Monday, September 10, 2007

Nature vs. Nurture

Andrew and I were driving Reid's car last week. The radio was tuned to some talk radio station (kuer, maybe). Some people were on discussing how psychology used to be heavily nature-based. They said that psychologists used to say that you should rarely kiss your baby, and certainly never on the lips--in fact, limit your kisses to once a year.

If I were to attempt to average out my kisses to Rachel to equal one kiss per year, I would have to not kiss her for the next billion years. I kiss her all the time, and never just once. It's more of a "Muwah, muwah, muwah, muwah, muwah..." all over her cheeks and her nose and her fingers and toes.

It's a good thing we aren't playing by those rules anymore. In fact, they've found that babies who are shown affection have a lower infant mortality rate than those who are not picked up at all.

Which apparently they used to think was a good idea. Kids in hospitals that got picked up by nurses stayed sicker longer and died more often than those who were not picked up. I suppose the natural conclusion would be to not touch children. Then they found out about washing hands in between patients.

So, anyway, they then started explaining about Harlow's monkey experiment. If you're not familiar with it, you should be. It's one of my favorite experiments, even though it involves purposely frightening innocent baby animals, which is slightly cruel. Of course, Andrew enjoys scaring Rachel...he'll do anything for a reaction.

Well, as I was attempting to feed Rachel today she bumped the nipple shield and it flew off and landed somewhere. This was a public feeding, which using a nipple shield complicates, but Rachel won't have it any other way, so I was feeling blindly under the blanket for the shield. I could not find it any where so I gave up and put my head under the blanket to search further. There was Rachel sucking earnestly at the little piece of silicone that she believes gives her nourishment.

I was a little saddened by this until I thought of my good friend Harry Harlow...and all the bottle-fed babies in the world. The nipple just gives her food. Like every other baby in the world, she will one day give up nipples of all variety: pacifiers, bottles, mommy, and nipple shields. That is just the wire monkey momma.

When that monkey is gone, or when Rachel is scared, I'm her cuddly terrycloth momma (and if she's careful not to bonk her head into my collarbone or sternum, I really am soft). I used to take the whole nipple shield preference thing as a personal insult...Harlow may have just helped me move past that.

Thanks, Harry!

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