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lulalu

Toddlers feeding baby a bottle

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I have a family member that is always posting pictures of the older children feeding the newborn a bottle. Even the 15 month old. 

I was looking at fb and a local friend saw it and was so shocked Americans have babies feeding babies. I don't think it is something for toddlers to do either. But I may be too far out of the culture. 

 

This is just a question- are you ok with children and toddlers feeding newborns (under 3 months) bottles? Or do you think that is not something they should be doing? 

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Was it just to be a cute photo op? Obviously the toddler isn’t preparing the bottle and mom/dad/caregiver was nearby to take the photo(s).

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1 minute ago, arliemaria said:

Was it just to be a cute photo op? Obviously the toddler isn’t preparing the bottle and mom/dad/caregiver was nearby to take the photo(s).

Exactly. I doubt a toddler is actually feeding the baby a meal, just holding the bottle for a photo - to "help". 

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No, I don't think it's a good thing. Not only for potential safely reasons, but because feeding time is important bonding time between parent and baby.

With that said, I remember letting my two year old hold a bottle for a couple of minutes, and I let her spoon some baby cereal into her brother's mouth. Not all of the time. But I do have a picture of her feeding her brother, because it was a cute moment. But it was a "you can do it for a minute, but only this time, because it's Mommy's job" moment.

I think with a picture posted online, there is not a way to know whether it is just a kind of posed photo of a rare, cute moment, or if it is an everyday occurrence.

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A 15 month old has a very short attention span.  There’s no way that a toddler would sit there long enough for the baby to finish a bottle.  Maybe the toddler “helps” a lot, but he/she is probably holding the bottle for very short time while a parent feeds the baby.

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I think it’s silly to assume it’s a cultural norm here, or any other first world country.  It was a photo op; and little children absolutely LOVE helping with siblings.  But holding a bottle for a second for a picture or to ‘feel involved’ is quite different than them having any responsibility for the baby, which I haven’t seen outside of families where mom works and doesn’t have a lot of consistent help.

 

No, it isn’t the norm.  And no, it doesn’t harm anything to do occasionally.

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There is no way that the toddler is really feeding the baby. They just don't have the coordination or attention span to do that. Mom just wanted a cute photo of sibling love, or of the older one "helping" the younger.

Now, something which probably does happen too often in America is bottle propping. But that's a whole flamewar waiting to happen, and I've already said too much.

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1 minute ago, Arctic Mama said:

I think it’s silly to assume it’s a cultural norm here, or any other first world country.  It was a photo op; and little children absolutely LOVE helping with siblings.  But holding a bottle for a second for a picture or to ‘feel involved’ is quite different than them having any responsibility for the baby, which I haven’t seen outside of families where mom works and doesn’t have a lot of consistent help.

 

No, it isn’t the norm.  And no, it doesn’t harm anything to do occasionally.

It wouldn't happen at all in this part of the world. That is the reason my friend asked if Americans do this. Women here don't even pass baby off to other family members for 40 days except the grandma. But grandma gives most care to new mothers. Not silly to ask if it is normal when shocked at seeing a picture. 

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Would people in your part of the world not prop a baby in a sibling's arms for a photo? That's pretty common here as well. Doesn't mean mom hands the baby to a toddler and walks away, just sets them up for a few seconds for a picture.

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6 minutes ago, maize said:

Would people in your part of the world not prop a baby in a sibling's arms for a photo? That's pretty common here as well. Doesn't mean mom hands the baby to a toddler and walks away, just sets them up for a few seconds for a 

Most people here don't take pictures of babies until they are older for religious reasons. But no I have not seen pictures of siblings holding babies in the first several months of life. That just really doesn't happen here. 

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23 minutes ago, Storygirl said:

No, I don't think it's a good thing. Not only for potential safely reasons, but because feeding time is important bonding time between parent and baby.

 

Those are mostly my thoughts too. And the general idea here that bonding with mother is most important. 

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Meh - I highly doubt anyone is handing a bottle to a 15 month old, handing the newborn to the bigger baby and walking away.   My mom set up all sorts of photo ops of my brother and I this way (18 mo apart).  I wouldn't call it a norm by any stretch.  Most mothers give breastfeeding a trial at least.  The vast majority of feeding is done by parents in early days.  I don't know why a first thought would be how horrible it is or that a baby won't be bonded.  If there is a photo, obviously there was an adult at hand.  You aren't likely getting photos of 95% of baby's feedings.  

