Our Babies, Ourselves
How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent
By (author) Meredith F. Small
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Our Babies, Ourselves by Meredith F. Small
Book DescriptionA thought-provoking combination of practical parenting information and scientific analysis, Our Babies, Ourselves is the first book to explore why we raise our children the way we do--and to suggest that we reconsider our culture's traditional views on parenting. New parents are faced with innumerable decisions to make regarding the best way to care for their baby, and, naturally, they often turn for guidance to friends and family members who have already raised children. But as scientists are discovering, much of the trusted advice that has been passed down through generations needs to be carefully reexamined. In this ground-breaking book, anthropologist Meredith Small reveals her remarkable findings in the new science of ethnopediatrics. Professor Small joins pediatricians, child-development researchers, and anthropologists across the country who are studying to what extent the way we parent our infants is based on biological needs and to what extent it is based on culture--and how sometimes what is culturally dictated may not be what's best for babies. Should an infant be encouraged to sleep alone? Is breast-feeding better than bottle-feeding, or is that just a myth of the nineties? How much time should pass before a mother picks up her crying infant? And how important is it really to a baby's development to talk and sing to him or her? These are but a few of the important questions Small addresses, and the answers not only are surprising, but may even change the way we raise our children."
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780385483629
(203mm x 135mm x 19mm)
Imprint: Doubleday & Co Inc.
Publisher: Random House USA Inc
Publish Date: 1-May-1999
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Meredith F. Small
US Kirkus Review » A look at the not-so-new idea that how babies eat, sleep, and cry is determined by the culture into which they are born - including a subtext that the ever-evolving parenting mode in the US may still not be all that baby-friendly. Small (Anthropology/Cornell; What's Love Got to Do With It?, 1995) is an expert on primate behavior and a convert to the infant science of ethnopediatrics, which brings together medical, developmental, and social science researchers to study babies not as unformed adults but as beings in their own right. To start off, Small reviews the evolutionary data, exploring why human infants have such a long period of dependency and how the intimate bond is created that primes adults to nurture their offspring over such a long period. The child-rearing practices of the African !Kung San and Gusii and the South American Ache groups, modern Japanese, and contemporary Americans are compared. The range is wide - the San mothers, for instance, are inseparable from their babies, carrying and nursing them "on demand" until they are four or five years old. Americans separate from their babies immediately, installing them in a separate bed or room, even before mother and child leave the hospital. These varied styles reflect the varied goals of the adult culture, the San emphasizing cooperation, the US individuality. Chapters are also devoted to crying, breast feeding, and sleep - including speculation that babies who sleep with a parent may be less at risk for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Small clearly approves frequent, if not continuous, bodily contact between child and parent, but emphasizes that successful parenting is a series of trade-offs. What works in one culture may fail in another. No breakthrough research here, but neatly packaged information that elicits new respect for babies and their ability to survive and thrive, whether in the Kalahari or in Chicago. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Meredith F. Small
Meredith F. Smaill is a professor of anthropology at Cornell University and the author ofOur Babies, Ourselves; What's Love Got to Do with It?; andFemale Choices. She writes frequently forNatural History Magazine, Discover, Scientific American, and is a commentator for National Public Radio'sAll Things Considered. She lives in Ithaca, New York."
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