Parenting debates most Germans have a strong opinion about

Culture

Traditional or unusual names

Do you want your kid to stand out or be one among many? Picking a baby's name is like deciding on a tattoo - except for someone else. While it's an expression of the parents' identity, the child is the one stuck with a bad idea. In any case, it's still not a good idea to criticize someone else's name choice. Ben and Mia are regular favorites; Marie and Elias topped Germany's name list in 2016.

Culture

Breastfeeding in public

Even though it doesn't work for all moms for a number of reasons, breastfeeding is a widespread practice in Germany. Germans are comfortable with nudity, so breastfeeding in public is generally not a problem. However, the country doesn't have a law explicitly protecting nursing mothers. Shop owners may determine that they don't want to see it in their establishment - and a few controversially do.

Culture

Breastfeeding older babies

This is another topic no one wants to be judged upon. You might even see mothers still breastfeeding their three-year-old child at the playground - but this is rather an exception. Since parental allowance is paid in Germany for 12 months (and up to 14 months when shared between the two parents), many moms try to stop breastfeeding before going back to work - but there's definitely no rule.

Culture

Childcare

Speaking of getting back to work, organizing childcare is another stressful topic for new parents. If many are relieved to find any nearby solution, some German parents see the childcare they choose for their child as a crucial academic decision. Sending them to a Waldorf pre-school, for example, makes it easier to later be admitted to a school based on the same alternative educational philosophy.

Culture

Vaccinations

Some parents openly reject vaccines; they are not obligatory in Germany. OECD data records a 96 percent childhood vaccination rate in the country - but other German studies claim it's lower. Vaccination opponents' beliefs only work as long as enough people follow the planned vaccination program to ensure herd immunity: Berlin faced a measles epidemic in the winter of 2014-2015, with 1,392 cases.

Culture

Crying it out

A universal phenomenon: Babies wake up many times a night and parents are exhausted. Following what's known as the Ferber method in the US, the book "Jedes Kind kann schlafen lernen" (Every child can learn to sleep) is a bestseller in Germany. It recommends letting babies cry alone in bed until they sleep through the night. It's a lifesaver for some; others describe this method as pure torture.

Culture

Attachment parenting

Those who are against the sleep training method are likely influenced by attachment parenting, a philosophy promoted by US pediatrician William Sears. This approach recommends, among others, sleeping near the baby, or co-sleeping - another controversial topic. Germany hosted its first Attachment Parenting Congress in 2014, backed by the Federal Minister of Family Affairs.

Culture

Disposable or cloth diapers - or diaper-free

Diapers are another universal parenting issue. With many easy-to-use models on the market, some parents try out cloth diapers. The extra workload isn't for everyone one though: Many will stick to disposable ones - and they can at least turn to eco-friendly brands. Those practicing the "Windelfrei" (diaper-free) method are still rare, but they automatically win the "most-dedicated parent" contest.

Culture

Homemade baby food or store-bought jars

You'll recognize the parents who care about this dedication contest (and naturally, about their above-average extraordinary child) by the way they lovingly prepare their baby's food. All organic, of course - and the accessories to serve the royal puree are from fair trade designers. They might judge those who just buy jars - but they'll still admit that they're useful when traveling.

Culture

Alternative approaches to education

In the 1960s and 1970s, Germans reflected a lot on education and came up with concepts such as "antiautoritäre Erziehung," or anti-authoritarian education, which aims to promote a child's freedom of thought. The influence of this approach is felt in Germany to this day. Beyond various current popular theories, each parent develops their own style - and no one likes to hear it's wrong.

Culture

TV and electronic devices

There are amazing apps and TV shows developed for toddlers. Many one-year-olds are better than their grandparents at swiping through a smartphone's pictures. Although there is no consensus among German parents concerning digital media use for small children, most of them feel better when they restrict their child's contact with a screen - while secretly enjoying the break those gadgets provide.

Culture

Sugar

Another way some Germans measure how "good" a parent they are is by the number of years their child has never been put in contact with sweets - and that in a country where ice cream is an almost-daily ritual for older children in the summer. Incidentally, the second child usually gets to bite into some of that evil candy earlier in life - by then, parents have lost all their great principles.

Although parents of young children worldwide are all confronted with these topics, here's what you need to know before you start debating them at a German playground.