LOVE this article!
The Containerization of Infants
The article talks about the huge changes that have happened in just two generations…
recent research study replicated a study done in the 1940’s, in which psychological researchers asked kids age 3, 5, and 7 to do a number of exercises. Today’s 5 year olds were acting at a level of 3 year olds, 60 years ago, and today’s 7 year olds were barely approaching the level of the 5 year old (1, 4, 5). In the 1940’s, children were reported to walk at 8-12 months of age, now children are reported to begin walking at 12-15 months of age (2). Realistically speaking that is only a generation ago; that’s a huge decline in functional performance in a relatively short time span.
I’ve read about this in other places as well. Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering is the first book that comes to mind. Both Dr. Sarah Buckley (author of GBGM) and Brandi Breitback (author of the above article) focus on the importance of vestibular stimuli. In other words, a big part of how our babies learn is by experiencing the world around them through natural movement. Being in an infant bucket for many hours each day means that your baby is only checking out the ceiling (or sun hood), and her inner ear is not getting to register the movement that is NEEDED for their brain to develop. It is so important!
As Dr. Sarah Buckley says,
Movement stimulates the vestibular (balance) center and the cerebellum, at the base of the brain, helping to establish brain-wiring connections that have major consequences for later brain development. For example, an area called the cerebellar vermis, which is stimulated by movement, is now thought to be a crucial region for mental health in adulthood.
As the article says,
As we look back at how infants were cared for one to two generations ago, we can imagine that infants had much more exposure to movement and seeing the world from changing angles and depths. It is more likely that a mother of generations ago would put her baby in one arm or on her hip and go about her day; the baby at that point experiences several positional changes from the mother’s body moving, as well as from the mother likely changing holds on the baby. In this manner, the baby is then experiencing changing vestibular and proprioceptive inputs that are natural to a mother’s movement and gravitational force. Baby-carrying provides the elements of pressure, motion, pleasure, warmth, security, sound that is essential to the development of the vestibular nervous system
We were at the Apple store the other day, and the employees were shocked at my husband and I. It wasn’t because we had 4 kids — as a matter of fact, 3 of them were not with us. We only had our 4-month-old, and we were carrying her in-arms. I had a clean diaper in my purse, but no giant diaper bag or baby paraphernalia. The employees couldn’t believe it. This one guy, who was in his early 20s, was all, “That’s so cool. You’re just rockin’ it with your baby and no stroller or baby bags or anything.” They all thought it was so novel. 😛
In the grand scheme of things, the employees were really quite close in age to me. I’m fairly sure that none were younger than 20, so we didn’t have 10 years between us. They grew up around infant buckets, though, and I didn’t because they weren’t popular when I was little. It was funny to me and my husband as we watched them process that we were just carrying a baby.
I understand the appeal of being able to strap your baby into the carseat, unhook them at the mall and place them in the stroller, shop, and then wheel them back to the car where they plug right back in. Sometimes life works out where you just need your hands/body free or you can’t carry your baby for some other reason, but why not carry our babies when we can? How many times have you seen a baby crying and the mother frantically pushing the stroller back and forth? (Actually, I think I WAS that mother at least once when my oldest was a baby…) Our babies’ brains are AMAZING, and they are hard wired to want to be picked up. As Dr. Sarah J. Buckley says in her book, part of why babies developed the desire to be held was so they could ensure that they were safe and not attacked by a predator… throughout time, babies have needed someone to hold them!
And, honestly, how else are you going to get to smell all of that yummy baby smell? MMmmmm! Mommas are made to want to carry babies too 😉 Our society has redefined the norm, but that doesn’t change how we are made.
I would expect that Apple store employees would see more crunch parents but perhaps not.
I have said many times that I need to start carrying business cards–with the websites of The BabyWearer, Didymos, Wrapsody, our local babywearing group, etc.because SO many people admire my wraps and slings and want to know where to get one. It is so wonderful to be able to look my baby in the eye and talk to him about what we’re doing. And I have 2 hands free to help my other 3 children. Strollers are great for older children who get tired at the zoo and are just too heavy to carry. Strollers also make great luggage carts at the airport or grocery carts for walking home from the store. I’ve always gotten comments on the great muscle tone of my babies. They’ve had much official tummy time yet they’re very strong–from being held in arms or in a wrap. Great article!
Funny–I carried my oldest all the time (because she insisted on it) and she still didn’t walk until 14 months or so. It would be nice to see an actual citation of the “study” and a description of what those “exercises” were. (I followed the link to the other article and it isn’t cited there either.) It seems highly unlikely that my 5-year-old is somehow functioning at the level of a 3-year-old in the way that is suggested, and even less likely that it is somehow all related to hours she *didn’t* spend in buckets/playpens/swings/etc.
Also, I’ve never had anyone anywhere express surprise that I was carrying either my oldest when she was a baby or my baby now–not even in the Apple store. I have had two people think I’m my four-month-old’s grandmother though, so your mileage may vary.
