I loved this!

Discussion in 'Parenting' started by Brighid, May 22, 2004.

  1. Brighid

    Brighid Member

    I highlighted some quotes that really touched me!

    An Idea Still Looking for Traction in Kenya
    > >East African Women Vote With Their Feet Against Baby Strollers
    > >By Emily Wax
    > >Washington Post Foreign Service
    > >Tuesday, May 18, 2004; Page A08
    > >
    > >NAIROBI, Kenya -- Irene Wambui can't imagine why anyone would buy a
    >baby
    > >stroller. She says she sees it as a cold cage filled with useless
    >rattles,
    > >cup holders and mirrored headlights. Imagine children being stuffed
    >into
    > >such a contraption and pushed around town like some kind of pet.
    > >
    > >Yet here she is in the middle-class Westlands shopping district, trying
    >to
    > >sell her store's newest merchandise, the four-wheeled plastic and metal
    > >tool of modern motherhood. But so far, strollers have been a flop in
    > >Nairobi, an affront to a time-honored tradition.
    > >
    > >Across Africa, women can be seen carrying sleeping or sometimes giggly
    > >babies on their backs, swathed in cloth. The babies move to the sway of
    > >their mothers' hips, synchronized throughout the day, bending with them
    >as
    > >they collect water or sweep the floor and rising again when the women
    >stop
    > >to rest. They hang on as their mothers sell food in the market or pray
    >at a
    > >church or mosque.
    > >
    > >The introduction of strollers and baby carriages, both known here by
    >the
    > >British word "pram", horrifies traditionalists, even someone such as
    > >Wambui, who sells them. The stroller is appearing in major cities
    >around
    > >Africa, but so far has not been a hit.
    > >
    > >"It's not so wonderful. In Africa, we just carry our children or let
    >them
    > >roam. They can't sit like lumps," said Wambui, 24. "Besides our roads
    > >aren't even good enough for these devices. If everyone had a pram it
    >would
    > >cause jam-ups in traffic. Then we would be bad to our children and bad
    >to
    > >our roads."
    > >
    > >Irene's boss and manager, Zara Esmail, was pacing back in forth in
    >front of
    > >the strollers one recent day. She said the store had sold only one baby
    > >stroller in two months, and that was to a visiting U.N. worker from
    > >Britain, who complained later that she had been disappointed by the
    >small
    > >selection.
    > >
    > >"In general, I thought they would sell far better," Esmail said.
    >Perhaps,
    > >she added, it's a question of directing more advertising toward
    > >middle-class, working moms. "We thought these modern ones would be a
    >hit."
    > >
    > >The stroller has sparked debate among African pediatricians who think
    >the
    > >device -- first crafted as a labor-saving tool for the European middle
    > >class -- may damage the relationship between a mother and a child.
    > >
    > >"The pram is the ultimate in pushing the baby away from you," said
    >Frank
    > >Njenga, a child psychiatrist in Nairobi, Kenya's bustling capital. "The
    > >baby on the back is actually following the mother in warmth and
    >comfort.
    > >The baby feels safer, and safer people are happier people."

    > >
    > >In the United States and Europe, strollers have long been
    >controversial.
    > >Recently, some doctors and child psychologists have blamed them for
    > >everything from pediatric obesity to low self-esteem later in life.
    > >
    > >Jane Clark, professor of kinesiology at the University of Maryland,
    >said
    > >there is concern that Americans are overusing strollers for older
    >children,
    > >causing toddlers to be less physically active. A growing movement among
    > >child advocates promotes the idea of carrying babies more and getting
    >them
    > >out of their strollers.
    > >
    > >At the same time, Web sites and magazines in the United States and
    >Europe
    > >dedicate a lot of space to the subject of choosing a style of stroller
    >or
    > >carriage -- front-to-back or side-by-side, a jogger or a sleeper, with
    >or
    > >without a lightweight titanium frame, pneumatic tires, rear suspension,
    >mud
    > >flaps and/or battery-operated blinkers. Some European-made antique
    > >carriages are status symbols for celebrities such as Madonna and Celine
    > >Dion, who spent $2,600 on the classic Balmoral Pram, described by some
    >Web
    > >reviewers as a tiny Humvee.
    > >
    > >Africans consider the traditional method of toting their children the
    >only
    > >true version of day care. When it's time for feeding, the food is right
    > >there as a mother shifts her child to the front of her body, nestling
    >the
    > >infant to her breast.
    The baby stroller could change all of that. But
    >many
    > >people here said they thought the devices would be just another
    >instance of
    > >Africans adopting the worst habits of industrialization.
    > >
    > >"There are customs from a hundred years ago that are not relevant today
    >for
    > >Africans. Our challenge is to pick the good from the bad," said Carol
    > >Mandi, managing editor of EVE, an East African women's magazine. "But
    > >carrying on your back, well, that is just a wonderful custom that keeps
    >the
    > >baby emotionally stable and lets the mother feel bonded. We can't stop
    > >being African women just because we are suddenly thrust into the modern
    > >world. What next? They will tell us to stop breast feeding in public?
    >No
    > >way."

    > >
    > >Some women in Africa at first apparently hoped the stroller could help
    > >reduce the physical exhaustion suffered by mothers, the backbone of
    > >Africa's labor force in both domestic duties and small-scale
    >businesses.
    > >
    But because the pram is not only socially unacceptable but expensive,
    merchants are finding they aren't selling. The average pram, though far
    cheaper than some car-like U.S. models, still hovers around $60, at
    least
    half a month's wages even in Africa's most successful urban economies.

