Everyone has those little things they were raised with that just “feel normal.” They remain normal until someone go over to their friend’s after school and all of a sudden, they get a massive eye-opener. Apparently, they’re “holding the ketchup weird.” Or they didn’t realize that this household requires everyone to take their shoes off in the hall.
In America, most moms parent in a way that feels normal. Perhaps they follow philosophies that their own mothers used. Perhaps they just follow the country’s medical practices. It’s about to turn a lot more eye-opening, though. Some of the most “regular” things that moms do in the US are either completely unheard of (or very rare) in other parts of the world.
Europeans already find a lot of things about America to be “a bit strange.” All that ice in drinks? Europeans just don’t get it. In the UK, the ER is actually called “A&E”– Accident & Emergency. Booking a hospital appointment also turns interesting outside of America– the month usually goes after the day in international calendars.
We’re not here to look at ketchup bottles or iced beverages, though. Pregnancy and parenting have their own styles around the world, and some of them are literally worlds apart from what goes on in the USA. Here are 21 things that only moms in the US do.
21 USING DISPOSABLE DIAPERS
If you’re expecting your first and happen to be in the US, chances are that you’ve got disposable diapers on the shopping list. If you’re a mom in the US, it’s more than likely that you’ll have gone through thousands. Sadly, in many parts of the world, poverty just doesn’t allow babies to wear diapers at all. The issue is also cultural, with countries like China steering away from disposable diapers.
$550 is the estimated cost of using an average 2,700 disposable diapers in the first year of a child’s life. Asian countries favor teaching newborns to toilet train as early as possible. Cloth diapers are a more popular alternative that you’ll see outside of America.
20 TRICK-OR-TREATING THE WAY YOU KNOW IT
With Halloween just over, US moms are full of stories about their kids going trick-or-treating. That takes a decidedly different turn once you leave the US, though. To put it simply, most people in the US have no idea how huge Halloween is in their country compared to other locations around the world.
In the UK, trick-or-treating picked up about 15 years ago. A few families will do it, but people don’t expect their doorbells to ring. In parts of central Asia, kids can receive money as well as candy during the 9th Islamic month. Hundreds of lanterns, costumes, and buckets of candy? That’s 100% real USA stuff.
19 ELECTRONIC DEVICES DURING MEALS
Screen time is becoming one of the most hotly debated topics by moms. It’s even reached its way into the celebrity world. “They don’t really play with iPads at all,” Kourtney Kardashian said about her kids. “We used to let them use iPads at restaurants,” but Kourt has since tightened the rules.
In Europe, meals remain a very traditional affair. Kids are expected to sit properly at the table, eat the same food as grown-ups, and they certainly aren’t seen playing on smartphones or tablets. The relaxed parenting method in the US can leave international families straight-up confused. Talk about a Modern Family…
18 BABY SHOWERS ARE A “NEW THING” IN THE UK
You’re looking at a woman from the United Kingdom in her 30s who has only been to one baby shower in her life. Baby showers might be commonplace in the US, but the concept of gathering women together and showering an expectant mom is pretty bizarre in other countries.
One Brit told Babble that her friends had passed on a baby shower invite. “Sorry, but I think you are being unreasonable” was one of the comments she received. Baby showers are slowly working their way outside the US. In countries like Russia, though, the concept 100% doesn’t exist. Dear mommies in the USA, consider yourself lucky!
17 RELYING ON NANNIES
Hiring a nanny isn’t something that all moms can afford, but we’ve reached the point where it’s fairly commonplace. 24/7 nannies might be something that only celebs can afford, but many US moms will at some point find themselves paying for childcare.
In many parts of the world, the sheer poverty of the population just won’t allow a nanny to ever be an option. In China, grandparents often take on the childcare role. Even in Spain, where relative wealth might permit it, grandparents play a traditional role in raising the kids. In France, childcare is subsidized by the government– you’ll see less nannies there, too.
16 PAID MATERNITY LEAVE IS 26 WEEKS IN IRELAND
Coming from a Brit (where paid maternity leave goes up to 39 weeks), moms have it really hard in the US. Business Insider reports that no other country on earth is quite so harsh on new mothers– many countries actually offer paid paternity leave, too.
The US is the only country in the world to officially offer zero paid maternity leave. In the UK, it’s 39 weeks. In Japan, it’s 14 weeks. In Australia, it’s 18 weeks.
