Natural childbirth, breastfeeding and survivorship bias

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“We’re still here!”

It’s a favorite declaration of those attempting to justify natural parenting practices:

Childbirth without interventions must be optimal because we’re still here.

Homebirth must be safe because we’re still here.

Exclusive breastfeeding must be best because we’re still here.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Looking at those today alive today though their parents never used seatbelts, we might conclude that seatbelts are unnecessary because “we’re still here.”[/pullquote]

But “we’re still here” doesn’t merely fail to justify natural parenting practices, it is actually a form of cognitive bias, a way of thinking that inevitably leads us to erroneous conclusions.

Specifically, “we’re still here” is a form of survivorship bias, a bias so subtle that it is often difficult for its practitioners to recognize.

Rational Wiki defines survivorship bias as:

… a cognitive bias that occurs when someone tries to make a decision based on past successes, while ignoring past failures.

Rational Wiki offers an excellent example of survivorship bias:

Suppose you’re trying to help the military decide how best to armor their planes for future bombing runs. They let you look over the planes that made it back, and you note that some areas get shot heavily, while other areas hardly get shot at all. So, you should increase the armor on the areas that get shot, right?

Wrong! These are the planes that got shot and survived. It stands to reason that on some planes, the areas where you don’t see any damage did get shot, and they didn’t survive. So those are the areas you reinforce…

Dead men (and planes) may tell no tales, but the fact that they are dead provides valuable information for the survivors.

The planes that returned from the bombing runs aren’t the safest planes; they’re the ones that were merely lucky enough to get hit in the places least likely to cause catastrophic damage.

For example, imagine that every plane that returned was shot somewhere in the fuselage, but never in the fuel tank. In contrast, every plane that was shot in the fuel tank failed to survive because a shot to the fuel tank inevitably led to explosion of the entire plane.

If you were to repair the returning planes and send them out on another bombing run a substantial proportion would once again fail to return because this time they might get hit in the fuel tank. Surviving the first bombing run because they were not shot in the fuel tank would not have made them more likely to avoid getting shot in the fuel tank the second time.

In other words, the pilots who survived the first bombing run were simply luckier than the ones who failed to return.

Consider a more common example.

Most of us above a certain age traveled in cars throughout our entire childhoods without ever using a seatbelt and we’re still here. For many years cars didn’t even have seatbelts yet the population of the US continued to increase. Does that mean seatbelts are useless?

Of course not! The many children who died from being ejected in car accidents are testament to the fact that failure to wear a seatbelt is dangerous. The dramatically lower death rates for children in accidents in the 2010’s compared to the 1960’s makes it clear that wearing a seatbelt is much safer than not wearing one. But if we only looked at people alive today even though their parents never used seatbelts, survivorship bias would lead us to conclude that seatbelts are unnecessary.

Dead children leave no descendants; their millions of potential descendants are not here but we don’t notice precisely because they are absent. We are the remainder.

How does this apply to natural parenting?

The claim that childbirth without interventions is safe because “we are still here” makes as much sense as claiming that not wearing seatbelts in the 1960’s was safe because “we are still here.”

The claim that homebirth is safe because for most of human existence women gave birth at home and “we are still here” makes as much sense as claiming that putting babies to sleep on their stomachs instead of their backs is safe because “we are still here.”

The claim that breastmilk must be better than formula because “we are still here” is like claiming riding without a bicycle helmet must be better than using a helmet because “we are still here.”

But billions of potential people are NOT here today precisely because their parents died in childbirth, at homebirth, or from being exclusively breastfed by women who didn’t produce enough milk for them to survive.

We who are “still here” are the remainder, representing nothing more than luck, not inherent safety.

174 Responses to “Natural childbirth, breastfeeding and survivorship bias”

  1. guest
    July 19, 2016 at 11:51 am #

    OT to this post, but I just wanted to vent: Someone recently added me to a Facebook group for academic mothers, and it’s full of breastfeeding zealots who are utterly convinced science is on their side (one put forth the argument that extended breastfeeding through the toddler years provides immune system defenses because the child’s spit enters the mother’s breast and the breast programs the milk to fight whatever germs the kid has). Others are taking the position that since no one has proven extended breastfeeding *doesn’t* have magical benefits that it therefore probably does. I am depressed that supposedly intelligent women, many of them scientists who should know how to understand any research on breastfeeding they read, are so easily led into zealotry. And the public-facing ego of academics is impenetrable: they know they are right, and they have PhDs so their information couldn’t possibly be wrong or outdate. (And I’m including myself in the ego comment. Inside we might all be insecure as hell, but we’ve been awarded these degrees and taught to act like authorities, so we do.)

    • 3boyz
      July 19, 2016 at 11:56 am #

      I’m an academic who breastfeeds my kids till they’re two 🙂 My specialty is in the humanities, so while I’m well versed in science, I don’t really know how to interpret a scientific study. I don’t really think about that stuff, really. I enjoy breastfeeding and doing it till two is still within the realm of normal human behavior, but it’s nothing magical. I wouldn’t go that long if I didn’t want to. Heck, wouldn’t do it at all if I didn’t want to.

      • guest
        July 19, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

        Well let me be clear: I have no problem with people doing what works for them. It’s the misinformation about how it’s “best” and provides all sorts of advantages to the mother and child that bothers me. The nipple that reads the baby’s spit and makes targeted antibodies is utter bullshit for any age child. These women also broke out the “superior bonding” thing – one even went on a wild tangent about how extended breastfed kids don’t ever have loveys, and how we all know the negative effects of loveys, so clearly we should breastfeed until age 5, 6, 7 to avoid doing this damage to our kids. Everything a young child attaches to is just a substitute for the boob.

        I wanted to say, that’s not right. The first thing that happens is the fetus sucks its thumb. That makes the boob a substitute for the thumb!

        • 3boyz
          July 19, 2016 at 12:07 pm #

          Yeah, I know. I also don’t like attributing magical properties to anything you do. I am of the belief that very little of what we do with babies and toddlers really matters in the long run. Short of actual abuse or severe neglect, it really doesn’t matter. Not how you gave birth. Not how the kid was fed (IF they were fed definitely matters). Not whether they cried it out or not. They won’t feel abandoned from sleeping in their own rooms, but they won’t be overly attached and ruin your marriage if they sleep in your bed either. They won’t lose IQ points from watching TV before 2 or even for watching TV for 4 hours on a Sunday. They won’t be obese from eating normal, regular, sugary, food dyed cupcakes at birthday parties. Love them and be normal, take care of both physical and emotional needs, instill some boundaries and good morals, and they’ll be fine.

          • guest
            July 19, 2016 at 12:09 pm #

            That’s why I ranted here. I make one level-headed comment to the OP and I’m otherwise not engaging. But it’s post after post of misinformation in the group. I want to stay for the support on *academic* issues, but their mothering discussions make me want to leave.

          • 3boyz
            July 19, 2016 at 12:13 pm #

            Academic moms can be super annoying. Sadly, motherhood can screw an academic career, and they gotta show their intellectual superiority somehow, especially if they’re not using the degree anymore. I gave up on tenure, I taught high school for a bit, and am now trying to transition into other things. Much happier this way than being a SAHM feeling frustrated about being screwed by academia.

          • guest
            July 19, 2016 at 12:38 pm #

            I am super stressed right now. I have an August 1 deadline to meet or else my tenure bid is basically nil, and all kinds of medical bullshit going on *right now* because obviously now is when I need to deal with even more stuff.

