Three things we buy for children that sound like a good idea, but aren’t

Just because I live in the present, it doesn’t mean I have to like it. When I look at the TV that is created for our children, the amount of time the average child spends with a working parent, the level of distraction these parents submit themselves to, and the products we surround our children with, I truly wonder at the motives of the architects of this situation.

Q: When is a bed not a bed?
 A: When it is a toy. A toy that completely undermines the first rule of infant sleep hygiene – bed is a place for falling asleep, sleeping and waking up in.

This product is designed to milk parents who are struggling to get their children to sleep in their own bed. ‘He doesn’t like going to bed – he just wants to play’. ‘He falls asleep on the couch and I lift him into his bed’. ‘When he wakes up in the night either I let him into bed with me or he’s up the whole night’. These are the kinds of things I hear all the time in my job.

Some children find it hard to wind down at the end of  the day. Some children lack the emotional tools to understand that it is ok to be alone for a little while in your room. These children are not going to be helped in any measure by a bed such as this.

“Black sky” double-decker pram of doom
Which baby would you rather be? Front or back? I’d go for back every time. True, you might come to the conclusion in the end that the sky is black (unbelievably this product’s name is ‘black sky)’, but at least you might be able to get some proper sleep in there.

Quite simply, our prams face the wrong way. Can you imagine what it is like down there? Feet clattering. Cars, buses, fire engines, all careering along, just feet away. No control over the direction of travel. Exposed to the elements, until someone decides to wrap damp, smelly plastic around you. And that someone – how to get her attention? What is she thinking at the moment? What is she looking at? Is she looking at the same thing as me? This is a recipe for increased levels of anxiety and delayed development of language and joint attention. And studies do seem to be pointing strongly in that direction.

Baby ipod ‘aptivity’ case
Young children want to play with electronic toys. And no wonder – they are transfixing enough for us. These children are living miracles! Steve Jobs is ‘changing their OSes‘! Unfortunately, the online generation of the future also see us as a cause and effect toy.

Baby apps and so on are great if they are used for very short periods of time and if the experience can be explained and shared with another. However, we all know that this is not how these things are used. They are a babysitter that robs our children of the ability to find wonder in the normal, the prosaic. Maria Edgeworth, in Practical Education (1798) got it spot on:

When a nurse wants to please or to pacify a child, she stuns its ear with a variety of noises, or dazzles its eye with glaring colours or stimulating light. The eye and the ear are thus fatigued without advantage, and the temper is hushed to a transient calm by expedients, which in time must lose their effect, and which can have no power over confirmed fretfulness. The pleasure of exercising their senses, is in itself sufficient to children without any factitious stimulus, which only exhausts their excitability, and renders them incapable of being amused by a variety of common objects, which would naturally be their entertainment.



One Comments

Leave a Reply