Darcia Narvaez and her paleofantasy of infancy


Darcia Narvaez is at it again.

You may remember her as the author of the “Sanctimommy Manifesto,” a wholesale substitution of her personal preferences for actual science. The Notre Dame psychology professor is blithering yet more nonsense about what babies need and in the process falling victim to a paleofantasy of infancy.

Her latest screed, Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Babies, is filled with nonsense from beginning to end.

Narvaez starts with this “insight”:

Have you noticed all the stressed babies? Maybe one in 30 I see has glowing eyes, which I take as a sign of thriving.

Dr. Narvaez, you really need to get out more or get new friends and acquaintances. It is horrifying that you live in a dystopian world where 29 out of 30 babies are stressed out. The rest of us, however, live in the real world with healthy, happy babies who grow into healthy, happy, well adjusted adults.

And what’s with the glowing eyes? Perhaps you have babies confused with kittens and puppies whose retinas do indeed reflect light and appearing to be glowing.

Narvaez is a big fan of paleofantasy. According to Professor Marlene Zuk, author of the book Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us About Sex, Diet and How We Live explains:

It is striking how fixated on the alleged behavior of our hunting-and-foraging forbearers some educated inhabitants of the developed world have become. Among the most obsessed are those who insist … that “our bodies and minds evolved under a particular set of circumstances, and in changing those circumstances without allowing our bodies time to evolve in response, we have wreaked the havoc that is modern life.” Not only would we be happier and healthier if we lived like “cavemen,” this philosophy dictates, but “we are good at things we had to do back in the Pleistocene … and bad at things we didn’t.”

Indeed, according to Narvaez:

Babies are social mammals with social mammalian needs. Social mammals emerged more than 30 million years ago with intensive parenting (a developmental nest or niche). This is one of the many (extra-genetic) things that evolved other than genes. This developmental nest is required for an individual to develop properly. Intensive parenting practices for babies include years of breastfeeding to develop brain and body systems, nearly constant touch and physical presence of caregivers, responsiveness to needs preventing distress, free play with multi-aged playmates, and soothing perinatal experiences. Each of these has significant effects on physical health.

What a bunch of baloney! Are we supposed to believe that all mammalian offspring have the same needs? Are we supposed to believe that the needs of mammals have not changed from those of prehistoric marsupials? Are we supposed to believe that human babies need the same things as rat pups?

Moreover, adults are also mammals with social mammalian needs and, as far as I know, those needs do not include advice from psychology professors since neither professors nor psychology existed 30 million years ago. Should we therefore conclude that we would be much better off in the absence of professors and psychology?

Just in case you missed the evidence that Narvaez is making it up as she goes along, she helpfully offers this ludicrous observation on our hunter-gatherer ancestors:

They are much wiser, perceptive and virtuous than we humans in the USA today.

The myth of the noble savage!

Narvaez expounds:

Of course, every human community is not perfect but when you provide young children with their basic needs, they are less aggressive and self-centered.

How do we know that? Because ancient peoples were peace loving environmentalists and war did not occur until the 20th Century, right? Wrong! Primates, including humans, can be violent and vicious, engaging in everything from domestic abuse of females with roving eyes, to bloody territorial battles, to actually EATING other primates. Sounds really virtuous, doesn’t it?

Not surprisingly nearly everything that Narvaez writes is the product of her fevered imagination and has no basis in science.

My personal favorite is this bit of nonsense:

Culture does not erase the evolved needs babies have. Babies cannot retract their mammalian needs.

Actually, culture modifies nearly everything. Culture includes houses, central heating, birth balls, baby slings and nursing bras.

Moreover, evolution did not stop 30 million years ago, or even 30 thousand years ago. To claim that contemporary infants are exactly the same as infants 30 million years ago or even 30 thousand years ago is bizarre. Adults are different in many ways than they were 30,000 years ago: they can digest lactose, carry genetic resistance to malaria, and behave quite differently. There’s no reason to imagine that while adults evolved, infants stayed exactly the same.

In fact, infants are not terribly different from Dr. Narvaez herself. Does she live like our ancestors from 30 million years ago? Is she walking on all four limbs, swinging naked in the trees and reproducing endlessly? No, Narvaez walks on two feet, does not climb trees on a regular basis and is childless. Clearly she hasn’t met her own mammalian needs. Should we conclude, therefore, that by wearing clothes, going to college and writing for Psychology Today that Dr. Narvaez is one of those:

… whose health and sociality are compromised (which we can see all over the USA today with epidemics of depression, anxiety, high suicide and drug use rates). Such mis-raised creatures might do all right on achievement tests or IQ measures but they may also be dangerous reptiles whose world revolves around themselves…[?]

Possibly. Fortunately it should be easy to determine:

All we need to know is whether her eyes glow!

388 Responses to “Darcia Narvaez and her paleofantasy of infancy”

  1. Rina
    November 15, 2020 at 7:29 am #

    Best article I’ve read in a while.
    I knew in my guts that she’s childless, because before having a REAL child myself I had similar opinions and judgement, thinking that if you just meet your baby’s needs, they will be happy. Then reality had a fierce way of teaching me that if I stick to my old theories, not only my marriage will collapse, I will collapse, while harming my baby in my collapsing process. Unfortunately, for Dr Narvaez, reality is still up for grabs.

  2. David E. Roy, Ph.D.
    June 23, 2016 at 6:04 pm #

    Being skeptical is quite worthwhile, but what I read here is not skepticism but highly negative emotional ad hominem attacks. While you may have valid points, they are lost in the vitriol.

    • fiftyfifty1
      June 23, 2016 at 7:10 pm #

      How so?

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      June 23, 2016 at 8:10 pm #

      Do you have any specific claims that you wish to dispute?

      • Squillo
        June 23, 2016 at 9:39 pm #

        Pro Tip: Try changing your name to Arnold Tuteur. Then you won’t be so emotional. 😉

      • Squillo
        June 23, 2016 at 9:43 pm #

        And you should smile more.

      • David E. Roy, Ph.D.
        June 24, 2016 at 7:43 pm #

        If I’m disputing anything, it is your style. Looking at your responses to others, you often make fun of people, you belittle them, all but call them stupid. You also frequently assert your superiority (education, experience), also an implicit put down.

        • Charybdis
          June 24, 2016 at 8:03 pm #

          As opposed to those who edumacate themselves from teh interwebs and Google U and think they know it all and understand statistics, etc.

      • Dave Branch
        April 2, 2017 at 2:51 pm #

        I must have read a different article. The one I read was full of clinical references. This rant seems wholly without merit.

  3. Mishimoo
    April 27, 2014 at 11:52 pm #

    Am I the only one amused by the irony of rwinkel mansplaining and trying to debate birth and neonates on a post about a non-parent’s flawed article about the ‘correct’ method of parenting?

    • April 27, 2014 at 11:55 pm #

      “mansplaining” … that’s a new one. Remember, men were never babies. How do you know if Narvaez has children?

      • Elizabeth A
        April 28, 2014 at 12:02 am #

        Narvaez’s bio is a matter of public record.

        Experiencing birth as an infant doesn’t give you any information about experiencing birth as a parent, a doctor, or a nurse. You have some serious misconceptions about anatomy, and you don’t seem to know a damn thing about neonatal or maternal health.

        • April 28, 2014 at 12:04 am #

          The baby is one of the parties involved. How many babies were consulted in formulating standard obstetrical practices? Not many, apparently. Whether you think this is a problem depends on whether you think babies remember. They remember.

          • Mishimoo
            April 28, 2014 at 12:05 am #

            How can you prove if they do or don’t remember?

          • April 28, 2014 at 12:07 am #

            What would you accept as proof? Is the hispanic paradox at least cause for reflection?

          • Mishimoo
            April 28, 2014 at 12:10 am #

            Oh yes, I am reflecting on why you think it proves the point that you are trying to make.

          • April 28, 2014 at 12:13 am #

            Because the sky is blue. I have to go to bed. I can’t say it hasn’t been entertaining as well as frustrating. I hope some of it sinks in. Bye.

          • Mishimoo
            April 28, 2014 at 12:19 am #

            I hope that you have found your visit here informative.

          • Box of Salt
            April 28, 2014 at 12:33 am #

            rwinkel “What would you accept as proof? Is the hispanic paradox at least cause for reflection?”

            No, rwinkel, it’s not. If you can provide proof that anyone* has memories of infancy, please post them.

            Repeating a hypothesis that none of your fellow commenters found compelling the first time you presented it does not qualify as proof.

            If you were wondering why I described you as not having enough backgroud information to pass judgment on anything – well, this is why. You are trying to bluff your way though everything. It’s not working – not now, nor all day until now.

            *this includes you, because based on my own experiences and everyone I’ve ever talked to plus everything I’ve ever read about the subject of early memories, I think your idea that you have that you have a memory of your own circumcision is delusional.

            Please. This isn’t working for you. Find help for yourself.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            April 28, 2014 at 9:39 am #

            Um…what does the “Hispanic paradox” have to do with anything?

          • Young CC Prof
            April 28, 2014 at 10:19 am #

            He states (correctly) that immigrant Hispanics have better health outcomes on many measures than US-born Hispanics. He then claims the only possible explanation is that people in Latin America are born with fewer interventions, which is… a remarkable kind of logic indeed.

          • Elizabeth A
            April 28, 2014 at 12:19 am #

            Okay, jackass, I’m out of patience.

            How many babies were consulted in formulating standard obstetrical practices? NONE. Jackass. BECAUSE THEY DON’T TALK AND DON’T UNDERSTAND. THEY HAVE NO MECHANISM FOR REGISTERING THEIR PREFERENCES. We PRESUME, because it’s the best we can do, that babies want to survive, and we give them the best chance of surviving by MONITORING THE HELL OUT OF THE SITUATION, and trying to HELP THEIR MOTHERS. Historically, the outcomes for children of dead mothers have been worse then the outcomes for children whose mothers survive. SO WE LIKE IT WHEN THAT HAPPENS.

            My daughter was born dying, but there was a raft of well-tested treatments available that had a strong chance of saving her life, so they did. WHAT WERE THEY SUPPOSED TO DO? Whip out some kind of finger puppets and get her to indicate, in the very few minutes available, whether she’d prefer to die? Hell no. Her dad and I signed some consent forms. I don’t know what she remembers, and if it’s bothering her I hope she’ll tell us someday, but if you lit me on fire, I still wouldn’t take back any of it.

            BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT PARENTS DO FOR CHILDREN. Whenever there are problems or issues too big for CHILDREN to understand, WE STEP UP AND TAKE CARE OF IT.

          • Mishimoo
            April 28, 2014 at 12:20 am #

            I can’t upvote this enough.

        • April 28, 2014 at 11:29 am #

          But rwinkel is the Blorax, he speaks for the baybeez.

  4. Box of Salt
    April 27, 2014 at 10:52 pm #


    I hope you’ve enjoyed your day of internet trolling.

    However, on the chance that your posts are in earnest, and you truly believe your own writings, including what you stated here: http://www.skepticalob.com/2013/12/darcia-narvaez-and-her-paleofantasy-of-infancy.html#comment-1358446126
    “I imprinted my circumcision”
    – Please, get some real help working through your issues. You’re not going to find what you need through posting illogical comments on random websites.

    (And, yes, rwinkel, your arguments as you’ve stated them here today lack both logic and supporting evidence.)

    Please, seek help elsewhere.

    • April 27, 2014 at 11:01 pm #

      Of course you’re free to believe what you wish about my motivations, but on the off chance that your mind is open to the possibility, however remote, that standard obstetrical practices are abusive to babies, you really should investigate the links I’ve posted.

      • RN who has seen too much
        April 27, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

        The links that are non evidence based? Yeah I’m sure the group of highly educated professionals who frequent this page will get right on that. Perhaps you should try not talking about things you know nothing about and stick to your intactivism.

        • Mishimoo
          April 27, 2014 at 11:08 pm #

          Or not, I don’t want him thinking about my child’s genitals. It creeps me out on a very deep level.

          • April 27, 2014 at 11:13 pm #

            You have a sense of humor. It’s unfortunate that it’s directed against the human rights of children.

          • Mishimoo
            April 27, 2014 at 11:17 pm #

            I’m against the human rights of children because I had the gall to question you?

        • April 27, 2014 at 11:14 pm #

          No doubt you know everything there is to know about human beings. My condolences for your need to justify your actions.

          • RN who has seen too much
            April 27, 2014 at 11:22 pm #

            Nope, I just know more about birth than you. Justify what actions? Taking care of birthing women with medical knowledge and compassion? Yup, totally justifying that by not “trusting birth” like people like you do. I haven’t lost a baby yet due to those oh so horrific interventions, too bad I can think of several babies who have been lost to a lack of intervention.

          • April 27, 2014 at 11:43 pm #

            Again you’re missing the point. Please listen carefully: medicine saves lives. Some babies (not very many) would not be alive without it. But many babies (probably most) would have been better off without it. The issue is to know when to butt out.

          • Elizabeth A
            April 27, 2014 at 11:53 pm #

            In 1900, the infant mortality rate in the U.S. was 30% in some cities. The infant mortality rate in 1997 was .72%. (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4838a2.htm).

            We don’t like to use infant mortality to measure obstetrical care, but neonatal and perinatal rates are hard to get when we go that far back. That death rate suggests to me that medicine has done us some very large good. THe difference between 30% and .72% suggests that a lot of us wouldn’t be typing here without it.

            Birth is a relatively predictable medical crisis that, left to its own devices, kills large numbers of women and children. That’s why we try to have resources available to people going through it.

          • Young CC Prof
            April 27, 2014 at 11:59 pm #

            “Some babies (not very many) would not be alive without it.”

            Without modern medicine, somewhere between one third and two thirds of all children born do not live long enough to have children of their own. (The lower figure applies to people living in areas with little crowd disease, the higher to cities frequently struck by epidemics.)

            People radically underestimate the cumulative effect of small dangers, and the pre-technology severity of medical problems which are now considered routine.

          • Elizabeth A
            April 28, 2014 at 12:05 am #

            Wasn’t there a president who lost a teenage son to an infection contracted on the White House tennis court? IIRC, the kid got a blister, it got infected, and he died.

            If Katherine of Aragon could have gotten her hands on modern pediatrics, there would never have been an English Reformation.

          • April 28, 2014 at 12:11 am #

            I’m talking about birth and the birth imprint. What are you talking about?

      • Box of Salt
        April 27, 2014 at 11:14 pm #


        take this as you wish (and with my screen name, if you like): if your posts are sincere, what you are doing here today is not healthy, and not does not benefit you.

        I have looked at some of your links (are you Rich Winkel?), and I am not impressed. As far as I can tell from your comments here (and links), you simply do not have the background knowledge to make any judgements about standard obstetrical practices, or anything else you have mentioned.

        But (unless you are posting here just for entertainment), I am concerned for your wellbeing. Continuing this type of interaction over the anonymous internet is not going to help you.

