Mom-shaming has become a social media extreme sport with the “Karen’s” of the world racking up points by sounding off on parents for everything from how they buckle their kids into car seats to what they feed them. But now, a UK hospital is in on the shaming action after it posted a condescending sign that is drawing fire online because it judges parents who use their phone while feeding their babies.
Twitter user Ash Cottrell, @dr_cottrella posted an image of a sign on display at a UK SCBU, which is similar to a NICU unit. Her post read, “I’m on SCBU with my 5-day-old. This poster makes me sad…” The sign in question reads, “Mummy and Daddy, Please look at ME when I’m feeding, I am much more interesting than your phone!!”
Twitter users were quick to point out how damaging and inconsiderate the tone of the sign is. But not everyone apparently agreed and a debate broke out about the messaging to new parents.
One Twitter user wrote, “Studies do show they recognise your face & voice. They do better when touched, talked to & looked at when they are alert. They need you right then. The rest of the 22+ hrs you can catch up w/ family & friends. I get that we all need a distraction.”
That’s actually true, babies do need to be touched and looked at by their parents. According to The March of Cents, babies benefit greatly from physical contact right after birth as it helps to form critical bonds between parent and child. It also helps reduce stress, regulate breathing and heart rates, and gives a baby a sense of security.
But then, any new parent knows that newborns who are nursing have a tendency to fall asleep. Why not catch up with friends and family to avoid feeling isolated while the baby is not paying attention anyway?
One Twitter user responded to Cottrella’s post by saying, “Oh no! Awful poster. I was in SCBU with a five day old and my phone was a lifeline. I was isolated and frightened (we’d been readmitted) and my phone meant I could stay in touch with people and read up on what had happened to us.”
There has to be a balance between helping babies be cared for and loved and parents from feeling isolated. If the hospital flyer wanted to keep parents from their phones while they care for their babies then finding a more tactful way to word it could have been a better route. But telling a new mum or dad that the choice they are making is damaging to their child just reads as unfair manipulation at best.