Is The Baby Borrowers Bad for Babies?

7.7.08: It'’s not TV, it'’s birth control


A new reality series on NBC called The Baby Borrowers is catching some heat. The show, which NBC describes as a "social experiment," essentially lets five teenage couples play house—they move into a house together, get a job, and are given a real baby to take care of for three days. (Later, they're given toddlers, pre-teens, teenagers, and senior citizens to care for.) The idea is that once the teens experience how difficult parenting can be, they'll think twice about rushing into an adult relationship. As the previews quip, "It'’s not TV, it's birth control." And it has some people in an uproar.

According to the New York Post, a nonprofit group called Zero to Three is protesting the show. The Post quotes the group's spokesperson, Tom Salyers, saying: "We're concerned about the fact that these babies are being separated from their parents and placed with strangers. A large body of research says the attachments that are formed between the people who care for them are very important. On the first episode, the babies were separated for about 12 hours and were clearly in distress."

I tuned in this past Wednesday night to see for myself, and I had to agree. It's hard to watch this show. I was stressed out just watching; I can't imagine what the babies were feeling. And I really can't imagine being one of the real parents who've handed their babies over to the teenagers for three days. Granted, NBC has provided 24-hour nanny supervision (the nannies are on-site and available to step in only in an emergency), and the babies' parents are stationed next door with a video monitor, supposedly able to intervene and help out at any time. Still... I wouldn'’t have lasted a minute watching my baby scream while an ill-equipped teenager fumbled around.

But, as the show progressed, I was kind of glad to see that there are parents out there who are willing to do this sort of thing. Because I think the show actually will convince some teenagers to think twice about having a baby before they'’re ready. I hope some of the girls in my neck of the woods are watching.

Still, I think the best part of the entire show was watching the babies being reunited with their parents. It was pure ecstasy all around, and a huge relief for everyone—myself included.

Dana Rousmaniere is's Managing Editor. She's been known to have serious separation anxiety when leaving her own kids.