We hear it all the time as an argument. I didn’t do this and I was just fine. There’s no need for this now. I’ll admit to an extent I have likely said that about things in my life. One of the reasons I formula fed my oldest was because my mom did it with me and I turned out fine. It really is a terrible argument. Just because you were lucky enough to survive, doesn’t mean someone else was so lucky.
I have been giving some thought to some instances in my own life where things have changed. There’s a twelve year age difference between my oldest daughter and my youngest. Even in that time things have changed drastically from when she was a baby. Things have changed in 3 years from when I had my son to when I had my youngest daughter. Things are forever changing. And we need to make ourselves aware of why things have changed.
Car Seat Safety
I was born in 1978. I am sure I had an infant car seat of some sort, but I don’t think it was rear facing and I’m sure it wasn’t anything like car seats are today. I do remember riding in a car seat as a child vaguely. I remember my older brother buckling me in and unbuckling me. I was likely around three. There was no high back booster seats when I was a baby though.
Thirteen years ago I had my oldest daughter. We had these beautifully crafted infant carseat carriers. Rear facing until 1 year and 20 pounds was the rule then. And then when my oldest was around 6 years old state law changed to have children in booster seats until age 7 and 70 pounds. I still had my daughter in a booster seat because of how the seat belt sat on her. However, many of my daughter’s classmates were not still in car seats and parents were not pleased with having to put their child back in a car seat. The weight limit was too high they argued. My child will be in a car seat until she’s 16 at this rate. That didn’t change the law any.
And that was when the argument would come out of I did just fine without a car seat until I was seven. Or my older child survived. A whole bunch of anecdotes. It happens all the time when states change the laws and parents feel it’s unfair and don’t want to comply. They cry that federal government is too involved and we should be allowed to make these choices for our own children on our own.
The fact remains that there have been several serious injuries and death of children because they weren’t properly restrained. Testing was done to determine what the safest way for our children is to ride in the car. Since seat belts in cars are rated for adults there has to be adjustments made to protect our children. Things are always improving. You go back to the 50′s when my parents were born and there weren’t even seat belts in cars. Would my parents drive around now without wearing their seat belt because they survived their childhood without wearing one? No, they get in the car, their seat belt goes on. It’s what’s safest.
Now We Rear Face Until 2
The year 2011 brought new recommendations from the AAP. Babies should remain rear facing until they are 2. My son (who is 4) was turned around shortly after he turned one and finally hit twenty pounds, but my youngest is 15 months old and still rear facing. It’s not the law, but it is what her doctor recommends. And I am sure these recommendations will become more specific over time too to include a weight. My 3 older children were all turned around by this point in time. I could easily say they all survived, my youngest will be fine too. I won’t though because what if she’s not? I’m just not willing to take that risk.
My son was breech and I had a c-section with him. It wasn’t entirely what I wanted. I don’t know too many people who want surgery, but it was what was safest. In spite of what nay sayers have had to say about my medical decisions. I did do my research. I asked my doctor about delivering my son vaginally. I figured I had delivered two relatively good size babies naturally previously, I could handle breech.
The problem was doctors are not trained in breech anymore. It doesn’t happen all that often (I believe the statistic is 3% of all births are breech). There is a lot that can go wrong with a breech birth and there is a reason that doctors only offer two options now. Either turning externally, or c-section. I opted for the c-section after my own measures to get my son to turn did not work. And I have no regrets.
Now lets go back to 1978. Can you believe when my mom went into labor with me I was breech? The doctor wanted to take evasive action. I don’t believe he wanted to do a c-section, I think he just wanted to manually turn me and my mother refused. She knew I would turn on my own, and I did. I have no idea how far my mom would have let things go before she allowed them to do something, but sometimes a mother’s instinct is just best. And in my case my son had his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck twice. If I had even tried we probably would have been in an extreme emergent situation.
So sure, breech used to always be delivered vaginally, but I guess there were enough times statistically speaking that it did not go well that they decided the best course of action was turning or c-section. While I had no problems pushing 2 nearly 9 pound babies out vaginally there are so many unknowns and if I had done it with my son it could have ended in tragedy. I don’t care how many of our ancestors did it, I care about how many ended badly.