        • April 27, 2014 at 11:25 pm #

          Seriously? You want to make this about me? Do you think I have nothing better to do than try to reason with people to don’t even believe babies are conscious?

          • Mishimoo
            April 27, 2014 at 11:25 pm #

            If you did, you wouldn’t be here.

          • April 27, 2014 at 11:29 pm #

            You don’t think altruism exists then? My motives could only be selfish? What a nihilistic attitude. Why are you even involved in medicine?

          • Mishimoo
            April 27, 2014 at 11:34 pm #

            I believe that people who are truly altruistic do not draw attention to their work. Based on that and the behaviour you have shown in this comment section, I think it is fair to question your motives.

          • April 27, 2014 at 11:41 pm #

            I see, so it’s not fair to question the motives of a financially motivated cartel of doctors?

          • Mishimoo
            April 27, 2014 at 11:44 pm #

            Oh, I certainly question those. In fact, I wonder exactly how many vaccines and medications are not being developed due to lack of potential profit.

          • Box of Salt
            April 27, 2014 at 11:29 pm #

            rwinkel “You want to make this about me?”

            It’s been about you all day. Why else are you still here posting?

          • April 27, 2014 at 11:31 pm #

            No it’s about you and the danger your arrogance creates for children.

          • Box of Salt
            April 27, 2014 at 11:43 pm #

            rwinkel “No it’s about you and the danger your arrogance creates for children.”

            Yes. And those children include you: you feel threatened.

            Please, seek help somewhere you might find it.

  5. April 27, 2014 at 8:34 pm #

    No one here has explained why needless interventions should be performed on anyone, much less on non-consenting children. If there were no costs to the child’s subjective sense of well being (however uninformed adults believe that subjective sense to be) then it would only be wasteful of money. But since some of these interventions are seen as traumatic by the baby, and since babies imprint, the real costs are only apparent much later and never traced to their causes. This is the situation we have today. And that’s the last thing I have to say about it. Over and out.

    • Elizabeth A
      April 27, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

      1. You have not identified any interventions that are (a) needless, or (b) actually in common use.
      2. You have not provided any evidence that ANY birth interventions have life-long effects on children, or any support for the belief that infants perceive birth interventions as more traumatic than birth without interventions.
      3. Babies do not imprint.

      • Certified Hamster Midwife
        April 27, 2014 at 9:01 pm #

        I think ultimately, he’s talking about circumcision.

        • Mishimoo
          April 27, 2014 at 9:05 pm #

          Which raises the question – “Why is an adult male obsessed with little boys penises?”

          • Certified Hamster Midwife
            April 27, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

            He could want to prevent it from happening to future boys. There is a non-creepy explanation.

          • Mishimoo
            April 27, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

            You have a lot more faith in humanity than me.

          • April 27, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

            Are you incapable of questioning medical authority?

          • Mishimoo
            April 27, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

            Are you incapable of questioning whether your strongly held beliefs are just another level of control?

          • April 27, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

            I believe people have the right to control their own bodies and sexuality. Does that make me a control freak?

          • Mishimoo
            April 27, 2014 at 10:12 pm #

            If you believe that, why bring sado-masochism into the discussion as a negative point? Is it a case of: “people have the right to choose”, but only if it agrees with your beliefs?

          • April 27, 2014 at 10:16 pm #

            I’m talking about the motivations of the doctor silly. Are you into sadomasochism?

          • Mishimoo
            April 27, 2014 at 10:18 pm #

            I’m questioning your motivations and beliefs, dear.

          • April 27, 2014 at 10:21 pm #

            So we can agree then that cutting the genitals of non-consenting children has sado-pedophilia overtones? I guess that’s progress.

          • Mishimoo
            April 27, 2014 at 10:25 pm #

            We can definitely agree that your obsession with the concept is rather disturbing.

          • April 27, 2014 at 10:27 pm #

            The obsession is on the part of the medical establishment obviously, since it has no known medical purpose.

          • Mishimoo
            April 27, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

            Which, of course, is why it is only really done for religious reasons over here.

          • April 27, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

            Over where? I’m talking about the united states. If you want to cut the genitals of non-consenting children for religious reasons it certainly raises questions in my mind, but I’m mainly concerned with the abuse of medicine to rationalize it.

          • Mishimoo
            April 27, 2014 at 10:48 pm #

            You weren’t specific, you made a generalisation about the medical establishment as though it is some grand entity.

          • April 27, 2014 at 10:04 pm #

            I thought Mishimoo was talking about doctors, not intactivists. It seems to me the motivations of anyone willing to cut the genitals of non-consenting children should be suspect, especially given the documented connections with sado-masochism.
            And thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt, although again I’m surprised it was necessary.

      • Mishimoo
        April 27, 2014 at 9:04 pm #

        I’m walking evidence that birth interventions have a life-long effect, in that I’m alive. Without a caesearean, I wouldn’t be. Probably not what he meant, but I’m feeling slightly pedantic this morning.

        • Elizabeth A
          April 27, 2014 at 9:50 pm #

          I’m pretty sure that, without the c-section, I’d never have developed breast cancer. I’d have died way before that happened.

          • Young CC Prof
            April 27, 2014 at 9:52 pm #

            Sorry to hear that, but let’s have a cheer for lots more people living long enough to get cancer! (Instead of dying of contagious diseases or in childbirth at an early age.)

          • Elizabeth A
            April 27, 2014 at 9:56 pm #

            As long as we’re blaming the c/s, we might as well also give it credit for my current, cancer-free state. After all, I wouldn’t have survived to this without the c-section either.

      • April 27, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

        I knew I shouldn’t have come back to this page 🙂
        1. The first needless intervention is back birthing. You may be an OB but if the head of the world federation of obgyns agrees with every midwife I’ve talked to that it makes birthing more difficult I’m inclined to believe him. I personally know of a woman who had to literally fight off nurses while she was giving birth so she could do it in the position that she found easiest. They wanted her to lay in the standard position, which seems to be about the doctor’s convenience and nothing more. Most of the other needless interventions derive from this first stupidity.

        2. The question has hardly been investigated, which is not surprising since it appears years later and so can always be attributed to other factors. But the hispanic paradox certainly raises the question. Medicine as an institution is remarkably oblivious to evidence of its own toxicity.
        3. “Babies do not imprint.” Spoken like an article of religious faith. Do you believe humans are unique in this regard, or there are other mammals that don’t imprint? Can you think of any?

        I imprinted my circumcision. It’s my earliest memory. Let me describe an imprint: it’s like the desktop on a computer, against which all the icons are arranged. It’s like a fish in water, it’s taken for granted as part of the fabric of reality. Since it’s not subject to interpretation or evaluation, it becomes a part of you. Except I happened to consciously remember it as a child, but not knowing what it was I never brought it up with anyone. I must have been 1 or 2 days old.
        Your unwillingness to entertain the possibility makes you dangerous to any babies that you deliver.

        • Young CC Prof
          April 27, 2014 at 10:12 pm #

          OK, then. You do that! (Also, look up what imprinting of newborn animals actually is.)

        • April 27, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

          And by the way even then I knew it was perverse. It was definitely a sexual experience. How could it be otherwise for the child?

        • Elizabeth A
          April 27, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

          I’m not an OB, and never claimed to be. I’m an accountant. (There are some OBs here. Disqus sometimes mixes usernames on posts, so it’s possible that someone else’s post below appears to have my name on it.)

          On the question of lying on one’s back to deliver – it appears that all the midwives you know, and the retired head of a professional association, believe that a birth position that usually isn’t required or recommended should not be required or recommended. You persist, however, in labeling this position an unnecessary intervention, from which other (unidentified) problematic interventions proceed. What are those interventions?

          You have an extremely non-standard definition of “imprinting.” Human babies are not chicks, who fixate on the first hen-sized thing they encounter. Other mammals don’t do that either.

        • S
          April 28, 2014 at 1:21 am #

          Regarding this comment from Roberto Caldeyro-Barcia that you keep coming back to:

          “Except for being hanged by the feet, the supine position is the worst conceivable position for labor and delivery.”

          You neglect to mention that this is a quote from an article published in 1975. Again, women have not routinely given birth vaginally in this position for decades. (I don’t have the context for this quote, but i’d guess the doctor is referring to birth under conscious sedation.)

          I was curious, so i looked him up. Interestingly, Dr. Caldeyro-Barcia is known for his work in the field of electronic fetal monitoring (that dreaded intervention that leads to so many “unnecessary” C-sections).

        • April 28, 2014 at 11:51 am #

          But you said babies aren’t computers.

          Furthermore, you are describing a computer background or wallpaper – which is easily changed. If you wanted to describe “imprinting” in terms of a computer, you would want to describe an image burned into the monitor itself, which overlays everything no matter what the background image is. I’ll cite wikipedia as you already think that’s an adequate source and it’s convenient: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screen_burn-in

          As for your imprinting your circumcision – when did you come to this realization? Were you directly fixated on it (as a specific memory) your entire childhood? Or did you “recall” it later? And if you did “remember” it your whole life, do you remember every other moment in your life? Because there’s an extremely rare form of OCD that causes it’s sufferers to remember every detail of their entire lives in lurid detail. If that’s the case for you (every moment a vivid memory) you need to understand how rare that is. If you “recalled” this incident as an adult, you need to turn your research to false memory regressions. Either way, you need help.

  6. April 27, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    People who experience traumatic birth followed by a perception of maternal rejection are at least 4 times more likely to be violent as adults:
    Invasive american obstetrics is very likely to be perceived as traumatic by the baby. http://members.tranquility.net/~rwinkel/MGM/birthUSA3.txt
    Mammalian infants would obviously perceive lack of breast feeding as maternal rejection. Induction would be perceived as miscarriage by the baby, since it’s the baby’s hormones that initiate labor. Miscarriage is another form of maternal rejection at a very basic biological level. Circumcision of boys would obviously be perceived as maternal rejection and betrayal: http://members.tranquility.net/~rwinkel/MGM/primer.html
    I find it tiresome when flat-earthers claim to be representing science. The last I heard doctors don’t know everything there is to know about human beings. That’s why we (allegedly) have medical research, which unfortunately is heavily influenced by medical culture and economic incentives.

    The first step to wisdom is acknowledgement of one’s own ignorance.

    • Amy M
      April 27, 2014 at 10:44 am #

      Hahahahahahaha!!! That’s awesome. You don’t like your mom much do you?

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      April 27, 2014 at 10:46 am #

      That’s total BS. Do you actually believe made up crap like that?

      • Amy M
        April 27, 2014 at 11:03 am #

        Yeah, if miscarriage were active rejection by the mother, the abortion debate wouldn’t exist…women would be able to “shut that whole thing down.” What a terrible thing to say.

        • April 27, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

          Excellent point.

        • April 27, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

          How does this relate to the baby’s perception of the event?

          • Amy M
            April 28, 2014 at 8:55 am #

            When a woman miscarries, the baby is dead, so I imagine it doesn’t perceive anything.

      • Houston Mom
        April 27, 2014 at 11:15 am #


        Mr. Winkel is an intactivist and apparently also a network admin. The latest story on Thought Crime Radio features Leilah McCracken who rails against the sexually constipated hospital vibe:

        • Mishimoo
          April 27, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

          Reading that site explains so very much about this commenter.

        • RN who has seen too much
          April 27, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

          Dang, I really thought he was my crazy brother in law for a minute! lol.

    • Houston Mom
      April 27, 2014 at 10:58 am #

      Your first link is a study from 1994 and defines maternal rejection as having attempted to abort the baby before it was born AND then sending it to an institution for at least four months of its first year. You can’t compare absolute physical rejection of a child to formula feeding or use of a stroller.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        April 27, 2014 at 10:59 am #

        Your first link is a study from 1994 and defines maternal rejection as having attempted to abort the baby before it was born AND then sending it to an institution for at least four months of its first year.

        That’s some serious rejection!

        • April 27, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

          Yes they needed a standardized quantifiable measure and they certainly chose an extreme form of rejection.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            April 27, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

            So why do you think any conclusions apply to something less than crazily extreme?

          • April 27, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

            Correlations, interpolations and extrapolations are based on such linear assumptions because it satisfies occam’s razor. But who knows, maybe there is an optimal amount of abuse in there somewhere, we just need to find it.

          • Young CC Prof
            April 27, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

            Linear assumptions satisfy Occam’s Razor. That’s nice. You know, most necessary nutrients become poisonous in large doses. Linear extrapolation up or down does NOT always work, nor is it reasonable to assume without evidence that it does.

          • April 27, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

            The evidence is that human beings have thrived on this planet for thousands of years under the null hypothesis (no medical intervention) with evolution providing a plausible mechanism for the development of optimal childbirth practices. The burden of proof is on those who claim the need for something different. In other words, don’t fix something that’s not broken (with the usual caveats about abnormal pregnancy and delivery)

          • Elizabeth A
            April 27, 2014 at 5:49 pm #

            But the evidence is that we do much better *with* medical intervention. We might have thrived without it (although that’s an interesting definition of “thrive” you have there), but we do much better with it – more of us survive birth, more of us survive pregnancy, more of us live to old age.

          • April 27, 2014 at 6:07 pm #

            No one is claiming that medical interventions can’t save lives. What I’m saying (ad nauseum) is that needlessly interfering with a normal birth can traumatize babies and that such traumatic imprints can last a lifetime. In situations where such intervention can’t be avoided, it’s just a price of being alive. But it’s a non-trivial price especially when done on a wholesale basis.

          • Elizabeth A
            April 27, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

            I certainly agree that you’ve been saying it ad nauseum.

            I disagree with your definition of “interference.” So far as I can tell, you think asking a mother to lie on her back will traumatize the infant for life. And you think hospitals require women to labor and deliver on their backs all the time, nearly without exception. I think you overestimate the damage caused by one position, and also overestimate the rate at which that position is used.

          • April 27, 2014 at 6:18 pm #

            Why should the doctor ask the mother to do anything? The doctor is supposed to be there to aid the mother, not vice versa. Lying on the back in stirrups is for the convenience of the doctor, not the mother, and it makes normal physiological delivery more difficult.

          • Mishimoo
            April 27, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

            Have you, personally, had a vaginal birth or are you passing judgement based on concepts that sound/feel good to you?

          • S
            April 27, 2014 at 6:39 pm #

            “Do you believe babies imprint?”

            Please continue.

          • Elizabeth A
            April 27, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

            If a person is present to help me, does it not make sense for them to occasionally ask me to do something? Getting everyone through the experience might be easier if we work together, so while I was usually the one making requests in labor, the staff did ask me to do things too. Not crazy.

            I don’t believe babies imprint. They’re not ducks.

      • Amy M
        April 27, 2014 at 11:01 am #

        Also, unwanted pregnancies, don’t forget about those. I believe they factored in socioeconomic status as well, and low SES has strongly been correlated with 1)crime and 2)poor prenatal care/outcomes.

        • April 27, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

          Except in the USA, if you look up “hispanic paradox”. US born people are significantly more prone to mental illness than poor mexican immigrants or middle class immigrants from elsewhere despite their SES. Poor people are more likely to have physiological births, out of necessity.

