Un­sus­pect­ing fam­i­lies put ba­bies to the test

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

‘‘ THE big­gest mis­take par­ents can make is to al­low a baby to dic­tate to them. A baby should fit into your way of life, not you into its.’’

So says Claire Ver­ity with the sort of self-as­sured smug­ness that can only be­long to a per­son who has never had chil­dren. ‘‘ I can’t un­der­stand why any­body wants to cud­dle a baby or pick a baby up,’’ she con­tin­ues, straight-faced. ‘‘ A baby doesn’t want to be touched all the time. All they want is to be left alone to grow.’’

It may come as a sur­prise — nay, shock — that ice-hearted Ver­ity is an in­fant-train­ing ex­pert whom fam­i­lies pay £ 1000 ($ 2200) a day to get their ba­bies to be­have, well, less like ba­bies. Her line of ex­per­tise is a 1950s rou­tine-based child-rear­ing method that dic­tates new­borns be fed fourhourly, should sleep through the night from birth, must not be held or cud­dled, let alone breast­fed, and should be left out­doors, com­pletely on their own, for four hours a day to ben­e­fit from ‘‘ fresh air’’.

It may sound like child abuse, but Ver­ity in­sists the rou­tine forces ba­bies to fit bet­ter into the life­style of their par­ents, which, she be­lieves, is the aim.

Ver­ity is one of three ex­perts whose tech­niques are tri­alled by a se­ries of un­sus­pect­ing fam­i­lies in this in­ter­est­ing Bri­tish se­ries that sets out to dis­cover which method of rais­ing baby is best. Cruella De Vil, as Ver­ity is known in Bri­tain, is pit­ted against a cou­ple of airy-fairy types, one of whom fol­lows the 1960s-style Dr Spock method of ‘‘ any­thing goes’’ par­ent­ing — which al­lows for plenty of baby cud­dling, but also cock­tails for the par­ent if nec­es­sary

Emo­tional rush: — and a hip­pie who teaches moth­ers to em­u­late the life­style of Ama­zo­nian tribeswomen, who carry their ba­bies in slings, sleep with them, breast­feed con­tin­u­ally and raise ‘‘ pure, emo­tion­ally bal­anced chil­dren’’.

The fam­i­lies in­volved, in­clud­ing one par­tic­u­larly un­for­tu­nate cou­ple with twins, have cam­eras on them 24 hours a day as they ad­here strictly to the var­i­ous tech­niques. We’re told that af­ter three months a re­sult will emerge about which works best.

Tonight’s episode is an in­tro­duc­tory af­fair in which we meet the cou­ples, the ex­perts and the ba­bies.

tri­als par­ent­ing tech­niques Much of the cu­rios­ity of view­ing this episode comes from the sheer hor­ror of ob­serv­ing Ver­ity in action as she blithely pushes new­borns out into the brac­ing English air for their out­door ses­sions and phys­i­cally pre­vents their moth­ers from cud­dling them. Plus there are sev­eral un­in­ten­tion­ally hi­lar­i­ous mo­ments as the par­ents ex­pe­ri­ence the emo­tional rush of child-rais­ing.

New par­ents will no doubt find this show ut­terly grip­ping; ev­ery­body else will merely watch it with a sense of re­lief that they are not new par­ents.

El­iz­a­beth Mery­ment

Bring­ing Up Baby

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