Battering-Ram Buggies Not Nice

More validation of the obvious.
A study by Suzanne Zeedyk, of Dundee University’s school of psychology suggested that current, convenient, cheap form of infant transport, the bulldozer or battering-ram buggy, is not a very nurturing experience for tiny, vulnerable mind.

The study found that in traditional parent-facing buggy, babies were twice as likely to fall asleep in this orientation, suggesting they may be more stressed when in away-facing buggies. Mothers and infants also laughed more often in face-to-face buggies. Only one baby in the group of 20 laughed during the away-facing journey, while half laughed during the face-to-face journey.

Dr Zeedyk said:

“If babies are spending significant amounts of time in a baby buggy that undermines their ability to communicate with their parent, at an age when the brain is developing more than it will ever again, then this has to impact negatively on their development. Our experimental study showed that, simply by turning the buggy around, parents’ rate of talking to their baby doubled.”

One sight of the various terrified or stupified faces of infants being propelled through the looming, screaming alien chicanes and obstacles of the modern shopping high street, with its roaring cars and flashing lights is enough confirm that. The city environment is enough to cause stress in sober adults, never mind infants capable of being frightened by a beard. The aspirin industry depends on it. So it hardly takes a saintly level of empathy to realise how traumatic such a ghost train must be to a little person just coming to terms with the dark. The adult equivalent would be to be strapped to the front of a skip lorry plunging through the rush hour. Or, of course, to be in the front seat of the recently closed Corkscrew at Alton Towers, which adults pay to be scared on. Perhaps they’re trying to recapture their infancies.
Surely the emphasis during these early years should be on contact between the parent and child. It is sad that this has been sacrificed for the sake of convenience. But surely it is not beyond the talent of British designers to create a buggy which is just as portable and cheap, but with the baby facing the non-traumatic direction. It may even be a simple case of repositioning the seat.
But the basic question remains. why was this fashion allowed to become the norm in spite of all the obvious drawbacks?

The promotional video for any enterprising company would be simple. effective and cheap.
Just put a cheap video camera in a standard buggy, set the lens to the wide angle field of view of the infant human, and the microphone to match its acute hearing, and wheel it up and down Oxford Street a few times. There would be no need to do anything to enhance the result. It would be quite scary enough, and might make a few people think about subjecting their children to this form of stimulation, whether it is likely to produce a future Jeremy Clarkson or not.

Report PDF Copyright © National Literacy Trust 2008

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