Parenting

How French parents get their babies to sleep through the night

We can learn A LOT from parents in other countries.  Especially in the case of French families, who, as it turns out, seem to be winning at parenting right now.

Here are the simple tricks French parents use to ensure their babies sleep through the night (at four months old), eat EVERY meal and behave themselves in public. Oh my!

How French Parents Get Their Babies To Sleep Through The Night

Get your notepads out mums and dads – we’ve FINALLY discovered the secrets to bringing up baby (okay, well we didn’t but an author has).

It seems the secrets were in France all along!

And here’s how you can make these parenting wins your very own.

Sleep like a French baby

Apparently in France, most babies sleep through the night at four months old. And the reason?

It’s called “Le Pause”

It seems when a baby begins to cry during the night, French parents wait for five minutes before tending to their infant. They give their babies enough time to potentially self-settle…but without leaving them to cry on their own for too long.

This gives the baby a chance to go back to sleep without the need to be soothed.

As explained in Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing Up Bébé: One American Woman Discovers The Wisdom Of French Parenting, “If a parent automatically interprets this cry as a demand for food or a sign of distress and rushes in to soothe the baby, the baby will have a hard time learning to connect the cycles on his own.”

What about breastfeeding?

Of course, there are a number of flaws with this system. Many parents don’t feel comfortable listening to their infant cry for five minutes. And some infants just don’t get the memo that they are supposed to sleep through the night until they are much older.

Another big issue is that the French have the lowest breastfeeding rate in the Western world, which suggests that demand feeding isn’t really something they take on board.

How French Parents Get Their Babies To Sleep Through The Night

Au revoir fussy eaters

According to Druckerman, the French are known for their refined taste in food. And children learn this from day one. There are no “kid foods” in France and children eat what parents eat – vegetables and all.

Children, like adults, have three meals a day and one afternoon snack. And that’s the way it is. No “I’m hungry”. No “I don’t like this”. No “I wanted my toast cut in triangles, not squares”. 

This no-nonsense parenting style is a way of life for mums in France. It is used not only for mealtime and bedtimes, but also in general, which brings us to our next point – why French kids are so well behaved.

How French Parents Get Their Babies To Sleep Through The Night

Polite, patient and perfectly behaved – how French mums do it

From early on French parents speak to their infants and children like adults. Baby talk is off the table; instead, parents observe their infants carefully, looking for communication cues and responding accordingly.

Druckerman says French parents also teach their children early on that patience is expected, as is being able to cope with frustration, anger and other negative emotions. Parents teach these things by modelling it themselves (French parents don’t tend to lose their cool too often. I’m assuming they also don’t take to the pantry to sneak treats and hide from the constant demands of their kids).

However, it is also so instilled in the culture that children rarely see other children misbehaving in public. Calm is the norm.

That’s right mums. In France there are no grocery store check-out tantrums. There are no “two more minutes” demands at the park. And there are no uproars in the toy aisle at KMart.

Imagine the possibilities!

So, there you have it (thanks to Druckerman) – French parents are rocking this whole parenting thing. But on the flip side, there are many positives to being an imperfect parent – have a read of them here

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jenna

Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna traded in the cold mountain air for the laid back lifestyle of Australia nine years ago. She is now a mum to one son, one daughter, one dog and one cat, all of whom live with her and her partner in Cairns, QLD. When not writing about the ups and downs of parenting, she is usually outside doing some form of physical activity or indulging in a glass of antioxidant-infused fruit drink. Okay, it's wine.

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