In some cultures it's also normal to pass breastfeeding babies.  It's not wrong to want siblings to have some moments to bond too.  If you have a toddler excited about baby, it's perfectly normal for many families to let their toddler be involved and to create some bonding there too.  

Edited by FuzzyCatz
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Am I the only one who wants to know where that "here" is?

And yes, I absolutely allowed my 20 mo old to "feed" his infant brother. And then both of them, my 3 yr old and 16 mo old were trying to feed my youngest. They tried giving him a pacifier too and cover him with a blanket. the LAST thing I was going to do at that point is to make it seem like they shouldn't have access to the sibling.

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7 minutes ago, SereneHome said:

Am I the only one who wants to know where that "here" is?

And yes, I absolutely allowed my 20 mo old to "feed" his infant brother. And then both of them, my 3 yr old and 16 mo old were trying to feed my youngest. They tried giving him a pacifier too and cover him with a blanket. the LAST thing I was going to do at that point is to make it seem like they shouldn't have access to the sibling.

Exactly.  And they washed baby's feet when he/she was in the bath, "read" books to baby, helped choose clothes and dress baby, had a special basket of baby toys they could use to entertain baby, helped burp baby, took turns "holding" baby safely with help, etc.

I guess one thing that seems pretty common in the US is lack of post-partum support and childcare.  I was on my own with each of my newborns (and all the other children) by the end of the second week.  So my choices were pretty much 1. let the littles "help" with newborn care, or 2. have to set up and then clean up other activities for them, or 3. have them run loose and make messes and get hurt. 

I mean, really, if a mom is home alone with a 2 week old, a 15 month old, and a 3 year old...they are all practically babies and need time and reassurance from their mom during a stressful time of change.  Obviously the newborn needs care and bonding, but so do the others, and many moms might find that the best way to meet everyone's needs, and discourage rivalry and jealousy, is to include the olders in caring for their sibling.

Wendy

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And my 2 year old granddaughter changed her baby brother's diapers. Of course mom was right there in the kitchen doing something when gd decided gs needed to be changed. He was on the floor, so she did it. And when mom looked up she was almost done. But if you knew my granddaughter this really wouldn't surprise you. It takes 3 of us to keep eyes on her at all times. And she is very determined.

 

This is not something we let her do or want her to do, but it happens.

Edited by Linda in TX
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The level of shock makes this about judgement, not a simple question. The simple question was easily answered in a way that even people in another cultural norm should be able to understand. This isn’t an example of Americans being bad mothers. 

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If the assumption when seeing the photo is that Americans are abandoning their babies to toddlers for care, that's false and should just be explained. One of the ways that Americans nurture and value sibling relationships is usually to allow siblings to "help" for a few minutes under supervision with various baby tasks they'd like to try. Parents also like to take photos of this to save the memory of how much the older sibling wanted to do these things. The toddlers are not actually caring for the siblings. They are closely supervised. The bonding time of feeding is generally not infringed on enough to be significant. These are usually things that happened a few times for a couple of minutes at most.

I don't see a problem here. And with an explanation, anyone who does because of cultural differences probably shouldn't either, unless they're keen to be judgey about American moms in general.

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3 hours ago, lulalu said:

It wouldn't happen at all in this part of the world. That is the reason my friend asked if Americans do this. Women here don't even pass baby off to other family members for 40 days except the grandma. But grandma gives most care to new mothers. Not silly to ask if it is normal when shocked at seeing a picture. 

 

Not American, and honestly, it's not a photo I think I've ever seen (toddler 'bottlefeeding' baby).

That might be b/c I'm in a breastfeeding bubble  and don't actually see many bottle feeding family photos, but fwiw, the idea of staging a photo of toddler feeding a bottle to baby is slightly 'what?!' to me.  I don't believe the babies in such photos have been handed off to the toddler, but I still think it's something that wouldn't occur to me to stage and photograph, kwim ? So to me, outside the US, it would be a slightly odd photo to see.

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1 hour ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

The level of shock makes this about judgement, not a simple question. The simple question was easily answered in a way that even people in another cultural norm should be able to understand. This isn’t an example of Americans being bad mothers. 

Thank you.  I’m hearing a judgment tone to the initial post and wording, which is just silly. 