          • Young CC Prof
            April 27, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

            Or American born Hispanics are more likely to have the resources to seek help for mental illness and might be less likely to be dissuaded by stigma. There is no blood test for depression.

          • April 27, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

            The “paradox” encompasses more than depression and such confounding factors have been studied and found lacking.

          • Young CC Prof
            April 27, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

            Explain more or cite a source. Also explain why you find birth circumstances to be the most plausible explanation.

          • April 27, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

            Look it up, it’s on wikipedia. No doubt there are many complexities involved, but birth location is nevertheless more predictive of future mental illness than would be expected if the birth imprint doesn’t matter. It’s the most plausible explanation because all non-human mammals imprint (including monkeys) and there’s no reason to believe humans are any different in that respect.

          • Young CC Prof
            April 27, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

            Other more plausible explanations:

            1) Diet and level of activity, different in the USA than in many other parts of the world

            2) Healthy migrant effect, discussed by that same Wikipedia article. Essentially, the people who succeed in immigrating tend to be stronger and healthier than those “stuck” in their home country.

            3) Acculturated Hispanics tend to live and work in communities in which they are a minority, which increases economic status but also increases psychosocial stress. New immigrants tend to live and work in areas where their neighbors are of the same background, which leads to reduced economic opportunity but more social support.

          • April 27, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

            Location of birth is the key variable. This has been studied to exhaustion and no one has come up with an alternative explanation.

          • Young CC Prof
            April 27, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

            Location of birth = location of early life. It’s nearly impossible to separate the two, and you have not provided any evidence that anyone tried.

          • April 27, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

            No, they tried to control for that too. Difficult but not impossible. Maybe you should study the issue before you formulate an opinion.

          • Young CC Prof
            April 27, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

            Again, please explain how the other factors I mentioned were controlled for, or cite a relevant study.

          • April 27, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

            I’ve already provided a starting point that has a good selection of references.

          • Young CC Prof
            April 27, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

            Um, did you actually look at the references? Because Wikipedia’s own editors identified some of them as unreliable sources. You can see this if you mouse over the footnote number.

            Your knowledge of human reproduction is incomplete, but that isn’t your biggest problem. Your real problem is that you don’t know how to evaluate evidence. Here’s a basic introduction to the topic: http://www.library.georgetown.edu/tutorials/research-guides/evaluating-internet-content

          • RN who has seen too much
            April 27, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

            Wikipedia is NOT a source. for the love of God. Do you have any professional education at all? Or just the school of woo?

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            April 28, 2014 at 9:58 am #

            Look it up, it’s on wikipedia.

            I’m sorry, but I literally snorted in contempt at this sentence. Wiki is a fine place to get a bit of information to start with, but if you want to make a solid claim, at least go to their references and look them up to make sure that they are both legitimate references and they say what the author of the wiki article thinks they say. (In this case, I’d want a third filter, i.e. does the wiki article say what rwinkel thinks it says.)

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            April 28, 2014 at 9:56 am #

            That’s not what is usually meant by the “hispanic paradox” and the claim, even if true, is massively confounded by access, but ok, let’s go with it for the moment. C-sections are MORE common in Mexico and other Latin American countries than in the US. If, IF mind you, there is really a lower rate of mental health issues among non-US born Hispanics AND it has anything to do with birth practices, it’s probably due to the higher rate of c-sections among Latin Americans, not the “natural birth” rate.

          • DeCaf
            April 28, 2014 at 10:42 am #

            Or it could just be that mentally ill non-US born Hispanics are less likely to move to the US. They are a self-selecting set, not a cross section of Hispanics.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym
        April 27, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

        It also defines traumatic birth as including prolonged labor. Women who go with the “your body can do it” paleofantasy are more likely to have prolonged labor than those who indulge in decadent modern practices such as pitocin and c-section(which was, notably, not included in the definition of traumatic birth.)

        • April 27, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

          Prolonged labor on the back under induction drugs with constant interruptions under a hospital regime (which is what they’re talking about) releases stress hormones in the mother. Normal labor (prolonged or otherwise) releases oxytocin and endorphins. The subjective experience of the baby is likely to be very different.

          • Elizabeth A
            April 27, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

            You’re making a ton of assumptions.

            Inductions are not necessarily prolonged, nor are they necessarily “on the back”. While hospital care does involve a fair amount of hospital staff interacting with the laboring woman, it’s not at all clear to what extent, if any, those interactions have an effect on the progress of labor, or can be perceived by the infant.

            Natural labors do not necessarily unfold neatly. No labor fails to release oxytocin and endorphins.

            We have no way of knowing what the long-term effects of the infant’s experience of labor are, and the study you cite doesn’t appear to be able to identify them. If the measure of “maternal rejection” includes 4 months of institutional care during the first year of life, we should expect to see more violence in that population as a result of upbringing, no matter what happened during labor.

          • April 27, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

            As far as I know back birthing is still the standardized hospital approach. Birthing is a form of elimination not unlike defecation as far as the types of muscles involved. People like to defecate in private for good reason: distractions and voluntary responses are disruptive to autonomic processes. Do stress hormones cross the placenta or not?
            The study attempted to control for confounding factors and still found birth trauma and rejection were dominant in predicting future violence.

          • S
            April 27, 2014 at 4:26 pm #


            Could you please explain how the muscles involved in birth are similar to the muscles involved in defecation?

          • April 27, 2014 at 4:34 pm #

            The smooth muscles of the intestines supply the pressure for defecation. Likewise for the uterus.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD
            April 27, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

            Actually, the striated muscles are involved as well. You can’t push without them.

          • April 27, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

            Likewise with defecation, but it can’t happen without the smooth muscles.

          • S
            April 27, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

            Sorry i asked.

            Smooth muscle is involved in a lot of physiological processes. Your explanation is incomplete to say the least.

          • onandoff
            April 27, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

            So is birth inherently a form of maternal rejection? The mother desires to eliminate her baby???!!!!

          • April 27, 2014 at 4:31 pm #

            The baby wants out when the baby wants out, not when the mother or doctor wants it out.

          • onandoff
            April 27, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

            But the mother is eliminating her baby like poop. 🙁 You have such a sad view of childbirth. I feel bad for you.

          • April 27, 2014 at 4:40 pm #


          • Amy Tuteur, MD
            April 27, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

            The baby doesn’t “want” anything. Labor will always start spontaneously, but the baby may be dead before then.

          • April 27, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

            The human body doesn’t “want” to digest food, it happens “spontanously.” So what?

          • Young CC Prof
            April 27, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

            The baby has no power to start labor, it is initiated by the mother’s body.

          • April 27, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

            No, it’s initiated by the release of hormones by the fetus.

          • Young CC Prof
            April 27, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

            Which hormones? Provide a source.

          • onandoff
            April 27, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

            I feel like I’ve read somewhere that onset of labor is associated with an increase in *gasp* STRESS HORMONES in the baby.

          • Young CC Prof
            April 27, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

            Oh, right, those are the stress hormones that inflict terrible damage on the baby by opening and drying out the lungs and preparing the circulation for life outside.

            The STRESS! It’s unbearable! Won’t anyone think of the CHILDREN!!!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            April 27, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

            So are you saying my sister’s oldest child, who was stilborn at 41+ weeks, just didn’t want to come out before he died? What was wrong with him?

          • April 27, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

            He died before he was ready to come out….

          • April 27, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

            So a fetus knows it would rather die than have even a chance to live.

            Maybe, just maybe, adults know more than babies.

          • April 27, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

            When you can construct a baby out of raw materials in the lab, maybe you’ll know more than the intelligence that’s already built into their bodies.

          • April 27, 2014 at 6:19 pm #

            What is that even supposed to mean?

          • April 27, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

            Think about it, you’ll get it.

          • April 27, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

            Somehow I doubt that. I use logic.

          • April 27, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

            Ah, so you’re a computer. Sorry, babies aren’t computers.

          • Mishimoo
            April 27, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

            Are you sure? They seem pretty logical to me: X noise = Y problem, use solution Z.

          • Birthbuddy
            April 28, 2014 at 1:57 am #

            Dr De-winkeled Frankenstein?

          • Elizabeth A
            April 27, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

            Okay, but:
            There’s a very high probability that, had that baby been delivered by induction or c/s at 39 or 40 weeks gestation, he would be a healthy child today.

            My youngest niece was born by induction just before Christmas. My sister’s OB saw some reasons for concern during routine late pregnancy appointments, and sent her for further testing, which revealed early signs of placental insufficiency. They scheduled an induction for 39 weeks gestation. My sister received pitocin for less than three hours before delivering a small-for-dates, but otherwise healthy baby. But if we’d waited two more weeks, for the babe to be “ready”, we might well have only had a funeral for that little girl.

            It is really not uncommon for this to be the difference between the living babies and the stillborn ones – tiny differences in medical alertness, availability of resources, and willingness to take action has a huge impact on the lives of families. Since we live in a society with a tendency to litigate bad results, and abundant medical resources, most families just don’t notice the grief and pain they don’t experience. I think that’s right. I’d rather have my niece, and I am certain Bofa would rather have his nephew, than avoid possible negative effects of confounding nature.

          • April 27, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

            No argument there. I’m talking about normal pregnancy and delivery.

          • Elizabeth A
            April 27, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

            This pregnancy was “normal” to outside appearances. Only the interference you complain about was able to spot the problem, and prevent tragedy.

          • April 27, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

            The testing you describe was not disruptive to the pregnancy, right? Precaution sounds good to me. Interfering with a normal delivery is not caution.

          • Elizabeth A
            April 27, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

            What do you think happens in a normal hospital delivery that interferes with the process?

          • April 27, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

            If by “normal” you mean back birthing: “Except for being hanged by the feet, the supine position is the worst conceivable position for labor and delivery” – Roberto Caldeyro-Barcia, past president of the International Federation of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

          • Elizabeth A
            April 27, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

            The only time a hospital has ever asked me to lie on my back was for a c-section. Hospital beds are highly adjustable and very sturdy, and laboring woman are able to adjust them (or ask other people to adjust them) for their best comfort. Additionally, despite the alarmist claims of some NCB advocates, they don’t strap you down. At a minimum, you have the run of the room. Most labor and delivery units these days are full of couples “walking the halls”, pacing around while the woman has contractions and waits to dilate completely. If you get an epidural you probably nap instead of walking, but you nap in the position of your own choosing, facilitated by that nice, adjustable, hospital bed.

            Anything else?

          • April 27, 2014 at 6:10 pm #

            Ah, so NOW they know what they’re doing. Is that what you’re saying? It’s funny how medicine has managed to avoid explaining the need for the term “evidence based” since it begs the question of what they were doing before.

          • Dr Kitty
            April 27, 2014 at 6:14 pm #

            It’s funny how you’re getting less coherent with every post.

            That doesn’t mean what you think it does.

          • April 27, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

            How about “raises the question.” Ok?

          • yentavegan
            April 27, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

            rwinkel, what is the point you are trying to make? Do you want to convince other woman that you hold a truth that they are oblivious to? Do you need to convince us that hospitals and ob/gyn’s are unnecessary/dangerous to mothers and infants? I have given birth 5 times, each time in a safe respectful environment of a well staffed professionaly run hospital. I would not have it any other/lesser way. You are free to do as you choose.

          • April 27, 2014 at 6:29 pm #

            I’m glad for you. The experience is not universal. Some women feel like they’ve been raped. Post partum depression is common in CS. There is epidemiological evidence that birth trauma creates life-long mental problems for the baby. Medicine faces no economic fallout from these problems and their long term affects and so doesn’t adapt to the science.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD
            April 27, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

            No, there is no difference in rate of postpartum depression between vaginal birth and C-section.

          • yentavegan
            April 27, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

            I feel sad for women who feel they have been raped during the labour and birth of their infant. I know that for me, having my husband present and by my side made me feel protected and loved.

          • Elizabeth A
            April 27, 2014 at 7:54 pm #

            Post-partum depression is common, period.

            What epidemiological evidence do you think there is that birth trauma creates life-long mental problems for babies? Thus far, you have linked one study, and you haven’t addressed the concerns about that study at all. Do you have anything else?

          • April 27, 2014 at 10:55 pm #

            It’s not one study, it’s the so-far unrefuted finding that people who are born in this country have significantly higher rates of mental illness that people born outside of this country.

          • Elizabeth A
            April 27, 2014 at 11:31 pm #

            I’d love a link to that statistic.

            If you have data to bear it out – why do you insist that this difference must be the result of birth practices? In what countries do you believe that standard OB care differs substantially from the care given in the US, what are the significant differences, and what are the rates of mental illness in those countries?

          • April 27, 2014 at 11:50 pm #

            I’ve already mentioned this. Look up hispanic paradox.

          • Elizabeth A
            April 27, 2014 at 11:57 pm #

            Your reasoning on it has been bad so far, and the wikipedia link has been shot down.

            IF the difference in rates of mental illness is caused by birth practices, one would expect to see different rates of mental illness in countries with disparate birthing practices, but otherwise similar cultures, economies, resources, etc. Can you identify any two such countries? What are the key differences in birth practices between those countries? What are the differences in rates of mental illness? Are there other factors that might explain the differences you observe?

          • Young CC Prof
            April 27, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

            If by “birth trauma” you mean hypoxic brain injury or damage to the brachial nerve plexus, sure there may be lifelong consequences.

          • April 27, 2014 at 10:53 pm #

            Are babies alive or not? How much imagination does it take to realize they might have emotional reactions to how they’re treated?

          • RN who has seen too much
            April 27, 2014 at 10:42 pm #

            Before when? This has been going for decades….possibly longer than you’ve been alive, since you sound like an obnoxious millennial twit.

          • Dr Kitty
            April 27, 2014 at 6:10 pm #

            Most women deliver semi-reclined, not supine.
            Supine means flat on your back, which no hospital in the USA, UK or Australia enforces.

          • S
            April 28, 2014 at 12:28 am #

            FYI, rwinkle, your own link posted above describes this position (it’s referred to as “semi-sitting”).

          • Amazed
            April 27, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

            Delivering a stillborn IS a normal delivery. Sometimes, things go wrong and that’s normal. Just highly undesirable.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            April 27, 2014 at 7:49 pm #

            So if he had been born 2 days earlier by c-section, that would have been worse because he wasn’t “ready to come out”?

            You are a real asshole.

          • FormerPhysicist
            April 27, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

            Amen. And condolences. Still.

          • April 27, 2014 at 10:50 pm #

            I see, so he died just before the c-section because the NCB-brainwashed mother would rather have a dead baby than a cs baby?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            April 28, 2014 at 8:12 am #

            Doubling down on the asshole?

            YOU are the one who claimed he wasn’t “ready to be born.” If anything, she was following your advice. She wasn’t, of course, because wasn’t under the delusion that the baby decides when to be born.

          • birthbuddy
            April 28, 2014 at 1:48 am #

            An asshole without a clue, the worst kind of all.

