Sunday, February 12, 2012
"Every baby needs a lap" - Henry Robin
Once, I was asked by a pregnant friend, "What do I need to buy for the baby?" I struggled to answer her. I think her expectations were a long, concise list of everything her baby needed. I started to write a few things down. "Lots of nappies. A few items of clothing - but don't buy too much, because you will be given lots by others and then gifts of clothes, too. A good quality car seat. A sling. A cot or a moses basket. A baby changing mat. Lots of tea bags, biscuits, and sugar." My list started to dwindle. I couldn't really add too much more to the list. My friend looked bewildered. "Is that it?" she asked. "Nothing else?" "Well," I responded, "some big pants - big, scary, old-lady pants - you'll be amazed at how comfortable they are in the days leading up to the birth, and in the first couple of weeks. You don't believe me now, but just wait!"
I consider late pregnancy and the early days following birth as the absolutely only time in which big scary old lady pants are a perfect item of underwear - essential for comfort and support. Even if nothing else, big, scary old-lady pants make a practical solution if you need an emergency blanket or a sling for your baby, or if in the event of a colander malfunction, I imagine they'd be great for straining your potatoes. They could even come in useful in a damsel-in-distress, railway children sort of way, as a signal to others of your overwhelming tiredness and fatigue, when you find yourself trying to feed the parking meter wine gums; or if you accidentally pour coffee into your change bag whilst soothing your crying, frustrated infant, pretending that you're fine and everything is in control, when in reality you're in need of a hug, a sugar fix, and a few hours of quiet, uninterrupted sleep.
We live in a society where accessories and technology dictate our lives. We are encouraged to think about "teching" out our baby's life, where it's possible to monitor our baby not just from a listening aid whilst in another room, but we can actually spy on them whilst they sleep, by putting a camera in their cot so you can look at them on a tiny screen if they start to cry, rather than attend to them in person. There are apps to tell you when your baby is next due a feed; mats to place in the cot which alarm if your baby stops breathing for a few seconds (and are, so I've been told, fairly unreliable as they can alarm even if the baby is absolutely fine); super-funky buggies; bottle warmers; scientifically-tested formulas which claim to be so brilliant they are almost as good as breast milk...the list goes on and on.
How far do we need to go? Isn't is time to just pause the technology, and instead focus on humanity? Beneath the plethora of books, accessories, technology and on-trend gear is a human being. A baby which will be exposed to the latest technological advances throughout its entire life, so why not allow it some time to adjust to the world in a quiet, calm, peaceful, non-intrusive way? Does "less is more" have no meaning, these days?
I don't doubt the safety benefits of some equipment. For example, the mats which sound alarms if the baby stops breathing could be very useful in a premature baby's cot, or for babies that have existing breathing problems. But in a healthy, term, breastfed baby which is placed on his back in a cot without any pillows, cot bumpers or anything else which may be a potential danger, is that a necessity? How much does our market rely on paranoia to sell products? Monitors are useful to hear if a baby is crying, but do you really need to see what the baby is doing, too? The chances are, that if a baby wakes up and starts to cry, they need a feed, they're poorly, they need a nappy change, or they just need some reassurance from human touch and voice. What's a camera going to do?
Trust your instincts. Listen to your baby. Follow their lead.
A baby needs love, warmth, to feel safe and protected, and food. You have all the mechanisms in place to provide these things.
Anything else is an added bonus!
- Nikki Harman
- I am a mum to two children, a registered nurse, a trainee breastfeeding counsellor, reiki practitioner, photographer, and generally into keeping things natural. Going back to the basics in life, respecting nature, the planet, and each other. Teaching this to my children and others who are interested. This blog comes from a good place, and is intended to give the reader an opportunity to look at things from a different perspective, and make an informed choice. I welcome constructive comments and would like it if you could share (acknowledging me as the source) and follow the blog. Many thanks!