Friday, October 27, 2006

Parents Using Shrinks For Their Babies

I thought I had heard of everything but I was wrong.

The October 24, 2006 Wall Street Journal had a long article about the increased use of psychiatrist services for BABIES. The article claims that this is an ‘expanding field of infant mental health” and that it ‘aims to head off depression and other disorders’.

Article title: Sending the Baby To a Shrink
by Elizabeth Bernstein
Wall Street Journal
October 24, 2006

What is our world coming to?

After reading the article I have come to the conclusion is that despite parents perhaps being more educated than in the past, and despite them being older when their babies were born (and one would assume, wiser), they are IGNORANT about baby care, normal baby behavior and normal development of babies that they are consulting psychiatrists to tell them if what the baby is doing is alright or a problem.

I already know this first hand from working with parents in a volunteer position for the last seven years, and by attending meetings for parents prior to that. The questions that people ask and the things they don’t know about normal baby development are very frightening. I had hoped that between the help of relatives, friends, and the information on the Internet, Internet discussion groups, and volunteer organizations, that the need was being met. However, if the information in this article is true, some people have a need for validation or information or reassurance and they are choosing to see it out via a psychiatrist consultation.

(By the way, note the cost of accessing these services must not be a problem for these parents. Does health insurance pay for such consults? Should they be? That is something to think about.)

There are many books on the market written in simple layman’s terms to explain things such as how to feed a baby, how to breastfeed, how to know the baby is hungry, that explain the crying, for example. There are books that tell how to take care of the baby, and even entire books on the need for babies to be held and comforted by their parents. The baby product industry has new parents thinking that many different devices and ‘baby holders’ are necessary to raise a baby, yet when baby cries because they want to be held by a human instead of a swing or a bouncer or a vibrating baby chair, the parents think something is wrong.

These books are free to borrow from a local public library. The books, if purchased new, often cost $15 or less, none are over $25 (full retail).

As to normal baby development, the ‘ages and stages’ of babies and toddlers, all that is available for free on the Internet or in even more books about raising babies and young children.

I continue to be surprised at the number of parents who will not take the time to read a parenting book to answer their parenting questions or to find information! Many parents ask relatives or friends for information and advice. Fine, but to see a psychiatrist? That seems just insane to me!

The only good thing that I think can come out of this is that the article stated that the shrinks are observing the parents with the babies. Perhaps if a parent is not being attentive enough, the shrink will realize it.

The whole idea that parents would seek a consultation with a mental health medical professional for what in most cases is normal parenting advice is ludicrous.

I fear that the intrusion of mental health for children has now moved down from elementary school staff therapist visits (this goes on without parental notification or prior approval)….now down to children younger than age 5, and even down to babies, this just seems crazy to me.

I also fear that increases consultations with medical doctor psychiatrists may lead to increased use of prescription drugs on young children, preschoolers, toddlers or, gasp, babies.

If you feel the need to know some information about raising babies, my favorite book is “The Baby Book” by William Sears M.D.

My favorite book on how to breastfeed which includes the issue of crying and how to tell if the baby is hungry or is getting enough to eat, is “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” by La Leche League.

If you are having issues with the baby waking up in the night and need to know what is normal and what is not normal, read the great book by Dr. Sears “Nighttime Parenting”.

If you need verification that human babies need to be touched and held by their parents, read “The Vital Touch” by Sharon Heller.

Note that if you purchased all four of the books that I recommended above you would have a ton of information that you can use on numerous children. The cost for the books, new, at Amazon is under $50.

Don't forget that the Pediatrician can answer some questions, too!

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1 comment:

Spunky said...

Thanks for the link! I read it in the print edition and wanted to find it online. You saved me the digging.

It is surprising the lengths that people will got to for their babies isn't it?