Until this morning, I'd never heard of the Pikler approach to infant care; but it certainly resonated with me, so I want to pass along some information about it...
An article called "Giving Babies the Best Start in Life" gives a nice overview of "Pikler babies." Here's a brief excerpt:
"Pikler babies" are recognized in Budapest even when they are older by the grace and confidence with which they move. The roots of this grace and harmony lie in Pikler's notion of what a baby needs for optimal development: lots of space and time for free, uninterrupted play, supported by sensitive, observant attention during slowed down daily care routines. The approach is based on respect for babies as human beings and not objects and trust in them to develop as they are meant to without our interference or "help."
What a novel idea, huh? For a Body, Mind and Child podcast (not yet posted as of this writing), I talked with motor development specialist Dr. Jane Clark of the University of Maryland about "containerized kids." Jane and I worked together on the task force that created national guidelines for early childhood physical activity, and it was at one of those work meetings that a colleague used that expression. In short, "containerizing" babies refers to the practice of always having them in something, like car seats, high chairs, carriers, and the like. Not long ago, a pediatrician appearing on Good Morning America claimed that infants are spending upward of sixty waking hours a week in things! Jane and I talked about what a bad idea that is from a motor development perspective, but the pediatrician on GMA pointed out that such practices also can have a negative impact on a baby's personality.
Unfortunately, too few of the babies in today's American society will grow up displaying "grace and confidence." We'll be lucky if they display such necessities as coordination and independence!