Friday, March 2nd, 2007
Attachment Parenting: Baby Wearing vs. Car Seat Lugging vs. Stroller Pushing
Imagine: You are eating at a cafe one day when you notice a dad uncomfortably lugging his baby around in a portable car seat. The dad huffs and puffs, setting the seat down and picking it up multiple times as he makes his way through the cafÃ©.
A compact fluorescent bulb turns on inside your head. You stand up and shout, “There has to be a better way! Get that dad a baby wrap or sling!”
No, wait. That’s not your response.
A match flickers inside your head and you shout, “I’m going to invent a shoulder harness for that dad to carry his baby car seat around town!” Or something to that effect.
The Flying Falcon Car Seat Carrier sports a 2″ wide adjustable shoulder strap with 3/8″ thick shoulder padding. You tighten the straps around the car seat with assistance from strategically placed adhesive Velcro stuck on the seat (that Velcro is then matched to Velcro that is sewn onto the carrier). The Falcon has two steel adjustment buckles and a steel hinge bar buckle with a 300lb breaking strength.
Now, there are two types of parents reading this article. Some of you are looking at the product photo and thinking, “Hmm, that’s really interesting.” The other group is looking at that photo and thinking, “What the hell is wrong with our society?”
Yes, this is where I become unpopular with some of you. I think parents who hand carry their babies in car seats are insane. So what if your baby might cry if you lift him out of his seat and put him into a cloth carrier? Crying is one of many potential outcomes. He could remain sleeping. He could go right back to sleep once you tuck him into a cloth carrier that hugs your body. He might not even be sleeping in the first place.
Instead, you burden yourself by going against thousands of years of baby wearing, choosing for your baby to know a plastic seat better than he knows you. It’s insanity. Go ahead, leave a comment telling me I’m the one who is mentally deficient.
OK, OK, let’s stop a minute and cool off. Maybe I was too harsh on the Falcon carrier. It seemed strange and awkward at first because I’ve never owned a portable car seat. The softer side of me thinks that if you have already made the decision to lug a car seat around with you, you do need precisely this type of accessory to help alleviate the physical discomfort. The Falcon Carrier is a sane response to an insane situation.
Now, to be sure I offend everyone who isn’t perturbed yet, consider the similarity of walking around with a car seat to walking around with a stroller. Both are devices being used in lieu of direct parent contact, detached from the rhythms of the parent’s day.
Check out this Washington Post article, An Idea Still Looking for Traction in Kenya: East African Women Vote With Their Feet Against Baby Strollers.
“The stroller has sparked debate among African pediatricians who think the device — first crafted as a labor-saving tool for the European middle class — may damage the relationship between a mother and a child.
“‘The pram is the ultimate in pushing the baby away from you,’ said a child psychiatrist in Nairobi.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a complete blithering idiot. Not completely. I do own a stroller. We do use it for long recreational walks. If I was a jogger, I’d be even more appreciative. If I had a second child, a stroller could be handy while reigning in my older running toddler. So I’ll admit strollers have their place in society. But you still have to convince me about portable car seats.
Incidentally, here is what Dr. William Sears has to say about the benefits of baby wearing:
- Sling babies cry less.
- Sling babies learn more.
- Sling babies are more organized.
- Sling babies get “humanized” earlier.
- Sling babies are smarter.
Does a similar list exist for baby car seats and baby strollers?
All of these issues gets wrapped up into the philosophy of attachment parenting. It’s a phrase Dr. Sears coined which could be summarized as a parenting approach that emphasizes creating a strong emotional bond with your baby. What it really describes is how parents used to raise their babies before we got all caught up in buying baby gear.
I think I’ll stop writing now before I get all Jerry McGuire on you and burn my baby product blog in effigy.
Update: When I write critically about a product invention, there is often a defensive reaction from the inventor upon his or her discovering Thingamababy. Lest it be missed, John Sanchez, the inventor of the Falcon Carrier, posted a delightfully calm and reasoned observation below.