Thursday, March 15, 2012
Skinner's Baby Care
Psychologist P.F. Skinner was famous for studies of birds in little Plexiglas boxes. When he then made a plywood and Plexiglas box for care taking of his then infant daughter, they were heckled by the print equivalent of Internet trolls until significantly after he died. The younger Ms. Skinner reports that contrary to rumor, she did love her father, wasn't traumatized, was never institutionalized, and did not shoot up a restaurant in Wisconsin, a state which she has in fact never been to. I personally think the box was an excellent idea. The box's environment can be controlled for the infant's comfort, care, and intellectual development. If I ever have to care for an infant, I plan to construct one. The box is elevated, allowing a passing parent (or caretaker) to observe the baby at eye level, and retrieve the baby for feeding and changing without bending over. In the parent's absence, a baby monitor transmits all the baby's utterances. The box is heated to 90F (~32C), yet well ventilated, and a recording of the parents voices shows baby both that he or she is well loved, as well, as teaching a new language. Later, baby grows up and graduates to a real bed. I believe this also has major applications for disabled parents, who will have difficulty taking baby out of a crib when they are in a wheelchair. By setting the height exactly so, the parent can open the doors and take baby without having to prop themselves up first, and can put baby back very gently. This allows them far more autonomy in caring for their baby.