Notes from Catherine Rowett, former Green Party MEP for East of England and deputy coordinator of the Eastern Region Green Party*(UK). Biographical reflections on life as an MEP. Longer reflections and discussions on issues relating to policy, the good life, justice, equality, anti-austerity economics and the future of the planet. This is also a forum for exchanging ideas on how to tread lightly on the planet and avoid supporting exploitation and corrupt practices. Here we go...

Friday, 16 February 2007

Things useful for the task of bringing up children without a car

Besides the pram and the toddler seat, by the time the baby is about five months old you need a back rest for the pram (couldn't find a picture of one of these) and a baby harness.

The back rest for the pram is a kind of board with three pieces, which fold round and clip together to make a triangle. This goes in behind the baby when the baby is sitting up (but when the baby needs to sleep you take it out and flatten it and put it in the tray under the pram, or at the foot or whatever). My feeling is that there's something important in developmental terms about this hard back rest, because the baby sits up on a firm base and against a firm support and learns to exercise the lower back muscles to keep balance. This must be expecially good practice if the pram is in motion. Someone ought to do a study to see if children who ride in a real pram between six months and a year learn to walk earlier than those who slouch in a stroller.

I think maybe some prams have a back rest built in, which folds up or down.

And I believe the really old prams with the cavernous coach built body (like the one I myself occupied on my earliest outings) had a removable board in the middle of the base, so that when you removed the matterss and removed the loose board, the pram became two child seats facing each other, with space in the centre for the child's legs to drop down into the body of the pram.

The harness, of course, is for safety, once the child is capable of getting about in various ways by itself. You need one for the baby in the pram and one for the toddler on the toddler seat.

This picture, by the way, is not a picture of me but just a random picture I found on the web.

The toddler seat is also important for child development, not for physical co-ordination but for IQ. You have a conversation with the toddler as you push the pram.
(How very different from the lack of contact with a child in a forward facing pushchair!)

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