Sunday, August 15, 2010
How NOT to Hold a Baby
He was sitting on the B49 on Coney Island Avenue. The bus was full-ish but not packed to the gills. The bus stops on Avenue M and a bunch of kids who appeared to be siblings (they looked alike) boarded the bus. After them a black-hatted, bearded yeshiva Dad boards the bus fumbling for his Metrocard, with three heavy bags on his arm while holding a baby in the other. I use the word "holding" only because technically he was holding the baby. How he was doing that completely defies the way anything should be held except for maybe an economy sized package of Unger's Mixed Cholent Beans.
My friend didn't say anything (shame on him...) but the question is, Why would he have needed to in the first place? I know I sound like a broken record every time I talk about these incidents but I'm trying to raise a specific point about holding babies. Obviously, this example is very extreme and sickening beyond imagination. I'd be very surprised that if this child was held like that on a regular basis, and grew up with a perfectly healthy brain and spine.
Babies heads and necks are very fragile and many frum parents seem to forget that. Dozens of times, I've seen Moms walking around the park or supermarket cradling their baby's body in one arm while their baby's head is flopping about near their elbow. This is dangerous. I know some people are going to tell me, "Babies aren't as fragile as you think...If you fuss about your baby when they're younger, they'll grow up too sensitive to regular movement." That's bull. There is no excuse for handling a baby like a piece of meat and no matter how many doctors and or nurses you see handling babies this way, it is still wrong. (Although I disagree with things like holding an infant upside down, some parents feel that when babies reach 12+ months, throwing the baby up into the air and playing upside down games is okay. I guess when it comes to that, If you're into it, exercise extreme caution.)
General things to keep in mind while holding a baby are, having good support for the baby's head and neck, keeping one hand under the baby's back, not picking up or putting down the baby with quick violent motions and of course, never to shake a baby. (Sadly, many babies are shaken to death because of ignorant and frustrated parents.)
Many frum parents are desensitized to the fragility of their infant children. Maybe its because they have so many. Maybe. Thats a discussion for another time. Keep your eyes peeled for any Tottys playing games of kinder-lynch and the like. Its not out of place to point out to a parent that they are in the process of injuring their child. Remember, as the MTA likes to constantly remind us: If you see something, say something.
Until next time...