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My kids are 17 months apart.  My younger one breastfed, so I don't have any pictures of the older one bottlefeeding the younger, but there are definitely pictures of the older one "holding" the baby.  Older one fell asleep at the breast instantly to the point where she was starving to death, so I wound up pumping and bottlefeeding her, and there are definitely pictures of grandparents and even family friends feeding her.  

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4 minutes ago, StellaM said:

 

Not American, and honestly, it's not a photo I think I've ever seen (toddler 'bottlefeeding' baby).

That might be b/c I'm in a breastfeeding bubble  and don't actually see many bottle feeding family photos, but fwiw, the idea of staging a photo of toddler feeding a bottle to baby is slightly 'what?!' to me.  I don't believe the babies in such photos have been handed off to the toddler, but I still think it's something that wouldn't occur to me to stage and photograph, kwim ? So to me, outside the US, it would be a slightly odd photo to see.

If you haven't been around bottle fed babies much I can see how it wouldn't occur to you. 

Pretty much every older sibling of a bottle fed baby I have known has wanted to feed the baby, so you help big brother or sister feed the baby (usually lasts a few seconds before they are ready to move on) and yes snap a picture because it's adorable.

I'm very much in the "involve older siblings as much as possible" camp because they want to be involved and they also need a chance to bond with the little interloper who is after all taking the lion's share of mom's attention.

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14 minutes ago, maize said:

If you haven't been around bottle fed babies much I can see how it wouldn't occur to you. 

Pretty much every older sibling of a bottle fed baby I have known has wanted to feed the baby, so you help big brother or sister feed the baby (usually lasts a few seconds before they are ready to move on) and yes snap a picture because it's adorable.

I'm very much in the "involve older siblings as much as possible" camp because they want to be involved and they also need a chance to bond with the little interloper who is after all taking the lion's share of mom's attention.

 

I don't have a feeling on it one way or another - just sharing wih the OP that as someone outside the US, it's not the kind of photo I've seen much, or at all.

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13 minutes ago, maize said:

If you haven't been around bottle fed babies much I can see how it wouldn't occur to you. 

Pretty much every older sibling of a bottle fed baby I have known has wanted to feed the baby, so you help big brother or sister feed the baby (usually lasts a few seconds before they are ready to move on) and yes snap a picture because it's adorable.

I'm very much in the "involve older siblings as much as possible" camp because they want to be involved and they also need a chance to bond with the little interloper who is after all taking the lion's share of mom's attention.

Exactly. It's not that moms are staging a fake experience. I mean, some of these photos might be staged because that's how parents are. But most of the time, the little kids are asking if they can feed the baby. The same way that if you let them, toddlers and preschoolers really want to imitate mom and sweet the floor or stir the batter or dig up the weeds in the garden. Littles like imitating adult tasks. In breastfeeding houses, I've seen littles pretend to breastfeed their dolls. But if they're in a bottle house, of course they want to try the real thing, just like they want to help with the real food for dinner.

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Well and we don’t assume little girls in Guatemala or the DR who are carrying their sibling around on their back are spending all day babysitting a nursing infant, right?  Like, the parents are stopping in regularly if not working beside the kiddos, it’s just that mom needed another pair of supervising hands.  
 

Just because another culture does something we don’t doesn’t mean they’re being negligent or irresponsible.  So much is what your family is acclimated to.

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My youngest sister just had a baby boy last week, her daughter is 2.  One of the very first pics they took once everything was settled down was a pic of the 2yr old sitting on the couch, with a boppy wrapped around her, the baby sitting on/in the boppy and my niece had the BIGGEST grin.  Her little hands are kinda wrapped around her brother but only just barely touching.  The picture so much conveys "OMG, there is this little person here in my lap.  And OMG, what am I gonna do with him. And OMG, OMG, I have a *BROTHER!*

 

And if you look real close, you can see my BIL's hand just to the side of my niece and nephew, ready to catch should anything happen.

 

And if my sister was bottlefeeding instead of BFing.......having my niece hold a bottle for my nephew would not have been weird in the least.  In fact, I expect a couple of pics like that once my sister goes back to work and my nephew is using bottles (with breastmilk or otherwise)

 

I also am interested in know where "here" is because this is the sort of thing that is so normal to me that I actually find it weird that anyone else finds it weird.  I mean it's as if someone found it weird to send the 2 yr old to go get a diaper while the baby is being changed or something.  

 

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If it's part of a culture to discourage the sibling from touching or helping with the baby, I could totally understand that too, by the way. I mean, it seems very normal here, but I can imagine a culture where it's a bit taboo to have the siblings help or hold for some period. 

