[ P circa 8 weeks in one of our few successful runs with the Moby. As it turns out, a hot June in muggy Rhode Island was not the optimal time for a lot of jersey fabric. Gonna get a linen wrap or mei tai next time around unless we have a winter baby. ]
We’ve all seen the Time magazine cover on Attachment Parenting and how it’s, apparently, extreme. And it got me to thinking about the media criticisms I’ve seen since becoming a parent myself on AP and how they seem to have gotten more heavy handed over the past year and wondering exactly why that is.
And I’ve come up with a theory. This is my own half-baked theory and I don’t have any actual data to support this, so I’m putting that caveat up there right at the beginning. This isn’t a conspiracy theory so much as just… connecting the dots. And this is where they’ve led me.
The philosophy of AP is relatively simple: what your baby wants is you. And you don’t need a lot of tools to give that to your baby. AP values breastfeeding and baby wearing both for the bond it fosters between parent and child but also because, well, it’s easy. Much easier than the alternatives, despite what propaganda would have you believe about these things being “extreme.” When you’re already with a hungry baby, it’s faster to breastfeed than prepare a bottle. And when you want to do something, it’s just as easy to put the baby in a wrap as it is to put them in a swing. In terms of doing things out of the house – baby wearing is (from my year of experience) a THOUSAND TIMES easier than hauling around an infant seat or a stroller.
Which is where get to the rub: AP doesn’t require a lot of stuff. Very little. What I would recommend to friends wanting to try it – breast pump, nursing bras, lanolin, a good baby carrier or two, and a co-sleeping bassinet. Perhaps also a bouncy seat or swing. That’s it. Those are really all that we needed for the first six months or so, though we certainly had other things, that short list is all that I truly couldn’t live without.
Which flies directly into the face of the baby registry industry. And it’s a big industry. Just go into any Babies R Us and you can see immediately that there is a lot invested in getting parents to buy THINGS! for their babies. And of course, every parent wants to make their baby happy and it’s so easy to think that if you have the right THING! you’ll have a happier baby. And so, you end up with tons and tons of manufactured THINGS.
This right here will just be my one passing mention of the formula industry and how much money they stand to gain when mothers choose to use formula. A parenting movement advocating breastfeeding means a lot of potential dollars lost for Nestlé.
Babies R Us and Nestlé are big companies that above all want to make money. And one of the ways that any big company makes money is through advertising… in such places as Time magazine. Time and any other publication, and I’m including television in this, makes its own money via advertising. So, obviously, they want to reach as many people as possible to make even more money and make their advertisers happy. Segments about AP in the news showing the movement in a positive light are not going to make money with advertisers who are trying to sell parents video monitors and swings. I didn’t read the Time piece, but the cover obviously existed to pull you in and generate controversy and I’m sure without leafing through the issue that there were not ads for Ergo carriers or Lansinoh breast pads inside. By and large, the makers of AP paraphernalia don’t advertise a lot in mainstream media because the movement itself being fairly small means that they’re relatively smaller companies with a smaller ad budget.
Which brings me to my conclusion that showing AP as “extreme” is good business for the Baby Industrial Complex, which exists not to provide the best options for parents but just like every other industry is trying to make money. And new parents are willing to shell out a lot of money for the right THINGS. So, it’s simply in the best interest of the companies providing said THINGS that parents buy as much of it as possible – which AP just doesn’t promote. AP does not tell you not to buy THINGS for the sake of not buying them, but rather gives you the tools as a parent to do things mostly on your own.
And if that sort of movement really, really took off on a massive scale? It might be in the best interest for a lot of parents, but it’s absolutely not in the best interest in the companies advertising in Time magazine.
[ This is where I'll confess that as awesome as baby wearing and co-sleeping were in the first few months, that Fisher-Price swing with the cow on it is the only way I ever got any sleep. I would marry that crazy cow swing in a heartbeat. ]