October 16, 2006

Way To Warp Your Kid

This is just wrong on so many levels. Details can be found on this website. The concept is simple. Your baby is comforted by human touch. You have better things to do than to comfort your baby with your own touch, so you fork out $34.95 and buy a stuffed hand designed to mimic human contact.

First of all, it reminds me of those monkey tests conducted about thirty years ago. Orphaned monkeys were put in a cage with a fur-covered milk bottle (or some such thing) and one that wasn't fur-covered. When the baby monkey was in distress, it would go to the fur-covered bottle for warmth and comfort. But we aren't talking monkeys here. These are human infants fooled into believing their parent is close by, when indeed they are off doing more important things, or better yet, getting the beauty sleep they deserve.

So what, you may ask. If the baby is comforted for the greater part of the time, great. But can you just imagine what it would be like to be sound asleep with your mother cradling your little head and to wake up and find not a loving mother, but a severed hand? Where did the rest of mom go?!

They go one step further and say this severed, stuffed hand can "pick up your scent." So not only is the baby getting tactile messages that you're near, but olfactory ones as well. Baby gets the double whammy and is even more confused. Besides, I would think that if the hand can pick up the parent's scent, it will pick up the baby's scent just as easily. Parent's scent would be overridden by baby's scent eventually, as I assume the baby will spend more time having contact with the hand than the parent would. Therefore, the scent argument is bogus.

Marketers of this item say it's also reassurance for absent parents. "If you must go away for a long period of time, leave a Zaky and a loving note to your partner that says something like: 'I am leaving my hand so our baby feels my touch until I return...'" The problem with this theory is in the statement "baby feels my touch..." which is completely false. Sadly, there are parents out there who get sucked into this kind of marketing in order to relieve any kind of guilt they may feel for being absent.

Then we come to dependency issues. Every child you've ever known has become attached to one thing or another, be it a blanket, a stuffed animal, etc. Imagine little toddler walking around the house clinging to Thing Addams for comfort. A swatch of flannel blanket can be tucked into a kindergartener's pocket on the first day of school. A stuffed animal can be taken for show-and-tell. Imagine the ridicule received by the poor kid who needs to have the fake hand resting on his head during nap time.

Interesting warnings that come with this product too. "• The Zaky is NOT A TOY (I would love for them to define exactly what it is.) • Do not use it on or around the face • DO NOT leave your child unattended while using the Zaky (contradicts the whole sales pitch, no?) • Discontinue its use IMMEDIATELY if any seam is not intact • Do not share the Zaky among babies to prevent contamination • Consult the medical personnel when using it with a sick child."

I say nay to the Zaky. (What the hell kind of name is that anyway?) Speaking as a former baby, I can safely say that a severed hand in my crib would have definitely left permanent emotional scars on my delicate psyche. Providing comfort, as well as emotional scars, is the job of the parents.

No comments: