Fade from black to a image of a cherubic babe. The baby reaches for a stuffed bear dangling on a wire just out of reach. Camera slowly zooms out, revealing the babe toddling along on a miniature treadmill, a pair of robotic arms supporting the babe by the shoulders as it keeps trying to reach the bear. As the camera zooms out further, we see a host of other treadmills in lines, all with babies walking on them, all trying to reach stuffed animals hung just out of their reach. Hundreds of babies. Thousands of babies. Marching. Marching. Marching.
Toward what purpose, who knows?
It is important that babies are speedily introduced to all the accoutrements of modern life in order to better acclimate them to this fast-paced modern world. Cell phones, laptops, cars, tablets, mp3 players… If you use it as an adult, there’s likely a toy version of it for tots.
That’s right- because it’s not enough that your child can play doctor or housewife or cashier or carpenter or vet or chef or what-have-you. Now they can also play “cripplingly-weight-obsessed-40-something-who-spends-6-hours-in-the-gym-every-week-and-cries-into-a-pint-of-Ben-and-Jerry’s-every-Saturday-night”. Huzzah.
So, in order to prepare children for feeling woefully inadequate and spiteful every time they go to the gym, we have created a treadmill specifically for tots.
BEHOLD, THE FISHER-PRICE TREADMILL:
Okay, to be fair, I don’t think Fisher Price makes this. To be doubly fair, this has been around longer than the baby treadmill we’re actually here to discuss. And to be triply honest, I have no fucking idea what that orange paddle thing is for… it appears to be a device that will flip up and smack a child in the balls, but I can neither verify that nor understand why someone would put that on a child’s toy (for any reason other than the lolz, of course).
No, the treadmill I’m talking about was “created” (is making a tinier version of an existing thing really “creating” anything?) by kinesiologist Dale Ulrich of the University of Michigan (boo… look at me and my loyalty all up in here).
And now galleons, for the $250,000 question. Was this treadmill created to
A) one day make a 6000 baby version of OK Go’s Here It Goes Again?
B) serve as a challenge on a new game show, Babies vs Drunks?
C) help babies with Down syndrome build core muscles and help them begin walking earlier?
They’re telling me the answer is C, but I think I want to go with B, galleons. Honestly, who wouldn’t watch sloppy drunks compete in basic coordination and skill tests against infants?
Yes, the answer is C. Ulrich’s tiny treadmill was created to help children with Down syndrome build their muscles and drive to walk earlier than they do on their own. Right now, babies with Down syndrome don’t typically begin walking until 24-28 months, while other babies are usually walking by 12 months. Ulrich found that by using a tiny treadmill and helping the babies ‘walk’ on it, they could help reinforce the coordinated movements of walking in the legs. The repetitive treadmill exercise helped the children learn to balance sooner and are driven to stand and walk independently much sooner. Six months sooner, in fact.
But why is this so important?
“Once locomotion occurs, it really advances cognitive development, social skill development and language, so the sooner you get them walking, [the sooner] they can explore their environment,” Dr. Ulrich said.
Okay, I know this is important and all for those born with Down syndrome, but I am a truly atrocious human being and I can’t stop laughing at the mental image of babies tripping and flying off of treadmills.
And that, world, is why I’m not (and have no desire to ever be) a mother. I have no maternal instincts whatsoever.