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Ah, the French. From their capsule wardrobes to their take on everything from toast to kissing, it seems like they always know a little something before we do. Which is why I was excited to read Bringing Up Bebe, former Wall Street Journal writer Pamela Druckerman’s très popular guide to “the wisdom of French parenting.”


It actually ended up being one of my favorite parenting books I read while pregnant, and I went on to adopt many of the philosophies mentioned in the book. Plus, Druckerman has a conversational writing style that will make you think she’s a friend relating her years abroad over a cup of cappuccino.

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But in case you don’t have time to deep-dive into the full book, here is a brief overview of the book’s main points.

The premise:

Druckerman is an American journalist living in Paris with her British husband. When she finds herself pregnant, she becomes increasingly aware of the behaviors of French children and parents around her—specifically the fact that the children seem to be extremely well behaved, rarely throw tantrums, sleep through the night from two months on, and eat just about everything on their extremely diverse plates.

While she initially has a hard time pinpointing what it is French parents seem to be getting right (even her local friends deny following any particular parenting philosophy), careful observation and a bit of research eventually lead Druckerman to compile an outline of the French cadre, or framework of parenting.

"The Pause"

From the moment babies are born, French parents don’t immediately spring up at their little ones’ first cries. After a brief (or sometimes longer as the child gets older) pause, they will then move in to tend to their babies’ needs.

By waiting a beat before responding to cries—a term Druckerman affectionately dubs “La Pause,” French parents come to learn their babies’ natural rhythms and encourage self-soothing, which aids in longer sleep cycles (AKA, full nights of rest from two to four months on).

“To believe in The Pause, or in letting an older baby cry it out, you have to believe that a baby is a person who’s capable of learning things (in this case, how to sleep) and coping with some frustration,” Druckerman explains.

Delay gratification

Similar to La Pause, the French believe that children need patience to fully appreciate good experiences in life. Druckerman cites Walter Mischel’s marshmallow experiment from the ‘60s and ‘70s, in which children were presented with a marshmallow and told they could eat it now, or wait five minutes and then be given two marshmallows.

The children who were able to delay gratification were later found to be better at impulse control and more successful later in life.

Rather than giving in to every caprice, or whim their children present, French parents typically hold their ground—even during the rare tantrum. “French parents don’t worry that they’re going to damage their kids by frustrating them. To the contrary, they think their kids will be damaged if they can’t cope with frustration.”

French parents are often heard telling their children to “sois sage,” literally translated “be wise” or “be good.” “When I tell Bean to be sage...I’m asking her to use good judgment and to be aware and respectful of other people,” Druckerman writes. “I’m implying that she has a certain wisdom about the situation and that she’s in command of herself. And I’m suggesting that I trust her.”

The nature of the child

Many of the French parenting philosophies stem from the idea that children are constantly being trained to be adults. Rather than signing their kids up for lessons to push them to succeed or hiring tutors to try to quickly move children from one developmental stage to the next, the French luxuriate in the wonder of childhood.

They believe experiences should be used to awaken a child’s senses, particularly a thirst for discovery and exploration.

They believe in communicating with children like adults, explaining choices and expectations even to babies, but always having clearly established limits.

Children are likewise expected to learn to function within the framework their parents have laid out, and there’s a strong emphasis on manners and social codes (for example, children are regularly prodded to say “bonjour” to the adults they meet).

Autonomy of the mother

French mothers are seen as women first. They are expected to maintain a strong sense of self in all aspects of life, from the sexual (“perineal reeducation,” or expert-led sessions to strengthen the pelvic floor area, are not uncommon) to the intellectual.

Couples are encouraged to prioritize each other over the children, not out of selfishness, but rather because the French believe it is best for the whole family.

As part of their protected sense of self, many French mothers work, and few breastfeed past the first three months—all with none of the guilt that often plagues American mothers. (In fact, subsidized daycares or creches are extremely popular and encouraged as an excellent way to socialize and awaken the sense of children while mothers work—some mothers apply to a creche as early as from their sixth month of pregnancy!)

Rather than spend every moment solely focused on their children, French women are encouraged to celebrate themselves as well. “Guilt is a trap...the perfect mother does not exist,” Druckerman explains.

La cuisine

The French have many thoughts on food, and it’s considered a crucial part of their culture and society. “You just have to taste it” is a common rule in many homes. Druckerman praises the diverse palates of the children—they’re rarely picky because they are exposed to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables (never bland baby cereal) from the start.

“The point isn’t that every kid will like everything. It’s that he’ll give each food a chance.” The children rarely snack between meals and the whole family always eats the same meal. Another great tip? The French often serve their children’s meals in courses, beginning with a vegetable dish while little bellies are at their hungriest.

