Claiming breastfeeding is optimal for babies is like claiming Volvos are optimal for babies

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Volvos are widely recognized as the safest cars on the road.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced today [June 7. 2017] that Volvo Cars will receive an award for its continued focus on safety. Of course, Volvo changed the car industry—and essentially invented the concept of highway safety—in 1959 when it released a patent for the three-point seatbelt to other automotive companies…

The NHTSA agrees that Volvo is the leading company in automotive safety technologies, as it looks for the most cutting-edge safety systems and holds its cars to the highest standard of protection. To do this, Volvo needs the most adept safety consultants to help build cars that will keep its drivers in one piece and significantly decrease fatalities on the road. The NHTSA has found these qualities in Magdalena Lindman and Per Lenhoff, both high-ranking members of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre. They developed many of the challenges in Volvo’s rigorous safety testing program, analyzing countless real-life accidents and simulating them to prepare each new Volvo for any dangerous situation.

For most parents, the welfare of their babies is paramount; therefore Volvos, as the safest cars, are optimal for babies. Any mother who doesn’t drive a Volvo is a sub-optimal parent, right? She is obviously too lazy and self-absorbed to put her child’s wellbeing first.

A good mother drives a Volvo; breastfeeding is not enough.

Wait, what? You disagree? But it’s not a matter of opinion; it’s SCIENCE. Science shows — both in the lab and on the road — that Volvos have the most advanced safety features and the best safety records. Disagreeing that Volvos are optimal is an effort to compensate for your sense of inferiority from your failure to provide your child with the very best.

You use the safest possible car seat? Are we supposed to be impressed by that? Let’s face it, safe car seats are the bare minimum; “Volvos are Best.”

You worry that if you bought a Volvo, you couldn’t afford your mortgage or food for your older children? Get your priorities in order. There is NOTHING more important than providing your baby with optimal transportation.

You feel guilty that you didn’t buy a Volvo? Sorry, but your guilt is not a reason to deny the truth. It is more important to protect babies lives than to protect your feelings.

You feel bad that you can’t afford a Volvo? Good! You should feel bad. How dare you have children if you don’t intend to buy the optimal car?

Wait, what? You think there is more to raising children than the car your drive? What’s more important than whether your infant lives or dies?

You think your own needs and priorities matter? Get a grip. Only selfish mothers consider their own needs.

How do Volvos compare with breastfeeding? Car accidents are a major cause of infant mortality. Safer cars save lives. Breastfeeding is not nearly so important. The benefits of breastfeeding in industrialized countries are trivial, limited to 8% fewer colds and episodes of diarrheal illness across the entire population of infants in the first year. In other words, the majority of infants will experience NO benefit from breastfeeding.

How dare a women gloat that she is breastfeeding and therefore providing her infants with optimal nutrition if she doesn’t drive a Volvo to provide her infant with optimal transportation?

A good mother drives a Volvo; breastfeeding is not enough.

  • seenthelight

    You should totally take her up the the free book, print it out, mark up every non-truth, make copies, scan it in, whatever, and then send it back to her with a “fixed this for you ❤️❤️❤️ please send my $10 here” I think the commenters here would help with data and arguments too.

  • The Vitaphone Queen

    Off topic! VERY off topic!

    I play The Sims 2 a lot, and in the town I’m playing, one of my dogs had a litter of three puppies, out in the road. So they all got car names. Mercedes, Ford, and yes, Volvo. (Mercedes is a girl; Ford and Volvo are boys.)

    Before you ask, yes, I play The Sims 3 and 4 too.

    Also, I was reading the article “10 Things Not to Say to a Formula Feeding Mom” on Mommyish: http://www.mommyish.com/10-things-not-to-say-to-a-formula-feeding-mom/

    (I don’t have any little Vitaphone Princes or Princesses, if you must know. I just like reading lists of things not to say, because boredom.)

    The end of the answer to #3 made me snicker and blush.

  • Empress of the Iguana People

    My head feels squishy, and not just from my cold. 🙁

  • Gæst

    Ah, but I win because I don’t have any car at all, and we ride in one only very rarely. Safer than any car, as far as car accidents go.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      We did that too, until someone gave us a car last not long after kid2 was born

      • Gæst

        It’s been nine years, five with kids, without a car, and I still wish I had one.