The figures vary across the world. In Belgium, 15 weeks of paid maternity leave at a rate of 64.1% of the previous salary are offered. Buglaria actually offers 58.6 weeks.
15 THE BIG SNIP
Snipping the baby might not be every mother’s choice, but the practice is hugely common compared to the rest of the world. With more widely available privatized medical insurance in the US and the recommendation from Dr. Benjamin Spock, mass baby boy snip trend began in the 1900s.
Parents outside the US are often surprised to hear that around 90% of baby boys are circumcised. In Canada, that figure is 31.9%. In Asia and Africa, it’s less than 20%.
While some parents around the world opt-in for religious reasons, the majority of parents outside the US just don’t do it. In fact, they’d be shocked to hear that it’s normal in the US.
14 DADS GET 480 DAYS IN SWEDEN
Some people from the US would be surprised to learn just how generous some countries are when it comes to paid paternity leave. The US still offers zero guarantee of it, but over in Europe, things are different. Sweden offers 480 days of leave to new parents (at 80% of their normal pay). Dads here get 90 paid days reserved just for them.
In Finland, dads get 8 weeks’ guaranteed paid paternity leave. Over in Estonia, fathers can choose to take some time off during the final 2 months before the expected delivery date. America might lead with some things, but it has a long way to come…
13 YOGA PANTS AND SWEATS ARE STANDARD MOMMY WEAR
When you’ve got a newborn or a toddler, the last thing you want to do is put on fitted pants, a button-down shirt, and a blazer. Sweats and yoga pants are where it’s at– but not everywhere. One mom told A Cup Of Jo:
“I recently went back to France and was surprised by how well dressed French moms were. Yoga pants are a big no-no. Even a mom of a newborn will be dressed well.”
Fashion is a huge deal over in Europe (and we’re not talking athleisurewear). Mothers would never be seen leaving the house in old sweats. It’s just not done.
12 DINNER BEFORE 6 P.M.
From a person who lives outside the US, this is 100% true. If you grew up in the US, you probably wouldn’t bat an eyelid at the whole family jumping in the car for dinner at 5.45 p.m. Home dinners at 6 p.m., likewise. In fact, the concept of having dinner before 7.30 or 8 p.m. is simply bizarre in European countries like Italy, France, or Germany.
In Spain, meals can often not start until 9 p.m. Families might make it slightly earlier if they’ve got little ones, but you won’t find a restaurant that opens its dinner doors before 8 p.m.
11 ENDLESS WORRIES ABOUT PARENTING METHODS
America might offer the luxury of internet access, freedom of speech, and mostly being able to afford a smartphone, but it also means a whole lot of worry for moms. When a US-born mom spoke to Cup of Jo about parenting in the US versus her India experiences, she said:
“Countless blogs posts, forums, discussions, and debates about breastfeeding vs. formula, co-sleeping vs. leaving the child alone in his room– I could go on and on.”
In other countries, the endless anxiety over the “correct way to parent” just doesn’t exist. In Saudi Arabia, India, Japan, Korea, and Kenya, you parent like your mother did– end of.
10 MILK AND COOKIES
Milk and cookies. Simple as it gets, right? Think again. This commonplace treat just isn’t something that you’ll find in other countries. For starters, people in the USA consume far more milk than their foreign counterparts. As to consuming milk and cookies together, it can be unheard of in some European, African, and Asian countries.
In the UK, cookies are called “biscuits.” People in Britain tend to eat their biscuits with a cup of tea (kids included). If a European child happens to eat a cookie with milk, it is considered a coincidence. It most definitely isn’t a package deal snack.
9 BUYING MILK BY THE GALLON
In case you’ve not figured it out yet, milk in the US is kind of a thing. The average person in America consumes 276 lbs of dairy per year, making them some of the highest milk consumers in the world. Breakfast cereals are a staple in the US, while it isn’t uncommon to straight-up drink milk.
US grocery stores sell milk by the gallon. From a Brit who had a surprise when she first saw a gallon of milk, know that this option isn’t available worldwide. In the UK, milk is sold by the pint, with 4-pint bottles only recently increased to 6-pint options. Many countries barely consume dairy at all.