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How interesting that there are other cultures that don’t ever allow new siblings to try to “help” with a baby!  I am also curious where.  I breastfed, but I think that my olders trying to help with the little one was the biggest help in having them connect with the new babies and feel proud of the baby and pleased at being so big and helpful, instead of feeling jealous or displaced.

Edited by Michelle Conde
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As long as the parent makes sure safety is well covered.  Baby can't fall, isn't being squished, is actually getting food and not just air ....

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I have breastfed all of my babies except the micropreemie, so no bottles, and my closest gap between living children is 25 months, which is different from 15 months, but still, it wouldn't bother me for a well supervised toddler to feed a newborn if we used bottles. It's not like the toddler would be left alone. 

 

And y'all have seen my then Mr. Five holding his hours-old brother. I'm sitting right next to them on the bed, but Mr. Five and pillow didn't need my help. All of my toddlers were super careful and well supervised when holding their newborn brothers. I guard my babies like crazy and hardly pass them off to anyone, even Daddy, oops, lol, except for unavoidable times, but of course older siblings get their turns.  Someday, I will not be here, but DS6 has a bond from before birth (before conception even lol) with DS4, and that bond is forever. If I bottle fed, I'm pretty sure DS4 would be begging to feed DS6 every feeding.  (DS6 is ten months old, and the novelty has not yet worn off for DS4 that he has his very own baby.)

Edited by happypamama
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Typically, whenever my toddler children "fed" the baby, they only had the attention span to do it for less than 5 minutes. But that short amount of time getting to help with the baby made them feel important and connected with their sibling. Nurturing the bond between siblings is just as important to me as my bond with my children.

My oldest daughter was 12yo when her youngest brother was born. She never got her school work and chores done so fast as when he was an infant and she could feed and change him when she completed her regular responsibilities. Her absolute willingness to take care of him from the time she got home from school and done with her homework and chores until she went to bed is what allowed me to attend to my other children's needs. Of course, dh and I still did the majority of the baby care but she was a huge help to us. Ds is 6 years old now and I don't see any difference in my and dh's bond with him and any of the other kids. He doesn't suffer from any kind of attachment disorder or anything like that because one of his siblings loved him and cared for him to give me a little break from baby care to take care of other things.

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DS14 when he was 13 months old crawled to get the milk bottle for DS13 who was about one month old then. DS13 just happily stuff the milk bottle into his mouth and drank. My mom, my husband and I were the ones making the formula milk bottles. DS13 was always prop up slightly as a baby because of reflux.
 

When DS13 cried as an infant, DS14 would crawl to the kitchen and see if milk was being made. He would wait if milk was being made to bring the bottle to his brother. DS14 started walking at 16months so I have photos of him crawling with a baby milk bottle.

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7 hours ago, lulalu said:

I have a family member that is always posting pictures of the older children feeding the newborn a bottle. Even the 15 month old. 

I was looking at fb and a local friend saw it and was so shocked Americans have babies feeding babies. I don't think it is something for toddlers to do either. But I may be too far out of the culture. 

 

This is just a question- are you ok with children and toddlers feeding newborns (under 3 months) bottles? Or do you think that is not something they should be doing? 

a one off, I can see as a cute photo op.  parents being too lazy to feed the baby themselves, and letting a young child (let alone another baby 15 months is a baby) - I'd be very concerned.  this isn't an "American" thing.  Most responsible American parents would be horrified if it's as you describe.  (I'm reading your post as this is perceived as lack of parental supervision and taking photos thinking it's great.)

I've put babies on little kids laps for photo ops - after placing them on a deep sofa with lots of pillows around.  (so they "think" they're "holding" the baby, but really aren't.)  and never holding a bottle.

Edited by gardenmom5

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I will add that when 2dd was very young, I would put her under the Christmas tree so she could look at it while I was making dinner. . . . . 1dd (almost 3) . . . . would go and undress her.  grrrrr.  real live baby doll.  and no, I was NOT happy!

Edited by gardenmom5

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My kids never had formula but I pumped a lot!  So, there were always bottles available for whoever wanted to feed the baby.

And now I am going to try my hardest not to get on my soap box of how statements like "mothers need to feed their babies to bond with them" is soooo condosending and sooo insulting to mothers and other caregivers!!!!