  • Mishimoo

    Wow!! (Just about sums it up)

  • Susan

    it’s not that there are advantages to driving a Volvo; driving anything else should be framed as what it is, an unneccessary risk.

  • Casual Verbosity

    This argument is similar to a thought experiment that I came up with to highlight how ridiculous it is that some people believe that parents who give anything less than “best” are wronging their children. (Although I must say, the Volvo example is more concise and more directly related to breastfeeding.)

    Are parents obligated to give their children the very best if they technically can give it? Imagine you live an equal distance from two schools. One is public, one is private. The public school is decent with good academic outcomes and a fair range of extra-curricular activities, and of course has the added bonus of being free for in-zone children to attend. By contrast, the private school has the very best of everything, but charges tens of thousands of dollars a year. You do the figures and conclude that it would be technically possible for you to afford to send your children to the private school. However it would mean a considerable sacrifice in quality of life – fewer and shorter family holidays, longer hours at work, fewer after-school activities for the kids, no new car for the foreseeable future. Are you obligated to send your child to the private school? The private school is technically the best option available to you, and you can technically afford to send your children there without enduring extreme financial hardship. Are you obligated to make those sacrifices to give your children the very best? Or is it okay for you to send your children to the perfectly good public school? And what about your neighbours? They are much better off than you are. They could easily afford to send their children to the private school without sacrificing their quality of life. Are they obligated to give their children the very best? Or is it okay for them to send their children to the perfectly good public school?

    In my experience, most people respond reasonably to this scenario and say that neither family is obligated to give their children the very best when the other option is perfectly good and not causing harm. Yet some people can’t quite extend this logic to the decision to breastfeed. It’s not exactly a mind-changing scenario, but it’s important to help people to see their logical inconsistencies as it’s often hard to identify them in our own thinking.

    • mostlyclueless

      I have seen people make that exact argument, usually in the vein of: “Well, personally we decided that education was far more important than silly luxuries like fancy cars. Certainly you’re not obligated to make the same choice I did, but I would feel like a terrible parent choosing niceties for myself over something as essential as EDUCATION for my CHILDREN.”

      • Steph858

        To which I would respond with a leftist tirade about how a major reason private schools are perceived as better is because they skim off the children of well-off parents, leaving public schools with a disproportionate number of disadvantaged pupils along with all their associated difficulties, particularly in attaining academic achievements. How much of the ‘gap’ between public and private education is due to better facilities, teachers etc vs how much is due to the inherent differences in the socioeconomic status of the pupils?

        • kilda

          not only that, but so called “good public schools” are mostly just public schools which draw from an affluent neighborhood. The gap between good schools and bad schools, period, is mostly about class and race.

        • Who?

          Best response to this and all simlar nonsense is to smile sweetly and move on. Which is best for your mental health, as you’re not having a values argument on shifting sand, and leaves them wondering what it is you know that they don’t.

    • seenthelight

      My only problem with the education analogy is that I am part of a significant chunk of people who feel a moral imperative to choose public school, though lactivists feel a similar moral imperative to breastfeed, so who knows. Granted, the major difference in application is that I don’t try to shame private school parents into public schools, as lactivists would try to shame bottle feeders.

  • Russell Jones

    “You use the safest possible car seat? Are we supposed to be impressed by
    that? Let’s face it, safe car seats are the bare minimum; ‘Volvos are
    Best.'”

    And while we’re at it, let’s talk about this car seat nonsense as well. Multiple world-renowned experts, including Joe Mercola himself, tell us that many of the most popular car seats are laden with TOXINS. Despite that fact, the jackbooted authoritarian thuggies have enacted legislation in every state mandating that small children be strapped into these ghastly devices on even the shortest trips!

    Well, this is still America, dammit, and parents are still the experts on their own children’s safety. In a truly free country, parents who do the research and practice due diligence would be allowed to decide for themselves whether the dangers of strapping their precious child into a death seat, thereby causing DIRECT PHYSICAL CONTACT with TOXINS, outweighs the dangers of having the young ‘un sit on mom’s lap during that quick trip to the grocery store.

