My grandson is now 4 months old. Although he’s only 15 pounds, he takes up a lot of space, at least his accouterments do. Along with the crib he hasn’t used yet, due to new research claiming babies should stay in their parent’s bedroom for at least six months, he has a Bugaboo stroller that adjusts to so many positions it reminds me of the transformers my son played with in the 80’s, and a Britax car seat with enough straps and padding it looks capable of lifting off and reentering the stratosphere.
He also has a mini-bassinet that vibrates as he sleeps, a Rainforest Jumperoo that bounces while the toys around the rim emit rattling, chirping and crackling sounds, a white noise machine, a swing with six different movement controls and tunes to match, an umbrella stroller, (my purchase because I couldn’t figure out how to collapse the Bugaboo) an Ergo infant carrier, another one that goes over the shoulder (again my purchase because adjusting the Ergo is beyond me) a tub that has an ever fresh water supply, an infant gym with owls and fish that make animal noises, booties that jingle or crunch (I can’t remember which) and, thank goodness, something recognizable, books. Lots of books.
Once upon a time I, too, had babies, two of them. They each had a crib, a stroller, a car seat and, eventually, a high chair. I seem to remember a rocking horse and something that attached to the door frame and bounced. They also had toys and books. Lots of books. Life was crowded, but nowhere as crowded as my daughter and son-in-law’s small apartment.
The rules are different now. No putting babies to sleep on their tummies and all car seats must face backwards for TWO years. A pediatrician posted an interesting comment about backwards car seats: “My own babies screamed so much facing the back seat that even though I would never advise patients to do this, I turned my own children around.” Her rationale: “They were in far more danger with my twisting backwards to check on them than they were from whiplash.” Now, however, there is no choice in the matter. It’s the law. Babies must face backwards. The list goes on: no solid food for six months and then, vegetables instead of rice cereal because rice cereal is no longer considered nutritious, no upright position in the stroller until a baby can sit up without support, no bumper guards in the crib, etc. etc.
Our baby doesn’t sleep well on his back. He doesn’t like lying flat in his stroller nor does he like facing the back seat in a moving car. “Safety is paramount,” my daughter, ever the rule-follower, tells me. "Studies show that SIDS is down as a result of the new rules.” I agree that safety is important and I’m relieved that SIDS is down. Of course, I observe all the “new” safety rules. After all, the baby isn't actually mine and he appears to be surviving his restrictions. He coos and babbles, sucks his fingers, smiles, laughs out loud (when he’s not in his stroller or car seat) and rolls over, front to back, all milestones of a healthy 4 month old infant. My daughter is a good mother, loving and vigilant, patient with her baby and with me. She is also very particular and so meticulously clean that sometimes I wonder if, all those years ago, I brought home the wrong baby. I'm sure she wonders the same thing...only sometimes, I hope.