Growing list of differences between child rearing in Spain and the USA

When I had my baby here, I was completely lost. I didn’t know the system, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, what to do with him… I paid for that the first week of his life. But when I started asking and trying to learn, I encountered myself in a constant question: do I do things the Spanish way, or the American way? Because they are totally different. But, guess what? Kids survive in both. I will try to compile an ever-growing list of differences. If any of you wants to add anything, feel free. I’ll let you try to guess which one I follow in each case. You can comment, and I will edit the answer afterwards. I’ll add one more every time I blog.

1. In Spain you bathe babies every day. No matter what. In the US, at most every two days. Everyday bathing is not considered healthy, actually. (I follow Spain here, mainly because I have a messy kid. Everyday)
2. Breastfeeding is not as encouraged as here. It’s getting better, bust most moms only breastfeed until the fourth month. Breastfeeding a two year old still looks bizarre over there. (US. He’s almost two and I’m still breastfeeding)
3. Everyone tries to hold newborns in Spain. Friends and family visit you in the hospital, and everyone wants to hold the newborn. It’s socially accepted, and moms are usually happy about it. In the US the bond between parents and baby is protected, and everyone else asks for permission to take the baby. Usually they are not passed around until they are a little older. (Half and half. I don’t think newborns like to be taken far from their mamas, but if someone close asks, I’m fine with it)
4. In Spain we don’t do swaddling. It was a totally new concept for me. No receiving blankets, no “bebe burrito”. (Spain. I was never able to learn how to swaddle a baby. And I tried…)
5. You can see plenty of pregnant women smoking is Spain. Sometimes doctors tell them than reducing to five cigarettes a day is better than totally quitting. Less stressful. Hopefully, that’s changing, too. (US. I quit smoking when I found out I was pregnant. It’s not that difficult)
A. , you are right on. I’ll add yours, which were going to be my next three:
6. Spaniards give pureed food to babies until they are 18 months (at least). When they transition to regular food, they are fed, so they don’t get dirty. Strawberries are considered highly allergic, and not recommended until they are two at least. But we give 10 month olds cured ham… (I went with the US here. My baby “feeds” himself, along with the bib, the high-chair, the floor… since he was twelve months. And he is a wonderful eater).
7. Car seats are not optional in Spain either, at least legally, and in the north where I am from everyone abides by the law. But, if you switch off the airbag, they can go in the front seat.
8. Yes, my friend, Spaniards pour litres of cologne and lotion on babies. Watch out… My mom does it when I’m not around. I pretend not to smell it. (I follow US rules here, they don’t need it, and it damages their skin).
9. Spaniards let babies use pacifiers and bottles forever. Actually, cereal is given with formula in a bottle, not with a spoon, like here. Until they are two or three.


  1. here are my guesses 🙂

    1 bath: every other day
    2 breastfeeding: until self weaning
    3 pass the babe around, who cares?!?
    4 swaddle: yes
    5 smoking: bad

    adding a few:
    1) it is OK for the kid to feed themselves finger foods. mess doesn’t matter as much in the USA.
    2) carseats are NOT optional in the USA.
    3) in Spain everyone puts colonia on the baby but in the USA you’re told to avoid any lotions or anything scented until after 12 months.

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