Amy's Reviews > French Children Don't Throw Food

French Children Don't Throw Food by Pamela Druckerman
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it was amazing
bookshelves: foodie-lit

I loved this book and most of the advice. I do think think that 'the pause' is enacted way too early and, although I agree with a feeding schedule, four times a day isn't enough for an infant in my opinion. I love how the French teach their children the importance of Bonjour, Merci, Au Revior, as well as how they introduce them to food and get them involved in the kitchen. Some of the reviewers lambasted the author for depicting the parenting styles of upper-class Parisians as 'out of touch' with how the French really raise their children but so what? If that's what she's depicted then it should be considered as a peek into the lives of upper-class Parisians. It doesn't make the information presented any less interesting or valuable. At any rate, I couldn't put this book down, and I have lots of take aways that I'll use in the future.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 1, 2012 – Finished Reading
February 13, 2012 – Shelved
November 29, 2012 – Shelved as: foodie-lit

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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Janey In my experience, using "the pause" beginning at birth absolutely helps a lot. My 2nd born slept through the night before we even left the hospital. Also, the author mentions that they don't do the "4 meals a day" until, I think she said, 4-6 months, not as an infant.

Lisa C I just wonder about the health implications of some of these methods. She talks about science being on their side on some things but not everything. Science supports attachment parenting, too (ie cosleeping and babywearing).

message 3: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy Lisa wrote: "I just wonder about the health implications of some of these methods. She talks about science being on their side on some things but not everything. Science supports attachment parenting, too (ie c..."

I agree with you Lisa. I don't think I would employ everything the author writes about, but I did like the idea of getting children interested in a variety of foods, and getting them involved in food preparation (which I think would be an amazing confidence builder).

message 4: by Anna (new)

Anna In my (French) experience, children have 4 meals a day from age 2 (I'm taking the crèche / nursery as a landmark here). My daughter is 3 yrs-old and she goes to school from 8.30 am till 6 / 6.30pm, and she has two meals at school (lunch at 11.30am and "goûter" at 4.30pm). Breakfast before we go, dinner around 7 / 8pm [and dinner usually takes an hour]
To respond to other comments about cosleeping and babywearing, I haven't read the book so have no idea what the author said about that, but just so you know, it is very common practice in France, it's just a matter of preference. I personally had my daughter in the same room as me until she was 2, and she slept with us (cosleeping) until she was about 6months old I think. She slept with us when she needed to after that. A friend of mine (also French) who gave birth a week before me never let her son sleep with her. He was in his own cot from day 1 because she wanted "peace" (which she got, btw!) -- I would say that there are no set rules, just trends, probably like in the US...
About bonjour / au revoir / merci : you have NO IDEA how difficult this is and how important it is. IMHO, it's not so much about the children being well behaved -- it's more about a convention / social thing. It is expected from the children, and parents simply HAVE TO teach their children to say hello / goodbye / thank you, because that's just what everyone expects.
About the food - There are fussy eaters in France (although I remember wondering what the equivalent would be for "fussy" - it took me a while to figure it out, but I did eventually - we say: "il/elle est difficile" (he/she is difficult), but it's true that children will eat everything. I think that again, it's a cultural difference, rather than a parenting issue. Mealtimes are sacred this side of the pond. We eat as a family, same meal for the children from a very young age (when everything is puréed). To give you an example, tonight for dinner we had pumpkin potato and cheese soup with a slice of (buttered) bread followed by chicory, apple, cheese and beetroot salad, cucumber and ginger salad, then some cheese with bread and a dessert (a yogurt or a chocolate pot and fruit purée for my daughter, usually). My daughter ate everything. In fact, she knows that she can't have her dessert if she doesn't eat her soup, the idea being that if you're not hungry for your soup or your cucumber salad, then you can't be hungry for dessert. So she eats the exact same meal as we do. Nothing more, nothing less. There is always a choice of dessert, for everyone (a yogurt or other dairies, a piece of (fresh) fruit (or fruit purée), or a chocolate pot). Obviously, chicory has quite a strong, bitter taste, so she only has to have one or two bites. I don't think I am representative of the French, but this is just to give you an idea... Unfortunately I don't really know what it's like in the States. Is it really very different??
About food preparation - it depends on the family I suppose, but food is very important to me, and my daughter always prepares meals with me - it means we can do something together, and I don't have to worry about what she's up to since we're together. We both have long days at school / work, so it's always nice to spend some quality time in the kitchen, choosing what we'll prepare that night. Let's take tonight for example: she prepared the salad dressing, by measuring and mixing all the ingredients; she put all the potato peels in the bin and then the diced potatoes in the pot. She measured and added the water for the soup, added the salt and pepper, she added the grated cheese to the soup at the end, and, depending on how hot the stove is, she will sometimes stir whatever we're preparing. She also systematically mixes cake batter when we bake, and she sets the table (well, we set the table together - she is in charge of the cutlery). We always go grocery shopping together (as I work full time, like a majority French mothers, I don't really have a choice!) - she always has little tasks, like "get the cheese", "find the ham", etc. and she puts everything we buy on the check-out counter belt and then everything back in the trolley.
I do have one question though - what is the "pause" you are all talking about?
I didn't mean to get into our daily routine, but then I thought if it were the other way around, and I was reading about the American way of bringing up children, I would really like to have some input from a native. This is very random, I know, but if I haven't bored to death, I would like to hear your views on this, Amy, and maybe hear more about "American parenting".
À bientôt!

Vanessa Gavrich Hi Anna- the "pause" is allowing babies to cry to see why they are crying rather than jumping in as soon as they squeak. In other words, taking a pause of sorts to see if there is a problem rather than picking them up right away. Americans generally feel guilty about letting their babies cry and not attending to them right away. In fact, in my "What to Expect" class given by our hospital suggested that picking up a baby before they had been crying for 10 seconds would limit the length of time they would cry. I think you'd enjoy this book, its got some great humor and points out interesting differences between the French, Brits and Americans.

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