Technology Designed To Replace Human Contact And Stop Babies Crying

Technology Designed To Replace Human Contact And Stop Babies Crying

Are you an exhausted new parent with a ‘colicky’, unsettled and crying baby? Are you completely touched out and over it? If so, just the thought of some hands-free time will be positively heavenly.

In today’s society, there’s little support for parents with very young babies. It’s perfectly understandable to be constantly on the look out for anything that makes life a little easier.

No doubt about it. At one time or another, all parents feel there simply isn’t enough of them to spread around.

And in those moments, they wish they had an extra pair of hands or even a clone of themselves.

Technology Designed To Replace Human Contact And Stop Babies Crying

And for the hefty price of almost AUD250.00 you can buy just that.

What is it? A ‘high-tech cushion’ named the Babocush.

According to the marketing material, this magical piece of equipment ‘prevents colic, relieves wind and reflux, reduces the startle reflex and flat head syndrome’. It rocks, vibrates and even makes the sound of a heartbeat.

Basically, it’s a high-tech version of a human chest and human arms, with soothing and human contact.

Is The Babocush Safe?

On some of the promotional videos doing the rounds on the Internet, there is a statistic quoting the percentage of babies who are now sleeping ‘better’ on a Babocush.

This device is NOT intended for sleep and your baby should be fully supervised at all times.

As stated on the Babocush website:

‘Do not let your baby sleep on the Babocush. Sleeping on their front can pose a suffocation risk and is thought to increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), according to the NHS Guidelines on SIDS.

‘The babocush is intended to provide relief from colic and reflux, to help settle fractious babies and to provide tummy time in order to prevent flat-head syndrome and other associated problems.

‘Never ever leave your baby unattended on the babocush. You will find your baby will be so content on the babocush that they may fall asleep. If this happens, please place your baby in their cot or crib to sleep’.

Red Nose Australia echoed this with their message:

‘Irish company Babocush states that their product is “designed to hug your baby securely in the perfect position for relieving wind, colic and reflux”.

‘However, babies who go to sleep on the Babocush are usually left on their tummy.

‘The Red Nose safe sleeping guidelines promote the safe practice of sleeping babies on their backs from birth, not on their tummy or side.

‘Tummy time is important for babies when they are awake and fully supervised.

‘Placing babies to sleep on their tummy has been recognised for many years as a significant risk of infant death to many babies.

‘Hence Red Nose would not support the use of a product such as this as a safe place for baby to sleep.’

Is This Technology Going Too Far?

In some ways, we could consider this device quite validating and forward thinking. By virtue of its design, the technology acknowledges the inherent value of holding and soothing a distressed baby.

However, the problem with technology such as the Babocush is it’s another device which promotes the idea we’re spoiling babies by holding them when they signal distress.

A device such as the Babocush subtly suggests holding, carrying and soothing babies is hard labour, which can and should be farmed out. Normal, close contact is minimised and distanced to avoid ‘spoiling’ and developing the ‘bad habit’ of needing comfort from another human being.

When human babies are born, they are incredibly premature by mammal standards. By the time human babies reach 9-12 months of age, their growth and development outside the womb are at a stage that is similar to what many other animals have achieved at birth.

Babies are 100% dependent on their caregivers for every aspect of their wellbeing. This includes their emotional and mental health and development.

The make up of human breastmilk classifies human beings in the ‘carry mammals’ category, which includes apes and marsupials. Carry mammals give birth to the most immature babies of all mammals, and must carry them constantly to ensure their warmth and safety.

The milk of a carry mammal has low levels of fat and protein, which also means babies need to be fed frequently, around the clock.

Read more about this by ordering the book Breastfeeding Made Simple – 7 Natural Laws For Breastfeeding Mothers by Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett.

Why Do We Have Parenting Technology?

The need for near constant contact, carrying and nursing is primal. It’s a very healthy adaptation, which has seen the human species survive and evolve throughout millennia.

Since the Industrial Revolution, there have been significant changes to the structure of society and the way adults sleep. We have seen an evolution in parenting practices, which has placed a high value on schedule driven, hands-off, distant parenting.

These parenting practices are still evident today. They actively work to scare parents and discourage them from utilising more nurturing, child-mother focused practices.

In a society where the economic value and productivity of a human being are placed above all other values, then it’s no surprise very little respect is given to the invisible ‘work’ of nurturing young babies and children.

There are many ways this cultural shift in thinking has been able to embed itself into accepted beliefs about child-rearing. Think of inventions such as cots and cribs, formula, bottles, prams, rockers, walkers, baby shushers, dolls with heartbeats, and many other containers and gizmos.

These ‘must have’ items are entrenched in our thinking as necessary to raising a baby, and they often feature highly on baby shower gift lists.

Then there is the continuous advice handed out by baby sleep experts. They focus on the need for babies to attain ‘vital’ life skills like independent sleep and self soothing, and to avoid being too clingy or needy.

Are Parenting Practices Changing?

Despite new inventions, like Babocush, coming out every other month, there is a shift in how parents are raising their babies.

Various changes to workplace practices – including providing pumping stations for mothers, and flexible work rosters – are making the workplace more family friendly. In many countries, longer maternity leave and increased payments are helping to shift the focus back to valuing the important work of nurturing a child in the early months and years of life.

Practices such as the fourth trimester, and the growing number of people choosing to babywear and cosleep also demonstrate how parents are beginning to recognise the value of instinctive parenting, and to forget the bells and whistles that are supposed to make life ‘easier’.

Crying, unsettled, uncomfortable or colicky babies will always be best placed in the loving arms of their caregivers. Their warmth, their heartbeat, their rhythm, their sway, their voices, their smell, and the touch of their skin will always be the low-tech answer to soothe babies’ crying.

Even babies who continue to cry will always be best placed in arms. No device, no matter how well designed and well intentioned, will ever replace the contact of a nurturing caregiver.

My Baby Cries A Lot And I Need A Break

If your baby cries a lot and you are concerned, here is some further information that will help you work out why it is happening:

Sometimes, you might feel overwhelmed. You might need some space and time away from your crying baby – for safety reasons, or to preserve your sanity. If that happens, please place your baby in a safe location and take the time you need.

Babywearing while going for a walk can soothe and calm your baby, and is a way to get you out of the same four walls. Sunshine and fresh air will also help put you in a more positive headspace.

If you don’t have a carrier, check out Choosing A Baby Carrier Or Sling – 7 Styles To Choose From.

Using a carrier allows you to have your hands free. You can do other things you need to do, even if your baby wants to be cuddled. This is particularly useful if you have older children to tend to as well.

Ideally, you should be able to some have some relief and respite. When you need help, call on your partner, a relative or friend. You might also access the services of a postnatal doula.

Raising a child used to take a village; we were never meant to do this amazing and challenging job alone.

Always remember you’re doing the best you can, with what you have at the moment.

Take some time to remind yourself of that by reading Exhausted Mothers – You Are Enough.

If you feel you are often at the end of your tether, please see your general practitioner to discuss whatever support can be put in place to help you through. Or contact your local mental health hotline for help and direction.

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Carly Grubb B.Ed (Primary) Hons. CONTRIBUTOR

Carly Grubb is a primary school teacher by trade, and the mama of two young boys who have helped reignite her love of writing. She has a particular passion for advocating for a gentler path for very tired mothers as they navigate infant and toddler sleep.

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