Let me tell you about the top things that shocked me about having and bringing up the baby in France.
I want to look at this that way… I feel very lucky to be an expat or shall I rather say a foreigner living in France, having a baby in France and bringing up a baby here. We are exposed to 2 even 3 cultures, and we have the opportunity to take the best from all of them.
Obviously, there are many challenging and shocking situations for me as a Polish expat living in France and having a baby here…full of frustrations, misunderstanding…’not understandings’, finally good learnings and developments… but what was the first? The fact that I needed to learn very quickly the difference between Poland and France in having and bringing up the baby and it shocked me….
That is why I put together my observations and created the list of top things that shocked me about having a baby in France. Let me share with you now… Do you know other shocking situations when having and bringing up the baby in France?
- The length of maternity leave. Only 6 months and 3 months you have to have before giving birth so it gives you only 3 months with your baby before you have to come back to work. Of course, you can take so-called ‘congé parental’ but this is usually not paid or paid a little absence from work.
- Milk at room temperature. I am not sure if this is a new trend but in Poland, we tend to heat up the milk for a baby.
- Attitude to breastfeeding. It is OK and supernormal to feed your baby with a bottle. No pressure on women breastfeeding their babies. What’s a relief!
- Sleeping bags and totally empty beds. French are super protective and extremely scared of babies’ deaths during sleeping. I think this trend started to be adapted in other countries where we started to choose to sleep bags as well. However, my Polish mentality was missing a blanket and small duvet for my baby.
- 3 months old as a starting age when babies are left with a nanny or in crèche. As a consequence of short maternity leave, parents leave their tiny babies for the whole day with others. It’s normal for the French, it’s extremely heartbreaking for me.
- Becoming a parent, becoming an employer. And yes, since you need a nanny, you have to officially hire her, and provide her with a proper payslip, pay taxes, arrange holidays and a real work contract. Thankfully the French government (in a form of CAF and pajemploi) and new applications like Top-Assmat will help you.
- Having a baby and keeping your busy social life. In France, it’s ok to hire an evening nanny to take care of your babies and go out. It’s ok to take your kids for an evening party with friends. It’s normal to take little babies to museums, galleries, and cultural events. I am not judging what’s good and bad. I was brought up in a different spirit however I am enjoying feeling free and giving my baby space. I will still keep some Polish ways of being with a baby. A nice compromise.
- Baby eating routines in France. Big lunch at midi and warm vegetables with some pasta, rice, or couscous before sleeping for babies over 6 months. I was shocked when the pediatr told me I should be giving vegetables in the evenings. In Poland, we tend to keep babies on milk only in the evenings and once it has teeth they can start eating sandwiches but never a warm dinner. But this explains to me the French particular way of eating.
I hope you enjoyed reading my list of top things that shocked me about having a baby in France ad bringing up a baby in France…what shocked you the most or at least?