I saw it in Singapore in December 2013 and again in March 2014; I saw it in US & Canada in 2014; I confirmed with those who live there! Parents do NOT carry their kids around. A very common sight in India, a parent / grandparent carrying a child on the arm, on the shoulder or on the waist, even till 3-4 years of age! I am sure it is definitely helping create a better bond than pushing a pram…
Seeing kids, 3 & 4 year old, pushed around in prams – when they can walk / run very comfortably is odd! And all this happening when crowds are definitely thinner as compared to India. Prams of 2 & 3 kids are a common sight and No! These kids are not even twins or triplets!
I wondered in what manner was this affecting the child? If at all! When we medicos & psychologists maintain that even breast-feeding establishes a bond between mother and child, which goes beyond the nutritional benefits; this at an age when the newborn / infant is not capable of communication at all! Imagine both parents taking the kid(s) out and the kid is in the pram, through out!
There is virtually no eye contact / communication with the baby throughout the pram journey. Mom-facing prams are a new innovation!
Earlier it was surmised that letting babies watch the world go by from their forward-facing pram was good stimulation for their development till a study in 2008 pointed towards the fact that babies usually doze off and have no interaction of any kind (except visual) during the pram journey. The study went on to suggest kids prefer looking at mom/ parent and will welcome mother taking and they are likely to talk back as well.
Studies have been done to study the effectiveness of pram walking exercise on mothers’ physical fitness and reducing their postnatal depression but we are missing out the negative effects on kids.
Parents in the western world, at times (3-4 of 10 new parents) ‘wear’ a baby (using a kind of sling bag) but rest still prefer a pram.
A study done on children of Indian tribal women – who ‘wear’ a baby full day while working in fields, gardens – showed that these babies are content, happy and well behaved; you will rarely find a brat among such toddlers.
Another study in 2004 suggested that due to excessive use of prams, babies are suffering from a mild form of sensory deprivation.
Another study reports, babies who are carried spend more time in the state known as ‘quiet alertness’ so they are awake but contented. This state augurs well for optimal learning in an infant.
Since baby is held close to parents physically, when carried, they can communicate their needs without having to cry. Holding the baby close helps parents become finely attuned to their facial expressions and they don’t have to cry to express a need. Pediatricians have found that babies who are carried vs those pushed in prams, cry 40% less overall and 50% less during the evening hours.
Collateral benefits: Carrying a child is the best way for parents to learn about their own physical fitness levels.
Request: In our quest to ape the west and buying the best for our kids, let us at least refrain from over use of prams and avoid the risk of further reducing social contact / physical bond with the child.
You wish to use it? Use it till the child can walk. When you can not lift the child anymore, he/ she is already running!
Dr Chander Asrani, father to three daughters and grand father to one, is a post-graduate in Family Medicine. He has over 35 years in clinical practice, launched www.growingwell.com in 2000 and since then has been writing on various subjects. Know more about him at about.me/drasrani.