The Channel Four programme Bringing Up Baby (open in a new window/tab) has been a real hit in our household, bringing much merriment for four weeks here to our family.
The show featured several families all trying to look after their newborn babies following one of three childcare philosophies. These were the 1960s “mummy knows best” approach of Doctor Benjamin Spock, a 1950s strict routine method and a strange 1970s hippy approach based on some tribe in the arse-end of nowhere.
I should first explain our own philosophy on childcare before I share with you our views on the TV show. Looking after twins is hard work and Patrick and Kitty do keep us rushed off our feet, the only way we really manage to cope is by sticking as much as possible to a routine. This means meals at eight am, midday, four pm and seven pm – and now the babes sleep through every single night.
This process took time though – time for us to learn what was best and time for the twins to show us what was comfortable for them. Neither Jo or I are fans of Gina Ford’s Das Kinder Reich view of childcare – we like to choose when we’ll have a cup of tea and a biscuit thanks very much, but that’s not stopped us admiring the 1950s approach in the TV show – which differs from Ford’s in that it doesn’t seem to control the parents.
Our admiration for the strict regime came as a surprise to us both I think. We quite like upsetting the wishy washy hippies who think there’s something evil in actually being in charge of your kids instead of letting them be boss. But to be serious for a moment we also think that when faced with twins you need to get some real routine in place or everything will fall apart. And we’re not the only ones but it seems that smug moral superiority of some mothers means folks tend not to stick up1 for the 1950s method.
Various mother and baby websites are completely up in arms about 1950s method guru Claire Verity’s approach, but to be honest it didn’t seem that much different to what the ante-natal nurses taught me before the twins first came home from hospital. But after a run in with Obertsturmfurher Gina Ford it’s no wonder the mumsnet moral majority is narked2.
No matter, we’re happy to say we thought that the couple3 (with twins I may add) who followed the method did the right thing and did really well.
Our own approach is somewhere between the Spock method tried by some of the families in the show and the 1950s method promoted by Claire Verity in the show. So we try to keep within a routine, but we’re willing to be flexible and approach things in the best way for everyone. This seems to be paying off with the twins really getting to grips with solid food and sleeping through every night.
The approach in Bringing Up Baby that really had us in stitches is the Continuum Method. Here babies spend their first months in a sling attached to mother or the increasingly stern looking father4. The parents do everything with the poor baby slung around them giving no privacy and no break from parenthood.
This apparently results in very mature and well-adjusted babies. This was demonstrated by the TV couple coming to meet other families who are trying the Continuum Method. And what a bunch of Fairtrade Peruvian llama wool snood wearing middle class hippy filth they turned out to be.
We were shown how well adjusted the babies were because they were all using very sharp knives to chop of fruit and veg. This is one of the goals of the method based on the tribe of hunters. We were not entirely convinced that the use of offensive weapons is really needed by toddlers in the angsty middle class boroughs where the method is bound to be most popular.
Particularly entertaining and annoying was the woman promoting this method in the show – Claire Scott5. Typical moral majority hippy nonsense for the most part, delivered with the most irritating patronising voice imaginable.
In the end all the couples seemed to do well with their chosen method but we really liked the couple with twins who clearly worked really hard and succeeded despite initial doubts. We also really liked the lass who clearly was cock-a-hoop to be bonking her bloke again – though I can’t remember which method she was using.
Some of the other couples that appeared earlier in the show’s short run didn’t appear last night, so we were wondering how the single mum was coping. Shame it didn’t update us on everyone. But great entertainment it was – more please.
1You can tell the mothers who like the approach, they are the quiet ones while the rest of your toddler group is likening the method to Year Zero in Cambodia.
2Mumsnet is likely to declare war on the 1950s method nanny Claire Verity at some point, militant bare breasted harridans the lot of them.
3The bloke actually seemed to be actor James Nesbitt, or his identical twin.
4Poor fella looked distraught at his prolonged enforced celibacy, meanwhile all the other couples were at it like jack rabbits.
5Funnily enough hippy sling-promoting Claire owns a business that designs and sells slings. Well who would have thunk it!