          • 3boyz
            July 19, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

            Good luck with that. It’s so true, that saying that when it rains, it pours. My career in academia was DOA because at the ripe old age of 28, I have 3 kids already. So I got out of there, though I’d consider adjunct work a few nights a week or during the summer. That way I can get my college professor fix without having to go crazy trying to claw my way into tenure, and with the full understanding that it’s a side job, not a career.

          • guest
            July 19, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

            Thanks. For me, there’s no option of doing it as a side-job. I can’t afford to quit and look for a new career, and if I don’t quit I don’t have time to look for a new career.

          • July 19, 2016 at 1:58 pm #

            The only thing I would add is to keep the kid away from lead paint. I’m haunted by the two students I had with known lead poisoning diagnoses. As much brain damage as the kid who was hit by a car as a toddler and got a nasty closed head injury….

          • guest
            July 19, 2016 at 4:49 pm #

            Yeah, don’t fuck around with lead. My ped does lead screenings on the kids starting at 6 months. I guess this isn’t standard across the country, but it provides me some peace of mind.

          • Who?
            July 19, 2016 at 6:52 pm #

            Amen to that. And to avoiding lead paint, below.

        • guest
          July 19, 2016 at 12:07 pm #

          My EBF on demand son started sucking his thumb at age three months, and attached to a stuffed animal shortly after. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.

          • Monkey Professor for a Head
            July 19, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

            Hmmm, so I was just imagining that my son was just cuddling his monkey blankey thing whilst I was breastfeeding him just now?

            I’ve noticed that my son is less inclined to grab my nose and stick his fingers in my eye sockets when he has his monkey to hold whilst feeding. Since we’re just breastfeeding prior to naps and bed now, it also seems to help him get off to sleep.

          • guest
            July 19, 2016 at 1:31 pm #

            I still sleep with a teddy bear, which provides some comfort to me. Does that mean my mother should still be breastfeeding me?

          • Sarah
            July 19, 2016 at 2:14 pm #

            The teddy bear is a red herring. Your mother should still be breastfeeding you, full stop. Weaning is never ok.

          • guest
            July 19, 2016 at 4:48 pm #

            I mean, she just went through treatment for breast cancer. I was going to keep breastfeeding, but I thought she could use a break and focus on her own health for a while.

          • Sarah
            July 20, 2016 at 3:43 pm #

            She should’ve starved you into submission. That’s the way to deal with nursing strikes.

          • BeatriceC
            July 19, 2016 at 4:51 pm #

            I don’t have a teddy bear. It’s a stuffed penguin. MrC rolls his eyes and scoots over to make room for it.

          • Charybdis
            July 19, 2016 at 5:22 pm #

            Is the penguin named Sigmund?

            (Reference to Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, who I want to be when I grow up)

          • Monkey Professor for a Head
            July 19, 2016 at 5:46 pm #

            And here’s my monkey with his monkey 🙂

          • guest
            July 19, 2016 at 6:11 pm #


          • momofone
            July 19, 2016 at 7:07 pm #

            How sweet!

          • CSN0116
            July 19, 2016 at 9:25 pm #

            Precious! My 9-month-old with “Lambiekin,” as her older siblings have named it. He always sleeps with her, but she’s generally spooning him 😛 Kid refuses her thumb and a binky, but Lambiekin settles her in an instant. God bless lovies!

          • Monkey Professor for a Head
            July 20, 2016 at 12:07 am #

            So cute!

          • Megan
            July 20, 2016 at 10:54 am #

            I don’t have a pic but my daughter has so may lovies in her crib sometimes I’m worried I won’t be able to find HER!

          • Azuran
            July 19, 2016 at 2:16 pm #

            You just clearly where not breastfeeding him enough. Any time he sucks his thumb or even looks at a teddy bear it’s clearly a sign of emotional neglect meaning you should breastfeed him.

          • momofone
            July 19, 2016 at 7:14 pm #

            I tried and tried to get my son to use a lovey instead of a pacifier (which he loved). Much later, he found a blanket that he still sleeps with every night.

            And I just realized that I was…forcing attachment! Or trying to, and it didn’t work. What must it mean?!

          • guest
            July 20, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

            With my son, we took the pacifier at 18 months and he transitioned to a blanket, which at 5 is still his favorite thing ever. My nephew who’s the same age just gave up his pacifier recently and has no other lovey. From where I sit, lovey or pacifier, it’s all the same. Except a pacifier seems like it might be easier to take away at some point?? I have no doubt that my son’s blanket is going to make it to adulthood with him. My mother keeps patching it as needed and he’s very careful with it.

          • Tori
            July 19, 2016 at 8:30 pm #

            My 95% formula fed child refuses a pacifier. Tried different brands, offering when settled, unsettled, mimicking sucking action when I put it in his mouth. Not interested, and when I mimick he even laughs at me.
            Of course, when he had a greater percentage of breastmilk to formula he loved the pacifier- because he was hungry all the time! Now he knows what a full belly is he’s happy with any nipple as long as it has food. We’ll see what happens with the loveys.

        • Jules B
          July 19, 2016 at 12:49 pm #

          Wait…there are negative effects of loveys??

          • guest
            July 19, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

            Supposedly we all know what they are, so they weren’t enumerated. I don’t know what they are, though.

          • Jules B
            July 19, 2016 at 2:16 pm #

            That reminds me of the time some women started talking to me about how horrible birthday candles are for kids in a way that implied it was common knowledge and I just sat there thinking “Am I on one of those hidden camera shows? This cannot be real life…?”

          • demodocus
            July 19, 2016 at 3:19 pm #

            That is very weird. Unless she’s -so- “green” that wasting resources even that much is abhorrent, and even then the thought makes me roll my eyes more than your average teen stereotype

          • Jules B
            July 19, 2016 at 4:02 pm #

            No, apparently they are toxic (I looked it up after I talked to her). I mean, the cheap ones are – you can buy beeswax ones that are OK. Sigh.

          • Irène Delse
            July 19, 2016 at 4:07 pm #

            Ah yes, obviously. There must be BPA or some such chemical. (Of course, the beeswax ones do release lots of chemicals when they are alight, but bees are magic, so hydrocarbon compounds from them is A-OK.)

          • guest
            July 19, 2016 at 4:47 pm #

            So, they’re so toxic that they will poison my kids in the three seconds they remain lit? Wow.

          • Jules B
            July 19, 2016 at 6:15 pm #

            I know right?? That was my thought exactly…I guess we are all doomed because we have been breathing in toxic birthday candle fumes once a year for a few seconds each!

          • guest
            July 19, 2016 at 6:25 pm #

            Yes, definitely that is poisoning us, not the decades of second-hand smoke I breathed in before states started cracking down on smoking in public. And definitely birthday candles are terrible, not all the people ignoring the existing smoking laws.

          • Michele
            July 20, 2016 at 10:53 am #

            I’m a lot more concerned about the droplets of child-spit that are probably topping the cake post-candle blowout than toxic birthday candle fumes.

          • Roadstergal
            July 19, 2016 at 5:34 pm #

            OK, so your initial comment made me remember a birthday party I went to as a girl where the birthday girl leaned over to blow out the candles, and her hair caught on fire. If her mom hadn’t reacted very quickly to smother the flames with the tablecloth, it would have been quite bad. Speshul Beeswax Candles wouldn’t have helped…

          • guest
            July 19, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

            Wait, what? I have never heard that. What’s wrong with birthday candles? Were they all related to firefighters or something?

          • Charybdis
            July 19, 2016 at 5:20 pm #

            FFS, what’s wrong with birthday candles now?