8 POST-PARTUM HOSPITAL STAYS
US regulations on how long a mom should stay in the hospital after giving birth are loosening, but the norm is still keeping moms in that medical block. Many medical centers still insist on a new mom staying in the hospital for 2-4 days.
Outside the US, this would be considered highly unnecessary. Unless the mother is experiencing post-birth complications (or the baby needs extensive care), the norm outside the US is “go home the day you have the baby.” In France, Belgium, or Switzerland, healthy moms and babies are home the same day. The subject remains controversial among health bodies.
7 THE PUMPKIN PATCH TRADITION
America has some wonderful traditions. The annual pumpkin patch visit just before Halloween is one of them. This family tradition is a wonderful way to get kids of any age to join in the fun, plus it makes the most of those final rays before it’s officially fall. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Alba, and Snooki all take their kids. This year, Kylie Jenner joined in by taking Stormi.
Over in Europe and Asia, this tradition simply doesn’t exist. Romania has its Day of Dracula and Canada does have Jack O’Lanterns, but the family pumpkin patch trip is as classic USA as it gets.
6 BABY WALKERS
Seeing this might feel like the most regular thing in the world for people in the States, but this simple baby purchase is considered very unusual in other parts of the world. In 2004, Canada banned baby walkers following a Consumer Products Safety Commission review that found them to cause more injuries than any other kids’ product.
In Canada, parents can actually be fined simply for having a baby walker in their home.
Over in the US, moms see baby walkers as a helpful way for a baby to find his or her feet. Prepare yourself for some weird reactions if you mention it to foreigners.
5 REAR-FACING CAR SEATS
In 2018, The American Academy of Pediatrics advised that children should ride in rear-facing car seats until they reach the height or size limit for the seat. Updated guidelines will see many babies face the rear until their second birthday. Laws vary between states, but they still don’t mimic how the rest of the world rolls.
In Croatia, kids cannot be in the front seat until they are 12 years old. Booster seats in the back of the car must be used. Likewise, in Morocco, babies sit in the back. US health bodies are following Sweden’s laws, where kids are the least likely to be injured.
4 HUGE WEEKLY GROCERY TRIPS
It’s a sad truth that most of the world can’t guarantee if their next meal will be enough to feed the family. Even in the developed world though, cultural differences mean that the giant Walmart or Kroger shop that moms do in the US just doesn’t happen elsewhere. Families in the US can sometimes live 30-60 minutes on the highway from their nearest grocery store. Shopping for one (or two) weeks makes sense.
In Europe, families mostly shop daily. Fresh breads and produce are a huge deal there– they would hardly ever buy frozen pizzas. Markets are where you’ll see moms doing their shopping.
3 THE C-SECTION TREND
Having a C-Section can be a medical necessity. If it isn’t safe to deliver the baby naturally, then it is absolutely the way to go. The US does, however, lead as the country with the most C-Sections in the world.
The WHO reports that 6.2 million C-Sections performed in 2008 were not medically necessary.
Victoria Beckham is one of the many celebs who opted for this delivery method. While many choose it on medical advice, the culture of “scheduling births” just doesn’t exist outside of America. At 32.8% of all births, the US leads the way with Caesarian Section deliveries.
2 ICE CREAM OUTINGS
With a staggering number of fast-food outlets, we’re looking at a country with 14,146 McDonald’s restaurants, over 24,000 Subways, plus endless Coldstone Creamery and Dairy Queen pit stops. Moms from the States won’t think twice about the sentence: “We’re going for ice cream.”
Going for ice cream may partly have become commonplace in the US due to many states enjoying warm climates, although even in New York and Boston, families do it in the winter. Brits eat ice cream 2 or 3 times in summer. While some cultures don’t eat ice cream at all, many simply see it as something you might find on a menu. Definitely not an outing.
1 LISTENING TO THIS WOMAN MORE THAN THE DOCTOR
Of course, we’re not suggesting that moms actually get 100% of their advice from Kim Kardashian, but you’ve got to admit, she’s a pretty big face. The celebrity parenting influence might be all over US talk shows and social media, but that just isn’t the case outside of America.
In the world’s poorest countries, there often isn’t a doctor around to ask. Women will follow local traditions. In Europe, women strictly follow their doctor’s advice. They certainly don’t watch KUWTK and decide to go gluten-free because a Kardashian is doing it.
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