Mellow Mummy: Book Review : How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm : Taking life as it comes...

Sunday 27 January 2013

Book Review : How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm

You can't have failed to notice that big banner advert I have running at present for Mei-Ling Hopgood's "How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm".  I chose to run the advert because the book fits well with the Mellow Mummy mantra.

As you probably know, I'm not one for parenting manuals.  I like to 'do' motherhood my own way.  I'll listen to and read the advice of lots of other people and explore other cultures and approaches before I take on a parenting challenge but in the end I'm usually driven by my own maternal instincts.  I think the author of "How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm" does the same thing too; the book is an exploration of different parenting practices from around the globe along with tales from Mei-Ling about how she has adapted these to suit her own western lifestyle.

Although in places the book does remind me of an undergraduate dissertation with its lists of external references and just-touched-upon, under-explored examples; I really appreciated the in-depth interviews and case studies that Mei-Ling had uncovered, particularly the real-life experiences that she and her husband had been through with their own daughter.

How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm has a series of chapters about different parenting challenges - How Buenos Aires Children Go To Bed Late, How the French Teach Their Children to Love Healthy Food, How The Kenyans Live Without Pushchairs, How the Chinese Potty Train Early, How Polynesians Play Without Parentsand several more fascinating topics.  I particularly enjoyed reading the chapters on routines, eating, pushchairs and potty training because I felt they came to the same conclusions that I had as a parent - everyone is different and there is no right or wrong way to approach parenthood but there are ways that you can approach it that differ from the accepted norm in the western world which make a lot of sense and can make parenthood a little more mellow.

The most fascinating topic I found was on the role of fathers in bringing up a baby - How Aka Pygmies Are The Best Fathers.  Did you know that there are African pygmy tribes where the fathers will even let their children suckle on their nipples as relief while the women are out working or doing their own thing?

I really enjoyed reading Mei-Ling's book because it didn't preach to me about how I should be parenting but instead looked out how other cultures approach life and the lessons that we could choose to take from them.  Well worth a read if you'd like to become a mellower mummy!

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