    But “No,” say the fat cats of Big Seat and their bought-and-paid-for lackeys in government. “WE will decide what’s best for your child, and you will comply!”

    Eviscerating parental rights is not the path to child safety. This is not freedom. This is nanny-statist storm troopers bringing down the filthy jackboot of big government onto the throats of loving parents. That rumbling you feel is the Founding Fathers rolling over in their graves.

    Repeal mandatory death seat legislation today!

    • attitude devant

      After all, if we have a wreck, we’re just a short ambulance ride away from the hospital.

      • Russell Jones

        Or a Holistic Traumatic Injury Treatment Facility.

      • Jack Sprat

        ONLY if it is a zero emissions ambulance, stocked with transpersonal chakras.

    • kilda

      besides, if they have to be strapped into a seat, how can you breastfeed them while you drive?

  • Who?

    The most dangerous part of a car is the nut behind the wheel.

    For your family’s safety, the best transport is surely a well maintained car driven exclusively by a non-distracted professional driver. Dr T, I think we all know that truly optimal parenting requires the employment of a chauffeur.

    I’m actually a bit serious about this, as mulit-tasking while driving (for instance, turning around to talk to your offspring) is insanely dangerous.

    You know it makes sense.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      My kids have learned to not chatter to me while I’m driving. Mostly because I a) am focused on my driving because I know I still need lots more practice and b) only hear one word in 3 even when in park over the engine.

    • Kelly

      Science actually backs this up since they say that the distractions that parents face when their children are in the car increase the risk of a car accident.

    • Gæst

      Driverless vehicles – chauffeurs can be bad drivers, too.

      • Who?

        They can-and yes, driverless vehicles are the way of the future.

        Driverless pool vehicles are my dream-in return for a monthly fee, buzz one up on the phone app when you want it, go where you need to go, and buzz again when you want to go somewhere else. Can’t wait, am hoping they will become available before my 10 year old subaru turns up its toes.

        • seenthelight

          Amen, be there with you! Never having to drive the car to the garage for maintenance again, or worrying over car insurance? Bring it on!

  • The Vitaphone Queen

    So you have to call a taxi everywhere. Big deal. A Volvo might come out through your armpits!

  • fiftyfifty1

    Watch your language Dr. Tuteur. Volvos aren’t “optimal”, they are normal.

    • Roadstergal

      Normalize Volvos!

    • Charybdis

      Shouldn’t that be “the biological norm”?

  • Roadstergal

    Hmm, I wonder if owning a more expensive car than a Volvo is associated with better health outcomes for your baby. If your parents have the disposable income to have a Bentley or Mercedes S class next to the Tesla Model S in the garage (I bicycle around Woodside, that’s common there), do your kids have better health outcomes than someone who just owns a cheap Volvo?

    I’m thinking about EBF for 6+ months vs any breastmilk at all as a marker of affluence rather than any direct relationship to health…

    • mostlyclueless

      Well, you raise an interesting point — I’ve noted in the past that no one bats an eye at “breast is best,” but imagine if pediatricians’ offices around the world had signs that said, “high SES is best.” You know, with ten evidence-based suggestions to help earn more money. After all, the benefits of breastfeeding are almost entirely explained by SES, so why not go straight to the source? Have a high SES to be an optimal parent. Anything else is not providing the best for your baby.

      • Jessica

        Yeah, it’s almost like having married (or partnered) parents with dual incomes (or the luxury of one parent staying home), stable careers, and high education makes it easier to provide basic care AND other benefits for your child. Everything from better prenatal care, good parental leave, good prenatal education, high-quality daycares and preschools, high quality schools, high-quality babysitters (heck, any babysitters), better nutrition (prenatal and childhood), better health care, including mental health care (parental and child), better housing (safe neighborhood, no threats of eviction, no built-in hazards like lead paint, lead water, etc.), better role models, etc. How could that possibly have any effect on the child’s ultimate well-being when compared to the magical effects of breastmilk?

        • Casual Verbosity

          Not to mention that high SES is associated with high intelligence. Highly intelligent people tend to be in higher paid jobs where they meet and marry other highly intelligent people in their highly paying jobs. They then have highly intelligent babies by virtue of the heritable nature of intelligence, who grow up in their high SES environment reaping the benefits that it provides.

