Alice Bachini has some views about Brian Micklethwait’s article Which way did your pram face?
It’s not just outward-facing prams that are new; what about all those carriers and backpacks that allow babies to view the world from a user-friendly height? I think a social change is very definitely afoot, and a libertarian change for the better as well. But I don’t think all this is just the result of parents consciously trying to encourage more outgoing interactions for their offspring. Nor do I think that it contradicts with the kind of intimate mother/baby relationship Brian associates with the National Childbirth Trust. I think parents are just being more sensitive about what kids actually enjoy doing, and the result of this is inevitably good.
It’s much more fun to watch the world from Dad’s shoulders than to be stuck in a pram with only a row of plastic bunnies for company. Although even if you do have plastic bunnies nowadays, they are likely to be all-singing, all-dancing electro-bunnies which recite the alphabet in fifteen languages at the press of a button, the real world is still very often more fun than the gimmicky or “educational” toys that adults seem to think babies will enjoy.
Kids, including babies, want more, more, more, and capitalism with all its mind-blowing array of baby entertainments and transport machines, meets more and more of their wants. And parents know this is good for their development, because they can see how happy they are and how much they are learning from all that interesting stuff. Whereas in the 1950s little Billy would have spent all day in his pram, his cot or his playpen, nowadays he gets to go to exciting places and meet interesting people with fun toys. So things are getting better, in a pro-human beings, libertarian direction.
But mostly, we just aren’t inclined to leave them screaming in boredom if putting them somewhere more stimulating cheers them up. As this represents good parenting, it doesn’t detract from the mother/child stuff so much as adds to it. Happy people tend to get on better with each other, and you’re not walking round town all day; sometimes you are sitting together at home on the sofa, watching the “Super Duper Sumos” and drinking “Sunny Delight”.