Wednesday, March 04, 2009


My friend Sarah loaned me this book called Our Babies, Ourselves by Meredith Small, and I've only gotten to the third chapter, but have come to the conclusion that everyone should read this book.

The author is an anthropologist, and the book is about "ethnopediatrics," or the study of how children are raised in different cultures. It really provides some fascinating insights on how Western birth and childrearing practices are different than those of other cultures and time periods. She goes through the evolution of the pelvis (from four-legged to two-legged motion), which is actually why childbirth is so painful. She also talks about co-sleeping, how the baby synchronizes its heartbeat and breathing with its parents while asleep, which is why the SIDS rate is higher for babies in their own rooms. She's very good at explaining the biological reasons behind everything, which is really neat because it shows the correlations between our culture and, say, that of chimpanzees as they apply to babies.

I've wanted to be a mom since I was about 2 years old, so this book is so cool to me. The thing that has really struck me about it so far is her section on parent-child bonding. Apparently, babies have the same reactions to fathers as to mothers (when the fathers are involved in the child's life), like being able to identify them by smell. She suggests that her (and my parents') generation is an example in what happens when the parent-child bond is interrupted, since the practice back then was to put all the babies in nurseries to prevent infection, and only return them to their mothers for feeding. There isn't a critical period for the bond (like in geese or something), which is why adoptions work, but the sooner the parents interact with the child, the better.

You should go get this book.

1 comment:

  1. Okay! Sounds like a good Birthday gift! (hint)