          • Azuran
            July 19, 2016 at 5:39 pm #

            They make the kid feels special, when we all know a child birthday is about it’s mother’s journey and courage through the birth.

          • CSN0116
            July 19, 2016 at 12:55 pm #

            Apparently having an object at your disposal — that only requires that you hand it over and walk away — that will, (1) shut your kid up, and (2) make them sleep all night long …is a bad thing?

          • guest
            July 19, 2016 at 1:07 pm #

            I mean, I guess some of them can get lost? But my son’s thumb is unlikely to get lost.

          • Jules B
            July 19, 2016 at 2:13 pm #

            Ah yes, I forgot that anything that makes parenting a bit easier is evil and must be avoided at all costs! /sarcasm obviously

          • Daleth
            July 23, 2016 at 4:38 am #

            I think of pacifiers as snooze buttons. Apply to baby’s mouth and the “alarm” stops going off; repeat as necessary. So basically, one of the greatest inventions of all time.

          • Azuran
            July 19, 2016 at 2:14 pm #

            there is only a set amount of love a baby can have, if it has a lovey, it’s sucking away some of your kids ability to care for other and it will become a psychopath

          • Jules B
            July 19, 2016 at 4:00 pm #

            I Googled and found this screed on loveys: – apparently, according to this “attached parent” site, loveys (lovies?) are OK, as long as they are “not overused” because *obviously* a loving and attentive caregiver is the “best lovey there is.” (That is a direct quote). My eyes may fall out of my head from rolling back so far.

          • guest
            July 19, 2016 at 4:45 pm #

            Jeez. I considered part of the “loving” and “attentive” part of my caregiving to know when to give my kids their loveys! Usually it’s lovey PLUS snuggles from me.

          • Linden
            July 20, 2016 at 11:24 am #

            I’m so attached to my child, dammit! They have to be attached right back! :-p

          • Kelly
            July 20, 2016 at 4:00 pm #

            Well, the baby is so attached to me, I can’t be in the room for her to do her PT. She was still searching for me the entire time. She was also sucking her thumb and trying to use one of the blankets as her lovey. I guess my kid is confused. Is she attached or not?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            July 22, 2016 at 10:59 am #

            By any reasonable account, my younger son’s lovey is most definitely overused. He carries it with him pretty much everywhere. Her name is Tweety, and he considers her his sister. God help you if she is sitting in a chair and you sit on her. It doesn’t go over very well. Imagine Linus from Peanuts.*** We are working on transitioning him to go to Kindergarten, and letting him know that Tweety will stay home.

            So overused, for sure. So that means that he has problems with others, right?

            No, this is a guy who is so “attached” to his mom that he sleeps at night with a big stuffed Yoda that is wearing his mom’s t-shirt, so he can have mom’s smell nearby as he falls asleep when he misses her.

            Yep, lack of attachment to parents, there….

            Best story: we were coming back from Disney on the plane, and the guy in the row ahead started talking to my older guy, asking him about Disney and stuff. And he asks, is that your brother? Yep. Do you have any sisters? No, he says, just one brother. The younger guy pipes up, “I have a sister – but she’s in the suitcase.”

          • Jules B
            July 22, 2016 at 10:38 pm #

            OMG hilarious! Hah.

          • Daleth
            July 23, 2016 at 4:48 am #

            *obviously* a loving and attentive caregiver is the “best lovey there is.”

            I never could figure out how the loving and attentive caregiver was supposed to fit in the baby’s mouth, though. I am petite but even I was way too big.

            Oh wait, was I just supposed to stick my boob in the baby’s mouth? Both my twins? All night long? Hmm. Although my nipples did indeed fit in their mouths, I see other logistical issues with that…

            …but I suppose I could have spent the night on all fours with my boobs dangling into each baby’s mouth. Maybe I could’ve made a macrame harness and screwed it to the ceiling to suspend me in that position, so that I could sleep while they slept, gnawing away at my increasingly and uncomfortably sensitive nipples. And maybe I could wear a catheter in case I needed to pee during the night?

            Call me weird, but I preferred binkies, which they loved and which anyone–not just me, but also my husband and any helper–could pop in their mouths to send them off to blissful sleep. Oh, and which, unlike leaving your boob in your baby’s mouth while you sleep, actually REDUCE the risk of SIDS instead of increasing it!

          • Jules B
            July 23, 2016 at 9:57 am #

            Hah! I remember when I first read the research that showed using a paci reduced the SIDS risk, and I was like “Oh, I bet that is gonna make some holier-than-thou moms really mad.”

        • Kelly
          July 19, 2016 at 1:42 pm #

          I guess my kids are doubly screwed since they all have loveys and suck their thumbs.

        • J.B.
          July 19, 2016 at 2:12 pm #

          I take it they never met my kid, who was breastfed and still sucks her thumb and is wearing holes in her lovey at 7. Her sister who got some formula – gasp – will probably give hers up at some point. Independent little person.

          • July 20, 2016 at 4:04 am #

            And, for some obscure reason, each one of my kids spit out their pacifiers at 6 months of age, never went back to them, didn’t want any security items like teddy bears or blankets. One was completely breast-fed, one completely formula-fed, one combination fed, and all three are now healthy, happy, and successful adults. Go figure.

          • 3boyz
            July 20, 2016 at 10:13 am #

            Mine also don’t go for pacis or security objects. While I sometimes wish they did, my husband reminded me that when kids get attached to something, they want to take it everywhere, which can be a real PITA when you’re in a rush and you have to run around looking for it. Or worse, you lose it somewhere outside the house.

          • demodocus
            July 20, 2016 at 10:44 am #

            Or the psycho grandmother decides its too ratty and throws it out when the kid was visiting.

          • July 21, 2016 at 2:26 am #

            There was a period when I think my daughter was purchasing pacifiers by the gross, so many were being forgotten, mislaid, or otherwise vanished. Or maybe my granddaughter was eating them…

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
            July 22, 2016 at 12:08 pm #

            As soon as my daughter started getting attached to her stuffed bear I had a friend in California go to the store I bought the first one at and buy me 3 more. I had just transferred to Guam and knew if I only had one Mr Bear it was not going to end well…Spawn is 21 and still has a couple of them. one fell overboard on a walk and another got left in a book store while traveling…

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            July 22, 2016 at 12:36 pm #

            My younger guy actually has three versions of his night-night – Tweety, Joan and one other. Doesn’t matter. He likes Tweety the best, even though Tweety and Joan are completely indistinguishable to us (we had to write their names on their labels so we could tell them apart). He knows them by feel/smell; the third one has a bow that won’t stay tied, so we can tell that from the other two.

          • demodocus
            July 22, 2016 at 1:27 pm #

            My mom made my first lovey and made me a second after psycho grandma tossed the first one. I would have nothing to do with it. The hair was a slightly different shade and the embroidered eyes’ stitches weren’t placed just so.

          • BeatriceC
            July 22, 2016 at 1:16 pm #

            My father (accidentally) blew up my teddy when I was about 7. Granted, I bear some culpability. I was an older kid, after all. My father shot professional fireworks displays as a hobby, and back in those days, the insurance company hadn’t banned the under 18 crowd, so we grew up running around the sets and even helping light the shows when we were pre-teens/teens. Anyway, one particular new year’s eve my father was in charge of the show on Biscayne Bay in downtown Miami (his normal NYE show). This set is actually on a barge that’s pulled out into the middle of the bay so people on the shore can watch. I’d been running on and off that barge for two days, and for whatever reason, left my teddy on the barge when we had to move to the tug boat close to show time. Of course there was an accident (large wave hit the barge at almost exactly the same time as a shell “flower-potted”, which is when it explodes right as it’s leaving the gun), and my teddy was blown to bits and “buried at sea” by being scattered into the bay. My parents would have probably done anything for a replacement teddy at that point.