Lisa, I have always carried my kids. Mostly b/c I thought the carseat thing was a hassle and it was heavy. I carried my oldest, and eventually got a moby for baby #2, b/c she wanted to be CONSTANTLY held. My carseat never came out of the car. People certainly approached my child/ren…but not in surprise. I am also curious about the “exercises”. I know my grandmother (who had babies in the 50s) used to do these little leg-bendy things so the babies wouldn’t get bow-legged, or knock-kneed. Though…it didn’t seem to work on the knee thing!
Anywho. The one I constantly carried walked at 11 months. I pushed her a little b/c I wanted her walking before her first birthday. My first, who was carried but not worn, walked at 8 months…b/c she hated to crawl.
My kindergartener was placed in first grade for reading (just the one subject)…so I don’t think there’s a problem with her abilities…and she was in a pack & play, and the highchair a lot at home.
Humm… while I am sure there is some truth to what the author is saying, my daughter never touched a stroller, baby swing or bucket seat (unless in a car)- she was carried constantly for the first year of her life and still didn’t walk until she was nearly 14 months old. I’m not sure what else I could have done, according to the research, that would have encouraged her to walk earlier? According to the article, I did everything “right” and yet based on this article my child is significantly behind those from a generation ago?
I stumbled on your blog from GCM. Thank you for posting this. My mommy group friends think I am a weirdo for not packing a stroller everywhere. I feel so vindicated. I hate the idea of being strapped down all the time, and I just assumed my daughter wouldn’t enjoy it either. I don’t ever remember being in a car seat. She is 9 months and is only just started to sit, but her personal timeline is okay with us. Her father loves carrying her around.
I get that baby’s shouldn’t be strapped in all day. The problem I have is, too many small mobile children ready to lurch into traffic (I have 5 little ones). Thus, I need to strap in the one who is content enough to do so (the 6 mth old). The other problem I have is, I can’t find wearing a baby very comfortable…it actually messes with my equilibrium…puts too much pressure on my shoulders, and makes me feel naseaus when I wear her in a wrap….anyone out there have some ideas on this?!
I totally understand that sometimes the strollers and other baby gear are completely necessary. Like I said in my post, there are certainly times when they are the go-to option. What I took from the article (and similar ones that I read) was that I wanted to try to be mindful to carry my babies and include them as much as I could in our day-to-day activities. We transitioned away from using baby buckets in the house, and eventually stopped using them altogether when we found other methods that worked better for us (carrying the baby, babywearing, etc.)
This is a pretty old blog post (I wrote it a year and a half ago), but my intent then and my intent now is definitely NOT to guilt anyone or act like I have it all figured out. I found the original article that I linked above to be really fascinating and I just wanted to pass the word on to others. If there are pieces of it that might work for your family, then great! As I’ve heard many others say, “Eat the meat and spit out the bones.” Even now, I read the article with different eyes because I’m in a different place than I was when I first wrote this post.
As far as babywearing being uncomfortable, it may be worth trying a few different options. My current favorite is the Babyhawk Oh Snap. ( http://www.babyhawk.com/Gallery/?Type=1 ) It is easy to put on and off and is much more comfortable on my shoulders without making me feel uneven in terms of weight distribution. If babywearing doesn’t work for you, though, there are still plenty of other ways to keep your babe in arms during the day. If you haven’t already been there, thebabywearer.com has tons of amazing information and their boards are a wealth of knowledge, as does http://www.gentlechristianmothers.com/community/index.php Many of the women on these boards have an impressive set of knowledge about babywearing and may have experience with some of the specific problems that you’ve had.
Blessings to you and your family! <3
Interesting article. We all should be a bit more hippy and proud and not afraid to have a baby on our hips, or in a sling as the other moms suggested, or even breast feeding in public. Surely we do put our kids into too many things and so often not hold them enough. Breast feeding is largely looked down upon in many circles, though I would never call myself a hippy mom because I chose and wanted to carry my baby close or to wrap them next to you in a sling and so enjoyed the simple pleasures of closeness and bonding.
My kids were nursed and in the sling as much as they would tollerate it, because I loved their smells and the closeness, but also liked being able to do the dishes and laundry and go about my daily duties and used strollers and bouncy seats for the child who didn’t like to just be snuggling, but wanted to explore and move around more than what he could in my arms.
Going to the grocery store or outside of a store where you were going to buy a small techno gadget or phone, or without someone shopping with you to provide another hip while you found what you needed in say a grocery store, I can’t imagine you wouldn’t out of convenience not likely put the kid on your hip, but in a cart, not out of convinience but out of practicality. And would that make them developmentally slower? My kids aren’t slower to walk. Both did so much before one year old. Got teeth really early too. The doctor laughted when I thought my first was teething, but my nipples knew otherwise.
While I don’t doubt that statistically most kids could be physically stunted if they didn’t get out of the car seats, stollers and pack and plays enought, I am sceptical that kids could be developmentally lagging now than a couple generations ago. Think about how fast our kids are doing things like reading. Most moms now are taught to read to the kids so early and stimulate their brains with specially designed brainy baby toys, picture books, etc that were not available to most even when I was growing up, and I’m in my thirties. I couldn’t believe it when my son was reading at three, not any doing of mine, just God’s great gift developing in him.