Babies is a documentary that follows fourbabies from different regions of the world. Each baby is from a differentculture, allowing the viewer to compare different customs of each culture andhow they impact development. The film has no narration or talking, allowingviewers to focus on the babies howthey interact with their surroundings. Thebabies are: Ponijao from Namibia, Mari from Japan, Bayar from Mongolia, andHattie from California. They are from very different cultures, which shows howeach culture can impact the child’s development. The film watches as each childgrows up, unaware of the cameras.
It is unscripted, raw footage of each childin their surroundings. It shows the babies develop physically, cognitively, andsocially as they grow from birth to age one. The infancy and toddlerhood periodare “from birth to two years old, and it brings changes in the body and brainthat support the emergence of a wide array of motor, perceptual andintellectual capacities” (Berk & Meyers, 2016, p.
6).The film allows viewers to getgreater insight to the differences in child rearing practices in differentcultures across the globe. Each culture is special and different, providinginsight to the positives and negatives of each way of upbringing. It is assumedthat the Western upbringing is the best, as it has access to Western medicine,but surprisingly that is not the case. Each culture has different methods of upbringingthat reflects its culture.
Food and shelter are resources thatare needed in every human life, and the right to that is protected through theUniversal Declaration of Human Rights. Every baby also needs parental love andsupport, human interaction and care. However, there are some resources thatsome cultures deem invaluable and others find unnecessary. The two culturesrepresent the difference between material and non-material culture.
In Westernculture, for Hattie, toys, educational movies, baby classes, etc. are seen asresources that parents must provide for their children. In Western culture,many people think this is the answer. Hattie went to yoga class, for example,even though many adults don’t even bother with this activity.
In Mongolia,Bayar was not given any plastic toys, movies, or yoga classes. Even though theywere raised in different environments, their development was similar. They allcrawled, began to walk, and talk.
Some were faster than others, but they allwere able to take steps and begin to speak. This showed how environmentalfactors impact a baby and their development rate, but it is not a very bigsignificance. The children are still developing well and growing up.Bianca Mendonça, Barbara Sargent,and Linda Fetters did a study to “investigate whether standardized motordevelopment screening and assessment tools that are used to evaluate motorabilities of children aged 0 to 2 years are valid in cultures other than thosein which the normative sample was established” (Mendonça, 2016). They performedtwenty-three studies representing six motor development screening andassessment tools in 16 cultural contexts met the inclusion criteria: AlbertaInfant Motor Scale (n=7), Ages and Stages Questionnaire, 3rd edition (n=2),Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, 3rd edition (n=8), DenverDevelopmental Screening Test, 2nd edition (n=4), Harris Infant Neuromotor Test(n=1), and Peabody Developmental Motor Scales, 2nd edition (n=1). Thirteenstudies found “significant differences between the cultural context andnormative sample” (Mendonça, 2016).
Two studies established “reliability and/orvalidity of standardized motor development assessments in high-risk infantsfrom different cultural contexts” (Mendonça, 2016). Five studies “establishednew population norms” (Mendonça, 2016). Eight studies described the”cross-cultural adaptation of a standardized motor development assessment”(Mendonça, 2016).
They found “that standardized motor development assessmentshave limited effectiveness in cultures other than that in which the originalsample was established” (Mendonça, 2016). This means that it is difficult toassess how well a baby or toddler is developing between two cultures for theircultural traits, because each culture values different attributes. Bayar andHattie were able to learn and complete the same tasks in the end, but it isdifficult to say which was more effective, as the cultures are so different.The babies’ “informationprocessing, intelligence, reasoning, language development, and memory alsodeveloped throughout the movie” (Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning,2016), which is known as cognitive development.
Each child lives in a differentenvironment and interacts differently as a result of this. Their cultures bothvalue socialization, but Hattie’s culture has more agents of socialization. WhileHattie lives in a big city full of industrialized toys, Bayar had sticks,rocks, animals, and mud. They also formed their language skills throughinteraction with others.
Hattie interacted with her mother a lot, but often Bayarwas lying down by himself. Hattie began talking faster as she had thatinteraction. Bayar did not interact with his mother as much. He sometimes criedwhen he was by himself, but there was no one around to comfort him.
This mayhave caused him to act aggressively. For example, when he petted the cat he wasrough, and even pulled his hair. He was not shown kindness through humaninteraction. His brother also hit him with a cloth, making him to cry. Hisolder brother tormented him, who repeatedly hits him with a scarf. Bayar wails,but at the same time, he waits eagerly for the next whack, proving thatnegative attention is better than none at all. He is often upset and angry.
