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Monday, March 12, 2007Hopefully someone will upload video of all the breastfeeding related clips so that anyone who missed it can watch, but I will share my own reaction with you.
My quick summary: It was closer to what I wrote it might be than what many of the up-in-arms breastfeeding warriors thought it was going to be.
My extended summary:
Quite honestly, I really didn't think it was that bad. I know I have readers that will disagree with me on that, but I really did not think it ended up being the super huge deal that people thought it was going to be.
Here's the situation as I saw it...
Mom has a 12 year old a 6 year old and a 14 month old. She has no control of any of her children and has no idea how to discipline them. The only tool she has is "whoppins" which she explains means that she spanks them. The six year old refuses to sleep in her own bed though mom and dad want her to. None of the children have bedtimes and mom and dad are so beat at the end of the night that they put up half-hearted efforts to get the six year old into her own bed. They lose.
The primary issues are that mom needs to learn some ways to discipline, mom wants the six year old out of her bed, mom says that she has wanted to wean the 14 month old for a few months but A) will miss the bonding/emotional benefits and B) has no idea how to do it. Instead, she still nurses the 14 month old almost constantly and when she's not nursing, she's carrying the child around. This leaves her unable to get anything else done.
Here's what Supernanny did:
First, she used her "get your kid to sleep in their own room" technique. I have zero issue with this. Basically, you put your kid in bed and tell them good night. The first time they get up, you say "It's bedtime darling" and you put them back in bed. The second time you simply say "bedtime" and put them back in bed. Any time after that, you simply pick them up, carry them back to bed and put them in it. Eventually, they stay. ;) It took 17 times and 45 minutes to get the six year old to sleep in her bed. There was no screaming, no tantrums, just mom putting her back in bed.
The second issue was the baby. Supernanny talked to the mom and, in my opinion, made it pretty clear that she would support the mom if she wanted to wean and she'd support her if she wanted to continue to nurse. The issue that she had was that the 14 month old was nursing ALL the time. She said that was fine for a very young baby, but for someone that was more than a year, nursing could (and perhaps should) have some limits to it. I also don't disagree with this. The mom said that she had wanted to wean for a while, but just didn't know how, so Supernanny said she'd help.
The only thing I saw wrong with this conversation was that it focused only on the emotional benefits to the mom and child. There was no mention of the fact that breast milk still has health benefits at this point (and beyond.) Ultimately though, we have to remember that this is a mainstream show and simply the fact that she said it was up to the mom whether or not to wean is a big step forward.
Now as to how they went toward weaning...well, we got a very clipped version, but it looked like her solution was to simply block access to the breast and to offer a bottle. The first time they did this, it took the baby about 10 minutes to settle down and accept the bottle. Then she went to sleep. That's all we saw of weaning, we were just told that "it worked" and never heard anything else about it.
So yeah, I'm not real keen on the way they weaned her. I would have much rather seen Supernanny explain the idea of distraction and delay as I think it's a much gentler way to wean. There's no reason that a child has to be weaned in a day and gentle weaning can be quite effective. They also weaned her to a bottle which makes ZERO sense to me. A fourteen month old should be weaned to a sippy cup, not a bottle. Is this alone reason to bombard the station with nasty letters? I don't really think so, but again, I'm sure some folks will feel differently.
They also worked to move the 14 month old out of the parents bed, but again, the mom said that SHE wanted to move the baby out. Supernanny encouraged it, but I didn't really see a lot of pressuring to do it. They set up a crib in the parents room and moved the baby to there. They did use a little bit of CIO when they first put the baby down for a nap, but the baby was asleep in less than five minutes. Again, I don't really have a huge problem with that. 5 minutes of being fussy does not count as emotional child abuse in my mind. (Now if it had been 30 minutes, an hour or whatever, yeah I'd have serious issues with it.)
Having just let Emmitt cry/fuss for 3 whole minutes while I waited for him to put himself to sleep, I'd be a hypocrite if I complained about CIO for five minutes. ;)
Could the episode have gone better? Sure! But we have to remember that this is a mainstream parenting show starring Supernanny, not a Mothering.com video staring Hawthor. I don't agree with all of Supernanny's techniques but they aren't the anti-breastfeeding horror show that some people were making it out to be before the show aired.
Write a letter if you want to, but quite honestly, I think there are better battles for us to fight.
Just my humble opinion.