          • RN who has seen too much
            April 27, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

            Wow. Asshole much?

          • April 27, 2014 at 10:49 pm #

            What would be more empathic? He died before he was ready to be born?

          • RN who has seen too much
            April 27, 2014 at 10:54 pm #

            What would be more empaTHETIC (not empathic, oy) would be to say, I’m sorry for your loss. Perhaps medical intervention would have had a different outcome.

          • April 27, 2014 at 10:57 pm #

            Please point out when I’ve denied that medical intervention can save lives. You’re entirely missing the point.

          • RN who has seen too much
            April 27, 2014 at 10:59 pm #

            um..did I just enter the twilight zone? That’s what you’ve been doing on this entire thread. Decrying medical interventions. And how DARE you call Bofa’s sister a brainwashed NCBer….it’s people like you who convince others that interventions aren’t necessary and perpetuate this bullshit. You should be ashamed of yourself.

          • April 27, 2014 at 11:04 pm #

            You’re late to this conversation I think. My whole point is that needless interventions are routinely imposed without regard to their potentially traumatic impact on the child. Presumably no one wants to impose needless interventions because it’s a waste of money. My point is that it’s also often highly destructive.

          • Mishimoo
            April 27, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

            So, you’re saying that ‘needless’ interventions are done ONLY because doctors are evil and destructive; if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be wasting money on needless interventions?

          • April 27, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

            I can’t speak to the motivations of doctors. I only know that babies often suffer from standard obstetrical procedures and that suffering is seldom recognized by the research establishment that sets those obstetrical standards.

          • Mishimoo
            April 27, 2014 at 11:12 pm #

            How do you know it happens if it is being missed, as you claim, by researchers with several years of education?

          • April 27, 2014 at 11:17 pm #

            Several years of education? This is laughable. Medicine didn’t invent human beings. They only recently realized that “junk DNA” isn’t junk. Where is your sense of your own ignorance?

          • Mishimoo
            April 27, 2014 at 11:21 pm #

            I keep mine in my left pocket, where I can look at it frequently as a reminder to read and learn more. Where do you keep yours?

          • birthbuddy
            April 28, 2014 at 1:45 am #

            He keeps it in his cranium, you know, where his brain is supposed to be.

          • Mishimoo
            April 28, 2014 at 1:55 am #

            Ah-ha! I thought as much, but didn’t want to assume.

          • birthbuddy
            April 28, 2014 at 1:40 am #

            No, you are failing to make a point.

          • birthbuddy
            April 28, 2014 at 1:38 am #

            You have to remember, de-winkel circumcised so (by his own analysis) he has violence issues as an adult.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD
            April 27, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

            As far as you know? than you don’t know very much, do you?

          • April 27, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

            What percentage of american births are done on the back? It used to be nearly 100%.

          • RN who has seen too much
            April 27, 2014 at 10:18 pm #

            Do your own research, remember, you know it all. Perhaps if you had actually, oh I don’t know, seen a hospital birth before spouting your “facts” you might make a little more sense. I’m a labor and delivery nurse, and I see births in all kinds of positions,but no one “flat on their back” because it’s bad for the baby and makes mom dizzy. Usually mom’s like to push in semi fowlers (google it if you don’t know what that means) because it’s comfortable for them, but sometimes they push on their side, or hands and knees or squatting or whatever. You need to get your head out of the NCB clouds. It sounds like you’ve been brainwashed. Did you actually remember your circumcision, or did you start dating a girl who was an intactivist and just gave up your own thoughts on things? I have a brother in law who could BE you. I wouldn’t be surprised if you are him.

          • April 27, 2014 at 10:25 pm #

            I’m so glad things are changing as far as delivery. My question is why it took so long. As far as MGM, are you one of those people who would laugh at a rape victim, telling her she dressed too seductively?

          • RN who has seen too much
            April 27, 2014 at 10:28 pm #

            WTF? What does that have to do with rape? You have issues.

          • RN who has seen too much
            April 27, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

            When was the last hospital delivery you have seen? I’m going to guess none. I’m also going to guess you don’t even have kids……

          • April 27, 2014 at 10:33 pm #

            I’m going to guess you’re not a circumcised man.

          • RN who has seen too much
            April 27, 2014 at 10:39 pm #

            I’m going to guess you’ve never actually given birth or have a vagina. Also I have 3 circumcised sons. Weep for them! I am just sure they are so traumatized by it……

          • Mishimoo
            April 27, 2014 at 10:46 pm #

            If that’s one of the integral parts of your personal identity, I feel rather sorry for you.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            April 28, 2014 at 8:08 am #

            I’m a circumcised man. I have two boys, neither of whom are circumcised.

            I think you are a complete idiot.

          • April 27, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

            What does male genital mutilation have to do with rape? Seriously?

          • RN who has seen too much
            April 27, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

            What circumcision have to do with this entire conversation. (obviously I do not agree that it’s mutilation. There are medical benefits, I am not even going to try and explain them to you because well…..you’ve proven to not be very smart). Commence the “studies” from your intactivist websites! I can’t wait to read them. Unfortunately for you, I know how to interpret evidence, also I find you annoying and I tend not to be swayed by annoying people.

          • April 27, 2014 at 10:36 pm #

            I’m not here to educate you. Have fun, just stay away from little boy’s penises, that’s all I ask.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            April 28, 2014 at 9:47 am #

            100% of American births also used to be done at home. What does that have to do with anything? The strength of mainstream, science based medicine is that practice changes when new data are available.

          • guest
            April 27, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

            I had an induction for my second. His heart rate was looking iffy. It took 3 hours and I was on my back 10 minutes the whole process. It was pushing because I found it WAY easier. And your whole percieved miscarriage thing, I mean c’mon, that’s just plain old stupid. Where is there any evidence anywhere that babies percieve anything about how and when they come out. Oh right, there’s none.

          • OBPI Mama
            April 27, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

            Have you ever had a natural birth? Well I have had a prolonged labor (homebirth) and there is certainly stress hormones in the mom… nothing like feeling like you’re going to die to release some stress hormones (every other naturally birthing mother I’ve talked to has said they experienced that feeling as well during labor)! The stress of feeling like my a$$ was breaking in two was also intense. I watched my sister give birth in a hospital with an induction and an epidural and it was the most non-stressful, peaceful birth I’ve ever seen. Wanna bet who had more stress hormones flowing through their body???

          • Busbus
            April 27, 2014 at 9:26 pm #

            OBPI Mama, I couldn’t agree more. I had two entirely natural homebirths without any medical issues, and none of them was particularly stress-free. In fact, the experience was so excruciating that with my first born,I was practically unable to hold her after she was born, and with my second,I had afterpains that were strong enough to make me moan and – you guessed it – unable to hold or focus on my baby. Both times,I had a terrible recovery and very hard time breastfeeding (not to mention that my round-the-clock pumping schedule and the”rule” for not giving s bottle myself prevented me from seeing my baby much at all.) This idea of the ecstatic birth is, for most women, a fantasy. All the”problems” I had were the result of natural processes (just like my bad eye sight, my hernias and my inflamed appendix are the result of natural processes.) And my problems were the good kind of problems to have; none of them left anybody permanently injured or dead.
            Nature is a bitch. Luckily, we have ways to beat nature today (such as take out an inflamed appendix instead of possibly dying a slow and agonizing death, and monitoring labor and intervening, if necessary, to make sure the baby survives.) No amount of (idealized, dreamed-up) “peace” is going to help my baby if it doesn’t make it through labor or starves because I can’t breastfeed. I’ll take my baby’s life and health over a, yes, paleo-fantasy every day of the week.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            April 28, 2014 at 9:45 am #

            Not what your link says. It simply mentions prolonged labor as one type of traumatic birth. Nothing about position or induction.

            In fact, there is a plausible mechanism by which prolonged labor–for any reason–might lead to higher rates of violent crime in children who experience it. It is known that victims of TBI have higher rates of violent behavior later in life. Maybe having your head repeatedly banged against a pelvis creates a TBI-like state and increased risk. Especially the prolonged second phase of labor that NCBers are so fond of.

            Oh, and oxytocin and pitocin are the same molecule.

      • April 27, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

        There are many different ways to feel rejected. To think that a mammalian baby (mammary glands, remember) wouldn’t feel rejected by a plastic and rubber bottle (which is obviously not mother) and the associated reduction in carrying and skin to skin contact is convenient fiction. Even before they open their eyes, babies know their mother’s body through smell and sound and feel and taste. Induced miscarriage will certainly be perceived as a dangerous loss of nurturing if not outright rejection. There is a strong connection between lack of carrying and adult violence which has a known neurological mechanism. (see violence.de) The study’s choice of a particularly severe form of rejection as a quantifiable variable does not negate the correlation. Babies need their mothers. What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with it is that society has no respect for the emotional needs of children and families, and medicine is only to happy to function as a component of that society.

        • Elizabeth A
          April 27, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

          Babies need care. They don’t necessarily need to receive that care from their mothers – plenty of children, throughout human history, have been raised by people who were not their mothers, for a variety of reasons. I agree that babies can tell the difference between breasts and bottles, I can’t agree that it matters very much to them, emotionally. I think overreading emotional implications of every interaction with an infant is a way to make parents deranged.

          • April 27, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

            We’re talking about statistics as applied to thousands of individual children here. All other things being equal, are “average” babies better off with their own oxytocin-charged lactating mothers or with plastic bottles and strangers? If you believe there is no evidence one way or another, shouldn’t you err on the side of caution?

          • Elizabeth A
            April 27, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

            Which side is caution? Does caution require that we expose women and infants to avoidable risk of injury and death because medical assistance in labor might increase the chances of a violently behaved person twenty years from now? Are you suggesting that we let babies starve if their mothers don’t lactate sufficiently, or the children for some other reason can’t breast feed every feeding, rather than raise people who might have experienced bottle feeding as emotional rejection? Because that’s what happens when we don’t have bottles – babies die.

          • April 27, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

            Caution is to avoid interfering in a normal physiological process if such interference can be avoided. Back birthing and delivery on demand, and the compensatory interventions that they require, are needlessly dangerous and worth avoiding if possible.

          • Elizabeth A
            April 27, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

            Back birthing has no particular disadvantage over other positions that I’m aware of – it allows physical support for the mother, so she can relax completely between contractions, it facilitates opening the pelvis, and it gives people assisting with the birth a lot of good options for helping to resolve shoulder dystocia. So why should we avoid that?

            I have delivered two babies. One I delivered partially reclining, propped up by the back of a highly adjustable hospital bed. One was an emergency pre-term c/s. The only needlessly dangerous thing I did was refuse pitocin and c-section the first time. They’d probably have spared me the post-partum hemorrhage (which resulted from uterine atony after an entirely natural, prolonged, second stage labor).

          • Elizabeth A
            April 27, 2014 at 5:59 pm #

            So… lying down is bad because a lady in Australia says so.

            She seems to sell photography and cloth diapers. Her research skills are lacking.

          • April 27, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

            The quote. See the quote?

          • Elizabeth A
            April 27, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

            I did see the quote. I didn’t find it compelling.

          • April 27, 2014 at 6:14 pm #

            Ok. But why?

          • Elizabeth A
            April 27, 2014 at 7:36 pm #

            Because there’s no supporting reasoning at all. Itappears to be quoted just because the lady who wrote the webpage likes it – what context is the statement from? What speech or publication did it first appear in? What evidence supports it?

            Almost anyone can say pithy things, and absolutely anyone can repeat them, but pithiness doesn’t make them correct, or important.

    • April 27, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

      It is obvious that some people will literally believe anything.

      • April 27, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

        Agreed. Medicine used to believe that headaches could be relieved by drilling holes in your head. It’s been a slow steady improvement since then, but there are still problems, particularly in birth, where there is no meaningful feedback from one of the two patients involved.

        • Dr Kitty
          April 27, 2014 at 5:40 pm #

          Which apparently means you feel free to make stuff up about what babies “perceive”.

          You know that the biggest follow up study of adopted Romanian Orphans, the ones who experienced actual severe neglect and maltreatment, found that while many had difficulties, a fairly high percentage were well adjusted, intelligent, successful young adults ?

          I’m pretty sure years of lying in a cot with minimal human contact trumps pitocin and a loving family who chose to formula feed.

          • April 27, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

            I’m talking about a choice between needed and needless intervention in pregnancy and birth.

          • Box of Salt
            April 27, 2014 at 6:06 pm #

            rwinkel “a choice between needed and needless intervention”

            And exactly why do you think you are qualified to tell the difference between the two?

          • April 27, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

            Because wikipedia. Obviously.

          • April 27, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

            I research. I respect the opinions of experts. I’m aware of the problems of profit-incentivized medicine as applied to children.

    • onandoff
      April 27, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

      “Mammalian infants would obviously perceive lack of breast feeding as maternal rejection.” No. Obviously mammalian infants perceive lack of breast feeding as being loved by their mothers, fathers, extended family and even surrogate family because their nutritional needs are met by so many loving people. Babies who are exclusively breastfed wonder why only one person cares enough about them to feed them.

      “Induction would be perceived as miscarriage by the baby, since it’s the baby’s hormones that initiate labor.” No. Obviously, babies perceive induction as their families loving them so, so dearly that they wish to avoid unnecessary complications and hasten their arrival. Babies who go to 42 weeks wonder why their parents didn’t care enough to help them get out.

      • April 27, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

        These arguments mean absolutely nothing to a newborn baby. Maybe if you could find a way to explain all the social, economic and legal factors involved in its birth, it might make a difference to its perception of its own existence and self-worth. But I doubt it. Babies live in the present. They have no history. Everything they know is happening right now and becomes part of their self-identity.

        • onandoff
          April 27, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

          None of these arguments are social, economic or legal. They are all about meeting the basic immediate, biological (nutritional, love, health) needs of an infant.

          • April 27, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

            And the infant understands none of it. It might as well be relativity theory.

          • onandoff
            April 27, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

            They understand rejection, but not satisfaction of basic biological needs. Got it.

          • Young CC Prof
            April 27, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

            Obviously, when my baby napping in my arms wakes up and cries at mealtime, and then calms down after I feed him, it’s because he was afraid of maternal rejection, not because he was hungry. Duh!

          • April 27, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

            See above.

          • April 27, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

            Nurturing provides for basic biological needs. Do you object to the emotional content just because it’s not readily quantifiable? Why?

          • onandoff
            April 27, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

            I don’t reject it at all. I explained how babies feel under different scenarios. But you reject just how preceptive and emotional babies are.

          • Elizabeth A
            April 27, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

            I have to disagree – they aren’t about meeting the needs of an infant, they’re about the opinions of the speaker, and usually that alone.

            Infants perceive their needs as quite simple, because the notion of paying rent for a safe place to sleep, indeed, might as well be relativity theory. The need for health insurance is practically quantum mechanics. We can’t more effectively love our babies by pretending that the things that are beyond their comprehension don’t exist. I know that there is a such a thing as homelessness, and I know why I don’t want a child I love sleeping on the street. It’s on the adults in the family to handle these needs, even if the solutions aren’t necessarily what our infants prefer.

