Stream of Consciousness Sunday: Baby Talk

Here is my 5 minute brain dump as part of this great series. It’s only the 2nd time I’ve done it but I think it’s going to help my blog block I’ve been having since we got back from our holiday.


So here goes!

We’ve been back from NYC for a week. We had a great time. We loved NYC. The one thing I loved the most was how geared up for children it was compared to where we are in France. The whole attitude to children was completely different. In all honesty, I miss it already, and I am sure BiP does too.

I know BiP is only 13m old and can’t talk yet – well, she can say Cat, Mama, Daddy and Moo – is moo a word? I take it as a word as that’s what she calls a cow, for now, and given that she’ll have to learn both “cow” and “vache” moo is a great universally understood word.  What I am getting at is the amazing difference between the strangers we encountered in NYC vs. those we see in France when it comes to talking to BiP. It’s night and day.

Typical Conversation with BiP in NYC:
Stranger: Aren’t you a cutie?
BiP: Coy smile
Stranger: You are such a good walker and I love your outfit
BiP: Giggles and waves

Typical Conversation with BiP in Provence:
Stranger: <Translated from French> To me: You shouldn’t let her walk in here. I will hit her with my trolley
BiP: Craning neck looking for some eye contact, a hello, a smile … something!
Me: (silently thinking) Just try it Lady
BiP: Still looking for attention – turns to me and receives attention she so craves.

It may sound like a one off but this was just for illustrative purposes.

It seems like the busy people of NYC do have time to treat babies with a brief moment of recognition that they are tiny individuals with personalities and feelings. I wonder if the French ever talk to babies – I’ve had my doubts that babies and children are even considered to be people until a certain age. Luckily BiP has doting parents who can give her that attention she so craves (and deserves!)

Have you experienced different cultures attitudes to babies and children?


This was my first 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…

  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes only.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.
  • Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
  • Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post.
  • Link up your post at all.things.fadra.
  • Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.


13 thoughts on “Stream of Consciousness Sunday: Baby Talk

  1. Julie

    Wow – that is such a striking difference between the cultures. I guess I have this “fantasy” that being in Europe would be so much more exciting and sophisticated – which is probably why I want to visit there so badly. I loved visiting NYC a couple of years ago – and definitely want to visit there again too. 🙂

    1. mummyinprovence Post author

      France is great – it’s just tough for mini people … there is very little for them when you go out to a restaurant which is why we always eat at home as it’s just too hard to find somewhere with a highchair and having BiP on my lap is NOT fun. Compared to the US who make things easy on purpose adjusting back to the way things are in France and having to fend for yourself is taking some time!

  2. MLMom

    But of course Moo is a word! 🙂

    The French DO talk to babies!!! I am surprised the French not talking to BiP! Of COURSE she deserves all the attention 🙂

    But I feel they really do pay attention here. I cannot go out once without someone tell me, not even 1 minute away from our doorstep, how “gracieuse” (graceful?) baby LilO is! The mailman, an unknown neighbor, the other people in line at the cashier at the store, the baker who ooh and ahhs while the line gets long… it’s probably going to stop at some point, but I smile all I can for now!

    Oh and I always get jealous of how geared-up for children things are in other countries. The first time we went to Paris I had to check and double check for advice about stroller and baby friendly places! I loved Canada and the HUGE nursing rooms and family rooms I encountered while at the mall. We need those here!

    1. mummyinprovence Post author

      Hi MLMom! So glad Moo is a word!

      Ok, I needed more than 5 mins to write this post it seems … yes, they talk about babies – your example is perfect – they admire you baby and then tell you how lovely they are etc … I’ve found it stopped around 11m when BiP started walking – they viewed her more of a pest than something cute!

      I totally agree that Provence is not really geared up for babies – rarely a highchair, never a changing table … often no space for a pushchair in a cafe etc etc …

  3. Marcy

    I’d love to see how much this varies by region. I can tell you that in our village in Switzerland, hardly anyone spoke a WORD to us till we had a baby– then suddenly everyone came out of the woodwork to befriend us. I also have expat friends who comment on how much more kid-friendly Germany was than the US, with changing tables in *every* bathroom, etc.

    Sorry people have been so cold to you and BiP… =(

    1. mummyinprovence Post author

      Gaah! I think 5 mins was too short for me to get this all down. Yes, people spoke to me a lot when I had BiP – they didn’t talk to HER. Now she is old enough to understand they still talk to ME only. It seems like the French enjoy babies but toddlers are a nuisance.

      As far as kid friendliness is here – it’s gold dust to find a high chair in Provence and forget a changing table – only place that is flawlessly kid friendly is McD’s!

  4. ExpatDoctorMom

    Hi Mip! Thanks for highlighting the differences.

    In Qatar, when we first arrived our son was 13 mos old blonde haired (full of curls then) and blue eyed. The Nationals would come up to him, pick him up, give him a cuddle and kiss him. We used to laugh and say that in the USA, we would be pressing charges but it was the norm there.

    After awhile, my husband starting cutting off people wanting to take his photo.

    They love children in Qatar and the safety there I will miss. I fear our daughter who is the dare devil and is always running off fearless will run off while we are in the USA this summer, augh!

    It is nice to read about the differences!

    Hopefully BiP will sit in her own chair early as our daughter did (18 mos) even though she couldn’t really eat properly… She just refused sitting in the high chair and or booster!

    1. mummyinprovence Post author

      Hey Rajka! Yes, the middle east and their obsession with blonde babes … good your husband stepped in and said no to the photos – I often wonder where those photos end up!
      The differences are quite fascinating if not a little annoying when you are on the grumpy side … I sometimes want to scream “IS IT THAT HARD TO SMILE AT HER?” They must think I am a loon because I talk to babies and I smile at them – I know how much they need the attention to flourish … I digress!
      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Jessica

    This is such an interesting post! I definitely have witnessed differing cultural perceptions of babies. I think in the United States, there is definitely a greater emphasis on babies as thinking and unique individuals, which is a good thing in many ways. In my husband’s family (they’re from East Africa), babies are treated as kinds of small beings who need very little attention on a individual basis, if that makes sense. Babies are treated, in general, the same for this reason. They are fed, held, doted upon, and put to sleep and that’s about it. There isn’t much emphasis on the individual personalities of these little beings.

    1. mummyinprovence Post author

      Hey Jessica, yes, you are right – it even goes into the school system here which worries me. France seems to be very serious when it comes to education and child rearing where the US seems to be more about encouraging, reassurance etc … I may be wrong. Whilst I dislike the overly enthusiastic group huggingness of the US I do think it’s great for kids – in France babies are treated in a similar way to how you have described in East Africa. They don’t encourage play all that much – in daycare babies under the age of 12m are strapped into bouncers … when I took BiP to get her first pair of shoes at 11m the lady in the shopped said she’d not seen a baby walk as well as BiP before 14-16m for years … I feel it’s probably to do with the culture of keeping babies tied down and not really playing with them .
      Thanks for sharing … it really is interesting how things are done in different countries.

  6. Fadra

    I’ve been to Europe and Asia and seen quite a few differences. I think the biggest thing I noticed in the U.S. and how protective (perhaps overprotective?) we are of our children. Our country has become an expectation of accommodation and you don’t always see that overseas.

    As for the French and your child? Well, I’ve been to France and have to admit they weren’t particularly friendly to ANYONE!!

    1. mummyinprovence Post author

      hahaha! The French do have the reputation of being cold – that is true – some obviously are not but I think it’s a cultural thing! I do, however, miss the openness of NYC when we were there with BiP!


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