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8 hours ago, lulalu said:

It wouldn't happen at all in this part of the world. That is the reason my friend asked if Americans do this. Women here don't even pass baby off to other family members for 40 days except the grandma. But grandma gives most care to new mothers. Not silly to ask if it is normal when shocked at seeing a picture. 

 

Haha this shocks me—I was back working 24 hour shifts when my first was a month old, so DH was taking care of him.  DH was back working a 40 hour straight shift three days after our oldest was born, as he had switched jobs and had no vacation time built up.  I was on my own. No grandmas, no friends bringing meals, just me and brand new baby.

I find cultural differences fascinating.

I have the typical pictures of older siblings holding the bottle for the younger ones.  They certainly weren’t responsible for feeding, but loved to “help” and it was cute photos.

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I would point out that photos on facebook are never reflective of what goes on 99.9% of the time in a home.  The parent was obviously right there ... taking the photo.  This was oviously one moment in time which the family thought was cute.

So in that light, yes it certainly is cultural for American families to find it cute and encourage tots and other young children to "help" with new babies.  Most of the help would be fetching things and cooing at the infant to keep him/her happy.  But the token holding/feeding also happens.

Most Americans are also not too worried about the newborn having contact with other close family members.

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14 hours ago, SereneHome said:

My kids never had formula but I pumped a lot!  So, there were always bottles available for whoever wanted to feed the baby.

And now I am going to try my hardest not to get on my soap box of how statements like "mothers need to feed their babies to bond with them" is soooo condosending and sooo insulting to mothers and other caregivers!!!!

I think I am the one who said that.

I am an adoptive mom, so my comments are based on what I've learned  about attachment. They were not meant to be condescending or to suggest that fathers or other caregivers should not feed the baby. DH and I fed our babies with bottles and are very grateful that other caretakers did so when they were tiny and we were not able. I'm sorry if you thought I meant that. I didn't even get to feed my own babies until they were about six months old (or older).

There was no insult intended at all.

Edited by Storygirl

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12 minutes ago, Storygirl said:

I think I am the one who said that.

I am an adoptive mom, so my comments are based on what I've learned  about attachment. They were not meant to be condescending or to suggest that fathers or other caregivers should not feed the baby. DH and I fed our babies with bottles and are very grateful that other caretakers did so when they were tiny and we were not able. I'm sorry if you thought I meant that. I didn't even get to feed my own babies until they were about six months old (or older).

There was no insult intended at all.

I didn't see you say that at all so no apologies necessary!!!

I was responding to original poster who said that it should be mothers feeding their babies bc it's their bonding time. I completely understand cultural differences (I wasn't born in US myself) but I just really didn't like her sentiment. I think anyone who wants to love and feed and bond with a baby is a wonderful thing. I think siblings, no matter how young they are, should be involved if they want to.  But I don't have any experience with adoptions so if I am wrong  - *I* am sorry. I certainly wasn't trying to stir anything up or speak about things I know nothing about.

 

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2 hours ago, SereneHome said:

I didn't see you say that at all so no apologies necessary!!!

I was responding to original poster who said that it should be mothers feeding their babies bc it's their bonding time. I completely understand cultural differences (I wasn't born in US myself) but I just really didn't like her sentiment. I think anyone who wants to love and feed and bond with a baby is a wonderful thing. I think siblings, no matter how young they are, should be involved if they want to.  But I don't have any experience with adoptions so if I am wrong  - *I* am sorry. I certainly wasn't trying to stir anything up or speak about things I know nothing about.

 

If you look back to the beginning of the thread, the OP does not mention bonding; my post is the first to bring it up, and then the OP quoted my post and agreed with it.  Therefore, it seemed you were responding to an idea that I broached.

But thank you for your clarification.

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On 10/6/2019 at 4:32 PM, SereneHome said:

Am I the only one who wants to know where that "here" is?

And yes, I absolutely allowed my 20 mo old to "feed" his infant brother. And then both of them, my 3 yr old and 16 mo old were trying to feed my youngest. They tried giving him a pacifier too and cover him with a blanket. the LAST thing I was going to do at that point is to make it seem like they shouldn't have access to the sibling.

Not Baby Island.

Shout out to the Carol Ryrie Brink novel.

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This isn't a toddler job on any planet.  It was a warm fuzzy photo for mom.  If someone was shocked by this photo and thought it was a societal norm, I would just assume they have very limited experience with that age group. 

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