To the Editor:
NBC's new reality series, "Baby Borrowers" touts the tag line "It's not TV, it's birth control." The program purports to teach teens how to be parents by having them take care of a baby or toddler for three days.
Unfortunately, the program utterly misses the most important piece of scientific information that we have about babies: They need to be with trusted caregivers in order to thrive.
Over 50 years of research demonstrates that separation from parents can have a significant negative effect on a young child from the simple sadness at missing their parents to experiencing sleep and feeding problems. The parent-child relationship can also be damaged due to the separation and behavior disruptions can persist after the child and parent are reunited.
The program provides nannies, but since they are unfamiliar to the babies, their effectiveness is questionable.
Although touted as a "social experiment", credible researchers would never approve "Baby Borrowers" because it does not consider the well-being of the babies and toddlers who are participating.
Teens have a lot to learn in order to be prepared for adulthood and parenthood. These skills are best learned over time through exposure to appropriate adult models or even parenting classes. These skills are unlikely to be learned through participation in a television program that puts babies at risk.
Angela Tomlin, PhD
Indiana Association for Infant & Toddler Mental Health