Friday, 21 January 2011


this is a helmet. no ordinary helmet, mind. this is a cot-helmet so your kid doesn't end up with a "flat back of head". that is, it is a means to keep the child's head round or, as i like to call it, just another crap gadget that parents will buy. my father was born in 1945 italy. at the time it was advised that babies should stay on their backs. he did end up with a flat back of the head. the way i see it is this: firstly, my father ended up with the head he has because he was left a lot on his back when his skull was still soft and, secondly, this gadget would have been more useful in 1945 italy. according to 1970s research apparently it was better to have babies on their bellies. therefore my conclusion is that research will keep contradicting itself in waves - at a rate of a new study every 30 years, in the end it does give some people a sense of existence - and if you don't want a flat-headed kid, well, pick it up every now and then. and if you can't be arsed, maybe a flat back of head is better than a flat face so remember to turn him every now and then.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

liar, liar, pants on fire

a survey carried out by the website netmums (a forum for stay-at-home-mums-of-one which was slated this week in 'the observer' for interfering with eastenders' cot-death plot) on 5,000 mothers suggests that these poor souls of women are under so much pressure to appear to fellow-mothers like perfect parents that they lie. the report goes on to say that mothers are often made feel "inadequate" when confronting parenting stories, hence the fibs begin. it is solely due to peer pressure as more than 9 out of 10 said they compare themselves with others at the nursery school gate and not with the "celebrity" mothers in the glossy magazines - the ones who have 4 nannies and see their kids once a month even though they live in the same house.

i might be wrong but isn't that just classic female behaviour? with or without a kid? always going out of their way to outdo each other's achievements even if a little fib here and there is needed?

in any case, the bbc bloggers went to see the parenting expert frank furedi - married to ann furedi, the chief executive of british pregnancy advisory service, the uk's largest independent abortion provider - who states that parents were under "profound pressures" from society. he said that a culture of parenting "incites parents to lie and to turn child-rearing into a performance." is it not just in human nature to exaggerate and "perform" to others? nothing new there but he makes a valid point as there are many a parent who can only talk about the difficulties of having a child and how great they, as mothers, are. i have a nickname for such mothers: "netmums".

Saturday, 15 January 2011


nonetheless, in the first fifteen minutes you can try something. allegedly there is a part of the human brain that is active whilst in the womb. on entering the world nature kick-starts a lot of dormant organs needed for basic survival on the outside, starting with the lungs. nature also shuts down other parts of the body, mainly the belly-button. it is no longer the traffic route of nutritional supply and waste. she also shuts down – not immediately – this small part of the brain that now interests us. maybe it is the umbilical cord coordinator. whatever the case, it has another incredible function: it allows the newborn to imitate any facial expression you throw at it. in haste, you hear, as it doesn’t last long! you have the prime material, you have no excuses. bring the little, swaddled creature to about a foot from your face. shit, she does look a bit like me. weird. anyway, now pull a funny face. stick out your tongue. wink. frown. smile. try them all. this little thing in your hands will imitate exactly what you do, i kid you not. unbelievable. in the sense, i didn’t believe it either until i actually witnessed it for myself. a bit like becoming a father, you can’t ever know until you do. 

photo by stephanie robin/kelley ryden

Friday, 14 January 2011

so what is breast?

in 2003 the W.H.O. (who?) told mothers to breastfeed their offspring up to six months. in 2011 some experts, led by a paediatrician from University College London's Institute of Child Health, say breastfeeding exclusively for six months may damage a baby's health and "reduce the window for introducing new tastes". 

proof that only a mother, if she follows her instinct, really knows what is right. it is also evidence that new parents should avoid internet/books/articles on how to bring up their child.

the leading paediatrician obviously has no experience with a four-month-old. by that age they are sitting up, grabbing and very happy to try new tastes: bread, fruit, shoes, paper, wires etc. i believe both the 2003 and 2011 reports are only read by a certain type of parent i.e. the over-protective, over-anxious ones that will transmit their anxieties onto the child. you know the ones? they usually have very bitter breast milk.

photo - israeli mother breast feeding her baby, 1964 by paul schutzer 

Thursday, 13 January 2011

white noise

yet another sleepless night? 2am feed? then again at 4? the baby doesn't stop crying? either does the baby's mother? according to new mothers it is because the kid is colic, guaranteed. you suggest that the sprog might be hungry. you are promptly told that you don't have a clue. now this is not the right time to explain your theory. the right time will be had whilst the baby is napping the next day and mother has a cup of tea in her hand. 

it is not only my theory, obviously, as someone has already come up with a contraption that deals with it. however, when i saw this little white machine (i didn't know that they existed previously) i was very excited as it was confirmation of something i have always maintained: for a newborn the world they enter is eerily quiet. after months spent in a swirling, bubbling, swooshing womb surrounded by belly gurgles and heartbeats, they come out to silence and cold and a place where womb walls don't exist. scary for anyone. 

this little machine produces a constant stream of white noise. you turn it on when you put the baby down and you should have some very positive results. once upon a time fathers would go for a late-night drive with a sleepless baby, it wasn't the drive but the sound of the engine that did the trick, even if 30 minutes away from a desperate, weeping wife was a plus. some people find that turning on a vacuum cleaner or a hair-dryer soothes a frustrated child. once again, it is all down to the white noise they produce. since we got the machine even i sleep better. weird. 

if you can't find the machine, click this link and stick your laptop beside the cot. it is 7 hours 54 minutes of vacuum noise kindly uploaded by some very tired father.

and i have seen a colic baby, trust me, if your kid isn't crying 24/7 it is not colic. this machine also prepares the kid for later life, lots of white noise.