Technology has transformed the baby raising landscape in some ingenious ways. Who knows? If the following three inventions had been available a few years ago my home office might today be covered in Disney motif wallpaper, and all the electrical outlets plugged up with child safety protectors.
Take United States patent 6068649 . This patent is for a strap-on pacifier that loops around a baby's ears and stays put. With this device a parent could, theoretically, enjoy some real quiet time with baby. Of course, babies will often cry even with a pacifier in their mouths. In fact, this type of cry is the most disruptive to peace and quiet as it quickly escalates to the point where babies turn dark red and seemingly become hysterical. But the patent's strap-on feature does eliminate one major source of a baby's crying - dropping (or spitting out) the pacifier and being unable to retrieve it.
Then there's what I like to refer to as the Baby Wedge, or United States patent 5713090 . The Baby Wedge is an "oval shaped domed structure featuring curved crossbars that are strong enough to support an adult's weight." With this device baby can safely sleep in bed "wedged" between mommy and daddy free from fear of being rolled onto by sleep-deprived parents. I especially love this device because of all its Freudian fun implications. I mean the child is put in a cage by her parents whose physical presence is a constant threat to the infant. Then there's the image of the baby as a physical barrier to her sex-deprived parents when she is sleeping between them. Oh, and don't even get me started on the Oedipal implications of this thing!
Oh oh, looks like baby's sleeping in daddy's place.
Baby Wedge Detail
Finally, for today's overworked parents there United States patent 3552388 , the Baby Patting Machine. The inventor of this device reasoned that "it is sometimes difficult for [an] infant to fall asleep, and the parent must resort to patting the baby to sleep by repeated pats upon the hind parts thereof." So, for parents who have to get up early the next morning to put in another 8 to 15 hours at the office in order to participate in the post-modern parenting experience, or for those parents who are, let's be honest, not quick to put in the kind of time and effort it takes to help a restless baby fall asleep, the Baby Patting Machine's mechanized arm offers the perfect solution. With the Baby Patting Machine in place babies get the soft caresses they need, while parents find yet another source of endless guilt as they watch a crude robotic device do the job they signed on for, the one they suspect baby would prefer they perform instead.
Baby Patting Machine
So, there you have it, parenting in the Twenty-first century made easier, or at least weirder, thanks to the creative responses of a few inventors.