Book Review: Our Babies, Ourselves

Book Review #9: Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent (Meredith Small)


This book focuses on ethnopediatrics — how culture influences how we parent and think about parenting. Mostly focuses on sleeping and breastfeeding, it draws on qualitative and quantitative data to create different parenting typologies and explore how these are linked to culture. I appreciated that it wasn’t just focused on industrial versus more traditional societies, but also contrasted different industrial societies. Here are some fun facts I learned: in certain tribal cultures, babies breastfeed every 13 minutes. In Japan, babies are trained to be dependent on the family unit. In the United States, there is an overwhelming emphasis on what parents can contribute to kids (e.g. healthy food, information and education) and not what on kids can contribute to families (e.g. labor).

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