          • Who?

            Anecdata alert.

            For a brief period in the 70s and 80s, university was free in Australia. Many, many people-my husband and myself included-were the first people in their families to go to university. Many of us had siblings who also went to university at that time.

            We have joined the professions, government, the military, government etc, and some have done very well indeed, both financially and in terms of the authority and even power they hold.

            The kids are a mix-up though. Some of the kids are very intelligent and have worked hard, gone to university, and have gone on to join the professions, etc. Some are bright kids who have lost their way, and some are of average intelligence, all the way through to just a bit thick. The kids have had the higher SES advantages, and those who lost their way tend to pull up okay at some point, due to family support, but they are not all, by any means, intelligent people.

          • Casual Verbosity

            Absolutely. It’s not a perfect relationship by any means, but SES is a solid predictor of intelligence. It makes more sense that this relationship would come from the effects of intelligence on SES rather than the effects of SES on intelligence since the main determinant of intelligence is parental IQ. Of course such statistical relationships are explanations of general trends and don’t take into account how individual circumstances interact with these factors.

          • Not really. High SES is associated with your parents’ SES. Intelligence can help, but it’s by no means required to be high SES.

          • Gæst

            A certain president is a great example.

          • Casual Verbosity

            You’re right; you don’t have to be intelligent to be high SES. I know my fair share of very well off people who aren’t that bright and people from less well off backgrounds with truly brilliant minds, but the relationship stands statistically. SES is a very strong predictor of intelligence, second only to parental IQ if I recall correctly.

          • SES is a very strong predictor of IQ, which is not actually a good measure of intelligence at all.

      • Casual Verbosity

        After all, if you can’t give your child the very best of absolutely everything then you have no business being a parent.

        • Gæst

          Likewise, if you can’t afford the very best for your pets, you don’t deserve to have them, either. I have seen that argument repeatedly, and it enrages me.

    • Casual Verbosity

      I would be willing to bet my lifesavings (albeit not that much) that if you ran a basic correlational study without controlling for any confounding variables (the bread and butter of breastfeeding studies), you would find a positive relationship between the cost of your car and the health and academic outcomes of your child.

  • Russell Jones

    The pernicious influence of Big Vol and its lickspittle toadies at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is everywhere. Fortunately, the sheeple are beginning to wake up, practice due diligence and do their own research.

  • FormerPhysicist

    I actually know a couple of moms who think this for real and only drive Volvos. I wish I was joking.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      They are in the dictionary under the heading of “privilege”

  • mostlyclueless

    Guys I drive a Volvo and I breastfed each kid for over a year. What do I get? A lifetime supply of essential oils? Or just the smug satisfaction of knowing I’m actually better than the parents who show up to preschool drop-off in a Prius?

    • mostlyclueless

      Followup question: How do I ensure all the other parents KNOW I’m better? Is there a “Volvo moms are valorous” meme I could show them all?

    • guest

      Hey, a lifetime supply of essential oils is no small prize. I am a perfumer and my business expenses are through the roof. Where do I sign up for this crunchy granola competition?

    • Charybdis

      You get to condescend to those of us who didn’t breastfeed, used formula liberally/exclusively and drove Jettas. Silently “feel sad” for our kids who will never reach their full potential and not know any better because of their Misguided/Deluded Parents Who Are Fine With Mediocrity In Their Offspring. *shakes head* So sad.

      Sarcasm, in case it wasn’t clear.

  • namaste

    Heh, amusingly enough, my parents only ever drove volvos specifically because of their safety record. Apparently my mom totalled one too many cars for my father’s liking.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      My aunt drove one when my cousins were small for the safety reason too, although I haven’t heard of any totalled vehicles for either of them.

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

        on a mostly unrelated note, I always kind of liked the Subaru ad from a couple of years ago: You see a Subaru that’s totaled, all the crumple zones are squished, and the cop is saying to the tow truck driver: “They lived”

        • LaMont

          My strategy professor in business school literally uses Subaru as an example of a great business that knows exactly what it’s doing, particularly re: the “they lived” campaign.

    • momofone

      I used to drive Volvos (well used) because they were reliable and inexpensive to insure because of the safety features. I’m about as far as you could be from the shiny new Volvo set. 🙂