    At the baby store in Nairobi where Wambui works, dusty models sat untouched.
    "We've never used a pram. They are a bit pricey," said Nellie Mwanzia, who
    was shopping nearby while her husband, Roy, carried their 20-month-old
    son,
    David. "Just carrying the baby is no bother. It's more personal."
    Mary Mwanzia, 32, a mother and part-time government secretary, popped into
    the store to buy baby bottles. Esmail corralled her potential buyer over to the strollers. But Mwanzia, even with her modern job and her braided red
    hair extensions and bell-bottom jeans, found the baby buggies
    "oppressive."
    Esmail suggested a test drive. Mwanzia was not having it.

    "It's just not Kenyan," she said. "For the child, the love will not be
    there if the child is cooped up in such an antisocial device."
    She
    purchased her bottles and left.
    Special Correspondent Candice Miranda contributed to this report.
    © 2004 The Washington Post Company
     
  2. Earthy Mama

    Earthy Mama Feel my wrath... ;)

    intresting... this makes me want to throw my stroller out. I see what they mean. My kids hate the stroller and I never get to push them in it and now I think I know why. lol
     
  3. Butterflygal

    Butterflygal Member

    Very intersting!! It really brings a different view. Now I think I won't use it if I have another baby someday.
     
  4. Right on man! I went to Tanzania this summer (directly south of Kenya) and all the mothers carry their kids on their backs. I don't know why anyone would spend $100+ on a stroller when they could just spend a few bucks on cloth! I'm definately using the cloth method with my kids.
     
  5. Sunburst

    Sunburst Fairy

    Woo! I'm soo gad I read this b4 I had kids:p I don't think I'll use one now...
     
  6. TerrapinRose

    TerrapinRose Member

    Slinging my little guy on my back or hip is a joy!When I see some poor toddler or baby yowling away in a stroller or shopping cart I can't imagine why the mother doesn't pick them up. It's not that I never use the stroller,I do because at 26 lbs Xander can get to be too heavy,but when we go out with the stroller I always bring a sling.It's not that big a deal to have him in the sling and push the empty stroller,plus you get interesting looks from people ;)
     
  7. HappyHaHaGirl

    HappyHaHaGirl *HipForums Princess*

    Noah weighs 30 lbs, so I do use a stroller when I shop or something, but I really don't use it very often. He probably hasn't been in it more and a dozen times in his life... Just because I'm too lazy to do all that folding stuff.


    But my back hurts so much. I can't sit still... :( I'm crying.
     
  8. Sage-Phoenix

    Sage-Phoenix Imagine

    Interesting article.

    Slings are great. I'll use them instead, at least until my babies get too heavy to carry.
    If a stroller is really necessary then I'd get one that faces me, so the baby and I can still maintain eye contact.

    TTFN

    Sage
     
  9. mariecstasy

    mariecstasy Enchanted

    yay for you for finding that. this is an angle i have thought of before while watching african women on tv. i have a stroller though i have rarely used it. my little one has always been entirely too independent to be put in there. she wants up and at 'em
     
  10. Maggie Sugar

    Maggie Sugar Senior Member

    If strollers are bad, constant use of car seats OUT of the car, is worse! It is rare, these days to see a baby in arms. It makes me sad to see babies only nestled in plastic and straps, instead of against mama's body. Seeing a womyn struggling with a 9 lb baby, in a 18 lb bucket of plastic makes NO sense to me. HOLD THE BABY!!!!

    I admit, I occasionally used a stroller (when one weighs 100 lbs and has a 20 or 30 lbs toddler, who is too tired to walk, it seems a temporary blessing) but I never used one with a baby small enough to hold or sling.

    I remember seeing babies screaming their lungs out, mothers trying the bottle, then the toys, then the paci, trying to make a newborn "happy" in this contraption. Sunshine, when she was little used to loudly exclaim "Try picking the baby UP!!!!" LOL! There are babies who seem to never be in arms, going from the crib, to the high chair to the "baby seat" to the car seat, to the car seat in the shopping cart ect. All day, and always in some plastic contraption, because mama is just "too busy" to hold him or her.

    Sad. Babies need skin and body contact. How can we expect healthy children if they never have contact all day?
     
  11. sugrmag

    sugrmag Uber Nerd

    Also, the car seat in the shopping cart is not safe! I never put my kids in a shopping cart. I fear that the car seat could tip over or something. My youngest daughter is 16 months, so I strap her to my back. She can walk, but she likes to run away! My 5 yr old stays right with me the whole time.
     
  12. Brighid

    Brighid Member

    It never ceases to amaze me that these devices which are supposed to make life easier for Mamas actually make life soooo much harder!

    How many times have I seen Mamas struggling to get on the bus or in/out of her car with a baby, diaper bag, and stroller! Newly postpartum Mamas straining to carry that horrid car seat thing, the baby, and a diaper bag? Exhausted new Mamas getting out of bed multiple times each night to fetch a crying newborn down the hall?
    How many times have I seen crying babies in their baby buckets on the floor, while stressed-out Mama sticks a bottle or paci into it's mouth or rocks it with her foot? Never mind the baby is always at the level of other people's butts when carried or pushed in a stroller, or at the level of their feet when resting on the floor.
    It's the epitome of DE-ttachment parenting! It's like, once you get the idea that these things are necessary, you lose touch with your ability to PICK YOUR BABY UP and soothe him!
     
  13. sugrmag

    sugrmag Uber Nerd

    I know! My daughter HAD to sleep with us due to the fact that I had a c-section! How ridiculous would it have been for me to try to crawl out of bed every hour or send my husband to get her everytime she cried! She lived on my stomach for 2 months!
     

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