We have a sticky situation with our neighbor.

It’s one of those cultural difference things that you want to navigate carefully, but something has to be done. Her baby (tiny, adorable, love him) has a vitamin D deficiency. It’s easily remedied by getting the little guy some sun exposure (of which there is no shortage), but she doesn’t do it. To be honest, I’m not sure if the correct word usage there is ‘won’t do it’ as in she knows she should, but chooses not to, or if ‘doesn’t do it’ is correct, as in she doesn’t know that she should.

Enter me.

I’ve casually mentioned taking him outside, suggested she sit on the balcony and even pointed out a nice, sunny spot in the common yard that would be very suitable for catching a couple minutes of vitamin D rays.

Nothing. She doesn’t/won’t do it. And his vitamin D deficiency continues, maybe even worsens. I want to think it’s that she doesn’t know any better, but after several of us in the building have kindly said something to her, you have to wonder what the deal is. This is the health and well-being of her child, after all.


Okay, time to come clean. There is no neighbor with a vitamin D-deficient baby. (None that I know of, at least.)

Bébé on board

But this little story explains how some Senegalese see my parenting when I don’t nurse Pape as soon as he cries. In this culture, there is an easy, available, dare I say ‘plentiful’, solution to his fusses, whines, whimpers and cries. So when I don’t respond immediately, I am offered kind suggestions, from friends and strangers, ranging from ‘maybe he’s hungry?’ to ‘you need to nurse him right now’.

I asked my Senegalese friend if it’s ever okay to let a baby cry. She said no, not if the mother is around because she can nurse him. I asked if it was okay for the father to help take care of the baby when he cries. She looked at me and sharply raised one eyebrow, not sure if I was joking or not. Apparently the answer to that one is a big negatory.

And it would explain why our neighbors downstairs had been wondering if Pape’s “daytime nanny” (he doesn’t have one – that would be me) was taking good enough care him because they hear him cry during the day. They mentioned this in a very caring, kind way earlier this week. Part of me wanted to say, “That’s just how we do it where I come from,” but a bigger part of me was touched that they were concerned about Pape.

So what I’ve learned is that a good mom nurses at every peep and dads are not expected to help. Got it. Piece of parenting cake, y’all. 🙂