Steve Biddulph: Raising Babies

Review spoiler

You should read Raising Babies if:

  • Your heart hurts when (thinking of) dropping your child off in daycare.
  • Your inner voice is telling you that your child shouldn’t be spending most of its time without you
  • You’re wondering whether or not daycare will harm your child
  • You want evidence based answers to the questions, your heart is asking you

You shouldn’t read Raising Babies if:

  • You want to feel good about dropping your child off in daycare.

Sure you want to read on? Brace yourself – here goes the review…

The British psychologist Steve Biddulph wrote Raising Babies in 2006. The book has two different subtitles; the careful one “Why your love is best” and the one, where there’s no way back, “Should under 3s go to nursery?”.

I don’t know why the book hasn’t been given much attention by critics of the separation culture in Western societies (or at least not here in Denmark, where I’m sitting).

The term #separationculture #cultureofseparation or in Danish #adskillelseskultur was phramed by Danish  social activist Nynne Gjerlang. Read more about the concept "separation culture" here). 

If your gut is telling you that maybe you shouldn’t separate yourself from your child – and vice versa – this book will confirm your gut feeling with evidence based knowledge, research and many years of experience from Biddulph.

But as always, I want to add: You don’t NEED research to tell you how to live your life. Listen to your heart. Your gut. Your intuition. It’s your compass in life.

But back to the book.. It describes very well the existential crisis modern women find themselves in, when their modern idea of independence and equality between sexes suddenly conflict with the intuition turned on like a switch, when they become mothers. What once seemed so important now seems if not trivial – then at least secondary.

And just like modern women, Biddulph describes how he himself started out as a believer in nurseries and daycare institutions, but soon changed his mind, when he started to examine them critically:

I had started out as a believer in the ideal of quality nursery care, and the role it played in allowing women to broaden their lives (Like everyone else, I didn’t question the role of men). But the more I saw the reality of daycare centres and nurseries, and the more conversations I had with parents and carers, the clearer it became to me that the reality never matched the fantasy

Biddulph, Raising Babies, 2006

What children under three need and want – above everything – is “the individual care of their own special person. Even the best-run nurseries cannot offer this“, as Biddulph puts it (read more on how professional care can’t replace unconditional love here). And I obviously couldn’t agree more. When children spend most of their waken hours away from those who love them unconditionally, the most important attribute that makes us human – the ability to love and care for each other – is not being passed on as it should. The most important lesson to learn in life of a human being is how to love – and the basis of this ability is established in the first three years of a childs’ life. Obviously, this isn’t just my opinion, I’m passing on – the book backs up these “claims” with research results.

So few people are speaking on behalf of the children themselves

This book is a very brave one. Biddulph even addresses the anxiety he had before releasing it – he speaks about childism in mainstream media, in nurseries and even in psyhologists-circles, where he had been warned not to publish the book, because the message is frowned upon. This just goes to show how deep the separation culture runs.

The question, nobody dares to ask – least of all answer – is also asked in this book:

Once and for all, these findings (research, red.) can clear up the question that parents most want answers to: ‘Will nursery care harm my child?’ The answer, as you might suspect, is ‘yes’, often it will

Biddulph, Raising Babies, 2006

Mind you, this is a psychologist with thirty years of experience, who supports every claim in this book with research. But most importantly, it is a professional scientist, who tells you:

Your heart is right – listen to your heart.

I highly recommend this book to every parent out there.