“It’s me who decides”

This is probably my favorite takeaway from the entire book: French parents always consider themselves the authority over their children.

The child isn’t treated like the king, determining what you eat, where you vacation, etc., and parents often boast about how strict they are.” They believe that children can achieve these goals only if they respect boundaries and have self-control,” Druckerman explains.

But don’t worry, the French definition of “strict” isn’t as rigid as you might think. French parents typically mean that they are strict about certain things and pretty relaxed about everything else. It all goes back to the cadre, a firm frame surrounding a lot of freedom.

Autonomy for children too

The French would never be described as helicopter parents. They don’t obsess over worst-case scenarios or attempt to control children in the hopes of keeping them safe. They’re okay with kids having their own lives (and even secrets) within the safety of their cadre because this ultimately teaches them how to be adults.

They also don’t make a habit of over-praising children, preferring to give praise when it is earned. As Druckerman writes, “What they conclude is that some praise is good for a child, but that if you praise her too much, you’re not letting her live her life.”

Certainly this won’t be the parfait approach for every parent, but the most important thing is to find a parenting style that works best for your family. C’est la vie!

You can check out Druckerman's Bringing up Bebe here!

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As a former beauty editor, I pride myself in housing the best skincare products in my bathroom. Walk in and you're sure to be greeted with purifying masks, micellar water, retinol ceramide capsules and Vitamin C serums. What can I say? Old habits die hard. But when I had my son, I was hesitant to use products on him. I wanted to keep his baby-soft skin for as long as possible, without tainting it with harsh chemicals.

Eventually, I acquiesced and began using leading brands on his sensitive skin. I immediately regretted it. His skin became dry and itchy and regardless of what I used on him, it never seemed to get better. I found myself asking, "Why don't beauty brands care about baby skin as much as they care about adult skin?"

When I had my daughter in May, I knew I had to take a different approach for her skin. Instead of using popular brands that are loaded with petroleum and parabens, I opted for cleaner products. These days I'm all about skincare that contains super-fruits (like pomegranate sterols, which are brimming with antioxidants) and sulfate-free cleansers that contain glycolipids that won't over-dry her skin. And, so far, Pipette gets it right.

What's in it

At first glance, the collection of shampoo, wipes, balm, oil and lotion looks like your typical baby line—I swear cute colors and a clean look gets me everytime—but there's one major difference: All products are environmentally friendly and cruelty-free, with ingredients derived from plants or nontoxic synthetic sources. Also, at the core of Pipette's formula is squalane, which is basically a powerhouse moisturizing ingredient that babies make in utero that helps protect their skin for the first few hours after birth. And, thanks to research, we know that squalane isn't an irritant, and is best for those with sensitive skin. Finally, a brand really considered my baby's dry skin.

Off the bat, I was most interested in the baby balm because let's be honest, can you ever have too much protection down there? After applying, I noticed it quickly absorbed into her delicate skin. No rash. No irritation. No annoyed baby. Mama was happy. It's also worth noting there wasn't any white residue left on her bottom that usually requires several wipes to remove.


Why it's different

I love that Pipette doesn't smell like an artificial baby—you, know that powdery, musky note that never actually smells like a newborn. It's fragrance free, which means I can continue to smell my daughter's natural scent that's seriously out of this world. I also enjoy that the products are lightweight, making her skin (and my fingers) feel super smooth and soft even hours after application.

The bottom line

Caring for a baby's sensitive skin isn't easy. There's so much to think about, but Pipette makes it easier for mamas who don't want to compromise on safety or sustainability. I'm obsessed, and I plan to start using the entire collection on my toddler as well. What can I say, old habits indeed die hard.

This article was sponsored by Pipette. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Military families give up so much for their country, particularly when they have small children at home. Those of us who have never witnessed this kind of sacrifice first-hand could use a reminder of it once in a while, which is just one of the reasons we're so happy to see the beautiful photoshoot Mary Chevalier arranged for her husband's return home from Afghanistan.

The photoshoot was extra special because while James Chevalier was serving a nine-month deployment, Mary gave birth to their second son, Caspian.

Getting ready to meet Dad

"During the laboring and birthing process of Caspian, I was surrounded by family, but that did not fill the void of not having my husband by my side," Mary told InsideEdition.com. "He was able to video chat during the labor and birth, but for both of us, it was not enough."

While James had yet to meet Caspian, their 3-year-old son, Gage, missed his dad a whole lot, so this homecoming was going to be a big deal for him too. That's why Mary arranged for her wedding photographer, Brittany Watson, to be with them for their reunion in Atlanta.

Gage was so happy to see his Dad 

"[He] had no idea he was going to be getting to see his daddy that day," Watson wrote on Facebook. "The family met at the Southeastern Railway Museum for Gage to go on a special train ride... little did he know, he'd be doing it with daddy!"

