Monday, 2 September 2013

How Eskimos keep their babies warm

Parenting wisdom from around the world.
By Mei-Ling Hopgood, Macmillan Publishers Ltd, 2013

Argentinians let their children stay up late. French parents apparently inculcate a wholesome attitude towards food. Kenyans don't bother with prams.
This book is not earth-shattering stuff. Hopgood steers well clear of several controversial but interesting topics that I would have liked to have heard about: black V.s white parents' views on discipline; breastfeeding as a class issue; anything that could bear on the baby-led/parent-led wars. The gist is all white middle-class normcore: babywearing good, french food good, live and let live good.

There were copious amounts of filler - personal anecdotes about the author's own mothering adventures, which I found a bit  tedious and saccharine.

However, I liked hearing about eskimos keeping their babies in special hoods lined with moss for catching wee, and about chinese toddlers wearing special potty-training trousers with splits down the back (sound disturbingly like chaps!)

Here are some other highlights;

Taiwanese women are encouraged to fold a thousand cranes for luck while pregnant, and to drink only hot drinks after birth to aid the healing process. Taiwanese children love eating fish eyeballs.

Rather than try to get eight hours of sleep at night, the !Kung and Efe peoples sleep in short bursts, interspersed with periods spent socialising, tending fires and so on. Apparently our eight-hours obsession may be a post-industrial revolution thing.

Brazil's coffee industry campaigns to encourage Brazilian children to drink coffee at breakfast time.

American parents tend to keep their toddlers strapped into pushchairs whenever out of the house to avoid having them snatched by paedophiles.

Rocking a baby provides 'vestibular stimulation' by sloshing around the liquid of the inner ear, improving motor development and coordination in later life.

Japanese children use potties with little handlebars to help them hold on.

Aka pygmy men do more childcare than those of any other culture, and even let their infants suckle at their chests to comfort them.

........and there are many more. I enjoyed reading this book during lonely night feeds and in short bursts. It wasn't challenging, but it didn't try to be, and sometimes that's a good thing.

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