        • April 27, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

          And how have YOU gotten all of your information about what newborns think? Telepathy? Hypnotic regression? That baby-talk translator from the Simpsons?

          • April 27, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

            They are emotional beings. They make their feelings known to anyone who cares to pay attention to them. The abstract thinking that produces larger perspectives and larger networks of emotional connections comes later.

          • April 27, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

            So, the fact that a baby can be blissfully content and even joyous while sucking on a bottle, in the arms of someone other than its birth mother, sitting in a bouncy chair watching people – all meaningless? That a baby can show preferences for people beyond its mother? That a baby born after a non-ideal-by-arbitrary-internet-commenters and/or not successfully nursing is wrecked for life, even if it’s cooing and gurgling and peaceful? And I suppose colicky babies are explaining how bad things are in their lives and how lousy their births were?

            Man, even if your argument held a drop of water, I’d say it’s pretty damn foolish because babies DON’T know what they need – neither do small children. They have no perspective, no abstract concepts, none of that yet. Their brains are immature and incapable of the kind of cognition you’re claiming. They need full bellies, love, comfort and clean dry butts.

          • April 27, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

            I’m talking about newborn babies. What you’re describing comes later.

          • April 27, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

            No, I am talking about newborns. They can express contentment and satisfaction too.

  7. Meerkat
    December 23, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    I keep thinking that this Paleo fantasy is very prevalent in foodie circles, too. My friend just spent an hour telling me that what we are poisoning ourselves, and we need to eat like our wise ancestors. While I agree that eating a diet rich in whole foods like fruit, veggies, proteins and carbs is healthier and processed food is bad, ” perfect” Paleo diet is a myth. For most of human history majority of people didn’t have enough to eat, so getting your hands on any food was considered lucky… I don’t think that perfect diet ever existed, as people had to adapt to their environment and survive, and perfect child rearing techniques don’t exist either.
    I agree with other commenters. Ms. Narvaez is not a parent, so any advice on parenting from her sounds hollow and silly. I had some ideas on parenthood before I became a parent and having my son turned my ideas upside down. My son hates being worn in a sling and doesn’t like to sleep with me. Heck, he even insists on eating all by himself, at 15 month old (my eye no longer twitches from the mess).

  8. Sue
    December 20, 2013 at 1:07 am #

    Meh…Paelo is so YESTERDAY!

  9. siri dennis
    December 19, 2013 at 9:07 am #

    You should see my little boy’s eyes glow as he plays Ratchet & Clank with his Daddy! Or hear him purr with contentment as he snuggles up with me in front of a Scooby Doo film…

  10. Lynnie
    December 19, 2013 at 7:59 am #

    I personally have a hard time taking advice about child rearing from a person who doesn’t have children, no matter what their “credentials” are. It may be my own biased opinion, but a person has no right telling another person how to take care of their baby unless they have had the experience of night after night getting up with their newborn or teething baby or had the pleasure of caring for a sick child while sick themselves.
    I’m glad I didn’t read that article a couple years ago. I became immersed in the whole “natural parenting and birth” crowd after my son was born. Thankfully I didn’t get involved BEFORE my son was born because I could have put his and my life at risk if I refused my induction for high blood pressure. (I definitely felt guilt about it though for a long time.) I was also already feeling intense guilt about not trying to breastfeed as much as I “should” when things were not going well for breastfeeding. I was reading AP and natural parenting drivel calling formula “artificial milk” and saying that formula fed babies were disadvantaged and was facing a life time of health problems. (Of course, I could have just compared my son to some exclusively breastfed children that I spend a lot of time with. They were sick just as often, if not more so than my son.) It took a lot to pull myself out of the “natural parenting” mentality. When I tried to implement some of the principles of AP, my son actually became whinier and clingier and I began to let him walk all over me. Of course, AP advocates will probably say that I was doing it “wrong”, but AP actually went against my instincts. I have read that APers call AP “instinctual parenting”. Well, my instincts told me that when my son was overly tired and fighting sleep, that he probably would go to sleep a lot faster being left alone for a few minutes than me messing with him. That is just one example…. I was amazed about how much of AP or “natural parenting” just didn’t set right with me. Maybe my son is going to be one of the 29 out of 30 stressed children that don’t have iridescent eyes and will grow up to be a serial killer meth head because he drank formula and slept in a crib. I don’t know why I’m rambling so much. It’s WAY past my bedtime and rereading that article just set me on edge. I am just glad that I am over the whole AP natural parenting mentality, I just feel for those who are believing this drivel and are trying to live up to some imaginary mothering standard that is probably unobtainable. I mean, it’s OK for moms to have faults and failures. It’s OK for moms to be human who may be impatient at time or just want to leave the kids with a (OH, THE HORROR) a babysitter and have grown up time with their significant other for a few hours.

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
      December 19, 2013 at 8:53 am #

      I have never understood AP, it seems to presume that every baby is the same and will react in the same way. My fried had a very calm, quiet baby who loved being in a sling or baby Bjorn carrier and wanted to be held all the time.

      I got quite the surprise when my daughter was born, she loved being held “sometimes” like if she was sleepy, hungry or not feeling well. But most of the time when she was awake and alert she wanted to at least be up on your shoulder or being held facing out so she could see everything. If you held her cuddled up facing you she got fussy and restless. At 4 or 5 months she wanted to be on the floor, scooting around or rolling herself over to whatever looked interesting.

      She HATED the sling. She’s now a happy, friendly, seemingly well adjusted 19 year old. We(my husband and I) had so much fun when she was growing up, finger painting, building block towers and Lego castles, coloring together, stomping in rain puddles, doing kitchen chemistry, going to the park and the zoo and the train station. There is a lot more to bonding than whether you use a sling, breastfeed or co-sleep. What works for your family, works for your family. It might work for someone else or something else might work better. Each baby is different and has their own personality.

      • SkepticalGuest
        December 19, 2013 at 11:54 am #

        On the other hand, I think there is such a backlash against AP that sometimes people accused us of *making* our baby need cosleeping or babywearing because we had some philosophical attachment to it. The reality is that we tried a wide range of things and this is what kept our kid relatively comfortable and allowed him to get some sleep.

        One friend once watched how I parented and said, “I’m glad I’m not doing AP because this looks like too much work.”

        But it was more work NOT because I was following a philosophy but because I had a higher-needs kid. In our case, it turned out our kid had some underlying medical issues that our pediatrician missed–as well as one that she caught–and that’s what made him “higher needs”, not my parenting.

        • Young CC Prof
          December 19, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

          I’m a big fan of doing what works for your kid and your family. There are many reasonable ways to parent, and (within the range of reasonable choices of course) outsiders are generally not in a position to judge whether you’ve chosen the right one.

        • Jennifer2
          December 19, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

          We did a lot better once we stopped trying to blindly follow any sort of parenting philosophy (AP or anything else) and started just doing whatever worked best for us. There were AP things that worked really well for us – for example, cloth diapers were like magic for containing runny newborn poop. Other things didn’t – we all slept better after moving our son to his own room at 3 months because we weren’t waking each other up all night. There were things we did because we were lazy (like napping in the recliner with a baby on our laps instead of trying to force him to nap in his crib or a pack ‘n’ play). And there were things we definitely did not do because we were lazy (my struggles with breastfeeding led to intrusive thoughts of chopping my breasts off with a kitchen knife, so formula seemed like a reasonable alternative to that). But once we really focused on our son’s personality and our personalities and our lifestyle and asked whether certain things would fit with those, we found parenting to be a lot, lot, lot easier.

  11. ol
    December 19, 2013 at 4:21 am #

    I think that these paleofantasies work in the same way as scientification (I’m not sure in my English) – when someone has an important idea and other people do not share it and do not understand, this person may feel the need to prove his idea through addressing to the authority of higher level that is recognised in society. This authority may be science (“Scientists proved that I’m right”) or religion. Or reference to old times where all lived in right way. I wonder why paleofantasies are about parenting, sex (man-woman relations as extremly unequal or equal), food – all everyday spheres where someone may feel the need to justify his choice and lifestyle.

  12. December 19, 2013 at 4:20 am #

    I knew something was wrong with the article- why didn’t I check the author first and stop reading it???? Stupid me.

  13. DiomedesV
    December 18, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

    For fun, I went to her Notre Dame homepage and looked up her publication list (which was not all-inclusive, but perhaps had the ones she was most proud of).

    It is long, but it is largely filled with commentary articles and books. Very little peer-reviewed scientific research and what little there is appears to be of middling quality. Basically, she’s made a “niche” for herself (yes, some of us know what that word means) spewing her own personal preferences from a position of imagined authority on a subject of which she knows very little (evolution).

    Here’s a general rule about “evolutionary psychology” and the people who practice it. 95% of it is bullshit. It is composed of 90% psychologists who think they know something about evolution but probably couldn’t explain the concepts of heritability (narrow sense and broad sense), natural selection, sexual selection, and genetic drift in three sentences or less each if you gave them all day long. They don’t know anything about genetics.

    The rest are evolutionary biologists who are drawn to “big questions” and like to dabble in theories about the evolutionary of morality, for example. Their very untestability makes these ideas particularly appealing to the evolutionary biologists that engage them, and I think that’s because many people, scientists or not, ultimately do not want to restrict themselves to evidence on topics that interest them.

    It’s not that these aren’t important questions, and there is some worthwhile research done on these subjects. But in my experience, most evolutionary biologists tend to be cautious about drawing sweeping conclusions about human behavior–what it is, has been, and should be–because they’re dyed-in-the-wool empiricists. Consequently, most evolutionary biologists have little respect for the field of evolutionary psychology.

    • Rebecca
      December 24, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

      Narvaez’ full CV is available here:

      She has a curious career trajectory. Master of Divinity in 1984, followed by a PhD in Educational Psychology. She earned tenure in the College of Education at Minnesota, then somehow made a lateral move to the Department of Psychology at Notre Dame in 2000. Her expertise is in Moral Development and Moral Education, while her CV has almost no academic contributions or qualifications related to evolutionary psychology.

  14. amazonmom
    December 18, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

    Both of my children lack the glowing eyes of superiority. Never mind that the pediatrician couldn’t stop playing with my son because of his exceptional alertness and advanced physical skills.

    • Bombshellrisa
      December 18, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

      Oh but the ladies from Puget Sound Birth Center would disagree-your son can’t be “alert” or have advanced physical skills, he was born “drugged by an epidural” and via C-section! (Your baby must be so precious-makes me really look forward to meeting my little guy in February)

      • OttawaAlison
        December 18, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

        My daughter was ultra alert too. I had morphine and an epidural and she didn’t seem phased by it one bit.

      • Guest
        December 18, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

        Epidural, Stadol, General anesthesia, crash section. 8 APGAR. And 10 years later and not a a single school form NOT ONE has had a place for me to put that information. 🙁

        • Elizabeth A
          December 18, 2013 at 11:59 pm #

          I keep looking for the line where I list how long I breastfed each kid, but the schools don’t seem to care about the paleo-nutritional place the students are coming from. There’s all this misplaced emphasis on what vaccines they’ve had and whether the need inhalers or epi-pens, and what language we speak at home.

          • Bombshellrisa
            December 19, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

            I wish I could like this 50 times

  15. SkepticalGuest
    December 18, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

    Spot on…except that not all of us adult humans can digest lactose. In fact, some of us lose the ability quite young.

    In fact, given how young both me and my son became lactose intolerant, it’s likely that our genetics would’ve died out in primitive times when lactose-rich breastmilk was the only safe thing to drink.

    Other proof of our changing genetics (just to name one) is that the fact that so many of us in the developed world require corrective lenses. I would’ve been eaten my lions or fallen off a cliff before I hit puberty if it weren’t modern optometry.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      December 18, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

      Not all of us have malaria resisting mutations either, but some of us do. The point, if I understand correctly, is that documented beneficial (for a given environment) have occurred and propagated in many human populations and we can’t be sure how many others have also done so since the time that Narvaez is romanticizing. (I’m a partial lactase mutant, BTW. Sigh.)

      • SkepticalGuest
        December 19, 2013 at 11:21 am #

        Exactly. Evolution didn’t stop with the cavemen!

    • Mishimoo
      December 20, 2013 at 1:46 am #

      I’m not at the point where I’d fall off a cliff, but my eyes are bad enough that when I wasn’t wearing glasses last night, I mistook a wolf spider for a cockroach!

      • anion
        December 20, 2013 at 7:30 am #

        Lucky. 🙂 I’m legally blind without correction.

  16. anion
    December 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but if we currently have “epidemics of depression, anxiety, high suicide and drug use rates,” and if those rates are somehow tied to how we were cared for as babies, wouldn’t that actually disprove her theory, since, say, a hundred years ago children were seen and not heard, babies were fed on and put to sleep on strict schedules, and nobody had ever heard of infant carriers or slings?

    Surely these epidemics are not taking place among people a hundred years old?

    • Dr Kitty
      December 18, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

      Well opium, laudanum and cheap gin were easily available and widely used, so I’m not sure that the “epidemic of drug use” is a new thing…


      • anion
        December 18, 2013 at 7:25 pm #

        Absolutely. But the writer in question is behaving as if this is a brand-new problem caused specifically by non-attachment childrearing, and claiming a lot more problems than just drug addictions. My point is that if that were true, we would have seen more of these problems at a time when more people practiced stricter parenting, and it would be improving now.

        And there are a lot of other things that contributed to the levels of drug and alcohol use among people in the Victorian era, frex; the legality; the fact that babies, children, and adults were prescribed morphine and laudanum to help them sleep or for teething or any other thing; the fact that gin was cheap and water was dirty, and food and heat were scarce for the poor who were the main consumers; the fact that for a time it was fashionable, even. The fact is that humans have always sought ways to escape brutal reality.

    • ErynnSilver
      December 18, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

      Actiually generally babies were kept nearby and fed on demand hundreds of years ago… so erm… yea. No. This extreme of behavior is new.

      • anion
        December 18, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

        To which extreme are you referring? The epidemics, or the you-must-always-be-touching-your-baby stuff?

        And note that I didn’t say “hundreds of years ago,” but “a hundred years ago.” Note also that hundreds of years ago much of that on-demand feeding was done by wet nurses, not mothers, and that it was common for children to work long hours at difficult jobs, and/or for wealthy children to be married to arranged spouses very young, and/or for many children to die very young. Childhood was hardly a picnic throughout most of history.

      • anion
        December 18, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

        Oh, btw, Erynn, I noticed your cheerleadering comment on the original article, complete with the smarmy and patronizing “so erm… yea[sic].”

      • Trixie
        December 18, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

        Why were they kept nearby? Because unless you were really rich, your house was tiny, and probably jam packed with people. There was no other room to put the baby in.

