Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Graco Parent & Child Interaction Day

Was it really a week ago?  Apparently so.  Well, it was a week ago that I found myself in the bar of the Drury Lane Travelodge with Squeaky, a couple of good friends and a reasonable bottle of red wine, anyway.

Last Wednesday, Squeaky & I jumped on the train to make our way to London for a press day with Graco,  along with some of our fellow Graco ambassadors.  We had a reserved seat. but as I had the Symbio with me and didn't really want to leave it unattended, we commandeered the wheelchair space at the end of the carriage (there weren't any passengers with wheelchairs needing it, don't worry!) and left our seat for someone else.  This meant we had a lovely space for Squeaky to stretch her legs & enjoy the journey (and I didn't have to have her on my lap for 2 hours solid).

I'd already scoped out my routes from the station to hotel, and hotel to The Future Gallery, and found that due to some fairly major works, the underground was a non-starter, so we leapt on the bus, and watched the world go by as it limped slowly up Oxford Street. I was having visions of trying to get us both on board an old-fashioned London Routemaster bus (you know, the ones with the door at the back & the spiral staircase), but they don't really exist any more, or at least not on the route I needed.

Well, enough about that.  The press day itself, seeing as that's what we were there for.  Squeaky & I were the first to arrive (by about an hour & a half, if I'm honest, but that includes the time spent having a sneaky McD's breakfast & a stroll round Leicester Square), and were greeted by the lovely Jane, who has been at the receiving end of a lot of my emails over the last few months (and yet she still smiles!), and we were soon joined by Wendy, Emma, Danielle & Lindsey with their lovely children, Symbios & Fusios.  (That's the pushchairs by the way, not their children's names.)

Dr Suzanne Zeedyk & Emma Kenny both gave presentations regarding child psychology, parent/child interaction, the effects on children's development & how changes to pushchair design through the years, and across the globe, have changed the way children experience their world.  There are many reasons why the old fashioned Pram (think Princess Di pushing Wills around [look! I'm being topical!]) has given way to the outward facing buggy so popular today - greater use of cars, engineering, safety advances, storage, fashion, celebrity, the list goes on.  But these outward facing buggies, allowing children to see the world, could be creating stress for the baby, as well as denying them the opportunity to interact with their parents.

Children are born connected, and not just by the umbilical cord.  Studies have shown that babies can recognise sounds, songs, and words heard in the womb after they are born.  Babies are born mimics, and face-to-face interaction helps stimulate the growth of neural paths, promoting the child's intellectual and emotional development.

Both the Symbio & Fusio have the option to face either inwards or outwards, enabling communication and building stronger bonds between parent & child.  I love this, and usually have Squeaky facing me to we can chatter while we walk - but I've always got the option to flip the handle and show her the world (or pull her through a doorway, honestly, that is such a useful feature).

I have to admit at one moment during Suzanne's talk, my little brain went walkabout.  Suzanne spoke about how touch stimulates the production of Oxytocin, a hormone that promotes happiness, love, and a warm & squishy feeling.  My brain, still filled with breastfeeding mentor training went haywire, and started wondering why we weren't also talking about Prolactin and "P makes it produce, O makes it flow!" Luckily I kept that thought to myself, until now at least.

We also had a bash at baby massage, with the lovely folks from Tiddley pom, and had a Symbio vs Fusio pushchair shootout, where Squeaky & I came second to Danielle's lightning Fusio skills!  Seriously, she's a whizz. I also had a lovely chat with Katy from Pushchair Trader about the FlipFlop test (or what happens when you galumph down the road rather than taking delicate tippy-toe steps and fall over your footbrake) The Symbio's fingertip brake is a great big pass on that test.

It was great to meet the other ambassadors, and we had a good chat, ate lots of cake and played a quick round of baby Russian Roulette (go me, linking to my own posts!) before heading back out into the world with our goodie bags. At this point, I should admit that my macaroons didn't make it past Paddington Station, but they were lovely. Our journey home was completed with a cancelled local train, the next one being full to bursting with drunk & sunburnt people who'd spent the whole day on Barry Island beach, and a slow stagger up the hill home.

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