Shaken by Shaken Baby Convictions that Could Be All Wrong

Hi Readers! I just wanted to call your attention to this amazing piece in Slate by Emily Bazelon. It’s titled, “Are Innocent Parents Being Prosecuted for Killing Their Babies?” And the subtitle is: “The Doctor Who Came Up With ‘Shaken Baby Syndrome’ Thinks So.”

The gist of the piece is that the symptoms doctors automatically used to assume indicated abuse may sometimes be the result of natural causes. The Free-Range angle for me is that while we have become sensitive to child abuse — which is good —  sometimes we now go overboard and see it when it’s not there. That’s why  CPS will get called in to “protect” children whose parents are simply letting them exercise some independence, for instance. And why, on that same continuum, sometimes prosecutors will charge caregivers for murder when they were just wretchedly unlucky enough to have babies who died.

These days it is hard for us to remember that we can’t protect everyone from everything because Fate intervenes. And we can’t blame parents for every ill that befalls a child for the same reason. The sad, stark fact — that terrible things happen, even to innocent little kids — is a truth we have a hard time understanding in our “Fix it, outlaw it or blame someone!” culture.

Bazelon’s earlier work on the shaken baby topic in The New York Times Magazine was equally excellent (but a lot longer). Here it is. Read it and work to keep our concern for our children from curdling into injustice. — L.

Daycare Workers Must Check Baby’s Sleep Position EVERY 15 MINUTES!

Hi Readers: In our quest to make childrearing ever more worry-and-labor intensive, I submit the newest wrinkle. – L.
Dear Free-Range Kids: My children go to a wonderful daycare center that is part of a franchise.  While the center is owned by a local couple, they are part of a greater organization and subject to their rules.
Earlier this week, we received a notice that the infants would no longer be allowed any type of blanket (previously, lightweight receiving blankets were allowed), and they would not at all be allowed to sleep in any kind of bouncy seat or swing.  These changes were to better meet the AAP’s guidelines for safe sleep and prevention of SIDS.  They seemed reasonable to me.
Today, when I dropped off my daughter, I noticed several clipboards with charts on them.  I looked a little more closely, and saw 15-minute time increments down the side, and columns listing “back,” “side” and “tummy.”  I asked the teachers about the form, and it’s just what you think it is.  Every fifteen minutes while the babies are asleep, the teachers are mandated to put a check mark next to the baby’s sleep position.  EVERY FIFTEEN MINUTES.
There are so many things about this that are absurd to me.  Primarily, what are the chances my child will die of SIDS while napping at daycare in a crib with no bumper and no blanket?  I’d venture a guess that they are certainly smaller than the chance that I could go buy a winning lottery ticket.  What are the chances that my child will benefit developmentally and physically from more attention from her teacher while a few of her classmates nap?  Certainly way higher than the risk of SIDS.
I can’t imagine the pain in the butt this is going to be for the teachers, given the sleep schedules of children under age 1 (after that, they age out of the charts).  I almost think the center is going to have to hire someone to walk around the room and be the sleep monitor. To me, this certainly falls into the range of being ridiculously overcautious about sleeping babies. — Caring-but-Not-Crazy Mom
Lenore here: This kind of obsessiveness serves one purpose only — “proving” to someone (a worried parent, lurking lawyer, out-for-blood inspector) that the center is doing “all that it can” — as opposed to the sensible “all that is necessary.” More is always better when it comes to overprotection! 

Let's hope one of them is filling out a chart!

Don’t Know How Many Heartbeats Per Minute Your Baby Is Beating? Shame on You!

Hi Folks! Coming soon: the latest gadget EVERY parent (who is suffering from crippling anxiety that will only get worse if they buy things like this) will need! The “Exmobaby” is a onesie that monitors your baby’s vital signs. As its website says:

Each and every garment in the Exmobaby line includes sensor technology that monitors baby’s vital signs and movement. The fully integrated capabilities built in to the clothing and apparel deliver wireless communication and evaluation of baby’s condition throughout the day as well as during critical night time sleep.

Parents of newborns receive text messages (SMS) and email alerts on their mobile phones, personal computers and other devices. These show up automatically in real time as baby’s movement and vital signs change. No extra or constant monitoring by parents, caregivers or relatives is needed. The Exmobaby product line does all the work.

Because how DARE you sleep through that “critical night time” without monitoring your baby as if he were in the ICU? What are you, some kind of “I Need My Sleep, Too” freak? How incredibly selfish –and, of course, DANGEROUS!!! — L

How did parents relax without 24/7 texts from their sleeping babies?