The movie, "Babies" follows four babies through birth through about a year old in San Francisco, Mongolia, Tokyo, and Namibia.
After all the hype, I was expecting to see a little more and be a little more "wowed" by it. I liked how each age was shown from one culture to another. The similarities in babies were clearly shown.
When they juxtaposed the music and yoga classes the city babies went to with the animals and siblings the other babies spent their time with, I felt a little embarrassed to be on the class side of parenting. Seeing it almost was like being given permission to skip some stuff like classes-- and even books. It looked absurd to me to see the San Francisco baby being read to when she was obviously only interested in mouthing the book. I nearly laughed out loud when the mother was shown reading a parenting book.
Speaking of parenting books, I suppose this comes back to the points from Meredith Small's books on cross-cultural parenting:
I really enjoyed these books, especially, "Our Babies, Ourselves." It basically showed that the traits that a culture values are given to the babies and it gave examples of how this is done. For example, we value independence, so we put our babies in their own beds early.
In the movie, I really wanted to be the Namibian baby. He had freedom of movement of his body and free access to mother's time and milk and did not have to wear a lot of clothing for warmth and modesty, and was allowed to live diaper-free. I enjoyed watching the more traditional way of parenting. There were a lot more flies in their life than I had imagined, and the adult males were not shown.
The Mongolian surprise for me was that it was a medicalized birth. They also had a traveling nurse visit later and weigh the baby. It seemed like that mother had a lot of other tasks and the baby was often left at the mercy of his older brother. In one scene, he was tethered to the bed and was playing with a roll of toilet paper. I think that Mongolia here was shown as a semi-modernized society, since they had television and cars, but lived in close proximity to the animals and there weren't any roads. In another scene, everyone in the theater gasped as his head was narrowly missed by an animal hoof.
The Tokyo and San Francisco babies seemed similar, with strollers and baby carriers, and groups of moms and classes and playgrounds. The dads were present in these cities, but the children were the only child (or oldest) in each family.
I left there thinking how we would be fine with more time outside and fewer toys. My husband's impression of the movie was that babies all hit the same milestones and grow up similarly all over.
What did you think of it?