Our Babies, Ourselves (Hardcover)

By Meredith F. Small

Doubleday Books, 9780385482578, 320pp.

Publication Date: January 1, 1998



"In the winter of 1995, in a dimly lit room in Atlanta, I Georgia, I witnessed a birth. Not the birth of a baby, but of a new science, ethnopediatrics". Thus begins Dr. Meredith Small's new, groundbreaking book on the study of parents and infants across cultures and the way different caretaking styles affect the health, well-being, and survival of infants. Her work joins the efforts of pediatricians, child development researchers, and anthropologists across the country who have turned their attention to studying this new science of why we parent our children the way that we do.

Each culture, and often each family, offers advice and directives on the right and wrong way to raise and care for infants, from feeding, interaction, and emotional support to sleeping, crying, and more. Yet scientists are finding that what we are taught is the right way to parent our children is often based on nothing more than cultural tradition -- and may even run directly counter to a baby's biological needs. Should a child be encouraged by parents to sleep alone from an early age, as we do here in the United States? Is breast-feeding better than bottle-feeding, or is that just the myth of the 1990s? How frequently should children be nursed -- or does it matter? Do children in all cultures develop colic? How do mothers in different cultures respond to a crying baby? And how important is it to an infant's development to talk, sing, and interact with him or her? These are but a few of the questions Small, through research emerging from ethnopediatrics, addresses -- and the answers are not only surprising, but may even change the way that we think and go about raising our children.

Written for parents andscience lovers alike, Our Babies, Ourselves shows what makes us bring up our kids the way we do -- and what is actually best for babies.