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Family valued 8.25.04

Wear your baby

The world's parents have used cloth to carry babies for millennia, and it's hard to improve on a good thing. I've used (and liked) more hardware-laden carriers, but there's nothing so elegantly easy as tying on your baby. I can use five yards of cotton gauze ($1-$7/yard) to carry my baby in several positions: on my hip, back, or chest with her weight distributed on one shoulder or two, with or without supporting her on my waist. With her weight so well distributed, carrying her is as easy as it was when I was pregnant with her.

Baby-wearing promotes bonding, frees mother's hands, and provides the physical contact credited with reducing both postpartum depression in moms and colic in newborns. Many believe that held babies cry less and may have an edge in neural development. The posture of a baby cuddled in a sling --- compared to that in carriers from which legs dangle --- is beneficial for his developing spine and hips.

The Mamatoto Project promotes baby-wearing with simple pieces of cloth, from bed sheets to saris. Wraps can be improvised with household items, made with or without sewing, or purchased. You can spend $150 on a specially woven German import, or $25 on a work-at-home-mom Internet special. The Moby Wrap is sold locally through BizarroBaby (328-4325) for $30.

Mamatoto Advocates teach parents how to use carriers and provide free slings to parents in need. For more information, contact Caren at 464-0207 or care_a_boo@mail.com, or visit www.babywearing.com.

--- Caren Barth

This week for families:

Brighton Memorial Library Drop-in storytimes: Mondays, toddlers, 10:30 a.m.; Mondays, preschoolers, 11:30 a.m., Thursdays, families, 7 p.m. | 2300 Elmwood Ave. 784-5300

City Summer Kids Club Mon-Fri through Sept 3. For ages 6-10, various recreation centers, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. $50 per week. 428-6767, www.cityofrochester.gov

Discover Music Saturdays in September. For kids ages 4-7, First Baptist Church of Rochester, 119 W Elm St. Register by Aug 25. $55. 429-6754

Girl Scouts Performance Fri, Aug 27. Drumming, dancing, art, James Madison High School, 200 Genesee St, 1-2:30 p.m.

RMSC Strasenburgh Planetarium 657 East Ave. A Trip to Saturn and Pluto: 1 p.m. Mon-Sat; Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey: 2, 3, 4 p.m. Mon-Sat; 11 a.m. Tues-Fri; 8 and 9 p.m. Sat; I See the Sky: 9:30 a.m. Sat; The Sky Tonight: 10:30 a.m. Sat; The Beatles in Laser Light: 10 p.m. Sat. Tix: $4-$7. 271-1880

Rochester Museum and Science Center 657 East Ave. Surprise! It's Science, through May 2005. | Rochester's Frederick Douglass, through January 2006. | Live Science! demos and theater, 11 a.m., 1 and 2 p.m. Mon-Fri. Wed 2 p.m. show sign-interpreted. | Ongoing exhibits include: AdventureZone, Carlson Inquiry Room, At the Western Door. | Hours: Mon-Sat 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun 12-5 p.m. Tix: $5-$7. 271-1880, www.rmsc.org.

Seneca Park Zoo 2222 St Paul St. Animal enrichment day, Sat, Aug 28, activities for animals, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. | Child safety day, Tues, Aug 31, safety kits, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. | Hours: daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tix: $5, $4 seniors, $2 kids. 467-9453, www.senecazoo.org.

Strong Museum 1 Manhattan Square. Get ready for school week, through Fri, Aug 27. | Long-term exhibits include National Toy Hall of Fame, Can You Tell Me How To Get To Sesame Street? and Super Kids Market. Hours: Mon-Thurs 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun 12-5 p.m. Tix: $7; $6 seniors, students; $5 children. 263-2700

Summer Food Service Program Free lunch and breakfast for kids under 18, Mon-Fri, various sites. Call for registration and info. 428-7872, 325-1440

Volunteers of America Universal Pre-K Programs Openings available, for 4- and 5-yr-olds, free to city residents, 100 State St or 214 Lake Ave, 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m. 647-1344, 263-3103

Sleepless in parenthood

Most of the world's children sleep with their families for their first few years. I doubt their parents struggle to get them to sleep. In "developed" societies, we put kids to sleep in cribs early in the first year of life. We want time to ourselves, have stuff to do, or simply want to sleep in our own beds. Besides, we have work the next morning. We don't want to sleep with our kids forever.

Teaching our kids to go to sleep alone in their own beds is problematic. Life is too new and exciting at one, two, and three; imaginations go wild. Worse, bedtime routines involve parents keeping firm limits at a time of day when no one has much patience or stamina... except kids. So we break every rule of discipline. We threaten. We give in. We read just one more book. We exorcise closet monsters. We leave. We return. We get the cup of water. Eventually, we fall asleep with our kids.

What's a parent to do? Normal kids eventually crave independence and privacy at night. It gets better no matter what. This doesn't mean that it's futile for parents to set bedtime limits; kids always benefit from rules and structure. It simply means that those routines ought to be practical, negotiated solutions that work. What do both parent and child require to get adequate sleep and privacy?

In the end, the biggest problem with sleeping with your toddler is that you'll blink, she'll be 15, and you'll be asking her why she never says, "good night," anymore. You'll miss those days when cuddling her to sleep solved all her problems.

--- Laurence I. Sugarman, MD