Bradford BabyWeek Talk Screenshot

Bradford Baby Week – Why it’s great to be a baby

Join developmental psychologist, director of Goldsmith’s InfantLab, and author of The Laughing Baby, Caspar Addyman, for this illuminating and uplifting talk and Q&A event. Exploring the first two years of an infant’s life, this event won’t focus on the commonly-discussed moments of stress and confusion for adults and babies, and how these impact on early years cognitive and emotional development. Instead, Caspar wants to tell you why it can be GREAT to be a baby! Together you’ll explore how parents and practitioners can use their in-built instincts – not only to provide personal care and sustenance, but to tickle and play peekaboo – that have been honed over millennia, to help seed the beginnings of art, science, music and happiness in our children, and create a bond that parents and infants share as they navigate the challenges of childhood. This event is in partnership with Better Start Bradford for Baby Week Bradford 2020. Find out what else is happening at:

A surgeon scrubs his hands and arms before going into the operating room at Riverside County Regional Medical Center.

Wash your hands

Ignaz Semmelweis,

A short extract from my book:

In Vienna General Hospital in the 1840s there were two maternity wards, Clinic 1 and Clinic 2, which admitted women on alternating days. The first clinic was attended by medical students, the second clinic by midwives. Pregnant women admitted on Clinic 1 days begged to be admitted to Clinic 2, as it seemed to be common knowledge that Clinic 1 was cursed. Data collected from 1842 to 1846 were incontrovertible: maternal death rates were 60% lower in the midwives’ clinic. A junior doctor, Ignaz Semmelweis, was tasked with investigating this. He found no differences in the clinics themselves, nor the delivery procedures. He made the suggestion, unusual for the time, that the medical students wash their hands with strongly chlorinated water. When they did, death rates dropped to levels found in Clinic 2. The medical students had come often from dissecting cadavers in anatomy classes. They didn’t wash their hands because, well, why would they? There was no reason. This was decades before the germ theory of disease was proved by Louis Pasteur and Joseph Lister.

Semmelweis presented his findings to his superiors. He could not explain why the washing of hands helped, so they did not adopt his suggestions. Shortly afterwards he was fired and he returned to his native Hungary. Hospitals where he worked showed similar improvements, but his new colleagues would not adopt his methods either. He spent 20 years in increasingly angry correspondence with the European medical establishment. He was largely ignored. He died in an insane asylum in 1865, a broken and defeated man. In psychology, the Semmelweis Reflex is a cognitive bias where we reject new evidence when it contradicts existing beliefs or established paradigms.

The Laughing Baby p.25-6

The Laughing Baby is published on 16 April 2020. You can purchase it from Unbound or via Amazon.

Laughter makes the impossible possible. Just ask a baby.

Laughter makes the impossible possible. Just ask a baby.

3 week old baby Cosmo is already enjoying life.

Laughter makes life worth living. It makes impossible situations possible. Just ask a baby. Imagine the scenario; You have just been dropped on a completely alien planet. You know nothing about this place, about its people or its language, its customs or its culture, its animals or its architecture. Heck, even its very physics is alien to you. If you couldn’t laugh, you’d cry. This the world of a baby.

But for a baby it’s even worse than that. Not only have you arrived cold, wet and helpless in a world you know nothing about, in fact, you know nothing about anything. Your memory is blank. Your limbs are not yours to command. Your muscles are too feeble to even lift your head. You can’t control your most basic bodily functions. You don’t even have a language of your own to think in. Oh, and did I mention all those aliens about fifteen to twenty times your size? No wonder babies start screaming shortly after their arrival.

The first month or so is a time of bewilderment, mostly taken up with sleep and screaming, nutrition and growth. But three cheerful miracles help babies survive in this terrifying situation. Survive and indeed thrive. First, babies come equipped with the most remarkable computers ever invented. Babies brains are the most powerful learning devices in the known universe. In two short years babies probably learn more profound truths than in the rest of lives. Secondly, babies have landed in an extremely benign environment. Human parents do infinitely more for their offspring than any other species. People have an inbuilt tendency to cherish and support babies. We can’t help loving these new invaders into our lives. Thirdly and most remarkable of all, it turns out we can communicate with each other right from the start. Despite no shared language or culture we can make an amazing emotional connection from day one.

For more like this, please look out for my book The Laughing Baby. It is being published by crowd-funded publisher, Unbound Books. So it needs your support to make it a reality. Please pre-order your copy or tell your friends with babies 🙂