For five seasons, “Private Practice” has concerned itself greatly with whether its lead character would have a baby. Addison Montgomery moved to Santa Monica to see her fertility-specialist friend, and after many trials and tribulations, including several rounds of fertility treatment and a failed adoption, she finally was approved for adoption two episodes ago.
So why is Addison, the world-renowned neonatal surgeon who went through so much to have a child, now putting her newborn son’s life in danger? And, for that matter, why is “How I Met Your Mother’s” furiously prepared dad-to-be Marshall Eriksen also exposing his forthcoming child to risk?
Last week’s “Private Practice” and Monday’s (April 30) “How I Met Your Mother” both featured scenes that, to parents of infants, set off tons of alarm bells. The “HIMYM” example was less egregious, so we’ll get to that later. What aired on “Private Practice” was far worse, particularly given how baby-focused the character of Addison has been.
Full disclosure: I’m the father of a two-month-old baby, so I’m hyper-sensitive to depictions of infants and their parents on TV right now. But the errors were so front-and-center — and so easy for their respective shows to have fixed — that they’ve really stuck with me. Hence this post.
On both shows, the baby’s crib is shown lined with bumpers, even though the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against using them because there’s potential risk of babies suffocating if their heads become caught between a bumper and a crib mattress. There’s some disagreement over whether bumpers have caused as many infant deaths as some claim, but last fall the academy formally recommended that parents not use any kind of crib bumper.
Worse still, “Private Practice” showed Addison (Kate Walsh) retrieving from a crib where there was a loose blanket both underneath and on top of him. For years, the AAP and other groups have told parents that pillows, loose bedding and toys should not be in cribs while babies are sleeping, as they increase the risk for sudden infant death syndrome. Yet there’s Henry in his crib, fussing with his blanket.
If Addison herself isn’t a member of the AAP, she probably knows someone who is — like, say, Cooper (Paul Adelstein), her partner at Oceanside Wellness. You’d also think that as hard as she’s tried to have a child over the years, she’d have devoured as many baby-care and parenting books as possible in the five weeks that passed (according to the title card in last week’s episode) between when she brought Henry home and the show caught up with her on screen. It’s not hard information to find, either for her or for the “Private Practice” producers.
(Also, we know that the ocean breeze cools things down at night, but Henry probably doesn’t need to be wrapped in multiple blankets every single minute.)
On “HIMYM” Monday, Marshall’s (Jason Segel) anxiety over his impending fatherhood was played for laughs, and the episode also noted that he and Lily (Alyson Hannigan) hadn’t attended a childbirth class yet. So maybe when the baby does come, they’ll have taken the bumpers out of its crib. (Provided Marshall is sobered up from his Atlantic City trip, that is.) But again, it’s a bit of a surprise that the over-prepared Marshall didn’t already know that.
Cribs may look cuter on camera if they’re lined with colorful bumpers and full of stuff, but particularly on a medical show where the lead character is all about kids, the characters should know better than just to go with what’s cute.