Yet another thing that has drastically changed over time is the construction of cribs. Now there are no more drop down side bars. There was for all three of my older children, but my youngest daughter’s crib does not drop down.
The slats on cribs when I was a baby were further apart than they are now. But kids heads got stuck. So accommodations had to be made. Children were getting hurt on cribs with drop down side bars. This was the way cribs had been designed for years, but now it’s deemed unsafe. So we use a crib where the side bar stays in place. My older children got by with the drop down side bar and conceivably my youngest could too, but why take the chance?
What If I Did Things The Way My Grandma Did?
My grandmother started smoking cigarettes as a child. She would pick up the filter of a mostly smoked cigarette tossed to the ground and smoke it. This started a terrible habit in her life which she could not break. She told me this story because she didn’t want me to end up like her. Her life was cut shorter than it had to be due in large part to a lifetime of smoking cigarettes. She left behind 5 children, 13 grandchildren, and has now missed out on 16 great grandchildren.
When she started smoking she didn’t know it was bad for her. That it would shorten her lifespan. That she wouldn’t be there for those who needed her. If she knew then what she knew before she died she would have changed it. She did everything she could to make sure that those she loved did not fall victim to cigarettes. Back in the 30′s and 40′s it was just something that looked cool though. No one thought it was deadly. Now we know better.
Weighing The Pros And Cons
Such is life, we have to weigh the pros and cons of things. We have to do it with factual information in our arsenal though and not with anecdotes. We also need to take into consideration who else our decisions are going to affect. When we’re talking about the safety and well being of our children I would hope that we would all listen to the true professionals. Not comparing situations to how they were done fifty or one hundred years ago. Even comparing statistics to those in other countries can get hairy because there are different rules and regulations in other countries. And you can’t know how accurate of a report you are getting from other countries.
I always find it amusing how people want to do things like our ancestors did, except for modern technology like electricity and the internet. These people are Google searching information and spreading it around the internet like a virus and then saying our ancestors didn’t use car seats, birth breech babies via c-section, and put their baby in a crib and they were just fine.
Do you think that if given the choice our ancestors would have said home birth no matter what? If a hospital meant the odds of her breech baby surviving significantly increased she would choose the hospital. If women in 3rd world countries had that option to get the top of the line medical care she would take it in a heartbeat.
A few weeks ago I spent 5 days not eating more than $1.50 worth of food a day because 1.4 billion people live like that every single day. They have no choice. They couldn’t even dream about the food they would get to eat soon like I could because that is a way of life for them. One which I’m pretty sure they would trade with us in a heartbeat just to not send their children to bed hungry every night.
That’s the thing about choices. We are supposed to make the choices that are better for ourselves AND our children. We are supposed to do better than our ancestors did or those living in 3rd world countries. If we have access to the best, then why not use it? Why would we want to go back in time to risk the health and safety of ourselves and our children? Why would we go back in time on those things, but remain firmly planted in the technology age with the best cars and electronics money can buy? It just doesn’t make sense to me. If you want to live life like they did in the 1800′s then live all of your life that way not just certain aspects of it.
We don’t live in a 3rd world country. We are an industrialized nation which has access to sanitary food and water. We can get medical care. We have access to hospitals. We have homes with indoor plumbing and running water. I would never choose to live in a 3rd world country and I won’t raise my children as if we do. I will immunize them, I will deliver them in hospitals, I will place them properly in car seats, and I will purchase the safest bedding for them. I will even require them to wear helmets when they ride their bikes even though I never did and I was just fine for it.
I have grown as a parent over the past 13 years. It’s no secret that I did things very different with my oldest than I have with my youngest. It’s not because I was irresponsible or wrong with my oldest. It’s because I have learned from my experiences, but also because regulations are ever changing. And I know that in order to keep my children safe I have to follow these guidelines. At least when it comes to life and death situations.
How do you feel about the argument well it worked for me and I’m fine so it’s fine for my child too?