          • Dr Kitty
            July 23, 2016 at 4:36 am #

            My kid has had a stuffed animal which went EVERYWHERE since she was 11months old.
            We thought things were looking up when he started staying home and in the car.
            Then she got two new toys, who apparently are HIS lovies…so now we have 3toys that have to go everywhere.

        • demodocus
          July 19, 2016 at 3:21 pm #

          *snicker* Mom had 3 bf’d kids, we all had loveys and I sucked my thumb until I was in high school.

        • Charybdis
          July 19, 2016 at 5:15 pm #

          No, no, no, that’s not right. OBVIOUSLY the fetus is practicing on a poor substitute, the only one available in utero, so that they can become long-term breastfeeding champs. /sarcasm

        • Roadstergal
          July 19, 2016 at 5:32 pm #

          Um, what’s a lovey?

          • guest
            July 19, 2016 at 5:37 pm #

            A security item like a stuffed animal or blanket.

          • Roadstergal
            July 19, 2016 at 5:40 pm #

            And it’s a _good_ thing not to have one? Bah, my life without the blankie with the dog-firemen on one side and plain blue on the other would have been a life not worth living. :p

            Seriously, though, isn’t it a good thing to be able to develop the concept of a symbol of someone’s love? It’s the concept behind knights carrying tokens into battle, behind wedding rings, etc. Blankie was a symbol of my parents’ love.

          • guest
            July 19, 2016 at 6:10 pm #

            I don’t buy it. Aside from the tragedy of losing your security item, I just don’t see a downside. At some point you do have to stop sucking your thumb for dental health reasons, but why would you ever have to stop sleeping with a penguin, bear, or blankie?

            But then, there are people who think it’s a good thing not to drink coffee. People are full of crazy ideas.

          • Heidi
            July 22, 2016 at 9:51 am #

            Furthermore, there are people who think drinking coffee is bad but it is good to give yourself coffee enemas.

        • RubyRed
          July 22, 2016 at 9:32 am #

          I was exclusively breastfed and I’m 30 and I still have all of my security blankets. I also sucked my thumb until I was embarrassingly old and I DEFINITELY got enough attention from both of my parents! In fact, I often remember wanting to be alone more than I was.

          I was a super colicky baby and I still have issues with IBS and abdominal pain and I’m a fairly anxious person. To this day when I’m not feeling well, I do NOT want to be around other people- it adds to the anxiety of being sick. I like to know that they’re there, but I don’t want to be touched or held in any way (emotional pain is different, then I’m all about the hugs). What I do like is to sit or lie down with my blanket and run the satin through my fingers – it calms me down. I also tend to do this when I’m last minute cramming for exams (I’m a vet student) or when I’m feeling particularly stressed about life.

          My mom, when questioned by a well-meaning friend about when she was going to take away my blankets or make me stop sucking my thumb, said “Never. It’s a better way for her to deal with anxiety than taking street drugs or stuffing fingers or food into her face.” I love her so much for saying that! And she was completely right.

          And my n of 1 for the supposed link between thumb sucking and dental issues; I’ve never needed teeth pulled, braces or any other dental work other than routine cleaning, fluoride, fillings and a crown from a chipped tooth I got when I fell off my bike. Every dentist I’ve ever been to has been very surprised that I never had braces because my teeth are all straight and aligned. Thank goodness for that- I’m a nutcase at the dentist.

          If I ever have children I’ll be making sure that they have access to pacis, blankets or a stuffy- just in case they need it like I did!

          • Charybdis
            July 24, 2016 at 11:12 am #

            I have a rag doll that my grandmother made when my mother was pregnant with my brother. This was before ultrasounds, so they didn’t know the baby was going to be a boy. They saved it and when I came along a year later, I got the doll. Thus began the lifelong love affair with Miss Peacock.

            Yes, Miss Peacock. Mom says I named her after the NBC peacock, as the message “this program is brought to you in living color” along with the colored peacock spreading it’s tail preceded a lot of shows on TV (I’m old :P). She went everywhere with me and there was more than once when we had to go back to Grandma and Grandpa’s because Miss Peacock was left there.

            I am also a “tactile soother” and I would rub Miss Peacock’s feet (her “shoes” were made out of a heavy material that had a texture to it) when I was tired, upset, whatever. I called it “tickling” and it was extraordinarily soothing in it’s repetition and texture.

            She has been cried on, thrown up on, dragged EVERYWHERE, slept with, slept ON, she has heard all my hopes, fears, dreams and heartbreaks. She comforted me when Bad Things Happened, stayed with me when I was sick, and has never offered anything but unconditional acceptance, love, an eternally smiling face and stability. I took her with me to college and I have her still. I don’t sleep with her anymore, but she sits on a corner of my vanity where I can see her.

            I doubt anyone but me could/would love her anymore, because she has had 45+ years of hard love. She, like the Velveteen Rabbit and the Skin Horse has become Real. I’m going to be buried with her; Just Because.

            I can’t fathom why anyone would try to deny their child a Comfort Object of the child’s choice, or try to make themselves the comfort object.

    • demodocus
      July 19, 2016 at 12:12 pm #

      the blind parents’ group is rather like that too, though their educational levels vary more. (There are precious few resources for parents who are blind rather than parents whose children are blind)

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      July 19, 2016 at 12:13 pm #

      Ack! Why don’t they focus on the real problems for academic mothers? For example, the recent discovery that “parental leave” policies work to the benefit of fathers, moreso than mothers?

      Mothers take time for parental leave and it stalls their career as they have to take care of the baby. Fathers take time for parental leave and it benefits their career because they get to work without other responsibilities while the mom takes care of the baby.

      Now THAT’S a problem.

      • guest
        July 19, 2016 at 12:37 pm #

        They also posted that, and then someone posted another article that was all “whoa, whoa, calm down – that first article is overblown.” (I can’t find it now, it had some reasonable qualifications.) That’s why it’s not so easy to walk away from the group – they do provide some unique support along with the bullshit.

    • Madtowngirl
      July 19, 2016 at 12:17 pm #

      I actually find that the more educated one is, the more entrenched in their beliefs they tend to become. Of course, that is a huge generalization, and not true for all highly educated people, but it is a strange phenomenon. My highly intelligent, chemical engineer, sister-in-law is convinced that organic food is better, and that “fake sugar” is just sooooooooo bad. It baffles me.

      • guest
        July 19, 2016 at 12:28 pm #

        Yes, this is exactly what I was trying to describe.

      • Irène Delse
        July 19, 2016 at 4:02 pm #

        Sadly, I’m not surprised. I took chemistry for four years while in college, long enough to get savvy to the internecine divisions within chemistry. The people who are into mineral chemistry (everything without the element carbon) really aren’t doing the same jobs than those who concern themselves with organic chemistry (carbon and the molecules of life). They have a different set of skills and talk a different language. Someone who specialises, say, in the monitoring of water quality may have little inkling on what makes a sugar a sugar.

    • CSN0116
      July 19, 2016 at 12:18 pm #

      Oh God, eeew. They sound horrid. But I spend most of my time downplaying or flat-out denying that I’m an academic and/or mother 😛

      Fuck association.

      • guest
        July 19, 2016 at 12:46 pm #

        I generally don’t mind being an academic, but I have a pretty select group of academics that I associate with socially. And I worry all the time that I’m just like the others, just with a different philosophy.

