Recent research done on baby chimpanzees concludes that chimps who are given one-on-one care do better, are more intelligent, develop faster, etc., than chimps in group care; and also that these baby chimps who received personalized attention are better developed than baby humans at the same age (nine months) who were kept in impersonal orphanages.
I remember years ago the attention given to the poor Romanian orphanages, and the subsequent outpouring of love and support from America in the form of American couples adopting Romanian babies. Then a few years after that, somewhat of a backlash as some of the adoptive parents discovered that the babies or young children they adopted had been so neglected by the institutionalized care that they had mental or emotional problems. That these babies left to cry alone in their cribs, only getting the minimum of attention needed to feed them and keep them clean were mentally and/or emotionally crippled or hampered. They were not “abused” in the sense of active mistreatment; but rather there were just too many babies for one person to care for, so they were given only the minimum requirements necessary for life.
This makes me wonder about some of the parental systems of child care used by some Americans. I’m not talking about the abusive or neglectful parents — one story I read some months ago was of a couple who played a computer game for so long they didn’t even realize their baby was dead until several hours or perhaps even a day or more had gone by. I’m not talking about those kinds of people; but the people that sneer at attachment-parenting types who choose to keep their infants close by or even attached (by means of a baby sling or other carrier) to themselves for most if not all of their waking hours. Many of these people prefer the “cry it out” means of getting a baby to go to sleep; and strict scheduling, including specified times in which the baby is left alone in the crib for no other reason than it is “his alone time”, which supposedly helps him be able to play by himself when he is older. Sometimes this type of child care system begins at or within a few weeks of birth; sometimes it begins at a few months of age. This research suggests that such treatment is not only not beneficial to the baby, but detrimental!
This research suggests that what is best for human babies is what is best for chimpanzee babies — personal, individual attention, given to infants for their most crucial developing months, including being carried around and nurtured by the mother. Of course, I’m not saying you can never put your baby down; but I’ve seen an awful lot of infant neglect going on in the name of scheduling or one child care system or another, or simply because there are a lot of toys and gadgets that make it convenient to leave the baby by himself in the watch-care of plastic toys or vibrating chairs — and I’ve done some of this myself. It’s odd to me that I used the baby sling for the kids I babysat more than I did for my own kids — although to be fair to myself, I only used it for babies #3 and 4, and I only have two children; I think that if I were to have any more, I’d be more likely to “sling ’em around” than I did my first two. But to leave a baby alone, especially when he’s crying, for no better reason than that some idiot doctor who doesn’t even know you nor seen your baby has decreed that it is good for him to get used to nobody comforting him when he’s upset is not good — and I think this research backs up my conclusion.