Sharing the load

I’ve written before about the book I am reading (yes, that’s still present tense, even after 3 months, I think I have got through about a chapter and a half since little one arrived…). Called “How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm”, it’s all about parenting in other cultures and I’ve just read the most fascinating chapter about whether Aka Pygmies are the best fathers in the world. This question is posed due to their approach to fatherhood – they allow the babies to suckle at their nipples when mum isn’t available to feed. What a fantastic idea, and a great way to offer some comfort to their baby. I guess it’s a walking version of a dummy! (Cue lots of jokes about our beloved…)

I did some further research on the internet as I have never heard of anything like this before, and it appears the Aka fathers are within reach of their babies 47% of the time, more than any other cultural group on the planet. Definitely a qualifying stat for being the best fathers in the world, I would say.

The main reason for such a ‘hands-on’ approach is because Aka babies are never left unattended. From the age of three months, babies are held all the time, whether in a sling or in arms and there’s actually no such thing as a cot as babies are never left alone to lay in one.

Reading about this culture, so incredibly different to our own, chimed with me as we are currently working on getting our three month old to go to bed at a more reasonable time. Left to her own devices, she would happily be up carousing until 10pm but we have managed to respond to her tired and grumpy crying at 8pm by taking her upstairs for a feed in the relative darkness of the bedroom and she has been sleeping from then until around midnight when she wakes for her first feed of the night. It’s so interesting that we in the West will actively try to get our babies to accept being left alone to sleep.

We have a family wedding in around six weeks’ time. Aside from having the nightmare task of getting a dress that I like and which will allow me to feed without having to half strip off every time (!) I need to give some thought to expressing some milk so that we can leave the little one with the babysitters at some point – otherwise I will spend the evening trekking from the reception to our accommodation rather than having a good boogie.

I wonder if I could convince hubby to take some of the strain and put his man-nipples to good use….!? 😉


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