5 Ways You Can Parent Like a Scandinavian
The Scandinavian style of childrearing is practical, egalitarian and free from outdated myths. In Parenthood the Swedish Way, two leading Swedish medical specialists, Dr Cecilia Chrapkowska and Dr Agnes Wold, guide parents through a maze of information to help them raise healthy, happy families in the twenty-first century. Here are 5 tips they’ve shared to help you parent the Scandi way.
Share parental duties equally
Resentment occurs when one party in a relationship feels that they are not getting their fair share of something — often freedom, time, or money. The emotion of resentment can be a healthy and natural defence mechanism. Resentment should be taken seriously as a warning sign that one person in a relationship may be being exploited. Sharing parenting duties equally, down to the most minute level, will help guard against resentment and allow your child to have an equally strong relationship with both of their parents. When a baby is born, there will always be a certain amount of chaos, so you will need to plan in advance to avoid falling into the 80–20 model or the default model of your society, whether it’s 80–20, 70–30 or 99–1, ‘out of habit’. We suggest you draw up a partnership contract before the baby arrives. It should contain a plan for the split of parental leave and care in the first year. A partnership contract lays the foundation for active and equal involvement by both parents.
Ditch unnecessary products
There are masses of companies that thrive on expectant parents who want to be fully prepared and who don’t know yet how few things a newborn really needs. Don’t be taken in by special offers, and don’t buy anything unless you’re absolutely sure you’ll need it. A newborn needs a few clothes, a lot of nappies, something to be carried around or pushed in, and a car seat (if you have or use a car). If you choose to feed your baby on formula, you will need to spend money on the formula and bottles; if you choose to breastfeed, the mother will eat more, and so groceries will be a little more expensive. A changing table can be handy, but it isn’t an absolute must. A bed sounds important, but in fact homes are full of cots that babies have never slept in, so hold off on buying a cot — there are other alternatives that may be more suitable to start with. In particular, be sceptical about any type of product that is said to monitor or improve your baby’s health and safety – many monitors create more anxiety than peace of mind.
It’s ok to drink alcohol when breastfeeding
It is completely unnecessary for women to pump and discard their milk if they have drunk alcohol. Breast milk will always contain the same concentration of alcohol as the blood. If you weigh 60 kg and quickly drink two glasses of wine, you’ll have around 0.05 per cent alcohol in your blood (50 milligrams per 100 millilitres). Your breast milk will then also contain 0.05 per cent alcohol, which is 40 times less than the alcohol concentration in low-alcohol beer (2.1 per cent). Such a minimal alcohol level is not going to harm your baby. In fact, many natural foods — including yoghurt, fruit, juices, and other products containing alcohol-forming yeasts — have such minimal levels of alcohol.
Always vaccinate your children
Around 97 per cent of Swedish parents choose to vaccinate their children in accordance with the national immunisation program – one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. The effectiveness and safety of public vaccines is constantly monitored, and no vaccine is added to the schedule unless there is a thoroughly satisfactory safety margin. Vaccinations are medical interventions that save many lives every day. By following your national immunisation program, you can provide your child with excellent protection against seriously dangerous diseases. Do it.
Avoid allergy tests
The definition of an allergy is having allergic symptoms to something that is not actually harmful. You may see offers for ‘allergy tests’ at clinics and online. The term ‘allergy tests’ is misleading because these tests can’t reveal whether or not a child is allergic. Instead, they show whether a child has IgE antibodies against various allergens, which is called being ‘sensitised’. The presence of antibodies in a child’s system is not a symptom and, hence, is not evidence of an allergy. It is pointless finding out whether a child has been sensitised to something if they don’t exhibit any symptoms. Sensitisation without symptoms is very common, and should not be treated. There is no research which suggests that a child should avoid a substance to which they have been sensitised.