Book Review

How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm by Mei-Ling Hopgood

I recently finished reading “How Eskimos Keep their Babies Warm” borrowed from my local library; I picked it up at random from the shelves as I attempted to quickly get my three kids ages 5 and under out of there before we broke something. I found the concept behind the book appealing, the author tackles a different aspect of parenting in each chapter, demonstrates how another culture handles the issue, analyzes the differences in the cultures of child rearing and follows up with a vignette of how the Ms. Hopgood applies some things to her own parenting. For example,chapter 4 discusses potty training and how the Chinese potty train  much earlier than most western parents and Ms. Hopgood was able to incorporate some of the ideas in potty training her own daughter.

Each chapter is fairly stand alone and made for enjoyable reading while nursing my youngest. The author’s tone is inviting and honest and she reconsiders different aspects of her own parenting. My personal favorite chapter was the first one discussing the late bedtimes of children raised in Buenos Aires. For the first few years we were parents, we didn’t put our children down till 9 or 9:30. We had several reasons for this, one was that my husband often worked late and would not be able to spend quality time with our children if they went to bed at 7, I was often working nights and really needed extra sleep in the morning and our oldest usually slept till 9 am. Choosing to handle our bedtimes in this way did get us a few raised eyebrows, but it worked for us. It’s nice to know we might fit in Buenos Aires.

I think this book would be a much more interesting read if the author had a 10 and 8 year old instead of a 2 year old and pregnant, perhaps she will revisit her thoughts in 10 years or so. When you only have one 2 year old, there is still so much you have yet to learn about your child, and you only know the one child.

She also sometimes glosses over certain issues which is somewhat understandable since she is not trying to write a dissertation here, but there were a few things I felt she could have discussed more thoroughly. For example, she writes about the Chinese potty training their children early, but doesn’t talk about treating any public area you happen to be in like a toilet is a very real sanitation problem. When people around the world are given the option of diapers, they are used for very good reasons.

I did feel that her book is a timely reminder that kids and families all over the world often handle parenting very differently from us and we all turn out mostly okay. Her chapters on work and education were a good reminder that the American family could do better in these areas and encouraged me to continue with how I have my children help around the house and handle their own things as much as they can.

Here is an amazon link if you want to order the book.

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