Jan 8, 2011

Baby Swinging Video Freaks People Out

It could be real or it could be an elaborate hoax. Either way, if you're a standard-issue parent — one who's been taught that babies should not be tossed about like rag dolls or circus freaks — then you're probably going to feel nauseated, angry or perhaps both, if and when you choose to watch the following video gone viral.
The mysterious video purportedly shows a Russian woman practicing what she believes to be some kind of mother-baby yoga — a style of yoga that involves swinging and tossing an infant around as though it's a pizza pie.
The video, called "Baby Yoga with Lena Fokina," made its way to YouTube and is now — surprise! — driving the denizens of the Web (parents and otherwise) into a frenzy of speculation, outrage, fear and more speculation. The video was removed by YouTube, but other similar videos of baby-swinging were still live elsewhere online.

(UPDATE: YouTube has pulled the video from its site, but it can still be seen here:)

The baby-swinging perpetrator — the aforementioned Lena Fokina — can be seen swinging the baby over her head and behind her back for what feels like eternity but is, in fact, only five minutes and 28 seconds. And though it appears she is doing this swinging with some ... uh ... care, anyone who believes that baby joints and necks are developing and delicate things will agree that you shouldn't swing a baby over your head or behind your back, no matter how carefully you do it.
In addition to the original video, Gawker has surfaced another video that shows Fokina and others swinging babies and briefly dipping various babies' faces into water.
Many Internet observers seem to think that this whole thing has been faked or that it is some sort of growing hoax. I'm not so sure I fall into that camp. I'd say the baby looks real enough to me (though, yeah, you can fake just about anythingthese days). Instead, if I were to hazard a guess, I'd say it looks as if Fokina is part of a group of people who've got it into their heads that this sort of thing will make for heartier babies.  
In fact, Gawker reports that this Russian site, which has posted the video, describes it thusly:
Indeed, baby yoga — the practice for two, for mom (or dad) and baby. At the heart of the practice is a deep study of the postnatal physiology and emotional needs of mother and child. The practice was created to help mother and baby get to know each other, enjoy the interaction — the visual and tactile, recover from childbirth and get positive emotions.
And according to my own translation of the text (using the oh-so-accurate Google translator), it also says: "During the study the mother-child emotional bonds are formed, which constitute the foundation for future cooperation and the guarantee of a harmonious psychological development of the baby."
Seems a strange philosophy, for sure. But many people in this world believe in things that seem strange to me. AsSalon.com and Gawker have reported, this is hardly the first time baby swingers have captivated/horrified us.
Check out this guy and his seemingly happy kid having a game of spin-the-toddler-like-a-Ferris-wheel:
And then there's this Russian circus dad doing what circus dads apparently do.
Meanwhile, as Msnbc has reported, there are people in India who believe tossing their babies off the top of a shrine into a sheet below will bring them good health.

The world is a very, very strange place ... with or without Internet hoaxes.
But as a mother myself — one who cringes every time a certain lovable uncle gleefully tosses my 4-year-old son into the air — I'm going to go out on a limb here and offer some advice: Don't swing your baby around like it's a circus freak. And don't toss it off the top of a shrine. It's a dumb thing to do and the kind of thing, should you make a mistake, that could have long-lasting and nightmarish repercussions.
You know what will help a mother and baby get to know each other and form emotional bonds? A nice safe hug, that's what.

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