        • CSN0116
          July 19, 2016 at 12:52 pm #

          Best compliment I can ever get: “OMG you’re a professor?! I would have never guessed!”

          My translation: Most of my kind are elitist and bitchy, but I seem pretty cool.

          Reality: I’m just “too young” for most people to think I do what I do; they’re more surprised that I don’t “look” the part, age-speaking, than they are by my actual demeanor LOL

          • guest
            July 19, 2016 at 1:08 pm #

            Yes, and that can have negative consequences within the college/uni. I haven’t been that young in a long time, though. But I teach in a field that isn’t “serious,” and that seems to relax most people.

    • July 20, 2016 at 3:58 am #

      When I taught a “preparation for childbirth” course I was amazed at how many women with advanced degrees didn’t understand their basic reproductive anatomy and physiology, so I’m not surprised your academic mothers are woo-filled.

      • guest
        July 20, 2016 at 11:05 am #

        Sigh. And I didn’t take a childbirth class – but because I couldn’t afford it in my area.

  2. KeeperOfTheBooks
    July 19, 2016 at 11:03 am #

    Just a quick update for those of you who were so kind to respond to my heartfelt post last week…
    I’m doing better, WAY better. At a guess, the Zoloft must have kicked in a couple of days after that post, because I’ve had only good days since then. Sure, DD’s been difficult sometimes (she’s 2…it’s part of the job description) and yes, I’m a bit sleep-deprived (duh), but that doesn’t send me into despair; I can handle all that and stay calm. I’ve had those intrusive “I’m a failure” type thoughts only once in the last week, and then not as badly as before. When they did show up, rather than bottle them up and feel worse, I immediately told DH and a good friend so that they could tell me what I needed to hear: that’s nonsense, I made the right decisions, etc. (I know those things intellectually, but hearing them makes a huge difference.)
    I got in a long walk yesterday for the first time since DS came, and will do so again today. Exercise, even though I don’t like it much, makes me feel much better. I’m also making a conscious effort both to eat fairly well (no blood sugar spikes/drops) and to do something nice just for me once a day, even if it’s as simple as watching something I enjoy on TV after DD is in bed, or having a glass of wine while rocking DS to sleep. And speaking of DS–guess who, at all of 4 weeks old, slept almost TEN HOURS STRAIGHT last night?!
    Thank you all so much for reading and taking the time to post to me last week! It helped me more than I can possibly say.

    • BeatriceC
      July 19, 2016 at 11:22 am #

      I’m so glad you’re feeling better. It’s amazing how the right meds can really make such a difference.

    • Megan
      July 19, 2016 at 11:23 am #

      So glad things are going better for you! I always find a good cuppa or a glass of wine to be a good thing once kiddos are in bed. That, and some chocolate! Or even sitting on the porch for a few minutes to enjoy the fireflies. So glad your DS is letting you get some sleep! That has been a big part of our problem this week. I find it makes such a huge difference for me, one that medications can’t fix. Plus, both of our girls have been sick/teething so both have been waking at night. Anyway, sorry to mar my reply with my anecdotes, but I just wanted to say I’m so glad you’re doing better.

    • MI Dawn
      July 19, 2016 at 11:25 am #

      Wonderful to read. And yay for medications that work to keep you stable. (Loved mine). Also yay for 10 hours sleeping baby. Go baby! Let mom sleep.

    • demodocus
      July 19, 2016 at 12:02 pm #


    • Madtowngirl
      July 19, 2016 at 12:22 pm #

      I’m so glad you’re feeling better!

    • Jules B
      July 19, 2016 at 12:53 pm #

      Oh so glad to hear you are feeling better!

    • Who?
      July 19, 2016 at 6:54 pm #

      So glad to hear it. So glad you could reach out for help and it was there.

  3. J.B.
    July 19, 2016 at 10:51 am #

    I liked Dr Amy’s piece about childbirth and lack of support after that showed up on the HuffPo facebook feed. Can’t find it again, but obligatory thoughts about this being a women’s health issue…

  4. BeatriceC
    July 18, 2016 at 10:51 pm #

    Scarlett the Macaw update: She’s settling in. I evaluated the diet her old people wrote down for me and it’s not the worst I’ve ever seen, but it’s not great either. Unlike pretty much every other species of bird (except the very large predator birds), macaws need a comparatively high fat diet. What feathers she does have are pretty dull, which indicates nutritional deficiencies, and fat in particular. I tried giving her some of the almonds, walnuts and pecans that we give the other birds and she doesn’t even recognize them as food and won’t crack the shells. She’s eating mostly the pasta out of her “chop”, and barely nibbling on the fresh fruits and veggies. They typical diet for her that they wrote down for me is lacking in a couple different places, but most notably fat. Thinking back, the blue and gold was also pretty dull, so their diets weren’t ideal, at the very least. She appears to be a huge fan of Beethoven, and is pretty fond of Broadway musicals and traditional Indian music, but can do without 80’s pop or jazz, and is ambivalent about 80’s alternative and disco. We have her real cage put together and have her settled in our real quarantine room (with the huge windows and sliding glass door for birdie TV), and she’s mostly calm but still easy to startle (not unexpected at all), and starting to seem a little less stressed. Also, she’s a monkey.

    • demodocus
      July 19, 2016 at 8:09 am #

      A bird after my son’s heart, lol

      • Charybdis
        July 19, 2016 at 9:01 am #

        Same here. DS would hang upside down like this, off the end of the bar, hanging by his fingertips when he was younger and shorter.

      • BeatriceC
        July 19, 2016 at 11:23 am #

        After a couple of my sons as well. The older two had a little monkey in them when the were little. OK still does, but his body stops him far too often.

    • Stephanie Rotherham
      July 19, 2016 at 12:03 pm #

      Pretty bird!

    • July 19, 2016 at 1:53 pm #

      Can you sneak some oils in by coating the pasta in an oil?

      • BeatriceC
        July 19, 2016 at 2:01 pm #

        I’m going to the store today to get a few more things, some of which are ingredients to a high fat (relatively) birdie bread that comes highly recommended. She’s still not recognizing nuts, even out of the shell, as food. We’re going to have to play the yum yum game and teach her that nuts are food before I can teach her to crack nuts.

      • BeatriceC
        July 19, 2016 at 4:49 pm #

        I’m currently on a hunt for a particular oil (red palm oil, to be specific) to make a “birdie bread” recipe I have that sneaks in a whole lot of good stuff in a form most birds won’t turn their beaks up at. Of course, that’s no guarantee she’ll eat it, as we’ve already discovered she doesn’t even recognize nuts as food.

        ETA: My brain is fried. I didn’t recall already responding to you. Oops. Rehabbing a special needs macaw really is as much work as a newborn.

  5. Sue
    July 18, 2016 at 10:02 pm #

    Along with the “we’re still here” cognitive error goes the “nobody I know ever had that” trope.

    Typically, an anti-vaxer – “everyone I know had measles, but nobody I know got any complications or died.” Problem is, the dozens – or even hundreds – of kids that person grew up with is a meaningless sample of the entire population.

    I often goes with that other trope: “If I haven’t seen it / heard of it / understood it, it can’t be true.”

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
      July 19, 2016 at 11:16 am #

      We’re still here, but what about the ones who aren’t. An example is something I found out about my great-grandfathers family. I grew up with my great-grandfather, I was 10 when he died. I never knew he had 6 siblings not 5, the youngest girl died at 16 of what was called puerperal albuminuria with convulsions. I assume this was the early 1900’s name for Pre-E. 16. She had been dead so long no one talked about her anymore.

