Infants are cared for at home, primarily by the mother. They usually are swaddled tightly in blankets when they are very small.
As toddlers, they are dressed in multiple layers of clothing to protect them against the cold. Infants stay close to their caretakers, usually sleeping with their parents or in the same room. They often are breast fed, although bottle feeding is not uncommon. Women do not breast feed in any public settings. Infants and toddlers are supervised very closely and are not encouraged to explore or move about on their own. Mothers or other adult caretakers feed children, dress them, and perform routine physical care well into the young childhood years.
Child Rearing and Education
Family members are the preferred caretakers for children. Young children are placed in day care when they are not taken care of by their parents or grandparents. Kindergartens are provided free by the government and accept children from the ages of one to six years. Children begin their formal public education at age seven. There are now private kindergartens, mostly run by the Catholic Church. Croats do not use nannies or unrelated babysitters. Children are verbally corrected for misbehavior. Spanking is not common now, especially among urban professional people. Good children obey their parents and other adults, show respect for elders and property, play quietly, eat what adults prepare for them, and go to sleep at a regular bedtime. Children are less likely to act out physically than verbally. They do not bring other children home to play because homes are small and for the family and adult guests. Parents take responsibility for the behavior of children. Most adults see the personality or behavioral traits of an older relative in a child.
People value higher education, although families that have been working class through the generations tend to expect their children to stay in that class. The University of Zagreb is the largest of the five universities. There are fifty one schools and colleges (faculties) associated with the universities. Zagreb has a central National and University Library, which all citizens may use. Individuals who do not attend university usually attend a secondary school to prepare for work. Secondary curricula include gymnasium (college preparatory general education), technical education (mechanical training), and specialized education (bookkeeping or office skills).