Registered Dietitian's Book Club Review: Bringing Up Bebe

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Registered Dietitian's Book Club Review: Bringing Up Bebe

01, March 2017 11:02 AM


 

Bringing Up Bebe Book

In February, our Silicon Valley District Dietitian Association Book Club reviewed, Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman. A journalist by trade, Druckerman shares her American insight on the cultural differences of raising children in Paris, France. 

 

According to Druckerman, the Parisian parenting style produces children who are gourmet eaters and are good sleepers. Most infants sleep through the night by four months of age and children as young as 3 years can eat a four course gourmet-style meal.

French Culture

Parents, before you begin to feel bad about how well your kids eat and sleep, let me point out some important differences in the French social services. Parents don't have to pay for preschool and have a national day care system that is run by highly-trained, career professionals in which four-course meals are served to all children.

Here is a sample public day care meal:

  • First course: Hearts of palm and tomato salad
  • Second course: Sliced turkey au basilica with rich in Provencal cream sauce
  • Third course: A slice of St. Nectaire cheese with a slice of baguette
  • Fourth course: Kiwi

Hey, if my kids attended Parisian day care, they would likely have bypassed the picky eater phase!

French culture values eating regular, delicious, "sit down" meals. Paris is known for its gourmet food and eating delicious meals is a core part of French culture. Parents and children eat the same food, there's no such thing as a kid’s menu in Paris restaurants.

Parents think it is part of a child’s education to learn to eat a wide variety of foods. They consider it normal to challenge each child to eat new foods on a regular basis. They believe their children can eat almost everything and they do.

French families eat three meals and one afternoon snack. That’s it. No additional snacking between meals. Americans are prolific snackers and value foods that are healthy and convenient.

While most of us do not have access to day care serving amazing gourmet food, there are a few Parisian parenting tips that American parents can consider.

French Parenting Tips

Infants:

  • Starting at 2 months of age, when your infant cries, “pause” for just a bit to see if they can settle back down on their own.
  • For infants over four to five months of age, do not feed between the hours of midnight and 5 am.
  • First foods to serve infants after breast milk or infant formula: vegetables and fruits rather than cereal.

Older Children:

  • From a very early age, tell your child he or she needs to try new foods (the first tries can be smelling or licking the food).
  • Help your child develop a spirit of adventure about food to acquire a wide and varied palate. Be a good role model and try a wide variety of foods yourself!
  • Everyone in the family eats the same meal. No short- order cooking!
  • Serve less “kid food” and more grownup food. Believe your child can and will eat.
  • Serve children on a regular meal and snack schedule (as defined in the Division of Responsibility).
  • Keep meal times pleasant.
  • Don't permit snacking when it is not a planned eating occasion. Kids can learn to wait. French parents teach their kids that it is good to come to the table hungry.
  • Get children involved in cooking. Here is a fun and easy Yogurt Cake recipe referenced in the book made by children as young as 3 years of age.

Where the Book Falls Short

As dietitians, we would have preferred to see more descriptive menus included in the book to have a better idea of what typical family meals look like. We’re not qualified to confirm or deny that parenting strategies shared in the book are accurate or typical in France (especially outside the city of Paris – the author qualifies her observations are limited to Paris).

We do know from our academic background and experience that the overall patterns for feeding children described in the book are scientifically-based and sound with the exception that French women do not commonly breastfeed their infants (breast feeding infants is highly recommended).

Dietitian Approved

We realize that many ideas in the book are not transferable within the constructs of American culture. And we suggest you don’t get hung up on deciding if French culture is better or worse than ours. We do feel there are some good ideas here to add to your parenting bag of tricks.

Overall, our group recommends the book and suggests pregnant women and mothers of young children put the book on their reading list.

 

Maureen Bligh, MA, RDN
Director, Resource Development and Marketing

 

Maureen is a registered dietitian nutritionist  and member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.




Tags: Dietitians Book Review division of responsability family meals Healthy eating healthy eating for kids Maureen Bligh registered dietitian book club snacking

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