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
        July 19, 2016 at 11:20 am #

        Thinking about it maybe my great-grandfather didn’t mention his sister as it was too painful, he lost his wife when she was 18 and he was 20 at the birth of their second baby.

  6. Jules B
    July 18, 2016 at 9:48 pm #

    I always think about this bias whenever I think back to my own childhood. I am old enough to remember riding in the back/trunk area of station wagons, riding my bike without a helmet, climbing trees, playing in old abandoned buildings, and playgrounds covered with concrete.

    And I also remember signing a lot of arm and leg casts at school. I remember one kid who fell off the monkey bars and cracked his head open on the concrete below and ended up dying a bit later on. I remember kids having to get their stomaches pumped all the freakin time, because people just left hazardous stuff laying around for kids to get into, apparently. I knew of two kids who died in car accidents (one when I was in 3rd grade, one when I was in 6th). I even knew one girl who was seriously burned one Xmas because the Christmas tree caught fire and in escaping their house, her flammable nightgown caught fire too. Not to mention all the kids I knew who got really really sick from things like chicken pox and the measles.

    So yeah, I am still alive because I survived the bad old 70’s/80’s – but I was only a few degrees separation from lots of kids who did not survive (or were seriously injured). Honestly, this is gonna make me sound like I am an old crank, but I think some of these NCB folks and lactivists just too darn young to remember how dangerous (relatively speaking) things were even 30-40 years ago! (Not saying all or even most young folks have that POV of course, but it makes one wonder if their youth is part of what makes them unaware of these realities).

    • fiftyfifty1
      July 19, 2016 at 8:58 am #

      Yep, I am probably the same age as you. I attended a small church and 2 kids there died, one of chicken pox, one of a car accident (unbelted because nobody wore belts then). A local kid was profoundly brain damaged when he was playing on a huge sand pile and it collapsed on him, he eventually died years later of complications. Our homecoming queen was seriously brain damaged in a skiing accident, because helmets for skiing were unheard of. There were 2 SIDS deaths among my mom’s friends’ babies, because babies all slept prone with fluffy bedding.

      • Jules B
        July 19, 2016 at 10:30 am #

        Oh yeah, I forgot about the neighbour lady whose little baby died suddenly (presumably of SIDS/suffocation because before that, the baby was a picture of health) when I was five years old.

        Obviously these are just my personal experiences, and do not “prove” anything, but I think it does make a difference to one’s overall mindset when you hear about/witness those kinds of things happening when you are young. You are less likely to “trust in X.”

    • Roadstergal
      July 19, 2016 at 10:51 am #

      When I was a little girl, I’d ride my bike without a helmet (I was a latch-key kid, so I’d go play at the park or downtown). And the reason I started to wear one is because this old guy stopped my sister and I and showed us the scars on his head from a bicycle crash, explaining how lucky he was to be alive.

      I was under 10 at the time, but it really stuck with me…

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        July 19, 2016 at 10:53 am #

        My bike accident scars are on my hands, mostly.

        • Roadstergal
          July 19, 2016 at 10:54 am #

          I have scars on my chin from wearing traditional bicycle helmets. That style probably saved my life a time or two, but the lack of fullface coverage is why I wear a downhill MTB helmet now.

      • KeeperOfTheBooks
        July 19, 2016 at 11:08 am #

        Sometimes that’s the best way to learn. I never particularly felt inclined to drive drunk, but I can assure you that after spending a few Friday/Saturday nights volunteering at the local ER trauma center as a teenager, there was no way in HELL I ever would do so, or get in the car of a driver who was at all impaired.
        In particular, I remember when a girl came in who was my age. Her car got hit by a drunk, and everyone knew as soon as she came in that it was hopeless, but when you’re talking a 16-year-old, the ER staff will still do everything. I was working the front desk when her parents came in. Fun times…*grimace*

    • FormerPhysicist
      July 19, 2016 at 12:21 pm #

      I have similar memories, including the neighbor boy who blinded himself in one eye with his BB gun. And at least 5 deaths in my high school in 3 years. I think most people block the memories.

      • Jules B
        July 19, 2016 at 12:47 pm #

        Oh yes, and the friends I lost in highschool too – I wasn’t even thinking about those ones. Mostly in car accidents – four kids in my graduating year (and the year behind) died on the same weekend around graduation time. Just terrible.

  7. Zornorph
    July 18, 2016 at 1:58 pm #

    The Holocaust never happened. There are still Jews here!

    • 3boyz
      July 19, 2016 at 7:56 am #

      Ha, I was just coming here to post this! My husband and I are both grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. We’ve had it drummed into us our entire lives that it’s a miracle we- as in the Jews- are still here. But we also had it drummed into us how many weren’t so lucky. Yup, still here. Doesn’t mean the Holocaust was good for us.

  8. Sarah
    July 18, 2016 at 1:52 pm #

    A lot of it stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of evolution. People don’t understand that evolution doesn’t need all or even most of us to survive. It just needs enough of us to survive long enough to reproduce enough. You can have 11 offspring and lose 8 of them in childhood, but if the other 3 survive and breed you’re doing better than someone who has a higher survival rate but fewer offspring making adulthood.

    • July 18, 2016 at 2:24 pm #

      Evolution is a callous bitch, really.

      People generally remember something about 2 offspring being needed to pass ~100% of the parental DNA on the the next generation.

      They forget that 3 full-blood siblings or 5 first-cousins do the same genetic trick.

      That’s why I’ve always found the teaching trick about “Think about how many of your direct ancestors died in childhood” to be badly misleading. Yes, none of my direct ancestors died of a genetic disorder of childhood – but they may well have had siblings who died because of a homozygous recessive trait that allowed their 4 heterozygous siblings to survive to adulthood.

      • demodocus
        July 18, 2016 at 3:45 pm #

        and then there’s the smarta%% who mentions the 11 year old who died in childbirth.

    • Krista
      July 18, 2016 at 11:43 pm #

      This. I recently found out that my great grandmother died in childbirth, giving birth to her first and only child, my grandfather. He survived though, grew up and had eight children of his own, 6 boys (in a row!), and 2 girls. They all had between 1-3 children of their own. So, from an evolutionary standpoint, she was a good enough success, but you would have to be pretty twisted to consider that perfect or ideal.

  9. CSN0116
    July 18, 2016 at 1:23 pm #

    Playing the tenets of NP against each other and exposing yet another massive inconsistency in argument. Well done, ma’am. Well done.

  10. demodocus
    July 18, 2016 at 1:20 pm #

    This is what annoys me about facebook memes my elders post about all the risky things they did as kids. yes, you rode in the back of a pickup, but you were lucky in the same way that you were lucky to come out of scarlet fever just fine, too.

    • FormerPhysicist
      July 18, 2016 at 3:26 pm #

      Yeah, my father talked about how he rode in the back of his friend’s pickup in 1949. 5 of them in the back of the pickup, he was the only survivor. No survivorship bias there, just survivor’s guilt.
      Too many people just forget the bad things that happened.

      • moto_librarian
        July 18, 2016 at 4:37 pm #

        My Dad used to let us ride on the back of the pickup truck all the time. It wasn’t illegal then. I loved to do it, but I’d never do it again. Nor would I let my kids take that risk.

