June 18, 2008

War & Sweetpeace: Graco Rocking Robot Single-Armedly Tackles Nation's Reading Crisis

Thanks to CBS News, we all know there's a reading crisis in America. An NEA survey shows that barely half of adults read a book in 2004. Reading proficiency is dropping dramatically in every age group. [Except for 9 year olds. Thank you, Harry Pottah!] And we spend an average of two hours/day watching television, and just seven minutes reading. And that includes the time spent reading the channel guide.

Do the pencil pushing bureaucrats at the NEA tell us anything about the cause of America's Reading Crisis? No. For that, we have to turn to the eternal wellspring of ingenuity and innovation, American Business, who not only identified the problem, they invented some solutions, which they're willing to share at a reasonable price.

The problem, it turns out, is babies. While infants' notoriously selfish demands of time and attention are well known, their dastardly impact on parental leisure reading habits is only just now being understood. Leading the way are the research scientists and engineers at Graco, who are attempting to reverse the trend of incessant infant attending with the new Sweetpeace Newborn Soothing Center.

graco_sweetpeace.jpg

The Sweetpeace simulates as many as three different rocking motions of a nearly illiterate parent. It has several vibration settings, providing a soothing baby massage that's far superior to the useless contact of human hands. And in addition to a repertoire of digital soothing sounds, the Sweetpeace has an MP3 jack, so you can provide your child with his own, personalized playlist, just to show you care.

graco_sweet_book.jpg

It's all in the incredibly informative video on Amazon, as is the most important thing the Sweetpeace accomplishes, which is getting the kid out of the way so a parent can finally get some reading done!

baby_butler_book.jpg

So we hail thee, Graco--yes, and the Baby Butler, too--for your tireless commitment to parental literacy. As we buy your products and use them, may the children of this great nation always remember the sacrifices we made on their behalf. And if you see any other examples of selfless baby companies who support leisure reading over the endumbening drudgery of actual childcare, let us know, so we can praise them, too.

Buy several Graco Sweetpeace Newborn Soothing Centers on Amazon for $144--but price isn't important! [amazon]
Or at least watch the most important literacy film of all time [amazon]
Previously: Baby Butler frees up a hand--for reading!
As if new parents have a choice: To Read or Not To Read - NEA Announces New Reading Study [nea.gov]

10 Comments

Awesome analysis. Does my time reading this post count as "reading"? Because there are some great vocabulary words in there. Okay, back to my endumbening drudgery now...

Awesome!

I wrote something about this... um... monstrosity (for lack of a better word) when I first saw it come out and watched the little video of all the things it does.

Whatever happened to holding a baby and rocking him or her yourself because you... ya know... love them and want them to grow up in a nurturing environment!?

Does reading the 80 page manuals that come with all Graco and Fisher Price gear count?

Those manuals are ridiculously long.

When you are dealing with a newborn with less than 5 hours sleep, reading those manuals can be torture.

Oh thank God they've finally invented this! I mean, I didn't have a child to actually hold it or spend time with it or interact with it. That's what Graco, Baby Einstein and Leap Frog are for!

Heh. Nice review.

Years ago, before I had kids, I read a review of some children's toys, which contained the truism that the best toy in the world, is a parent. It's what kids want. Same goes for just about any gadget sold to soothe kids.

Granted, there are times when the parent can't do it, and it's nice to have a powered swing, but seriously, we don't need more steps toward android baby care, we really don't.

cynthia -- I agree wholeheartedly! The best toy in the world is a parent... and then if you ask just about any kid in the world it would seem that second best is a cardboard box.

These fancy gadgets are just that... fancy gadgets. The swing was nice, I'll give them that and the bouncy chair was used, but when all else failed laying on the floor beside them and letting them crumple up a piece of paper worked like a charm.

I will probably get blasted for this but it's my honest opinion. Speaking as a parent of a super high-energy toddler (gave up napping and was potty training when baby brother arrived) who then had a colic newborn (he left colic for a couple blissful months before entering teething hell) I am ALL ABOUT whatever gadget will let you get in a five minute shower, take a potty break and/or eat something hot without dropping said scalding food on the baby's head. Or spend five minutes with your attention starved first-born.

My second guy literally only slept after doing some crazy hardcore swooshing/rocking/jiggling, and then would wake up soon after you stopped. Or he would fall asleep in the sling and I would inevitably have to use the restroom (not so easy for a vertical incision c-section recovering mom to do without waking the baby) And then the rest of the hours of the day were spent nursing him.

And if you don't have a cleaning lady or a personal chef and you occasionally need to cook something (not safe with a baby in a sling)or clean something (ever try to scrub a tub with a crying baby attached to you or get laundry into/out of the washer and dryer) Then occasionally you need to put the baby down.

My husband works crazy (long and erratic)hours as a Police Detective and so I was pretty much solo parenting from the second week on. And after hours of endless crying (unwashed, hungry and in a dirty house) while your older child begs you to make the baby stop wailing and play with him... well it can wear you down after a while and you really can feel yourself starting to slip onto that scary depression slope.

It is a sad state of affairs when someone asks your 2.5 year old how their baby brother is and he says, "Miserable."

I even bought one of those Amby hammocks in desperation of trying to get some sleep. It didn't work but this Graco monstrosity might have and I wouldn't have felt the slightest bit guilty if I'd have gotten it to try. Unfortunately, he was almost already too big by it's release date so I didn't.

So yeah if this thing helps any mom from hurtling into postpartum depression in those first few weeks, then I am all for it (Not to neglect new dads but you just don't have that crazy hormone drop that postpartum moms get) If it allows some parents to catch a couple hours of sleep so they can be better parents because they are awake and alert to enjoy their child/ren then I am all for it. Hell if it let's you catch five seconds to scrub the toilet bowl without listening to your baby cry and so hazmat doesn't need to be called in because a 2.5year old inevitably misses sometimes, then I am all for it.

Okay I will stop my rant and get off my soapbox now.

BTW the single thing that I miss most about my pre-kids days is reading for pleasure!

[if that were in the Graco video, I'd give it the Palme d'Or. The idea that a parent might be at wit's end and want to plug the kid into the TV to take a shower, or drop her in the Neglectomatic for a few minutes to go to the bathroom? That's real. The idea that you really want to finish that Terry MacDonald novel seems like a pre-baby fantasy. Graco, take me awayyy! -ed.]

I guess they thought better of showing Mom in the shower or Dad on the toilet? But they could have shown them napping, folding laundry or cooking I guess...

Oh, there are absolutely times when a bouncy seat or an exersaucer saves the day by allowing you to fulfill basic human needs (eating, grooming). No argument here. It was the pics of the moms chilling out with a book, and the accompanying DT analysis about literacy, that cracked me up.

Now that my son is 2.5, I'm reading again (after he's in bed. Yeah, the dishes and the laundry pile up at times). The TV writers' strike helped a bit, too.

It's funny, I've gotten the most reading done while nursing the baby. All three of my kids tended to eat FOREVER and a novel could be held in one hand. I do pay attention to the baby -- but there's only so much smiling and beaming I can do... Now that #3 is getting more efficient at eating, I'm down to magazines rather than novels. Pretty soon it's going to be just a 5 minute break to sit down and I won't have to visit the library for myself again.

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