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The stuff that makes us human...

November 18, 2014
The human infant is a helpless creature at birth. He is immobile, he cannot follow his mother like a Giraffe, and his mother does not leave him in a nest for extended periods, while she hunts for food. Unlike some other primates, he cannot even hold on to or cling to his mother. He must be carried if he is to go from one place to another. He requires years of development before he can care for himself. A baby's helplessness and immature development requires care. Nature has provided the perefect sources to match his need – the human mother and father.  There are a multitude of retail products out there that allow you to safely wear your baby, and are a wonderful way to fulfill and nurture this need.

Why is it we feel compelled to expect our human infants to have capabilities that other mammals have, but we are lacking?  

Dr N. Blurton Jones studied the question of whether humans evolved as, or are by nature, one of the species of mammals that cach(i.e. hides) the infants in a safe place, returning periodically to feed them, or whether they are one of the carrying species like monkeys and apes, in which the mothers carry their infants wherever they go and feed them frequently. He compared humans with members of caching species of mammals on the one hand, and with higher primates,which are carrying species on the other. He concluded from a number of anatomical, behavioral and physiological comparisons, including the composition of the milk, that humans are indeed pre-adapted to be a carrying species. Such species breastfeed their young frequently. (Blurton Jones 1972). 

 "Babies are perceived from the moment of birth as separate individuals. As with all mammals, human gestation does not really end with birth. The nurturing process after birth, although it is genetically and biologically continuous with the process before birth, is unfortunately not automatic. In humans, the mother can choose, and be influenced by others within her culture, to discontinue being a part of this process. Have you evr considered that the care of infants and children became a cultural process, greatly influenced by the socioeconomic organization of a society. Sometimes, I feel like babies are not cared for in ways that fit them, but in ways that fit their society.  Babies need tenderness. They do not grow well without it. It is the stuff that makes us human." - The Human Baby, James Kimmel, Ph.D.

Heather Knott, RN-IBCLC
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