I would be a bad mum... if I still lived in Germany! Or: differences in traditions and guidelines

(438 Posts)
dodi1978 Tue 25-Mar-14 21:37:17

I am German, but have lived in the UK for 10 years. In fact, I had somehow acquired a husband, a house and a baby at pretty much exactly 10 years after arrived on an Easyjet flight with one suitcase smile. Said baby is now almost eight months old.

But that's not relevant here...

What is relevant is the fact that I am a terrible mum! Yes I am! At least if I am judge myself against German guidelines on weaning.

In the UK, the three rules seem to be:
1. Start around six months of age.
2. Avoid salt and sugar.
3. Don't give honey and nuts (ok, and a couple of other things, but the list is small).

And then, there is of course BLW vs. purees etc.

In Germany, BLW seems to be something that nobody has ever heard of. Even friends who have had babies recently seem to be utterly puzzled when I mentioned that some parents don’t give their baby any purees at all.

I’m doing a mixture of purees and finger food, having the little one eat what we eat whenever possible. But according to German guidance, I seem to have got it wrong, because, apparently, babies should have
-A potato – vegetable – meat – puree at lunchtime
-A milk – cereal – broth in the evening
-And a cereal – fruit broth in the morning

Ahem, fail!!! My pancakes with blueberry compote in the morning (which we only have occasionally, by the way) just don’t pass muster.

There are all kinds of other rules and guidelines as well, e.g. that that you should add rapeseed oil (no olive oil before one year!) to certain foods and how much and, oh yes, no yogurt before 10 months (fail!) etc. etc.

Sometimes, dear MNers, I am glad I am living in the UK! I don’t do well with rigid rules. Even the Pampers website has completely different guidance on weaning, when you look at the UK and the German version.

But this made me think… if you are from another country, or have raised a child in another country, what differences have you noticed in the guidance given and in the practice around birth, food, sleep, toilet training etc. as compared to the UK?

I am just asking this out of interest! It’d be great to hear your stories!

I don't have much to compare having only had my baby here although I lived in France for a while and the impression I got there was that my breast feeding til 2 and cosleeping til 3 may have had me marked out as a bit bizarre! But I'm interested in the German approach to weaning- what's the issue with olive oil and yoghurt??! Petit filous made up over 50% of my child's diet initially!

GreatUncleEddie Tue 25-Mar-14 21:44:57

That's a really interesting question. I would love to now what eastern cultures do differently too.

dodi1978 Tue 25-Mar-14 21:57:50

Yes, I also hope that people with insights into Asian cultures will come forward smile ! But am interested in any country!

MotherOfInsomniacToddlers Tue 25-Mar-14 22:03:51

In the uk hardly anyone use cloth nappies but in several other countries it's much more normal. I feel like a weird hippy mum here but one of my polish friends mums was shocked that her daughter used disposables and that she was "throwing her money away and being so wasteful"

rosiedays Tue 25-Mar-14 22:07:18

I lived a long time in Egypt (and acquired a husband) my dmil is horrified by most of what I do grin
I didn't bind my babies legs ( or my belly) when she was born.
I didn't give her honey when she had a bit of a cold at 3 months (or any other time for anything else)
I don't sleep her on her frontt.
Oh and i didn't shave her head at 7 days old so now she will have 'bad hair'
I haven't pierced her ears, how on earth will people know she's a girl hmm
And now we're weaning. .... a whole new set of things for me to do oddly smile

Disclaimer. .. my mil is lovely.

EmBeEmBe Wed 26-Mar-14 01:51:05

I live in Vietnam. I am a bad mother here because:
I took my children out of the house before they were 1 month old, I don't wrap them in umpteen blankets as soon as the temperature drops below 25 degrees, I let them suck their thumbs, I fed them real food before they were 2... And those are just the urban middle-class things I do wrong. If I lived in a village somewhere in the mountains I'd probably be chased out of town for my bad mothering!
It's fascinating bringing up children in a different culture.