Watson did a beautiful job capturing the high emotions of every single family member, from Gage's surprise, to the delight on baby Caspian's face. It's no wonder her Facebook post went viral last week.

"Caspian is natural, a very happy baby, but both James and I felt like Caspian knew who his father was almost immediately," Mary told Inside Edition. "He was easily comforted by me husband right off the bat and seemed to have an instant connection. It was very emotional."

The moment this dad had been waiting for 

If we're sobbing just looking at the photos, we can't even imagine what it was like in real life.

"We are all so blessed and take so much for granted," Watson wrote. "I cannot contain the joy I feel in my heart when I look at these images, and I hope you feel it too!"


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During both of my pregnancies, I was under the care of an amazing midwife. Every time I went to her office for check-ups, I was mesmerized by the wall of photos participating in what may be the most painfully magical moment of a woman's life: giving birth. But there was a painting that always drew my attention: a woman dressed in orange, holding her newborn baby with a face that could be described as clueless. The line above the canvas read, "Now what?"

I felt like the woman in the painting as I kissed my mother goodbye when my daughter was born. She came from my native Colombia to stay with us for three months. When she left, I realized that my husband had been working as usual during those first 90 days of our new life. My baby was born on a Friday and on Monday he was back at the office. (No parental leave policy for him.)

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Now what? I thought. The quote "It takes a village to raise a child" suddenly started to hit home, literally.

After a few years in Miami, I had some friends, but it truly didn't feel like I had a village. Some were not mothers yet, most of them worked full-time and others didn't live close by. My nomad life left my best friends spread out in different places in the world. I found myself signing up for "mommy and me" classes in search of new mothers, immigrants like me, alone like me.

It seemed like a utopian dream to think about when my grandmothers became mothers. Both of them had 6 and 10 children and they were able to stay sane (or maybe not? I don't know). But at least they had family around—people cooking, offering help. There was a sense of community.

My mother and father grew up in "the village." Big families with so many children that the older siblings ended up taking care of the little ones; aunts were like second mothers and neighbors became family.

When I was about to give birth to my second baby, my sister had just had her baby girl back in Colombia. Once, she called me crying because her maternity leave was almost over. My parents live close to her, so that was a bonus. Hiring a nanny back there is more affordable. But even seeing the positive aspects of it, I wished I could have been there for her, to be each other's village.

The younger me didn't realize that when I took a plane to leave my country in search of new experiences 19 years ago, I was giving up the chance to have my loved ones close by when I became a mother. And when I say close by, I mean as in no planes involved.

It hasn't been easy, but after two kids and plenty of mommy and me classes and random conversations that became true connections, I can say I have a mini-village, a small collection of solitudes coming together to lean on each other. But for some reason, it doesn't truly feel like one of those described in the old books where women gathered to knit while breastfeeding and all the children become like siblings.

Life gets in the way, and everyone gets sucked into their own worlds. In the absence of a true village, we feel the pressure to be and do everything that once was done by a group of people. We often lose perspective of priorities because we are taking care of everything at the same time. Starting to feel sick causes anxiety and even fear because it means so many things need to happen in order for mom—especially if single—to lay down and recover while the children are taken care of. And when the children get sick, that could mean losing money for a working mother or father, because the truth is that most corporations are not designed to nurture families.

In the absence of that model of a village I long for, we tend to rely on social media to have a sense of community and feel supported. We may feel that since we are capable of doing so much—working and stay at home moms equally—perhaps we don't need help. Or quite the opposite: mom guilt kicks in and feelings of not being enough torment our night sleep. Depression and anxiety can enter the picture and just thinking about the amount of energy and time that takes to create true connections, we may often curl up in our little cocoon with our children and partners—if they are present—when they come home.

Now what? was my thought this week while driving back and forth to the pediatrician with my sick son. I can't get the virus, I have to be strong, my daughter can't get ill, my husband needs to be healthy for his work trip next week, we all need to be well for my son's fifth birthday. And so, it goes on. I texted one of my mom friends just to rant. She rants back because her son is also sick. She sent me a heart and an "I'm here if you need to talk."

I am grateful to have talked to her at that random postpartum circle when I first became a mother. She's a Latina immigrant like me and feels exactly like me. I will do it more, get out of my comfort zone and have—sometimes—awkward conversations so I can keep growing my own little village.

It may not look like the one I'd imagined, but still may allow me to be vulnerable even through a text message.

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Halloween is around the corner, but if you are like me you are still trying to figure out what to dress your family (especially the little ones), so here are some cute ideas inspired by famous characters. There's something for everyone—from cartoon lovers to ideas for the entire family!

Here are some adorable character costumes for your family:

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