The torticollis was not my fault.
Before Bun Bun was born, I read in The One Parenting Book I Will Ever Read that many parents tend to be one-sided: They primarily hold the baby with one arm, put it the same way on the changing table, etc. Doing this puts your baby at an increased risk for torticollis (a condition where your baby gets a stiff neck, which has to be dealt with or the baby has to wear a scary helmet). Despite having read this, I am totally a one-sided parent. I can only hold babies over my left side. Bun Bun had to go to physical therapy for torticollis and Bunlet narrowly escaped having to do the same thing. Obviously a failure on my part, right?
WELL! A while back I went to Northern State University to give a talk, and before my talk I met with anyone who wanted to meet with me. One such person had a car seat in his office with a baby doll in it, which naturally led me to ask what it was used for. (Hey, I have some weird stuff in my office, too. Styrofoam models of molecules, a lot of eye masks, a very long pink jump rope…) Turns out he has an extensive line of research on the infant holding bias. Since 1960 research has been around showing that people have a bias towards holding babies on the left side! Could be a real baby, could be a fake baby, but doesn’t show up for aversive stimuli, like a pillow with a picture of a giant spider on it. (Science! How I love thee!) Men and women both show it, and you don’t have to have experience with infants to show it. It might be about the heartbeat, it might be about having your dominant hand free, though some studies show left handers have the same left bias, not a right bias as you’d expect if it’s about handedness. The prevailing theory suggests it’s heartbeat, handedness PLUS also a desire to have your baby in your left visual field. Why? Because the left visual field projects to the right hemisphere of primary visual cortex, and the right hemisphere is more specialized for emotional processing. DUDE.
Conclusions: Totally not my fault the babies got torticollis. I’m glad I get the chance to redeem myself with Bunter–we’ll see if knowledge is power. Nowhere in my many interactions over torticollis did anyone bother to mention that one-sidedness is common and hard to resist. Yet another case of psychology and pediatrics utterly failing to communicate with each other.