wrote "Hiding a nursing toddler" at 18 months when I was musing on the advisability and logistics of continuing to breastfeed a toddler publicly. Mikko is now 23 months and showing no signs of slowing down, and so far my solution to my dilemma has been...to continue to ignore it. I just keep on breastfeeding him when and where he wants. So far I haven't had any conflicts with looky-lous over it. Although I've realized, from comments even my closest friends have made, that they don't always realize that Mikko is breastfeeding. I guess I'm better at being discreet than I thought.

Anyway, I'm just glad that carnivals like this exist, so that I can feel part of a larger community of mamas who embrace and encourage the entirely natural but entirely unsupported act of breastfeeding past a year.

I'll just add in my funny nursing-a-toddler story here for the fun of it:

We finally had Mikko baptized a couple weeks ago. (Note: Explaining infant baptism vs. dedication and why we wanted to do either, and why we waited almost two years to get around to it, is out of the scope of this post, but ask if you want me to go into more depth.) We were standing in front of the church with two other couples (who of course had very young babies instead of huge toddlers) and Mikko was overwhelmed at all the attention — all those eyes staring at him! People laughing his way!

As he always does when he wants comfort, he started gesturing for "nummies," which is to point at his chest. I acknowledged in a whisper that I understood and told him we would have nummies soon. I was in a dress (for once) and wasn't brave enough to nurse him during the baptism ceremony. When his first gentle sign language didn't work, he got more and more emphatic, until he was gesticulating wildly, stabbing himself in the chest and heaving with frustrated breaths. I kept calming him down, and he'd forget for a few minutes and then start up again. His sign language having not had the effect he wanted, he resorted to sticking his hand down my dress. I hope this is all on the video we had a friend take! Don't worry, though — he was completely unfazed by the water on his head, and when we sat down, he had all the nummies he wanted, right there in church (but not in front of the whole congregation!).

The other breastfeeding carnival I missed somehow (I was kind of out of it during April, finishing my novel) was the Motherwear one. I'll just link to it here — The "How-To" Carnival of Breastfeeding — so you can check it all out. There are posts on how to be comfortable around breastfeeding mothers, how to breastfeed hands free, how to stop nosy questions, and how to teach your baby nursing manners, plus many more. Well, at least, those were the ones that sang out to me, with my mannerless toddler!

"Mother and Child" by Mary Cassatt courtesy ProMoM.org

Monday, May 4, 2009

Consumer Reports helpfully shows attachment parenting is dangerous

danger sign

That was a sarcastic title, as I'm sure you'll figure out as you read on.

Here's a blog post that tells you "Baby sling carriers raise safety concerns."

Ready? Wait for it. According to this CR blog post: "Over the past 10 years, there have been at least 22 reports of serious injury associated with the use of sling-type carriers. The injuries include skull fractures, head injuries, contusions and abrasions. Most occurred when the child fell out of the sling."

What does CR then recommend? "For now, we think there are better ways of transporting infants including strollers, hand-held infant carrier/car seats and even other types of soft infant carriers."

Yes, those stupid plastic bucket things are sooo much safer.

Here's a PDF handout from the CPSC on the safety of plastic infant carriers (yep, the same anti-AP "experts" that caution against cosleeping): "CPSC knows of at least 5 deaths a year involving various types of carriers used to hold infants.In addition, there were over 13,000 estimated injuries in a recent one-year period. (This does not include incidents involving motor vehicles.)"

Hmmm...22 injuries over 10 years vs. 5 deaths and 13,000 injuries PER year. I realize I don't have the relative population sizes here, but come on! I wonder which would be safer?

Not being content to let this inanity lie (or retract it!), the blog recently published "Five products not to buy for your baby" and included, again, "slings" (which I think we can all agree is a generic, catch-all term that might include some very shoddy box-store specimens) as well as cosleepers (such as the reputable Arms Reach).

The blog backs up its assertions that cosleepers are more dangerous than cribs with...well, nothing. The author points out that one cosleeper (that I've never heard of) was recalled. How many gazillion cribs have been recalled? There's no point of comparison here, either.

I'll forego further commentary because so many of the commenters on both posts have done my job for me, as well as on a follow-up post that the blog author felt compelled to write: "Readers respond to advice on unsafe baby products." Since his follow-up post says something along the lines of "If you're so intent on using your crazy 'sling,' you hippies, at least go for a BabyBjorn!" several astute commenters have pointed out that the BabyBjorn itself has been subject to recall and has been criticized for poor design and value (standards that CR generally evaluates). In further unrecognized irony, the next post in line is about Jardine recalling more cribs! (Note that two babies had died using the recalled cosleeper, and there were 92 incidents reported to prompt the recent Jardine crib recalls.)

I'm not calling anyone to get into a flame war with this poor blog author, who's probably highly sick of APers by now, but a few reasonable letters to CR wouldn't go amiss, asking for true journalistic investigation instead of speculation, and backed up by research statistics on the hazards of cribs (SIDS, suffocation, etc.) and plastic baby carriers (falling, suffocation, etc.) as compared with keeping your baby close to you through safe babywearing and cosleeping. I'm all for increasing the safety standards of infant products. I would never recommend, for instance, using weak craft rings on a ring sling, or using soft bedding around a sleeping baby, whether in a crib or in a cosleeping situation. And I realize that CR's objective is to test and recommend products and point out flaws in design and practice. But CR's blog goes too far in giving blanket statements that safe slinging and cosleeping will always be trumped by putting your baby away from you into plastic isolation. That's not product evaluation — that's a parenting philosophy disguised as concern for safety.

I would like to highlight one hilarious response by Meg on April 30:

"This just in: Consumer Reports warns that carrying babies in arms is not safe. Parents want to hold their babies. And babies love to be held! Unfortunately, human arms come in many different sizes and strengths. There is no corporate funded testing facility for arms. Many new parents feel unsure of how to hold their babies—and we know they won't listen when Grandma tries to tell them how to do it. Injuries have occurred when parents doing a 'spit-up handoff' miscalculate distance and slipperiness and one of them drops the baton (so to speak.) And baby-induced sleep deprivation causes clumsiness—a parent carrying a baby might actually trip or even fall! ... Hold [your] baby when you absolutely must, but for [their] own good they really should be left screaming for love in a nice safe crib or slumped over in a $20.00 umbrella stroller.
Next story: Has your uterus been recalled? Is this untested device really the best place to grow a baby?"


In related news, I watched a pretty cool-looking father in line ahead of me in a deli yesterday. He had multiple piercings and dressed like he was used to bucking the status quo. But he had his newborn in one of those plastic seats that everyone uses, being driven by peer expectations and reinforced by thoughtless hype like that from the CR blog posts above. The newborn was mildly fussy, so the father bounced, bounced, bounced the seat by the handle while we stood in line for about 10 minutes. Then we all ended up on chairs outside the deli, and I looked over and the father had the plastic carrier on his lap, still jiggling it and trying to get the baby inside to hush. He looked like a good dad, like he was really trying to connect and soothe his baby. And all I wanted to do was scream, "Pick the baby up! Can't you see he just wants to be held?!" Poor baby, poor daddy. Poor missed connection. Thanks a lot, CR.

Photo courtesy Asif Akbar on stock.xchng