He uses it as a visual aid (probably because his English wasn't perfect) to tell me that Meghan's head is flat and I need to put her to sleep on her side instead of her back now that she is older than two months, because it is sleeping on her back that is making her head flat. I understand that he had good intentions, but:
(1) Her head has always been shaped like that -- that is, more oblong than round. My husband's head has the same shape. I don't know if it's an Asian thing or a Taiwanese thing or just something in his family, but that's how their heads are. And when I pointed it out to the guy, he said that my husband and I both had good, round heads, but Meghan doesn't. Ummm...no.
(2) Sometime in the 1990s, American pediatricians, and most anyone having anything to do with babies in general, started promoting the Back to Sleep Campaign, which urges parents and other caregivers to place children under one year of age to sleep on their backs as a way to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). So I'd be going against my doctor's orders if I put Meghan to sleep on her side. To be honest, I'm not really sure I buy the whole Back to Sleep thing, and I think SIDS is sort of a dubious syndrome with murky causes, effects, and correlating factors, but I'm not going to be the person who ignores it and gets unlucky, you know? Now, there is evidence that putting your baby to sleep on his/her back can cause flattening of the head, but that's why, in conjunction with Back to Sleep, doctors urge you to give your baby plenty of "tummy time" during the day, so that the baby is not constantly on his/her back. Meghan has had plenty of tummy time.
(3) Ever since she learned how to roll over from her back to her belly (a week before she turned four months old), Meghan has actually NOT slept on her back very often at all. I put her down on her back, but she immediately rolls over and sleeps on her side or her stomach. There's nothing I can do to stop that, and from what I understand, most pediatricians say that once a baby has the strength to roll in both directions, the chances that the baby will smother by sleeping on his/her stomach are extremely limited. And really, there's nothing I can do about it; it's not like I'm going to stand over her crib all night and risk waking her up to switch her from her tummy to her back every time she turns over. The only time she sleeps on her back is when I bring her in bed with me in the early morning and we snuggle and snooze for a few hours. There's no way I'd let her sleep on her stomach on my supersoft mattress, and for some reason, she doesn't roll over when she's next to me -- probably because she nurses while we snuggle, and it'd be hard to nurse with her face against the mattress! Anyway, the point is that Meghan doesn't sleep on her back most of the time.
I explained all this to the guy, and he seemed pretty surprised:
"Your daughter, she sleep this way?" (He demonstrates sleeping on one's side.)
"Yes. She immediately turns over and won't sleep on her back."
"She no sleep on her back?"
"No. She doesn't like it."
"Hmmmm." (He looks all confused.)
Finally, he conceded that he doesn't know why her head is shaped the way it is, and he went back to drinking his coffee or whatever. And I'm just like, dude, people have differently shaped heads. I appreciate his intentions, which I imagine were good, and I figure that in whatever country he's from, it's not considered rude to give unsolicited advice of this sort. But I couldn't help but bristle, because it felt as though he were criticizing my parenting, or at least sticking his nose where it didn't belong. Parenting is such a sensitive area in American culture, and it seems that there are a hundred different, and often contradictory, opinions on any single topic having to do with raising children, so you just have to study all of the viewpoints and choose what feels right to you. I really do think he meant well and was trying to help rather than say, "Your daughter has a flat head and you suck as a parent." But it was just weird as hell.
I really do think he meant well, though. Which is far more than I can say for the woman who, in Buy Buy Baby several months back, started reaming out this lady whose newborn infant was crying in her stroller: "BE A MOTHER AND DEAL WITH YOUR CHILD! YOUR CHILD IS CRYING AND YOU'RE DOING NOTHING ABOUT IT! YOU NEED TO BE A MOTHER AND PICK YOUR BABY UP AND COMFORT YOUR BABY INSTEAD OF LEAVING YOUR BABY IN THE STROLLER! BE A MOTHER!" Everyone within earshot looked completely shocked at this ugly display of bitchery. Never EVER tell someone she is being a bad mother, especially when she is a new mom...and especially when you don't even know the circumstances! Maybe this lady was quickly trying to get to an area where she could feed the baby. Or maybe she felt it would be difficult to wheel the stroller and hold onto a fragile new baby at the same time, so she was just trying to make her purchase and get the hell out of the store. She looked completely mortified and heartbroken when bitchy lady was yelling at her, and she stuttered out something about how she was trying and knew she needed to pick up the child, but wasn't able to; I don't remember exactly what it is, but I could tell she was so embarrassed and felt horrible. In retrospect, I wish I had told off the bitchy lady. I don't like getting involved in other people's wank, but that evil wench needed to be put into her place.
God, this is just the beginning, isn't it? I'm sure I'm going to be the recipient of much more unsolicited advice in the future. Frankly, I'm shocked no one's yelled at me about public breastfeeding yet. I'm discreet and all, but there's always some moron who can't deal with the thought of functional boobs and who doesn't realize you could see far worse with a quick Google search.
Anyway, I like Meghan's head shape. Hell, her head could be shaped like a pyramid and I'd think it's cute, but she doesn't have plagiocephaly (flat-head syndrome). Her pediatrician had noted her head shape a few months ago, particularly because she's 5th-10th percentile in head circumference, and came to the conclusion that that's just how her head is! It's growing fine, and she's just small overall -- she's 10th percentile in weight and 50th percentile in length, and that's how she's been since birth. So I'm not worried. Not everyone has the same exact head shape. It was just so random for this dude to draw out pictures and try to tell me what position to put her in to sleep.