This is the second in a series of blog posts based on Pamela Druckerman’s “Bébé Day by Day.” The following excerpts are taken directly from Chapter 2:
The French believe that babies aren’t helpless blobs. They treat even newborns like tiny, rational people who understand language and can learn things (when they’re taught gently and at their own pace). American scientists have recently proven that babies aren’t blank slates; they can make moral judgments and do basic math. At the very least, we should remember that when we talk, they might be listening.
11. Observe your baby: This is more important—and less obvious—than it sounds. The idea is that you want to be there when the baby needs you. But when she’s happily singing and drooling on the play mat, try to just let her be. You are striving to achieve what the French call complicité—mutual trust and understanding, even with someone who regularly throws up on you.
12. Tell your baby the truth: France’s most famous parenting expert, Francoise Dolto, said that children don’t need family life to be perfect. But they do need it to be coherent, and not secret. The French believe that from the time a child is small, parents can make situations easier to accept just by making them clear.
13. Be polite: French parents tend not to speak down to their infants in singsongy baby talk. However they do pay them the courtesy of saying “bonjour,” “please,” and “thank you.”
14. Don’t stimulate her all the time: Of course you should talk to your baby, show her things, and read her books. But a baby, like anyone else, needs downtime. Let interactions and conversations follow a natural rhythm. Give the baby time to roll around in a safe space and be free.
15. Nudge him onto a schedule: For the first few months, French parents usually feed babies on demand. After that, they take a few things for granted: 1) The baby should eat at more or less the same times each day. 2) A few big feeds are better than lots of small ones. 3) The baby should adjust to the family’s regular eating rhythm. Distract the baby from pangs of hunger by taking her for a walk or strapping her into a carrier. Eventually she’ll get to three hours between feeds, and before long to four.
*Due to length, I trimmed down each point and excluded some points entirely.