EmBeEmBe Wed 26-Mar-14 02:06:15

I've thought of a few more...
I'm a weird mother because I was delighted when my children learnt to crawl (Vietnamese children don't crawl, which is understandable when you think about the floors much of the population walk on) I don't chase them around trying to feed them yogurt all day long, I don't top up breastfeeding with formula even though I can easily afford it, I didn't toilet train as soon as children could walk, I don't transport my entire family around on one motor bike - with no helmets for the children in case it damages their brain development (although I've noticed this attitude is changing).
Everyone here loves children and I think nothing of people coming up to my children and saying hello, stroking their hair etc. Although I do draw the line at kissing! And it's hard to fend off people offering my children food without seeming rude and ungracious.

snowqu33n Wed 26-Mar-14 02:06:43

Japan - I have already been to the first baby-food class at the health centre here and DS is 3 months. First foods start at 5 or 6 months with hand mushed rice and water (using a kind of ceramic and wood pestle and mortar). Vegetable broth is also acceptable if pureed. Other foods are gradually introduced. The rules for consistency of foods are very strict. I was given both pictures and samples to look at of what levels of runny were acceptable for each month of age.

I may ignore all this and just give a piece of banana or avocado to DS when he is 6 months.

MiscellaneousAssortment Wed 26-Mar-14 02:44:33

I didn't let newborn ds fall asleep on the sofa or floor with a pile of cushions, cousins and brothers and miscellsneous males.

I didn't keep him indoors for the first three months.

I didn't bottle feed or jar purees when weaning.

I wasn't ok with baby dangled in one hand and cigarette in the other

I weirdly thought a car seat was safer than his mothers arms (in a moving vehicle) - much shock there!

But I did spoil him rotten and make him the centre of my world so got lots if browny points for that smile original attachment parenting ethos

(An Arabic culture)

Sunnysummer Wed 26-Mar-14 03:39:30

Also for Japan - as my relatives constantly remind me, there is a saying 'Japanese mothers don't let their cry'. Easier said than done with colic! confused

Otherwise it's actually fairly attachment-y... Cosleeping is the norm, night weaning and sleep training unheard of, sling wearing incredibly popular even with large toddlers and breastfeeding is usual - although it is still not that common to do it in public, so most department stores etc will have baby rooms, and most mothers will use some formula for when out and about. This is probably where I've had the most disapproval from family, I've felt like a lactivist every time I've discreetly fed in a corner of some Starbucks in Tokyo (you can still smoke in most cafes, which does make feeding even more awkward!)

There is a very big focus on the mother-child bond which is fab in many ways, but does have downsides in that fathers are often excluded or less involved (it's quite common to have mum and kids in one room, dad in another), and of course with all these expectations, combining work with young DCs is much rarer, and frowned on by most of my older family.

Sunnysummer Wed 26-Mar-14 03:40:25

*oops - 'Japanese mothers don't let their babies cry', that is!

there is a good book about this but I can't remember what it is called and it is in the babies' room. I'm particularly interested in the European differences.

snowqu33n Wed 26-Mar-14 06:45:18

YY sunnysummer but there seems to be a lot of pressure to 'top up' breastfeeding with formula.
I am also shocked how many people don't use a car seat for their babies. And at people tapping even very young kids on the head for discipline.
People round here bundle their babies up much more warmly than I do. Indoors I will have DS in a vest and an all-in-one and the other babies will have 4 layers on. I sometimes put on a snowsuit for a walk outside but not for a trip in the car to the supermarket...

yegodsandlittlefishes Wed 26-Mar-14 06:46:43

This is all fascinating. smile

Marking my place as I'm really curious now.

Babieseverywhere Wed 26-Mar-14 06:58:12

Babies Dvd

OP, You would love this DVD called Babies. Four fascinating cultures and the babies are so cute. smile

bigkidsdidit Wed 26-Mar-14 07:08:12

That explains it - when I lived in an area with a large arabic population I used to notice all the mothers holding the babies in their arms in the front seat of the car. I didn't have dc or know anything then so I didn't know if it was je done thing or not, but I've often thought about it since!

meditrina Wed 26-Mar-14 07:12:11

I'd be a bad parent now if I simply did what the NHS recommended when I had my first here in the 1990s.

