Book Review: Bringing Up Bébé

I’ve always felt a little French (probably because of growing up with a French last name), and I guessed it rubbed off on my parenting style. It turns out that we have more in common with French parents than American, based on what I read in Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting.

According to the author, Pamela Druckerman, a big difference between American and French parenting is letting your baby have alone time and having her wait a minute if you’re in the middle of something and she starts to fuss. And not being guilty about parenting choices. We’re more than just moms, and our children should know and respect that.

Another idea that gets lots of attention by Druckerman is believing your baby is a rational being from birth. This means she understands what you’re saying from the very first day, and should be talked to with that in mind. I’m not sure exactly when a baby starts to understand everything, but I think it’s good to start out as if they do. That way you’re used to treating your child as if she understands it all, instead of trying to guess when that moment starts.

My favorite part of the book was reading what the kids are fed at the state-run day care. The meals sound like they come straight off the chalkboard at a French Bistro. I’m hoping I can apply some of the eating tips the author shares when it’s time to start on solid foods.

This book gets 5 stars because: 1) I got to feel good about our parenting choices; 2) It gave me goods ideas I hadn’t thought of; 3) The author put into words concepts we’ve been applying.

I was going to buy my own copy, but it turns out there is a companion book of tips I might get instead (easier to reference).  I’ll let you know what I think of it when I finally get it from the library!


  1. I used to be a children’s portrait photographer and I know from experience that kids can understand instructions from a very early age. Whether or not they choose to follow them is another story, but I noticed that parents who talk to babies as though they can understand have more cooperative kids. I remember being surprised when an older sibling told me that an 18-month-old couldn’t understand me. I was even more surprised when the parents agreed. I talked to the toddler and she did everything I asked. The lesson didn’t seem to sink in with the parents, but who was I? Just some photographer, I guess.

    My point is, I like the idea of French parenting! French people are so smart.

  2. My baby is not quite 12 weeks, and I recently noticed that when she’s looking in the mirror and I tell her to smile at the baby, she gives this little half grin. And if you ask her where her thumb is (which she discovered this morning) she looks down at it. It’s a lot more entertaining when you believe she can understand it all, and I’m much more likely to spend an hour with her looking at her thumbs and watching her figure out how to get it in her mouth.

  3. I love that the idea of laid back parenting is actually French! Yahoo! I found that with my first child I rushed to attend to his every need. With my second, I simply couldn’t always be there right away, and she learned how to self-soothe much earlier than my first as well.

    As for talking to your child as if they can understand, my husband decided to put my six month old on the toilet and talk to her about pooping. She did it! And from that point forward, did all her bowel movements on the toilet. (Signing when she needed to go.) It’s not like we read books or even had the idea that we were going to do infant potty training…he just did it for fun and it worked!

    So glad to have you aboard Michele!

  4. Thanks, Joy! I must admit I’ve read all your posts about infant potty training more than once. I thinks it’s pretty fascinating and will be posting about our own journey soon.

  5. Gina shared this article with me and I had to post it on here since it mentions Bringing Up Bébé and how differently the French approach discipline.

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