        • Young CC Prof
          December 18, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

          One room, smaller than many of our bedrooms. With an uncovered fire place and all sorts of sharp tools lying around, which meant you had to keep the baby swaddled until you could make him listen and stay put. On the up side, some swaddling boards came with a handle and a hook, so you could hang the baby on the wall when you needed to get some work done.

          Yup, infancy sure was idyllic in the old days.

      • auntbea
        December 18, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

        You mean, assuming the mother had enough milk to feed on demand, right? And wasn’t using most of her milk as a wet nurse for someone wealthier? And didn’t have to leave her baby behind with God-knows-who while she moved to the city to work as domestic help or in a factory or as a prostitute? Is there no one is your imaginary history except for wealthy women who don’t work and peasants in the field with babies on their backs?

  17. Dr Kitty
    December 18, 2013 at 2:51 pm #


    I do not think Darcia and Suzanne Moore would get on.
    I DO know who I’d rather have as a dinner party guest/friend.

    “There is nothing natural. So give it up.Dying in childbirth at 26, your child getting TB at five is natural. Purée misshapen roots from the farmers’ market and pretend Monster Munch is not a vegetable? Were you always this much fun?”

  18. fearlessformulafeeder
    December 18, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    Thanks, Dr. A, for this. I know I should just ignore Darcia, but she KILLS me. Just because she has a VOICE. People take her seriously b/c she’s a professor at Notre Dame, writes for Psychology Today, and has a “Dr.” by her name. You don’t know how many women I’ve had to talk off a cliff because of her rantings. I’ve considered writing to Notre Dame and asking them to do something about her bullshit, but she has tenure, I’m sure. Plus considering they also employ James McKenna, it seems that old ND is now a hotbed of woo.

  19. Elle
    December 18, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

    When I read/hear parenting advice from childless people, I tend to just kinda nod, roll my eyes, and move on. 😛

    • Carolina
      December 18, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

      Careful. Some of the childfree/childless get mighty offended if you suggest that they don’t have all the answers for parenting children. It’s hilarious and eye-roll worthy

      • Elizabeth A
        December 18, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

        I had all the answers to raising perfect children once too. Then I had actual children.

        My skills at raising perfect children remain untested. I got the ordinary kind.

        • resaurus
          February 1, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

          I saw an excellent example of parenting on the subway once. A 30s-ish man with his two little kids (3 and 5? Couldn’t really tell) and the 3-year-old was saying some amusing, silly things. The 5-year-old is not being very nice to her younger sib, saying that whatever she is saying is wrong, stupid, etc. Well, this dad really made it a teachable moment! Pretty much saying “hey [older child], do you know everything? no? then don’t be mean to your sister. she doesn’t have as much experience as you. she hasn’t lived as long as you, so she doesn’t know. now apologize.” I wanted to buy that man a beer.

          • resaurus
            February 1, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

            It was remarkable to me because he could have easily just yelled and told both of them to shut up, stop fighting, etc., as you might see among tired and frustrated parents on the subway…but he didn’t.

      • T.
        December 18, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

        Actually, we mostly are just annoyed when we have to deal with tantrums in public places or such because the parents refuse to discipline the child, which happens rarely but it is exceedingly annoying when it does happen.

        Most childfree people don’t think about childraising more than the avarage people think about beetroot farming. It doesn’t really interest us.
        Can’t speak for childless, though.

        • Carolina
          December 18, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

          Note that I did say “some” so I’m not sure why you are defensive. If you aren’t offering childrearing advice, it doesn’t apply to you.

          I wasn’t referring to anyone on this blog, but on some of the others I follow, there are commentators who believe their time babysitting/having siblings/etc. gives them some insight into discipline, feeding, work-life balance, balancing marriage v. child-rearing, etc. My favorite storm was a bunch of childfree/childless (and some unmarried) commentators lecturing parents on how to put their spouse first. Again, hilarious and eye-roll inducing.

          • T.
            December 18, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

            People always seem to believe they know a lot of things they don’t, whatever it is uneducated high-schoolers that thinks they are better than Obs or chidless people who believe they know how to raise children…
            I think the fact neither have any real experience explain a lot 😛

            Apologize for the defensiveness, Chidless and childfree being lumped together is a pet peeves of mine, I admit it 🙂

          • Certified Hamster Midwife
            December 18, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

            If they’re trained psychotherapists, perhaps they have some insight. Otherwise, STFU.

        • Karen in SC
          December 18, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

          I have to admit to judge-y feelings at times when I witness an epic fail. I wish I knew what to do to help.

          A few weeks ago, I was waiting with another adult couple at a popular restaurant. It was around 7:30 pm or later and the wait for a table was 45 minutes plus. It was nice enough we waited on the patio with some beers. There was a family with three children, who had been waiting already and the kids starting running around, misbehaving etc. It was outside so we didn’t mind until the mother started losing it and yelling.

          Okay, I happened to mention to my friends that the kids were no doubt tired and hungry and hello, there was a Panera bread company right next door, no line. I was thinking about going and buying them each a bagel or something, but mercifully they were called to a table. The couple I was with ordered them (anonymously) a dessert pizza and paid for it. I wonder if the parents realized why.

          • Stephanie
            December 18, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

            Anecdotally I have been that mom. There us nothing I would like more than to take the kids yo fast food when traveling. The problem is with my kids being both celiac and lactose intolerant there’s not a whole lot they can eat when we travel. We have to wait for the restaurant that will do the custom dish.

          • SkepticalGuest
            December 19, 2013 at 11:06 am #

            @Stephanie: I feel your pain. My son and I both have celiac, as well as lactose intolerance and a cow milk protein allergy. It is SO hard to eat out, and the few times we are forced to, we choose places that are very knowledgeable about safety for celiacs and also have dairy-free options.

        • Jocelyn
          December 18, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

          With my toddler, tantrums in public places happen far more when we ARE disciplining her, because we’re not giving her everything she wants.

          • me
            December 19, 2013 at 9:01 am #

            This a million times! You can’t have it both ways. Discipline causes tantrums. At least at first. There isn’t a parent alive that disciplines their children that hasn’t had to do ‘the walk of shame’ dragging a screaming toddler out of a store/restaurant/other establishment at least a few times. With consistency they do learn and it gets better, but believe me, the parent is WAY more annoyed and upset about it than any nosey nelly bystander could ever be.

          • Young CC Prof
            December 19, 2013 at 9:32 am #

            This, definitely. I try very hard to NOT be bothered by screaming kids, unless the kid is someplace that babies/toddlers simply shouldn’t be, like the theatre. (Grocery stores, restaurants and public transit are all reasonable places for children to be found. Non-parents need to deal.)

  20. lilin
    December 18, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    If babies have the same needs they had 30 million years ago it should be fine not to breastfeed babies. Human milk, cow milk, goat milk, rat milk – it’s all paleokay!

  21. Trixie
    December 18, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

    I like how formula feeding and cribs are “violations” that are only permissible under life and death emergencies.

  22. LovleAnjel
    December 18, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    “nearly constant touch and physical presence of caregivers…free play with multi-aged

    Now how does that work, exactly?

    • Trixie
      December 18, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

      You strap them onto your back in your $200 carrier and crawl around on the floor amongst the other children, swinging them around to your front every 20 minutes in order to nurse? At least until they’re old enough for Waldorf school, amiright?

    • Ennis Demeter
      December 19, 2013 at 7:16 am #

      The multi-age thing is a buzzword for homeschooling. They like to say that being around kids of different ages (their own sibs) brings diveristy to education.

      • Jennifer2
        December 19, 2013 at 10:28 pm #

        I agree that playing with multi-aged playmates is important, but I don’t see why that has to mean homeschooling. Especially if you only have one or two kids. Not much diversity there (although I’m sure it’s not “natcheral” to have only one or two kids). In-home daycare usually involves kids from infant to school-age. Most neighborhoods aren’t segregated by age of child. Even your child’s classmates in school probably have older and younger siblings. Cousins, neighbors, siblings of friends, friends of siblings, children of parents’ friends – all potential sources of multi-aged playmates for even the least crunchy of families.

  23. Elizabeth A
    December 18, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    OT! My sister went into the hospital for her planned induction this morning. Pitocin was started around nine, and her healthy baby girl was born before noon. I have one picture and two texts since the birth, indicating that my beautiful new niece was snuggled up in her mother’s arms, and that the labor was short (obviously!) and easy.

    I don’t know if the baby is a Narvaez-approved werewolf. She was snoozing in the pic.

    • Jocelyn
      December 18, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

      Woohoo! Congratulations to your sister!

  24. Amy M
    December 18, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    I really don’t understand this mentality of: “Good mothers are miserable people with no lives, who do nothing other than spend every minute tending to their children and ensuring that said children are always happy, thriving, developing at least on track if not on an advanced timetable, are smarter than everyone else’s children, are NEVER injured or ill or upset and…they (the mothers) are thoroughly fulfilled by this sleepless, mind-numbing existence (DAMMIT!).” How has this managed to take hold so strongly? Is this why the birth rate is going down in Western countries? Or is this really just online, and most people figure out pretty quickly to do what works for them, which is often a much more moderate parenting method?

    I suspect most (Americans anyway) include aspects of “attachment parenting” and “mainstream parenting” (as defined by Dr.Sears, let’s say) in whatever amounts and ways makes sense for their situations, without really thinking too much about it. But, its hard to avoid all the references to attachment parenting and how that is supposedly the “right” way, according to so many loud so-called parenting experts like old Darcia here, and Dr. Sears, and various others who have sold lots of books and/or have popular websites. Certainly a lot of it has made its way into the mainstream, and I’ve seen lots of parents who would consider themselves mainstream refer to themselves, jokingly, as “bad parents” because they used formula or didn’t cosleep or something like that.

    Well, I say screw Darcia N and Dr. Sears. My husband and I don’t care what they think of us. We’ve used what would be considered a pretty mainstream style of parenting, and our children are happy and healthy. They seem to behave like typical almost-5yr old boys as far as I can tell and I’m not really worried about them. I think we are pretty good parents. Have we handled every situation perfectly? Of course not. Will the children turn out fine anyway? Most likely.

    • Young CC Prof
      December 18, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

      I think most parents most of the time (after they’ve been doing it a few months, anyway) do adopt a blend of parenting ideas that works for them and works for their kids.

      Studies show that a wide range of parenting methods are all generally OK. (Extremes outside the range include abandoning your children in the wilderness, frequently refusing or failing to meet the child’s basic physical needs, never enforcing any rules at all, or keeping child in arm’s reach at all times for the first ten years.)

    • resaurus
      February 1, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

      An excellent article at Slate on how “natural parenting” is just sexism in new clothes: reducing women to what their bodies can do and cloistering women into the domestic sphere. http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2012/09/10/natural_parenting_the_same_old_sexism_dressed_up_in_fancy_new_clothes_.html

  25. AllieFoyle
    December 18, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    She’s….a professor?

    Consider my mind blown. She’s about as wrong as a person could be about both psychology and evolution, incredibly naive about the nature of life throughout most of human history, and painfully smug about child-rearing in the way that only someone who hasn’t ever had to spend hour upon hour providing the “intensive parenting” practices she advocates.

    • Becky05
      December 18, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

      She’s an associate professor of psychology, apparently.

  26. December 18, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    You know what humans are – especially little humans: they’re scientists. Want to see a stressed out scientist, prevent them from testing hypothesis and learning about things on their own. Tell them what to do, how to do it and when to do it. Limiting humans to a coccoon attached to its mother where all it can do is snuggle and feed is stifling that human ‘s inner scientist. It’d be interesting to see who the stressed out kids really are…

  27. theadequatemother
    December 18, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    That was the perfect thing after a sleepless night – scathing , hilarious and on point. Especially enjoyed the part about doing away with psychology AND professors. Thanks!

    • December 18, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

      That would fix the epidemic of depression…after all absent the DSM, does it exist?

      • The Computer Ate My Nym
        December 18, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

        There has been an increase in the suicide rate in the past 10 years, but that is more likely attributable to the economy than any lack of paleofantasy environment.

        • December 18, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

          You could argue the bad economy brings humans closer to a Paleo-reality and that is really depressing… After all no job might lead you to have to hunt and gather for food, might limit your social interactions to your immediate family, and might make housing less tenable. So maybe humans really don’t do too well in a world that is more akin to what our forebears experienced.

        • Jennifer2
          December 19, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

          I think there’s also much less religious/social/cultural stigma and taboo attached to suicide. There are fewer people who believe that suicide is a mortal sin. There are more people who understand that an attempt at suicide is a sign of illness and a desperate attempt at relieving profound, relentless mental anguish. There are also more mentally ill people in the community rather than locked away in hospitals and institutions, many of whom have limited access to adequate mental health treatment.

          Anecdotally, the closest I’ve ever been to suicidal was when I was failing at breastfeeding and truly began to believe my son would be better off without me. But I suppose I’m one of those mis-raised reptiles who does okay on IQ tests but was destroyed by formula, sleeping in a crib, etc.

          • Young CC Prof
            December 19, 2013 at 10:46 pm #

            It’s also possible that more suicides are being accurately reported AS suicide rather than a more socially acceptable verdict of, say, accident or heart attack. (Or, in the case of military suicides, enemy action.)

          • Lisa Cybergirl
            December 20, 2013 at 10:46 pm #

            You don’t hear about as many gun-cleaning accidents as you used to.

  28. Young CC Prof
    December 18, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    Also, misuse of “niche.” In actual evolutionary theory, a niche is a physical habitat and food source that an organism has evolved to fit into. Parenting is a behavior that helps some animals survive in their niche.

    Humans’ niche is most of the planet, digesting everything other than cellulose. (And we’ll boil and chew grass, too, if we get hungry enough.)

  29. Karen in SC
    December 18, 2013 at 11:38 am #

    Her credentials should be revoked for this nonsense.

  30. Zornorph
    December 18, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    I could go on for ages about this whole ‘noble savage’ thing. I am currently re-reading the Tarzan books (read some as a boy, but it’s been a while – they are better than I had remembered) and that’s the basis of that story. Where it’s really funny is in The Son of Tarzan when Tarzan’s 12yo son winds up in Africa and he has to literally get buck-naked before the noble savage in him emerges.
    But the most laughable case of this myth is Neil Young’s son ‘Cortez The Killer’. While there’s no doubt that Cortez is the bastard Young portrays him in the song, what isn’t true is his description of Montezuma as this wise, mystical, enlightened ruler. Every historical source describes the Aztecs as just as brutal as the Spaniards were and Montezuma himself as a particularly nasty piece of work. Had they invented ships and guns first, they would have come to Europe and been cutting people’s hearts out in a temple in the middle of Paris.

    • Young CC Prof
      December 18, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

      Ever read “the better angels of our nature”? The author basically argues, with good evidence, that a person living in the 21st century has a lower probability of dying by violence than any human being who ever lived.

      Heck, violent deaths are so rare in the USA, most wind up on the news.

      • AllieFoyle
        December 18, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

        I wonder what Steven Pinker would make of her ideas.

        • Esther
          December 18, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

          I don’t know what he thinks of her, but she really hates his guts. (I think there’s an old blogpost of hers excoriating him. Her logic is about as cogent there as in this post, IIRC).

