Book Review: Bringing up Bébé

Vive la France, a nation of formula-feeding, makeup-wearing, relaxed mommies who sleep through the night, according to Pamela Druckerman, an American expat living in Paris. This book was recommended to me by a mommy friend and it might be the best parenting book I’ve ever read. I got this from the library at the same time I got a book about attachment parenting. Let’s just say I did not finish reading the attachment parenting book, but I devoured this one which is both informative and entertaining.

One of the most striking things about French parenting (the way it is described by Druckerman) is its emphasis on pleasure. At one point in the book when Druckerman consults Pierre Bitoun, a French Pediatrician and breast-feeding advocate, to find out more about his work promoting breast-feeding in a country with high rates of formula feeding, he tells her that

“he’s found that French mothers aren’t generally won over by the health arguments involving IQ points and secretory IgA. What does persuade them to nurse, he says, is the claim that both they and the baby will enjoy it.”

(Druckerman also mentions, by the way, that “even though French children consume enormous amounts of formula, they beat American kids on nearly all measures of health.”)

Reading Bringing up Bébé opened my eyes to how a lot of our North American parenting practices are not the only way to parent. Looking at our extreme self-sacrificing parenting methods through the lens of another culture gave me some much-needed perspective (because the other book I was reading on attachment parenting absolutely terrified me).

This book made some excellent points about finding balance in one’s life as a parent, prioritizing one’s relationship with their spouse and their own personhood. I greatly admire the idea that rather than focusing on RJ’s IQ or her acquisition of skills that will give her a competitive edge in society, we might focus on enjoying life together as a family, cherishing small pleasures and allowing ourselves to live fully in this time without trying to rush her through milestones.

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