We’ve mentioned before that the Dutch are a generally happy bunch. Apparently the weather, the directness of their compatriots, and even the food – doesn’t get them down! Dutch women and Dutch children consistently rank among the happiest in the world (and we suspect their fellas do too).
This week some brainy scientists published the results of their new brainy research and it turns out that Dutch babies laugh, smile and like to cuddle more than their American counterparts. As you can imagine, the American press was in overdrive, “how could this possibly be?!”, “Why were Dutch babies so happy?!” and “who the heck are the Dutch anyways?!” 😉
On top of their cuddliness and content nature, Dutch babies “demonstrated greater expressions of happiness” and were in fact, “easier to calm or soothe when upset”.
Having experience my own “Dutch birth” and raising a child in the lowlands, there are marked differences in how the Dutch have and rear their babies. Many of our appointments at the Consulatatiebureau (aka: regular baby development appointments) have emphasized the Dutch people’s age-old parenting beliefs of the “3 Rs”: Rust, Reinheid en Regelmaat (which roughly translate to: rest, cleanliness and routine). I’ve found the advice to be both obvious and effective – in an above-all practical Dutch way.
Most interesting in the study was its possible explanation for the differences:
“A cultural emphasis on cognitive stimulation may lead U.S. infants to be more active and aroused than their Dutch counterparts. American infants also demonstrated higher levels of fear, frustration, and sadness.”
Anyone who has spent any time around Dutch parents know that flashcards, helicopter parenting, and the pursuit of stimulation are not high on their list. And so they shouldn’t!
Give those poor American babies a rest! Stop shaking those over-priced “developmental toys” in their chubby little faces. Stop with the Baby Einstein, the baby in-utero CDs and all that other garbage on those ubiquitous “top 50 lists for making your baby ‘that-much-more’ smarter”. I think both the babes – and their parents – will appreciate some much needed down-time!
Rest assured Americans: the worst outcome will be a slighty-more-Dutch-child, whose first word may be “gezellig”!! 😉