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Fussy baby? Just put him on the dryer, furniture ad suggests

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Why gently rock your baby to help him fall asleep and risk cramping your arms when you can simply put the wee one on top of a home appliance that will do the work for you?

In recent TV and radio commercials, a Quebec furniture and appliance chain suggested its dryers doubled as handy baby-calming devices (the vibrations could soothe junior into a pleasant slumber!).

"In the TV ad, you see Mum fold clothes, Dad is holding a crying baby," describes Lisa Dutton, a media spokesperson for Montreal Children's Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre. "He places the baby on a white machine that is jiggling. The baby stops crying. The camera cuts to a picture of a washer and dryer with the ad pitch. The implication is that the machine is so quiet and smooth it will calm a cranky child."

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"In the radio ad, the voice over says the dryer comes with a baby cycle."

Afraid that parents would follow that dangerous suggestion, the Montreal Children's Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre put out a release yesterday warning that trying the dryer trick is a bad idea.

"These are very dangerous practices as the child may fall off and be injured or even killed by the fall," Debbie Friedman, the hospital's director of trauma services, said in the news release. Even when strapped into a car seat, the vibrations could be strong enough to push the infant off the top, she says.

This morning, the furniture chain in question - Brault & Martineau - pulled the ad from the air.

It's a move welcomed by the children's hospital, but combatting this practice doesn't end there. For decades, parents attempting to soothe colicky babies have turned to all sorts of household appliances for help. On forums, they trade their secrets with other parents: blowing a hair dryer in a tot's face, running the vacuum cleaner and, yes, sitting them atop the clothes dryer.

Fess up, parents: Did you ever try the dryer method with your child? Do you have any safer tricks to offer frustrated parents? Weigh in.

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About the Author

Dakshana Bascaramurty is a national news reporter who writes about race and ethnicity. She won a 2013 National Newspaper Award in beat reporting for her coverage of changing demographics in the 905 region. Previously, she was a feature writer for Globe Life. More

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