Babies are people too!

by DavalosMcCormack on March 3, 2009

So, Kevin and I have a brand new baby!  Well, she’s not our baby, she’s my daughter and son-in-law’s baby and she is 7 weeks and four days old and her name is Emma Danger.  So my/our attention as been on babies lately.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I have never been one of those people who are nuts about babies.  You know those “Grand-Ma” Books with endless photos of “the” baby.  Not me, no sir, I don’t even like the “Ma” in Grand-Ma.  “Grand-Dame” now that might be okay…but, Ma?  uhmmm…nooo.

But I digress.  What I want to tell you is that I have been checking out babies and their parents whenever I can.  I’m looking at things like what they look like when they are  2 months, 1 year etc.  or how people treat their babies.  Here’s what I have noticed!I see a lot of babies in strollers, and I’ve noticed a lot of double strollers lately, with 2 kids.  Sometimes they are twins and sometimes they are just close in age.  Some strollers face the Mom/Dad/or caregiver, and some face outward.

I’ve often seen the baby facing outward with the sun in his or her baby eyes.  It was not noticeable to the Mom because she cannot see the baby’s face because the stroller hood is in the way and the baby is facing to the front.

I have often seen a Mom or Dad in a cafe shove the stroller up against the wall or counter while they order their latte.  The baby gets to experience a blank wall.  That’s not too bad because it’s a short period of time.  But what bothers me most is that I often see a parent or caregiver…walking with the baby facing forward, and the caregiver is talking on the phone, or talking to the friend they are walking with.  Sometimes they are not aware that the baby has the sun in her eyes or she dropped her binky.

Okay, this is not the end of the world, and I’m sure that they do, at some point sit down and turn the baby toward them so they can engage with the baby.  But if you are on a 20 minute walk from point A to point B, when do you have a conversation?

Now there is a study that proves my point! A senior lecturer in child psychology, at the University of Dundee in Scotland, M. Suzanne Zeedyk,  studied 2,700 families and their interaction when strolling their babies. Guess what she found?

The study showed that on a 15 minute walk conversation and laughter interactions doubled when the baby was facing the caregiver.  Laughter!  Don’t we all need laughter.  Doesn’t it make sense to see the baby’s face?  Or more importantly, that the baby sees the caregiver’s face to be reassured, comforted, learn words and reactions?

Here’s the kicker, we used to have it right.  In the 19th century strollers were made with the baby facing the Mom or Dad or Nanny, but when collapsible strollers were engineered, it was easier to build one that had the baby facing out. So babies were turned around for no other reason than that an engineer found it easier!

The study says there isn’t really any harm that comes from facing out.   I mean the fact that babies learn language and emotion, not to mention facial expression from interacting with a caregiver’s language, face seems pretty clear.  I guess they could learn from some disembodied voice coming from the back of their stroller.

Our baby won’t.

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