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Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent

 
 
 
 
Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent
Author: Meredith F. Small
ISBN 13: 9780385483629
ISBN 10: 385483627
Edition: Reprint
Publisher: Anchor
Publication Date: 1999-05-04
Format: Paperback
Pages: 292
List Price: $17.95
 
 

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.

A 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.

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.

Library Journal

In this thoroughly researched and well-referenced book, anthropology professor Small (What's Love Got To Do with It, LJ 9/15/95) explores ethnopediatrics, an interdisciplinary science that combines anthropology, pediatrics, and child development research in order to examine how child-rearing styles across cultures affect the health and survival of infants. Small describes the different parenting styles of several cultures, including (but not limited to) the nomadic Ache tribe of Paraguay, the agrarian !Kung San society of the Kalahari Desert in Africa, and the American industrialized society. In discussing these societies, she illustrates that although there are numerous ways to care for babies, some cultural norms of care are actually at odds with the way infants have evolved. Thus, parents should expect "trade-offs" when they act in opposition to how babies are designed. Small speculates that the custom of mothers in industrialized nations to wean early or not to breastfeed at all may be responsible for the higher incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, more medical problems and fatalities, and more crying than is commonly noted in babies of more agrarian societies. She urges parents to recognize that although their native culture does have an impact on their parenting, they can adopt aspects of child rearing from other cultures, if they choose. Highly recommended for all anthropology and child development collections and appropriate for general audiences as well.--Ximena Chrisagis, Wright State Univ Libs., Dayton, OH