Bringing Up Bebe ~ TLC Book Tours

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Bringing up Bebe

When Pamela Druckerman becomes pregnant while in Paris, she starts noticing things about French children and their parents.  What she sees is so different that parents and children in America, she sets out research it and see if she can determine what is causing this difference, and Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parentingis born.

There are many differences and she addresses them one at a time.  Being pregnant, one that she notices right away is that French babies sleep through the night much earlier than American babies.  The French assume that after about three months, the baby will begin sleeping through the night, and when the mother goes back to work (French maternity leave is 3 months), everyone will be well rested.  What she discovered is “the pause”  “the wait” – when a French baby awakens in the night, the parents don’t immediately rush to the baby.  They wait and see.  They give the baby the opportunity to lull itself back to sleep.  We all wake up many times through the night and we’ve learned to fall back asleep, the French begin teaching this to their babies early.

Another big difference is food.  Like French adults, French children don’t snack.  Well, they do;  they have one afternoon snack at about 4:30, but other than that, it is breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner.  There are no bags of cheerios, no juice boxes.  They don’t feel that babies and children need to be fed constantly to be kept happy.  They are teaching the children to wait, to be truly hungry when you sit down to eat.  And eat they do.  There are no children’s meals, they eat what adults eat…no chicken fingers.  At the daycare the format for the lunch menu is:  a four course meal beginning with a cold vegetable starter, a main dish with a side of grains or cooked vegetables, a different cheese each day, and a dessert of fresh fruit or fruit puree.  She has her doubts about 2 year olds eating such a menu, so she visits her daughter’s daycare.  On the day she visits she sees two year olds sitting at a table for 4, waiting for lunch to be served.  The teacher shows them each menu item, explains what it is, and waits for them to say thank you as she hands it to them.  On that day they are having:  a tomato salad in vinaigrette, a fish in a light butter sauce with a side of peas, carrots and onions, a crumbly bleu cheese for the cheese course, and a fresh apple to be sliced at the table for dessert.

There are other differences, I’m not going to cover them all here.  I found this book really interesting.  When I mentioned to someone about what the 2 year olds were eating, she replied, “my child would starve.”  When I mentioned to someone else about 4 year olds going on a week long field trip, she replied, “no way would I let me four year old do something like that.”  So, I know that a lot of what she says may be too extreme for some, but I do think that there is a lot of useful information here.  You can take what you want and ignore what you don’t want to use.  I think that possibly the best place to be would be somewhere in the middle, not so American and not so French. 

I highly recommend this to anyone curious about the French and how they raise their children.

You can check out the schedule for the other book reviews.

Here are links to Pamela online: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Usual disclaimer:  I received no compensation for this review other than a copy of the book. 

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  1. says

    Hmmm. Interesting. A bit late for me, but I’ll pass the info along.
    One thought: 4 meals a day (and the tea they have is a BIG one) was way too much food for me. And I remember my daughter saying (when she lived in Paris) that dinners last 3 hours with course after course. So I take some of the book’s info with a grain of salt. Never have understood anyway why anyone thinks the French do things better. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE France.

  2. says

    I just finished reading about this book in the NYTimes. They referred to it as this year’s Tiger Mom.

    The school experience for French children sounds much more rigid.

    Years ago I went to hear a 90-something men speak to my daughter’s second grade class. There was the usual background noise of scuffling feet and shifting chairs. The first thing he said when he started speaking to them was, “Sit up straight. hands together atop your desk.” There was a hurried scramble to comply and the transformation was amazing. You could have heard a pin drop, He then explained to them that when he was in school, that was the rule about how they were expected to sit during class, then continued with his talk.

  3. says

    I read an article about this book in the Wall Street Journal. When I was done, I said, “So? I must be French?” I always felt that your children will do exactly what you expect of them, and no more. I expect a 2 year old to sit quietly at a restaurant table with a couple of crayons to draw on the place mat, and he does. I expect a 3 year old to eat his beans, and he does.

    And my kids still laugh about the sympathy available around here: “Is your arm broken? Is your leg broken? Are you bleeding? No? Then get a drink of water and tell me what’s wrong instead of bawling.” Funny how this attitude creates better behaved children.

    As to food, well, it’s free range grazing around here between breakfast and dinner. But don’t go looking for the cake, because it’s out of your reach. It teaches self sufficiency, and not pigging out. Who really wants to eat 84 saltines, anyway?

    Love your review. I’d probably enjoy this book, too.

  4. says

    I love the idea of teaching children to wait by not feeding them constantly – simple, yet brilliant!

    This sounds like a refreshing look at parenting. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Thanks for being on the tour.

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