A generation makes a world of difference

  • Posted: 1/17/2013 10:22 AM
    6/1/2013 6:10 PM

My babies are 32 and 29 (and 29, of course). Have you ever stopped to consider how much of child-rearing, particularly infancy, is a source of the latest fad?

When my kids were infants like our new granddaughter, Pearce, there were no infant car seats that lifted out as baby carriers. I did have infant carriers. Well, I had one new style - at that time - infant carrier that looked a lot like the infant car seats of today; however, it wasn't intended to be a safety device in the car. It was just something to carry the baby in. I had an older infant seat that was essentially a plastic mold with a seat belt and a rickety metal frame that served as a kickstand, so to speak. So if I were going to the store, I'd carry one infant in a front-pack - like today's Baby Bjorn - and the other in the newer carrier which sat nicely in a shopping cart, just like today's equipment.

But today's baby has options - well, her parents have options. Liz and Vince have a Baby Bjorn which can be a front pack so you can carry the baby tummy-to-tummy - a godsend if the baby is colicky - or a backpack when she gets older. Pearce likewise has the option of the Moby. If you haven't seen one of these, look it up on YouTube. Apparently, you need an instruction video if you are going to have a prayer of using this thing correctly. When Liz posted a photo of Pearce in the Moby on her first-ever walk, several of her friends commented they had one but could never figure out how to use it. It's actually a long strip of fabric - maybe 15 to 20 feet long - that you crisscross over your back and then over your front and then wrap it at the waist. When wrapped correctly, you can then tuck the baby in it with her head up near your neck and still have hands free. It looks a little like something you'd see in India, but it makes for a happy newborn and, as a result, a happy mommy.

And they have a baby carrier that is, in reality, the car seat insert for infants, which also locks into place in the stroller. Cade and Payton had that.

But in my day - I really am not old enough to be saying that - if you wanted to put the baby in a stroller, you had to find a way to pad the baby to make him or her secure enough not to fall out. I can remember swaddling Mac, in particular, and then using towels on either side and at his feet, so he wouldn't work his way out of the stoller's seat belt - no five-point harness in those days and no car seat that fit the stroller. With Liz and Cat it was a bit easier in that they fit snugly side-by-side in a single stroller until they were big enough to go into the double stroller.

Also, in those days, there were only two kinds of double strollers - one that had the babies side-by-side. It wouldn't fit through doorways easily. And the other - the type we bought - where the babies faced each other lengthwise (with one always riding backward). Pushing this stroller was like maneuvering a tank. And the older it got, the more it would list to one side - pulling the front end to the right or left as I fought to keep it on the straight and narrow. Try doing that while keeping up with a 4-year-old on a very busy street in Philadelphia as buses and trucks whiz by. No fun. (But that's another story.)

Back to equipment and the attitudes that make the various equipment necessary. Pearce currently sleeps in a "NapNanny." If you have not seen one of these, it looks a little like Santa's sleigh, or maybe my father's recliner, made of foam and covered in a soft, fitted case. The advantage to the NapNanny is that the very young infant is held securely with her head a little elevated and with no chance that she can roll over.

Which brings me to the next discussion - sleep requirements. All my children slept on their stomachs. They liked it that way. They slept more soundly that way. But today, that is an absolute no-no. Infants sleep on their backs, whether they like it or not.

To some extent, I get this. When my kids were infants, we all lived in fear of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. I can remember breathing an actual sigh of relief on Mac's 9-month birthday, because that was the point after which virtually no baby died of SIDS. But since doctors have been saying put babies on their backs, when was the last time you heard of a baby dying of SIDS? You can't fight success - so I'm all for it.

However, I was pleased on one of the visits to the pediatrician with Liz, when the doctor was checking out something with Pearce, and she turned her over on her tummy. When she did, Pearce immediately tucked her arms and legs under her and went to sleep. The doctor said, "She seems to like it on her stomach, and it's OK to allow her to sleep some on her stomach or her side during the day when you're awake to watch. Since then, when Pearce falls asleep on my chest, I will often lay her down beside me on her stomach. And sure enough, she sleeps longer that way than any other - except maybe when her mother lets her sleep on her chest.

In addition to all those options, there are swings (which Pearce is very unsure of), bouncy seats (which she likes better), pack-n-plays that now have NapNanny-like inserts, not to mention a cradle that Tom's dad built for Liz when she was an infant and, oh, yes, lots of willing hands ready to hold this precious bundle anytime they're asked.

The question now may be: Will she ever sleep in her crib?