I really hate the manufactured mommy wars, so I hate to even bring this up. But. I was reading this Open Salon post about the need for physical contact and enjoying the call to reach out and touch someone or some animal, when it took a really annoying turn.
We still have a long way to go; I see a lot of babies crammed into strollers and car seats or entertained in a bouncy chair or swing instead of being held, lugged, handled, and carried. I see a lot of babies with bottles propped in their mouths, being deprived of the precious skin-to-skin time at their mother’s breasts. (Having held my own babies and toddlers almost non-stop for their first three years, breastfeeding them for a combined six years, and co-sleeping with both until they were three, I like to think that this long period of constant contact has something to do with their current spectacularness.)
This is just wrong for two reasons. One, how can you judge a parent for using a stroller or a car seat for the few minutes you actually encounter them at the mall or on the street? Are you suggesting that even a short amount of time in a carrying device that isn’t the parent suggests we have a long way to go in giving our children the touch that they need to survive? Strollers aren’t torture devices (unless it’s this one or that one) and no parent can be expected to hold their baby 24/7. A bouncy seat is the only way some people can take a shower or eat. Surely not eating or showering for the first year (or three!) of your baby’s life would have a more negative effect on a parent’s mental health, and therefore a child’s development than the 15-30 minutes baby’s hanging out and bouncing. Secondly, the smug statement about constantly holding your babies for their first three years of life (mentioned the breastfeeding too, gotta’ get that in there) is more mom-upmanship that people point to when they talk about the self-absorbed, sanctimonious parenting trends of the last decade. We all parent differently, and someone who uses a stroller to get around is no less a loving, involved parent creating a secure, intelligent child than someone who chooses to carry their child in a sling for three years. Really. Unnecessary.