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You Let Your Child do What!?

little boy on the constructionHow would you react if I told you about a group of people who were leaving their newborn babies to sleep in cardboard boxes?

Or even more shocking, what if I told you that there were a group of moms leaving their newborns outdoors to sleep in freezing cold temperatures while the mothers sit indoors drinking coffee?

I’m sure your first instinct would be outrage, but then again, you’re probably used to stories like these giving you some seemingly inflammatory facts and then revealing the less-than-shocking truth behind the headline.

The crazy thing is, there’s no big reveal here. In Norway, new parents are offered a box of baby supplies and the newborns routinely sleep for months inside of the box the goodies are shipped in.

And parents really do leave their babies to nap outside in sub-zero temperatures while they sip coffee indoors. The cold air and sunlight are thought to be beneficial.

But there is one potentially surprising fact here. Norway, with their cardboard-box bassinets and outdoor winter naps, have one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world. Fifth, in fact, coming in behind only Singapore, Japan, Iceland and Monaco.

I found out about this after looking into a comment on my Facebook about how babies sleeping in separate rooms is specific to North America, (It isn’t) and how it’s responsible for the high infant mortality rate in the US. (It’s not.)

It led me to a fascinating series called Motherhood Around the World, which, if you haven’t checked it out yet, get on it. It’s an absolutely fascinating look into family life in other countries.

It also reminded me of a little something I learned from a Sesame Street book about 40 years ago, which is still relevant today.

We’re different, we’re the same, and we’re all wonderful.

Being a sleep consultant, I get a little bit submerged in the culture of parenting and babies, and I see a lot of people having a go at each other over bed-sharing, sleep training, breastfeeding, and other hot-button issues.

But when I saw some of the amazing differences between the Western way of doing things and the practices in the rest of the world, I realized just how petty these arguments sounded. After all, whether or not kids should use cloth or disposable diapers is probably less inflammatory than whether babies should be drinking soda, like they do in Cuba, or the idea of sending your three year old off for a three night camping trip like they do in Germany.

If you were to tell me that toddlers could healthily drink soda everyday, I would attempt to keep a straight face, but probably wouldn’t succeed.

If you suggested that I send my three year old off to camp for a few nights, I would laugh myself to tears.

But there are plenty of parents for whom these things are absolutely normal. They love their kids, they want what’s best for them, and they act in their best interests.

Just like Big Bird told us years ago, we’re different, we’re the same, and we’re all wonderful.

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Dana’s Sleep Blog

Straight talk about sleep, parenting,
babies, toddlers, relationships… and
just about anything else!
My blog is a great place to find opinions, advice, the occasional rant, and some great videos about sleep.

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