          • Young CC Prof
            December 18, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

            I’d rather live in Pinker’s world than in her’s, if I had a choice in the matter. I rather prefer the theory that human beings are inherently violent and cruel, and that the relative peace of the modern age is a great accomplishment and proof that we can be more than Nature made us, implying that we can do even better. Not so fond of the theory that we are fallen and destroyed by civilization.

      • T.
        December 18, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

        I have read it. It is interesting, but Pinker makes glaring mistakes and when he thinks he can get away with it, play rather lose with Political Science and history. Still a good book, though quite stupid in some thing.

        Evolutionary psychology in general is pseudoscience, as it is normally seen around at least.

  31. Guest
    December 18, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    There are definitely some odd comments and conclusions in this post (it actually popped up on one of my parenting websites a few days ago).
    There are a few things that make sense and I know I’ve read from other parenting books/advice.

    “4. Babies thrive on affectionate love. When babies receive food and diaper changes and little else, they die.”

    Wasn’t there some crazy guy in an orphanage in Eastern Europe that basically did this and the babies didn’t do well (not sure if they died) and grew up to be very maladjusted? Does seem like common sense to give your baby affectionate love.

    She also makes a comment on “crying it out” and certain types “sleep training”. These things I know are now not preferred or recommended by parenting experts. Obviously letting a baby cry for a bit doesn’t hurt them, but I know with our daughter, it worked out much better for us to deal with what was bothering her right away, whether in bed or out. Otherwise she would wind herself up so much she’d get the hiccups and it would take forever to settle her down.

    My fear with the information she’s putting out there is of it leading to “helicopter parenting”, which seems to do serious harm to kids as they get older. Kids do need to be able to find their boundaries and make mistakes otherwise how can they learn from them and learn to bounce back from mistakes they make as adults?

    On the flip side, we definitely don’t want anymore parents following advice from this book: “To Train Up a Child” by Michael and Debi Pearl.
    “The Pearls advocate hurting children until parents get total compliance, starting in infancy, in order to “train” them. In his book, Michael Pearl says that if you wait until children misbehave to punish them then it’s discipline, but for total obedience you need to start training them with pain to obey you ahead of time.
    They recommend the use of tools instead of hands for both training and discipline, including willowy branches for babies and paddles, rulers and thicker tree branches for older children. Their most recommended tool, however, is flexible plumbing supply line, which they point out is cheaply available and can even be worn around the parent’s neck as a constant reminder to behave.”

    The fact that 2 children died a terrible death at the hands of their parents because of this book hurts my heart.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      December 18, 2013 at 11:50 am #

      Wasn’t there some crazy guy in an orphanage in Eastern Europe that basically did this and the babies didn’t do well (not sure if they died) and grew up to be very maladjusted? Does seem like common sense to give your baby affectionate love.

      Yeah, but outside of crazy guys in an orphanage, who does this? No one, so it’s a total strawman.

      No, her complaint is that we are failing if we don’t have the baby held skin-to-skin full time. In reality, there is an in-between. You CAN not neglect your baby without babywearing.

      • Guest
        December 18, 2013 at 11:55 am #

        Actually she manages to contradict herself with that point by saying that we need constant physical contact with baby and babies need play with playmates of all ages.
        Sometimes as a parent, as much as I love my girl, she’s my whole world, I need a break! Working in a management position (ie babysitter of grown adults), sometimes I just need a minute where NO ONE needs me, my kid, my staff, my man. Just me and the TV, staring at the wall or a glass of good rum.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          December 18, 2013 at 11:58 am #

          Yeah, but that’s a long, long way from “When babies receive food and diaper changes and little else…”

          • Guest
            December 18, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

            And that’s why I think I’m a pretty alright mom 😉

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            December 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

            No argument, but I’d expand that to say, that’s why I think pretty much everyone is “a pretty alright mom.”

            Back to the point: the whole “babies who only receive food and diaper changes will die” is a massive strawman, since outside of rare, extreme cases, they don’t exist.

      • antigone23
        December 18, 2013 at 11:57 pm #

        Yes, it drives me CRAZY when these studies based on orphanages where babies were literally left in a crib ALL DAY and ALL NIGHT with little to no human contact, being compared to a few days of controlled crying or even sleeping in a crib at night, within a loving home. Give me a break. There is no evidence that these things are harmful to human development.

    • GuestB
      December 18, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

      Crying it out and sleep training are no longer recommended by parenting experts? Really?

      • Guest
        December 18, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

        A lot of information I’ve read doesn’t support crying it out anymore, but some do. I’m sorry I can’t site specific people, but it’s popped up on my parenting news feeds quite often in the last few years. Certain types of sleep training, like crying it out as well has popped up.
        But again, you have to do what works for you and your family. It caused me physical pain to listen to my daughter cry super hard, so we gave up on it. For the time we tried it, it didn’t seem work for her anyway. But it works for some. Maybe we just weren’t able to keep up with it long enough.

        • Elizabeth A
          December 18, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

          Weissbluth is still in print.

          CIO was recommended to me when I was on the verge of driving off the road because my 9 month old was suddenly sleeping only in 40 minute stretches. In my case, CIO accomplished the desired effect of keeping my family safe. Tangentially, the second night, the baby cried for only ten minutes, and subsequent to that, she generally just went to sleep. I am sure that if it worked that way for everyone, it would not be a controversial recommendation.

          • Amy M
            December 18, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

            That’s pretty much how it worked for us…took four nights, with less crying each night. We didn’t let them cry for more than 10min before going in to soothe either, they just needed less soothing each night until after 4 nights, there was no crying. We didn’t do it until they were 6mos old and it was largely to wean them off dependence on a bottle to fall asleep, and also to wean off of pacifiers. (which worked at the time until the sucker I am married to reintroduced them some months later when they were sick. We didn’t get rid of the pacifiers again for a long time after that.)

          • me
            December 18, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

            “I am sure that if it worked that way for everyone, it would not be a controversial recommendation.”

            Precisely. My oldest cried 3 hours the first night, before *I* gave up (not her). 4 hours the second night (again, I couldn’t take it anymore). And 3 hours the third night… when she fell asleep. For 20 minutes. Then I gave up, lol. And she was promptly brought in my bed and stayed there from 6 months to 15 months, at which time she was much more accepting of sleeping alone.

            With the second and third child, I didn’t even bother with the CIO crapola until they were 15-18 months. By then, they were able to accept it, and it only took a few nights to get them to fall asleep on their own, and a few weeks for them to stay asleep all night. Now all three (age 6, 4, and 18 mos) are wonderful sleepers!

            Three little girls that would make great Marines – if captured by the enemy, the enemy would crack before those girls would 😉 I guess it’s payback – the mothers’ curse, remember? “I hope you have one just like you!” Well, I got three, each one as stubborn as the last 🙂

          • KarenJJ
            December 18, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

            That’s how it went with my eldest too. looking back, her sleeping was fine (one 5 minute wake up for a bottle at around 3am and asleep between 7:30pm and 7am). Her inability to self-settle at that age was due to some strong separation anxiety. So CIO was a bad idea.

            We didn’t even bother with baby number 2, until he was 11months old and started waking every few hours and staying awake for over an hour and needing to be bounced to sleep (he was a big, hefty lad and I have arthritis).

            The sleep deprivation was very difficult on the entire family. My husband was woken because I needed my husband to help me bounce him to sleep. I was so tired during the day I could barely cope with my eldest child, my eldest child would also get woken by her brother waking up and making noise.

            So we went back to the dreaded CIO and it worked quickly and was very effective in changing his behaviour. He went to self-settling, instead of needing bouncing, and he woke up less frequently and went back to sleep quickly after a bottle instead about being awake for a few hours. Our household was much happier, had more energy to do fun things during the day and everyone was getting much more sleep.

            So I have seen the ‘bad’ side for CIO and the ‘good’ side. On kids that are anxious I don’t think it works so well, but for kids that are developing bad habits, then it can work very effectively. t any rate neither of them seem to have suffered long term after a few days of trying CIO.

          • me
            December 19, 2013 at 9:17 am #

            That makes a lot of sense. My oldest has selective mutism (an anxiety disorder) and presented an anxious temperament from infancy, so CIO was especially ineffective with her (and no, I absolutely do not believe the few days’ worth of attempts caused her anxiety, the anxiety was likely the reason the CIO didn’t work). I’d go in every 15 minutes, sooth her, then the moment I left the room: “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!” in that piercing ‘someone’s stabbing me with a hatpin’ tone. I’m glad I gave up on the notion of making her solo sleep, until she was really ready for it.

            I guess I could have gone down the path of believing that all kids are the same, and parents that claim CIO works must be cold and heartless. Fortunately I was smart enough to realize that everyone is different (even babies) and yes, some children will respond to CIO very well at a pretty early age, others, not so much, at least not until they are older…

          • siri dennis
            December 19, 2013 at 9:38 am #

            It’s a good idea to have proper support when doing sleep training, as well as a plan for how you’ll cope. I never advise CIO unless and until my client (and spouse, plus ideally other family members) is ready; otherwise it’s a waste of time and needlessly traumatic. Often clients will bring up the subject on a regular basis, and the trick is to recognise when a family is truly ready. Afterwards, everyone asks, Why didn’t we do this sooner?! And the answer is, it wouldn’t have worked if you weren’t ready…

          • me
            December 19, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

            🙂 We (my husband and I) were “ready”. Our child wasn’t. You can tell me that I wasn’t “ready” if it makes you feel better, but that’s like you telling me there’s no snow on the ground in NE Ohio, when I can look out my window and clearly see that there is, in fact, snow on the ground.

            The attempt was a waste of time, certainly. Not exactly “traumatic”, though we were surprised that it didn’t work, as most people we knew had used that method with success. We weren’t sure if they were lying/misremembering or if they just had easier babies than we did, I’m pretty sure it was the latter.

            One size fits all parenting is BS in either direction. But thanks for playing!

          • fiftyfifty1
            December 19, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

            “One size fits all parenting is BS in either direction. ”

            So true. This is why I love the book Outwitting Toddlers. It lays out a variety of different methods for ways to parent on various issues (feeding, sleeping, discipline, toilet training etc.) lays out the potential pros and cons and gives helpful hints. No blaming, no shaming.

          • me
            December 20, 2013 at 11:00 am #

            Yeah, I find siri dennis’ notion of some sort of mystical parental “readiness” that the baby somehow senses wrt sleep training akin to the notion of “trusting birth” and positive thinking impacting the outcome of childbirth. Not to mention it is extremely presumptuous for him (her?) to assume my spouse and/or I were “unready” when he doesn’t know us and certainly wasn’t there when we made our attempt.

            But, hey, all births result in uncomplicated vaginal delivers, and breastfeeding always works out, if only the mother is really “ready”, right?

          • siri
            December 20, 2013 at 11:35 am #

            I haven’t assumed anything about you; please don’t put words in my mouth. I was talking about specific situations in real life, not about you. And there is nothing mystical about being ready to implement a very labour-intensive, exhausting, challenging sleep training strategy; again, your word not mine. And why start bringing vaginal birth into it? Where have I said that all births result in uncomplicated vaginal deliveries or that breastfeeding always works?

            And of course babies don’t magically sense when their parents are ready; however, every parent knows that if you’re in two minds about something, or if you and your spouse disagree over something to do with the children, you’re less likely to succeed. What I meant was simply that for sleep training to work, the following factors need to be present: Baby needs to be old/developed enough to be capable of being sleep trained (ie you can’t sleep train a 2-month-old), parent(s) need to be ready (ie be fully motivated to see it through, and be satisfied that they aren’t being cruel to their child), and ideally, some kind of support should be available, whether a trusted professional to vent to or grandparents to take over for a while so parents can catch up on sleep.

            I don’t know what’s so mystical/magical about that, nor why you’re so convinced I have any interest in your specific situation.

          • me
            December 20, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

            “And there is nothing mystical about being ready to implement a very labour-intensive, exhausting, challenging sleep training strategy; again, your word not mine.”

            How are those my words? When I waited until my children were actually ready, CIO proved an incredibly easy strategy. A week or so of fussing for 10-20 minutes to get them to fall asleep, and another few weeks of MOTN waking (going in to check on them and comfort them, them right back to bed) once or twice a night that might result in a few more minutes of fussing (fussing – not out and out screaming) until they learned to stay asleep all night (unless they actually needed something).

            If the sleep training is so “labor intensive, exhausting, and challenging,” that the parents need a third party involved and have to play catch up on their own sleep, maybe the kid ain’t ready for it yet, no matter how “ready” the parents are? Just a thought.

            “And why start bringing vaginal birth into it?”

            Because that kind of thinking is prevalent in NCB – if you are truly “ready”, if you “trust birth”, if you are a “true woman”, if you think a certain way and do certain things that have nothing to do with anything at all, really, you are guaranteed a positive outcome. Anyone who experiences complications must not have been in the “right” frame of mind. That’s the thinking there, whether they are aware of it or not.

            Now, there is a difference between being “ready” to do something, vs not really wanting to do it all. Sure, as I said above, if one and/or both of the parents don’t agree with CIO as a sleep training method, no, it won’t work, even if the kid is ready, but that is a philosophical issue, not an issue of “readiness”. If you are truly opposed to CIO, you won’t ever be “ready”, will you? The issue I took (and maybe we’re just misunderstanding each other here) with your assertion that parents must be “ready” in order for CIO to work is simply that it implies that even if both parents have no philosophical objections to CIO as a method, and they have expressed that they WANT to try it, assuming the baby is developmentally ready (in my mind at least 6 months, we didn’t try it before that because I do have an objection to CIO with very young infants) if it doesn’t work out, it is the parent’s fault for being “unready” or some such. And that’s just plain woo.

            As for why I think you are interested in my specific situation? Well, you did respond to my post. Nothing to wonder about there….

          • fiftyfifty1
            December 21, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

            I ran into something similar with one of my kids surrounding eating. There is this philosophy of feeding called the Ellyn Satter feeding competence model that I think is a very useful technique for many (most?) kids. The problem is that in certain circles it is seen as gospel. If your kid does poorly on it, it is assumed that you must be an over-controlling witch mother or conversely an un-nurturing witch mother. It did not work AT ALL with my first. He really would not eat until he was hand fed. Didn’t matter how hungry he got or how appealing the food was. So we spoon fed him baby food and liquids from a bottle until he was 2+. It got to the point where I started to doubt myself–maybe I am causing this in some weird way although that was hard to believe as I had had lots of experience feeding my much-younger siblings and kids I babysat and had never had problems with them. And I never gave any special instructions to either of his daycare providers, but they ended doing the same thing- mainly hand-feeding. And then I had my second who fed totally normally- plop various pieces of what you cooked for dinner down on the highchair tray and voila! To this day, my first (now age 10) needs prompts with eating, something that is seen as totally damaging in the Satter world-view. But he is a happy, healthy, well adjusted kid, so whatever and I’m sure he will have it all figured out by the time he is on his own.