    • MaineJen
      July 18, 2016 at 10:19 pm #

      My daughter just survived scarlet fever with the help of some seriously powerful antibiotics. *shudder* Modern medicine FTW…

      • 3boyz
        July 19, 2016 at 8:01 am #

        My oldest had scarlet fever about a year and a half ago. When the doctor said it, I damn near fainted on the spot (I’ve read Little Women, you know) and couldn’t believe how calm he was. He told me “it’s really nothing in this day and age, it’s essentially a really bad case of strep, it requires some strong antibiotics, but it’s easy to treat. Helen Keller was a very long time ago”.

        • Amy M
          July 19, 2016 at 11:29 am #

          Yeah, I had that back in the mid/late 80s. Even then, they just gave me some abx, and I was fine.

        • MaineJen
          July 19, 2016 at 4:45 pm #

          Unfortunately she was hospitalized for 3 days 🙁 She got no better on the usual antibiotics and started to slip into toxic shock…they had to pull out the big guns for her, i.e. IV antibiotics, as it appeared she had a staph infection as well.. I started the week thinking it would be no big deal, either…

      • demodocus
        July 19, 2016 at 8:13 am #

        I had it 35 years ago. it’s the reason i’m hearing impaired. (my parents were distracted with Dad’s cancer and I was the kind of kid who hid illnesses)

        • MaineJen
          July 19, 2016 at 10:44 pm #

          I can definitely see how it could be overlooked in the early stages, especially in a kid who gets fevers/minor illnesses frequently. It can present differently in different people…my daughter never had a fever above 99F or a sore throat, but the rash went out of control.

  11. Amy M
    July 18, 2016 at 1:19 pm #

    Only they do a 180 on the formula issue: when people who received formula say “I turned out fine,” the anti-formula brigade does NOT accept that as proof that formula isn’t poison. Granted, if droves of babies were dying from formula, we might not recognize it because they’d be dead—-but we know that did not happen, there are records.

    • Tori
      July 18, 2016 at 9:44 pm #

      Or they say “fine is not thriving”. Well, my baby is thriving on formula when he didn’t on breastmilk. So the ‘poison’ clearly suits him, although it still pains me how distressed I was when we started it.

      • Kelly
        July 18, 2016 at 9:50 pm #

        So what do they think fine is?

        • Tori
          July 18, 2016 at 10:15 pm #

          No idea, ‘alive’ maybe? Because the breastmilk I produced wouldn’t have kept him alive.
          Seriously I wish I knew when he was born what I know now – it would have saved me a whole lot of heartache over not being able to breastfeed. Sometimes now I worry that I’m over feeding him, but then I remember the percentiles my husband tracked along as a baby, and he was exclusively breastfed. And I have a picture of my baby that I look at every time I feel sad about not being able to breastfeed, and I remind myself that I’m doing the right thing. And although it ‘matters to me’ that I can’t breastfeed, in long term outcomes for him it doesn’t make any difference.

          • Azuran
            July 18, 2016 at 10:30 pm #

            Don’t worry about his percentiles, breastmilk/formula is not what makes the difference, as long as baby is fed properly, the difference is mostly genetic. My breastfeed niece has been 99 percentile all her life. She’s not even 5 yet, and she’s as tall as many 6-7 years old.

          • Tori
            July 18, 2016 at 10:41 pm #

            Thanks – he’s so much like my husband as a baby, so that’s where it comes from. The guilt over bottle feeding and concerns about over feeding is strong, he’s much bigger than lots of my friends babies – but I’m comparing a large percentile boy to small percentile girls so have to keep reminding myself of that! The difference in him – growth, sleep, general happiness – has been astounding depending on how much he’s been supplemented. No formula, he was a ‘silent starver’, some formula a bit more energy but never well rested. Now on as much formula as he wants he’s bright, mostly happy with some normal unsettled periods, and has good naps. Hence I keep looking at the photo I have of him smiling when I get sad about not being able to breastfeed – honestly 95% formula with EFF when that happens is the best for him.

          • Amy M
            July 19, 2016 at 11:33 am #

            I don’t know if this at all helpful, but my boys were formula fed, and they are the opposite: maybe 5th percentile, if they are lucky. They have been in the 3rd-5th percentile for everything since birth. They are noticeably smaller than their classmates. But…I’m noticeably smaller than most women too (only 5ft tall, and petite frame) and my husband only got to 5’6. So, if our sons were in the 99th percentile, maybe we’d have something to worry about. Oh, and I was formula fed—never been obese. Granted these are all anecdotal, but also goes to show that anyone who thinks that formula is a one-way ticket to obesity is simply wrong.

          • Tori
            July 19, 2016 at 3:18 pm #

            Thanks yes, very helpful. Stats are great but don’t come to mind during parents groups sometimes with lots of breastfed, smaller babies and occasional judgement about formula feeding – stories are helpful in that respect. Also I’m slight so my baby looks bigger in comparison – people keep telling me how big he is. Baby is proportional, and my husband is tall – and clearly the one with the strong genes. Like father, like son. The only reason he’s shot up growth wise with as much formula as he wants is that he’s finally getting enough to eat – I have to keep reminding myself of that. He’s growing how he’s supposed to, which is a good thing.

          • Glia
            July 19, 2016 at 2:34 pm #

            I was formula fed after about 3 weeks. My son had only breastmilk up to six months and continued nursing past 14 months. My weight/height at his age tracks AMAZINGLY well with his weight/height. Seriously, it is ridiculous. A baby that stays tracking along the same percentile is a baby doing exactly what he should. I’m very glad there is formula for your little guy!

          • Tori
            July 19, 2016 at 3:20 pm #

            That’s fascinating! Thank you for sharing.
            And I’m so glad there is formula for him too – he’s doing so well on it, and so so much happier now. I thought he was a placid baby before, now even more so!

          • Glia
            July 19, 2016 at 5:32 pm #

            🙂 Sure! It is a little funny, actually, my little guy is on the big side, which surprises people because neither my husband nor I is very tall. I tell them about how when I was two, my doctor was predicting I would be six feet (LOL…no), and I was one of the tallest in my class until I hit eleven and suddenly stopped growing, while everyone else caught up and surpassed me! So I will be watching to see if my tall boy becomes average height between middle and high school.

          • demodocus
            July 19, 2016 at 3:23 pm #

            Almost like there’s a genetic component 😉

          • Glia
            July 19, 2016 at 5:34 pm #

            What, just because we have half the same DNA and the same eyes and smile and sleeping patterns, you think the similar growth means something??? 😉

        • Charybdis
          July 18, 2016 at 10:15 pm #

          A monetary penalty for late library books or exceeding the speed limit?

          • Tori
            July 18, 2016 at 10:16 pm #

            You might be onto something – I saw a ‘breastfeeding welcome’ sign at the library yesterday..

  12. moto_librarian
    July 18, 2016 at 1:02 pm #

    Precisely this. I grew up in the 1980s, and I get seriously irritated with people complaining about how kids today are overprotected. I think that we have gone overboard in some areas (like not allowing kids any measure of independence in terms of roaming their neighborhoods, playing outside, etc.), but safety measures like helmets, booster seats, and seat belts are extremely beneficial. When you know better, you do better. The same thing applies to childbirth and infant feeding. We know that many babies and mothers didn’t survive childbirth, and a lot of children died before age 5. I have no desire to go back to those supposed “good old days.”

    • CSN0116
      July 18, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

      Sigh, I’m ambivalent. Being a modern parent sucks. I feel that every new “recommendation” that comes out and negates the one before it (over and over and over) has created a generation of hysterical parents who feel they must constantly “do better because they know better.” But do they? This shit is repealed every 10 years or so and it’s exhausting to keep up with. Aside of the biggies, like child restraints, I fail to identify much else that is so impressive it must be adhered to. The kids seemed healthier, thinner, less emotionally disturbed, less allergic, and overall better adjusted a generation or two ago. JMO.

