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Teenage pregnant Mum being given a Virtual Baby

(10 Posts)
fostermum68 Sun 29-Nov-15 16:29:10

Hi I am a newbie and as my name suggests I am a foster Mum with no plans to have a baby. Hope its ok to be here. I do however have an 18yr old foster young person whom I have known since she was 6. As such we are very close.

I am just wondering if anyone has any experience of a virtual baby whilst they are pregnant. My 18yr old foster child is due in March and unfortunately because of her situation (not necessarily her ability) her unborn baby is subject to a Child Protection assessment and she is having to look after a Virtual Baby for 3 weeks as part of it.

She is very worried and has lots of questions. I am looking for advice on how to support her and what to expect.

Icklepickle101 Sun 29-Nov-15 20:36:04

They have been banned in the area I live in as they could be given out on different 'settings' the worst being to stimulate a drug addicted baby. They were being used to bully young people in to abortions by making them feel they would never cope.

On a lighter note I had one as part of my child development course and it had sensors on it's head and recordings so could monitor of the baby was put down heavily or left to cry for long periods of time without being tended to. I would speak to her care worker to see what it will involve as there are a lot of different settings/type of babies available.

LumpySpaceCow Sun 29-Nov-15 20:43:16

I had one as a student nurse- but only for 2 days! I think 3 weeks is a bloody long time and to be honest, didn't simulate having a baby at all as it was just an annoying piece of plastic. You need to have a good imagination and treat it like a baby as it can tell if you don't support it's head or feed it etc. I was completely knackered after 2 nights as it woke like a newborn!
I can completely see how it would coerce some into having an abortion, but on the other hand it does make you realise what it's like to be completely responsible for something else.
I would see what settings they are going to have it on though as pregnancy is tiring enough without waking up every 1-2 hours in the night to feed a plastic baby!

fostermum68 Sun 29-Nov-15 21:02:08

Thank you for the replies. This baby has 3 settings and they start her on the easy setting first. Your are right though LumpySpaceCow, it is a lot for her to take on whilst being pregnant too. There is no question Icklepickle 101 of her keeping the baby so it is now being used to see how well she can manage.

I feel so sorry for her because she feels that she is being singled out because she is in care. That is not totally true but is certainly a factor. What we can't get our head around at the moment is how she gets out and about with it. She has been given a moses basket but as far as we know there is no transportation method. I can see us going out this week to buy the push chair, so she can get out and about with it. Understandably she is worried about this because of peer pressure and undesirable attention from some of the undesirable people she knows.

I think she is getting it tomorrow evening when she has a meeting with her boyfriend too. Bless her

KumquatMaybe Sun 29-Nov-15 21:07:18

Can she get a cheap sling to carry it round in for the 3 weeks? Less money and less ridiculous feeling than a pushchair maybe? Plus it will then presumably record that she has been doing a lot of cuddling and walking round which is exactly what a real baby will need.

KumquatMaybe Sun 29-Nov-15 21:08:33

In fact if you feel ok about doing so, PM me because I have at least one basic sling that would do the job (my babies are far too big for slings now!) and that I'd be happy to send you you for her to use with the fake baby and with her real baby when s/he arrives smile

TwistedReach Sun 29-Nov-15 21:28:38

That sounds a really appalling thing to do to any first time pregnant mother, let alone a teenage one.It sounds like it will make her feel completely insecure and dread her baby, rather than encouraging her to feel loving and competent. Real babies provide things that a plastic baby can't just as much as a real mother provides things that a plastic mother can't. It is also bad for the real baby in utero for their mother to be stressed.
I am really shocked by this. But very glad that she has you to support her.

LumpySpaceCow Sun 29-Nov-15 21:42:06

I got given a car seat when I had mine- the head is quite flimsy so needed the support in the car. I also recommend keeping a diary to go along with it so if anything accidental happens e.g. at 5pm I went down a really cobbled Street and baby cried as car seat not supporting head (that one happened to me!) so that when they download the information they can look at specific events with the diary.
You can even 'breastfeed' the doll with a clip on badge! (not nipple shaped at all, more like a large button!)

Generation1979 Sun 29-Nov-15 21:47:14

I'd not be happy either.

Assessments should be looking at her strengths as well as areas for development. What exactly will the interactive doll acheive. She'd be better using this time to attend parenting courses and build on her support network.

April2013 Mon 30-Nov-15 00:01:17

I'd recommend the NHS website for guidance on how to care for a baby eg how to bath, feeding etc, safe sleep - I imagine this is the type of stuff they will be testing her on and most of the guidance is fairly straightforward, lots in short videos, and perhaps she could practice these things with the fake baby, when my son was a newborn I was forever looking at the NHS baby care pages, perhaps if she practices these things it will all be demystified and seem straightforward to her. Tell her all new mums whether 18 or 48 are totally out of their comfort zone. Maybe you should get all the baby accessories eg bath, nappies, bedding. clothes etc so there's more of a chance it will be confidence building and a practice run rather than a weird test - perhaps she could choose some clothes etc that will be for the real baby. I agree totally that to make a pregnant woman even more sleep deprived is wrong - what does her midwife think of that? The fact is very very very few pregnant women are looking after a newborn. But hopefully it might turn out to be a confidence booster. We had to put a nappy on a doll and bath it in antenatal classes, was fairly strange but I can see how practicing these things did help to make it slightly less daunting when I had the real thing, perhaps in the privacy of home it will become less weird and more like an opportunity to imagine the baby and a chance to practice. On the sling front, it is good it is winter and she can wear big coats to detract attention, plus hopefully most people will just assume it is a real baby, especially if wrapped up in a snow suit facing inwards in a sling, perhaps buying her a snow suit of her choosing would be a nice idea, you could get one in navy maybe to blend in with a dark coloured sling \baby carrier if she wanted to be less out there, but perhaps it is best she go for whatever she likes and get something bright and colourful and then just explains if asked that it is a practice run as she will be a young Mum - just thinking an answer like this might help if she is eg on the bus and people start chatting to her about it. Perhaps not hiding it is a healthier way of dealing with this and be less stressful for her. Is she expected to do this alongside work\school? It's just that I often used to be up all night feeding and then my son would sleep till late morning and that was when I got most of my sleep - will she get chance to catch up on sleep like that? Will she have access to a health visitor so that if she has questions that only become apparent when she is role playing with the fake baby, she can ask them? Everything that can be done to make it a useful test drive and less about a test hopefully will enable her to get some benefits from it. You could speak to your local children's centre, maybe they will have a load of baby equipment she could borrow.

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