          • Dr Kitty
            December 21, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

            Yeah…we have a child that probably would have happily starved herself to death with BLW. At no point has she EVER shown interest in food. She’s just not bothered because she has more interesting things to do. She’ll eat anything as long as you feed it to her or stand over her with lots of encouragement…but left to her own devices she just wouldn’t eat and will sing or talk or count to 100 instead because that is more fun.

            Unless it is actually abusive or dangerous, crack on with whatever works.

          • siri
            December 20, 2013 at 11:14 am #

            I’m not playing; it’s my job. And of course there’s no such thing as one size fits all – every baby and family is unique. I wouldn’t dream of telling you that you weren’t ready; I don’t know anything about you! I was talking about situations where I do know someone and we are working together to achieve better nights/more sleep through various strategies. And it IS impossible to do CIO if you’re not ready; you’re bound to crack and feel even worse than before. Having the support of a spouse, grandparents and/or a trusted professional is also important, but they aren’t enough if deep down you feel you’re doing wrong by your child.

          • me
            December 20, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

            Sorry if I misunderstood you. You post came off (at least to me) as being directed at me; implying that the reason CIO didn’t work when we initially tried it was because one (or both) of us weren’t “ready”. I do agree that if the parent(s) don’t really *want* to do it, it is unlikely to work, but there is a difference between being opposed to CIO vs not being “ready” for CIO. We weren’t opposed to it at 6 months, but my child sure was, lol.

          • Young CC Prof
            December 18, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

            Exactly. Obviously, you can take “cry it out” to the extreme of child abuse, but in a sane form, it works for SOME families.

            One of my friends was explaining that her daughter would cry for about 30 seconds every night shortly after being put to bed. If picked up during those 30 seconds, she’d wake up again, if ignored, she’d fall right off to sleep.

            Other babies might get more and more wound up if left to cry, even if there was nothing wrong initially.

          • December 18, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

            We did CIO when he was about 6 or 8 months. It was three days of strain – he cried for almost an hour…then about 20 minutes…then about 5. Then he slept like a pro. Still does – we go in if he has a problem but not if he’s just crabby (or yelling, “But I don’t WANT to sleep!”) and he’s a great sleeper most of.the time.

          • Mishimoo
            December 18, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

            That’s kind of how CIO worked for our eldest at 6 months. 40 minutes of crying/soothing the first night, 5 minutes the next two nights, and straight to sleep after that. Now that she’s older and shares a room with her sister, they do play some nights but we don’t have the bedtime problems that some of our friends do.

        • Becky05
          December 18, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

          Graduated extinction and controlled crying absolutely are still recommended by sleep experts.

        • fiftyfifty1
          December 19, 2013 at 9:12 am #

          CIO is still very much recommended by pediatric sleep experts. It’s not the only method that works or the only one they offer, but it’s an important tool.

    • Lynnie
      December 19, 2013 at 8:13 am #

      I bought “To Train Up a Child” at the advice of an acquaintance of my husband. It ended up in the trash before I finished reading it. It absolutely horrified me.

  32. Zornorph
    December 18, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    Glowing eyes are a sign that your child is the Anti-Christ, not that they are not stressed.

    • thepragmatist
      December 18, 2013 at 11:17 am #

      Or that you are either suffering a psychotic break and need medication AND/OR you are on LSD.

      • Young CC Prof
        December 18, 2013 at 11:18 am #

        Or possibly that your child had certain types of eye surgery. That’ll make the eyes glow, from some angles.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym
          December 18, 2013 at 11:18 am #

          Or retinoblastoma. Then it’ll glow white on ophthalmologic exam.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            December 18, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

            (Or do I mean congenital cataracts? Come to think of it,I think RB gives a black reflex.)

    • Jen
      December 18, 2013 at 11:51 am #

      Come play with me, Darcia…forever…and ever…and ever

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        December 18, 2013 at 11:56 am #

        (awesome, Jen. One up vote is not enough)

  33. Young CC Prof
    December 18, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    Good to know our ancestors were “wiser, perceptive and virtuous than we humans in the USA.”

    Our hunter-gatherer ancestors believed as the natural order of things that the only “real” people in the world were their own small band of a couple dozen and a few neighboring bands that contained relatives. Anyone else was competition who needed to be driven off or killed. If they had too many babies and not enough food, they’d start killing or abandoning newborns. Sometimes a single male would kill another male to claim his wife. (The latter two are clearly documented in historic times, the first is based on the behavior of modern hunter-gatherers).

    We don’t always do better, but we want to and we try.

    • thepragmatist
      December 18, 2013 at 11:03 am #

      I went on an archeological dig here and we very clearly demarcated the slave quarters in the long houses we were excavating. They kept slaves in the colder part of the long house. They also raided neighbouring villages for women. Yes, enlightened. But do not try to poke at the sacred cow or you will be labelled a racist and fast. They had an intense hierarchy. If they could’ve taken over the world, as the British Empire did, they would’ve. Humans are humans. It’s just how we roll.

    • Zornorph
      December 18, 2013 at 11:20 am #

      Just for fun, here’s a bit of computer artwork I did a year or so ago along that theme:

    • Lisa Cybergirl
      December 20, 2013 at 11:06 pm #

      Like Mel Brooks as the 2000 year old man said, the first national anthem was “Let ’em all go to hell except Cave 76”

  34. LynnetteHafkenIBCLC
    December 18, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    I’ll just leave this shining example of hunter-gatherer parenting here: “Comparative anthropologists have calculated that 50% of female newborn babies were killed by their parents during the Paleolithic era…anthropologists believed that these high rates of infanticide persisted until the development of agriculture during the Neolithic Revolution.” (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infanticide).

    • thepragmatist
      December 18, 2013 at 11:11 am #

      My ancestors were sacrificing babies as recently as 800 years ago as part of their religion. Just sayin’. We don’t like to talk about that…

  35. The Bofa on the Sofa
    December 18, 2013 at 10:48 am #


    Have you noticed all the stressed babies? Maybe one in 30 I see has glowing eyes, which I take as a sign of thriving.

    I tend to be attracted to babies, and love to see them out in public. And when I do, I am one of those (pick your adjective, ranging from “annoying” to “creepy”) guys who tends to take an interest in talking to/playing with your kids whom I don’t know in the least. But in all my years of doing this, not only have I not “noticed all the stressed babies” who don’t have glowing eyes, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a baby who wasn’t great, unless they were sleeping or perhaps crying about something (which babies tend to do). And even the crying babies had alert eyes. So the answer, Darcia, is no. I haven’t noticed. And it’s not for lack of not paying attention.


    They are much wiser, perceptive and virtuous than we humans in the USA today.

    Oh yeah? If you had asked these supposed wise cavemen, “Which foot do you use to step on the gas and which do you use to step on the break?” would they be able to get it right more than 25% of the time (the random answer rate)? Or would they not have a clue what you are talking about?

    Wisdom depends on the context of what is needed. They might have been a lot better at knowing how to kill a mammoth without using a gun, but why do I care about that? That knowledge is as irrelevant to me as is the knowledge of driving a car was to them. If I want to kill a mammoth for food, I can let someone at the meat packing plant do it for me. THAT, my friends, is wisdom.

    • Guest
      December 18, 2013 at 11:06 am #

      Oh I love the creepy guys that wave at my babies and play with them. You guys are responsible for more peacefully ordered lattes, quick, overdue conversations with older children, and finished cell phone chats than I can count. THANK YOU! — And I don’t know what this glowing eye crap is. My kid’s hair shines from two weeks of bath refusal. Is that similar?

    • thepragmatist
      December 18, 2013 at 11:16 am #

      You just aren’t doing enough Nitrous Oxide, Bofa.

      You are better than the creepy guys who wanted to tell me about the evils of formula! Keep up the good work! Oh, and the creepy guys who want my phone number even when my toddler is angrily kicking me and refusing to leave the coffee shop because “MO’ COOKIE MAMA”. I know this is my fault for feeding him formula. He would be peacefully baking the cookies himself out of quinoa if only I had listened. Now, I wonder… are they the same guys?

      • Zornorph
        December 18, 2013 at 11:27 am #

        I just can’t imagine going up to total strangers and making comments about formula or anything else along those lines. My personal obsession is moles – my mum died from skin cancer when a mole turned into melanoma so I have this urge when I see people with a mole to tell them to get it removed, but I never actually do it! That would be all sorts of creepy/rude.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          December 18, 2013 at 11:44 am #

          I just worry in this day and age that someone will think I’m some sort of a perv because I make googly faces with random little kids at the restaurant.

          I don’t ask to hold them or anything – that’s going a little too far. I might give them a high five on the way out, though.

          • Zornorph
            December 18, 2013 at 11:48 am #

            I’ve been pretty careful about how I interact with small children because of the whole ‘men are pedophiles’ factor these days; especially since I’ve been single. But now that I have a baby of my own, I feel safer in doing it because the child’s parent will see me with my own LO and simply think ‘father’ and not ‘pervert’. A shame that things are like this right now, but they are and I don’t enjoy getting suspicious looks.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            December 18, 2013 at 11:55 am #

            For sure, there is more leeway when my kids are around. But when they aren’t, I agree, we have to be careful.

            Just yesterday at the tire place, there was a 4 yo girl there with her mom. The way I initiated the interaction was to turn the TV onto Sprout TV (which is pre=school programming). I didn’t say a word, but by doing that (knowing the channel # off the top of my head, in fact), her mom knew that I must have kids of my own. No grown-up w/o kids is going to be watching Sprout. That was a great icebreaker, though.

          • Zornorph
            December 18, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

            Yes, that would do it. I’m even more careful about interacting with girls than boys, though. Apart from the fact that they have, you know, cooties, I found that women would get their dandruff up much quicker if you tried talking to little girls than boys. I don’t think I’d ever try engaging with a little girl unless I had my son there.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            December 18, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

            That’s “dander” btw, not “dandruff”

          • December 18, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

            I loathe that trend. We have a very dear friend of the family who is an “honorary” uncle. He adores kids and is “godparent” to several (none of his own). I have to defend this loving, kid -loving man whenever I talk about leaving my son alone with him.

          • Mishimoo
            December 19, 2013 at 12:00 am #

            Exactly! I have no problems with leaving my kids with one of my best friends. He’s one of 8 kids and will be an awesome parent one day.

          • Dr Kitty
            December 18, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

            That is one of the things FtM trans people remark on.
            Before transition they can coo and cluck over babies, if the perception is that they are female.
            After transition, not so much.

            Personally, as a very small, glasses wearing woman, I am very glad that I can pull faces and wave and smile at kids without judgement. Who doesn’t enjoy getting smiled at by babies?

          • siri dennis
            December 19, 2013 at 9:51 am #

            I love people who pay attention to babies and children; I’m a bit like that myself. But I would limit my use of the words ‘attracted to babies’ to a forum such as this one! ;-b

        • thepragmatist
          December 18, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

          If I had all my moles removed, I would not have much skin left, given that I’m very fair and have about 14 million freckles and moles. My son is convinced that EACH ONE OF THEM is an “owie” no matter what I tell him. God help him when/if he starts freckling LOL

          • Jocelyn
            December 18, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

            Haha, my daughter thinks my moles are owies too! And I’m like you, I have a ton. It’s from my dad’s side of the family. I probably can’t have all of them removed, but I’m sure I’ll have to get the bigger ones removed eventually.

      • Guest
        December 18, 2013 at 11:33 am #

        I totally nursed wrong then. My kid had no formula and still can’t bake at the age of 3. Damn it! Better luck next time I guess.

    • Sullivan ThePoop
      December 18, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

      I have heard other people say nonsense like that. Instead of glowing eyes it was, “My children are so healthy since they were never vaccinated. You can tell by their sparkling eyes. Vaccinated children never have healthy sparkling eyes.”

  36. thepragmatist
    December 18, 2013 at 10:44 am #

    She needs to find a cave to paint in. I think it would soothe her as it’s evident her parents gave her brain damage due to high levels of the cortisol released when she cried that one time over not being able to have candy at the grocery store.

    Her fixation on the noble savage stereotype makes me sick. Developing countries are clamoring to reduce neonatal death and she’s blathering on about the evils of the technological advances that could save lives. Any useful advice about attachment is lost in her sanctimonious drivel. And I would probably be considered an attachment parent by many here on this blog and can’t stand her. I’m still comfort nursing a three year old and he sleeps in my bed. (He did NOT as a small infant, as that’s demonstrably dangerous.)

    Also she is continually referencing her own research and is surrounded by a little echo chamber. Doesn’t matter if she’s been disproven (like the cortisol hypothesis re: CIO).

    Psychology Today should be ashamed to be giving her a venue to promote her drivel, some of which is actually harmful. For example, infants in the bed DO result in deaths. And back in the day, many infants died from “laying over” where a tired partner or sibling suffocated the baby. Now we see these senseless deaths cropping up again, even in hospitals.

    • Squillo
      December 18, 2013 at 11:28 am #

      Psychology Today is the People magazine of psychology. Navarez is to psychology as Perez Hilton is to sociology.

      • Trixie
        December 18, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

        Perez Hilton is occasionally insightful, though.

    • Houston Mom
      December 18, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

      In the bible the women fighting about cutting a baby in half before King Solomon are doing so because one of their babies was suffocated in bed during the night. 1 Kings 3 16-28
      Also that is a really really funny picture.

    • siri dennis
      December 19, 2013 at 10:01 am #

      In Victorian times, many babies who died ‘accidentally’ from ‘overlaying’ were more likely suffocated by their unmarried mothers for whom an illegitimate baby would mean shame and ruin. Even married parents killed their children; there was an epidemic of baby and child deaths due to poverty and despair. Throughout the 20th century, too, babies supposedly accidentally dead from cosleeping have been found to have been smothered.

      • thepragmatist
        December 19, 2013 at 11:55 am #

        Where’s your source for this? Victorian times saw the idolization of the infant/child amongst the burgeoning middle classes and the rise of woman as household manager without social power outside the home, in many cases not even to leave to shop. At that time, illegitimate children were dumped in orphanages. Prior to that, in the middle ages, children were not exalted in the same way and often had the same names, as so many died, so that there would be, say three children of the same name before one lived. There were periods of mass infanticide, particularly during the Enlightenment, when the poor could not leave children with Churches (because the system was overburdened). But through out most of recent European history Church orphanages and work houses is where unwanted babies ended up. Over laying of wanted infants are noted in Church records and diaries (later) of women who could write.

        I’m not saying that there weren’t women who killed their children, but I’ve done pretty extensive reading in my major related to mothering through the ages. The Victorian era was certainly not the peak of this phenomenon. Women were able to have less children and indeed, even childbirth was starting to become safer, with the invention of various technologies to aid in delivering babies! More importantly, the infant/child and childhood itself became idolized and protected, although we see that on and off right back to Greek times, 2000 years ago.

        One thing that caused a lot of an infant death was the practice of wet nursing. Many of those infants died.

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