      • Kelly
        July 18, 2016 at 3:02 pm #

        I stress about the top causes of death in children and try not to worry about the rest. So, I am very careful around water, car seats, and accidents around the house. I try to use common sense and then use what works for my family. I don’t worry about my children being taken by a stranger or how much t.v. my kids watch. These things are either very rare or just does not matter much in the long run. I do believe that every parents has one or two things that they illogically stress them out but that overall, if they are doing the best that they can, then the kids will be alright.

        • Roadstergal
          July 18, 2016 at 3:16 pm #

          I definitely have all of the sads for kids who don’t go to the park or bicycle to school because their parents are worried about them getting abducted by a stranger.

          I have a friend who bicycled with his kids to school along a bike path so that they’d learn the skills to do that on their own as they got older… (helmets all the time, of course)

          • Kelly
            July 18, 2016 at 3:42 pm #

            That is perfect.

      • AnnaPDE
        July 19, 2016 at 12:13 am #

        This. The main causes of death for kids these days include drowning in their own pool and being run over in their own driveway, and even that’s a low number all up. All the freak causes that make for a story on kidspot or so are fascinating, but extremely rare. In contrast, obesity and inactivity related ailments are common. So are car accidents involving young people who never learned how to behave on a road — except now they already drive a tonne of metal that can easily kill others too.
        And while a lot of the stuff like “riding in the back of the pickup” etc aren’t what you’d do these days, the high number of survivors is an indication that such activities, while riskier than necessary, are not instant death in 100% of cases.
        Plus a lot of the safety stuff mentioned here is very US specific — look at bike riding in Europe and somehow they do better with fewer helmets. Same with kids walking to school or running an errand without getting abducted. Cribs with drop sides, and even kinder surprise eggs — they haven’t made much of a difference in child mortality in Australia vs the US.
        Bubble wrap is not the solution.

        • CSN0116
          July 19, 2016 at 8:09 am #

          I buy kinder eggs illegally and have them shipped for my kids for Easter… because they LOVE them! The person who outlawed them can go fuck themselves. I will never comply 😛

          • Amy M
            July 19, 2016 at 11:35 am #

            What’s a kinder egg?

          • CSN0116
            July 19, 2016 at 12:20 pm #

            A chocolate egg with a toy nestled inside of it. MIND YOU the toy is encased in a hard, plastic egg, and further encased in a plastic bag that must be penetrated …but somehow US kids are too speeeeshull to avoid choking to death on them. Therefore, they’re outlawed here.

          • Sarah
            July 19, 2016 at 2:18 pm #

            I wish they’d ban them in the UK actually, my 3 year old is obsessed with the bloody things.

          • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya
            July 19, 2016 at 6:08 pm #

            Haha, we still have these in Canada. Had no idea they were “unsafe” in any way.

        • prudentplanner
          July 19, 2016 at 9:54 am #

          the Car is King in America; and it’s not that way in Europe. I’d bet that’s where your decreased mortality comes from.

          • Roadstergal
            July 19, 2016 at 10:59 am #

            Plus, there’s the issue of inattentional blindness. In Europe, they’re used to seeing bicycles on the road, so cars hit them accidentally (and intentionally) less. That’s also seen with cities that have a relatively higher percentage of bicycle riders in the US…

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            July 19, 2016 at 11:11 am #

            I wonder if in Europe, bicyclists are generally more cautious or better-trained, too? Total guess on my part. I’m all in favor of biking and making cities safer for bicyclists, but the ones in the city closest to me seem determined to kill themselves, the people in cars, or both–lots of really stupid stunts, ignoring basic road rules, safety, etc. Think blowing through red lights in the center of downtown without even stopping, that sort of thing, and then flipping you off when you slam on your brakes to avoid hitting them and sound your horn. I’ve spent a little time in Europe, and never, while there, saw the level of arrogance/bad behavior from the many bicyclists there that I do here. Of course, that could also be specific to my city; I’m not sure.

    • Taysha
      July 18, 2016 at 1:48 pm #

      I’m an 80s kid and didn’t do half of the shit the memes talk about. My mom had this thing about keeping us in one piece through childhood

      And I have the scars to account for the shit I did do. I don’t think my kids will miss on much, tbh. Even in today’s day and age, falling down stairs and running into walls is pretty much what happens.

      • Amy M
        July 18, 2016 at 2:33 pm #

        One of my boys got a (mild) concussion last year when he ran headfirst into another child. I don’t know what happened to the other kid. Short of wrapping my son in bubble wrap and not letting him run around, I don’t see how that sort of thing can be prevented. Like you say, stuff happens, and there’s only so much we can prevent. Still, using car seats and seat belts and things like that is a no brainer.

      • SporkParade
        July 19, 2016 at 1:48 am #

        Same here, but I’m definitely not better off for how protective my parents were. For one thing, it’s not healthy growing up with the distinct feeling that your parents don’t trust you to act responsibly. It also put a huge damper on my already limited ability to make friends.

    • AA
      July 18, 2016 at 1:51 pm #

      A lot of the concept of “helicopter parenting” is for a specific subset of society that is well-off anyways…there are thousands of kids in homeless shelters. Helicopter parenting is primarily a phenomenon of the upper middle class.

    • Zornorph
      July 18, 2016 at 2:00 pm #

      My dad used to let me and my brother play with gunpowder. WTF was he thinking? I am far from a helicopter parent but I do believe in taking sensible precautions.

      • July 18, 2016 at 2:16 pm #

        My father-in-law built a duck pond…using ANFO….unsupervised in high school for an FFA project.

        I’m really OK with the fact I never did anything nearly that cool.

      • LeighW
        July 18, 2016 at 5:20 pm #

        There’s a huge different between hovering and supervision.

        I have a terrible memory (“seniors moments” my Opa calls them). My fiance teases me about it all the time. After years of thinking Wtf is wrong with me, I found out that as a toddler I took a tumble down the stairs in one of those baby walkers. Thanks mom.

        I can’t say for sure one thing has anything to do with the other, but it would explain an awful lot, lol

    • July 18, 2016 at 2:14 pm #

      In 1988, I was riding my bike with my parents at a local park when I hit a bump in the pavement and was thrown over my handlebars. By some sheer fluke, I hit the pavement with my hands, knees, shoulder, and hips before my head hit an amazingly spongy grass section.

      I was seven years old – and I’ve never forgotten how scared I was as my head went whipping towards the ground.

      My kids will always wear helmets – or enjoy getting around on their wheel-less feet.

      • BeatriceC
        July 18, 2016 at 5:24 pm #

        MK had a similar “holy shit” moment last summer, though he was wearing a helmet, even though he didn’t want to. He went flying off a skateboard and hit the pavement with his head and left side. He had a fractured wrist, bruised kidney, an amazing amount of road rash on his arms and hands (but not his legs because he was wearing jeans), the jeans were shredded and the helmet was in a few pieces, but he was otherwise fine. He realized that the difference between a cast and reduced activity for a few weeks, and death was that helmet and became a overbearing maniac about making all his friends wear them.

    • MaineJen
      July 18, 2016 at 10:17 pm #

      Seriously. Yeah, us 80s kids did some seriously risky stuff. I remember riding my bike all over town with no helmet. Riding in the way-back of the station wagon. Wandering back and forth between my house and various neighbors’ houses completely unsupervised. That doesn’t mean any of it was right or safe.

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