Hattie is an only child, so she was taken to classes, presumably to interactwith other babies. A study by Chun-Hao Chiu, Chu-SuiLin, Gerald Mahoney, Shu-Fen Cheng, and Shu-Hui Chang found that “therelationship between mothers’ responsive style of interaction and children’srate of development was mediated by the simultaneous relationship betweenmothers’ responsiveness and children’s social engagement, or pivotal behavior”(Chun-Hao, et al., 2017). They wanted to determine “whether children’s pivotalbehavior might also mediate the relationship between responsiveness and childdevelopment in a sample of 165 typically developing toddlers and their parents”(Chun-Hao, et al., 2017). They observed the parents and their children anddiscovered that “parental responsiveness was correlated with children’s pivotalbehavior, and that both of these variables were correlated with children’ssymbolic behavior” (Chun-Hao, et al., 2017). This means that Hattie is morelikely to show positive developmental results, as her parents provide her withmore interaction.
Bayar is provided with less interaction, so he is less likelyto develop as quickly. This is important to their development because Hattiehas a higher chance at succeeding. Hattie is not provided with any materialitems that are helping her, and it can be inferred that her faster developmentis related to her interaction with her parents, not Western cultural activitiessuch as yoga.
This puts Bayar at a disadvantage. This relates to the study doneby Bianca Mendonça, Barbara Sargent, and Linda Fetters, as it isn’t about thecultural traditions. What’s being measured is the parental interaction withtheir children. Although it is the cultural roles that make Bayar’s mother dohousehold chores, she could integrate Bayar into her daily routine.Their culture was very evidentthrough their interaction with family. Hattie’s parents both work, but they are”solidly focused on co-parenting” (Focus Features, 2010). They want Hattie to”trust them equally,” (Focus Features, 2010) so they are both with her as muchas they can be. Her father said, “there’s not one parent that’s in charge andhas all the answers” (Focus Features, 2010).
They represent a culture where themother and father go out and have jobs, the more modern Western way of life.Bayar’s family has contrasting philosophies, and execute them quitedifferently. They believe that instead of co-parenting and working together,their “responsibility is fifty-fifty raising childs” (Focus Features, 2010).They use the tactic of dividing the labour, instead of doing it together asHattie’s family does. Bayar’s mother “takes care of things mainly in thehousehold; that’s why there were more images of they i.
e., she and Bayarbeing together” (Focus Features, 2010). This is more of the traditional maleand female roles than the ones presented in Western society. His mother”stays more inside and his father stays outside” (Focus Features, 2010).This represents the male and female roles in their culture, and explains whyBayar is often seen alone. While he is outside, his mother is working inside,and his father is out “taking care of the other bigger part of theirhousehold business” (Focus Features, 2010).
This is reflected throughMongolia’s marriage laws, and how Mongols typically married young. Girls whenthey were 13 or 14 and boys a few years later, and marriages have traditionallybeen arranged. n Mongolia, “dictationsof the nomadic state were intended to anchor social reforms for social benefitdepreciated by new environment” (Dugarova, 2016). This leads to marriage andraising children to be more of an agreement and partnership than a labour oflove. This means that they split the tasks, instead of working on them togetherlike they do in America. This reflects the different social structures and howthe family members interact with one another.
This explains the differentupbringing presented by Bayar and Hattie’s families. Another cultural difference istheir subsistence patterns. Mongolia is known for their nomadic traditions,with more hunter-gatherer societies. Nomads move with the seasons, raising andbreeding goat, sheep, cattle (including yaks), camel and horse, migrating fromplace to place following the most favorable pastures and campsites. The UnitedStates has industrial societies, and the population is not part of the huntingprocess. The only gathering they have to do is going to the grocery store. Thispresents a very different society to Bayar and Hattie, and it shows howdeveloped each of their civilizations are. The two cultures are very differentand allow Bayar and Hattie to lead very different lives.
They have differentvalues and traditions, as well as different tactics for upbringing a child. Noone culture does it “better”, but instead both cultures value different things.The film allows viewers to observe the babies in their natural environments andgrow up, and provides unscripted access to their culture. The viewer cancompare different customs of each culture and how they impact a child’sdevelopment. Mongolian and American cultures are very different, and still thechildren are able to develop with similar skills and at similar rates. Theircultures are able to preserve tradition and raise children as they see fit.
Itis important that we have these differences and that children are allowed to bedifferent.