There's a book by Christina Hardyment which examines childrearing practice over time. Fascinating.

homeanddry Wed 26-Mar-14 07:41:39

My relatively young but jaw droppingly old fashioned French ex MIL considered me maybe not a bad mother but certainly a weird one for:

- breastfeeding, and keeping it up for years

- not giving my children bottles ever (nothing against them, but DD1 refused them and I didn't bother after that)

- not strong-arm potty training at 12 months

- not smacking

- not wrestling my newborns into a tight acrylic knit wrap cardi, between vest and sleepsuit. Or overdressing them to the point of red-faced, sweaty suffocation at all.

She represents the old French working class norm, which is changing now, but ours were her first grandchildren and I must have been a big shock and disappointment to her for doing things my (baffling, foreign) way.

But I did adopt the general French approach to meals/food and bedtimes, because they made sense to me.

rosiedays Wed 26-Mar-14 07:59:06

Oh i forgot the crazy notion of restraining a baby in the car. How cruel we are.
And how silly i was not to take the 'free' c section.
I have had lots of lovely compliments on the 'quality of my milk' from various (random) family members and our birth story is often discussed at family gatherings.

riksti Wed 26-Mar-14 08:12:29

I'm Estonian but had my child here in the UK. The most noticeable differences were:
- using baby wipes. Use of water and cotton wool is a lot more common in Estonia
- breast feeding in public. It's a lot less common there although most mothers breast feed
- not putting my baby to sleep outside. This seems to be a rule in Estonia that daytime naps are outside, whether you live in a flat or house.
- BLW. I was a freak for doing that although some of my friends seem to have adopted it for their second babies.
- not dressing a baby in a vest, sleep suit and a hat when it's 25 degrees inside the house (not exaggerating)
- going back to work after nine months. Ok, they get 18 months fully paid maternity leave and I just got UK's SMP but the passive-aggressive comments I noticed on the topic were quite interesting.

Coveredinweetabix Wed 26-Mar-14 08:32:37

Around the same time I had DC1, a Polish friend & a Spanish friend had their first DC. I found the contrasts in the official guidelines really interesting and it made me more relaxed as I realiaed that there wasn't a "right" way of doing something.
Things I remember:
- Polish friend's son wearing tights designed for boys, something which embarrassed her husband but seemed hugely practical and I've noticed you can now get them in the UK;
- very different weaning rules in Poland. Some things we are supposed to give are on their banned list & vice versa;
- Spanish friend shaving her DC's head so the hair would grow properly;
- Spanish friend coming under huge pressure to get her daughter's ears pierced;
- Spanish friend's daughter wearing a lot of clothes which buttoned down the back & looked really uncomfortable;
- both of them being bundled up in layers & layers of clothes & wearing a knitted bonnet at sll times, including inside centrally heated houses.

YouForgotToCallMePeppa Wed 26-Mar-14 08:32:54

I had my second child in Germany.
I noticed I wrapped my children up far less - everyone seemed to put their baby in what I think is a jaw dropping number of layers - tights, trousers, and knitted woolen socks together, even inside the house.
And young children always wear hats, even in mild weather they have T-shirt material beany hats.
I was told off multiple times by complete strangers for my children's bare heads.
I was also shock at the idea of paracetomol for babies being in the form of suppositories, all the other mums were equally horrified at me spooning sugary calpol (obtained from the UK) into my baby's mouth.

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 26-Mar-14 08:44:01

Dd was born, in the south of Italy, when temperatures outside were approx. 30 degrees, and inside the hospital approx. the heat at the centre of the earth's core.

And how they told me off for not bringing woolly tights.

Breastfeeding is the absolute done thing but on the day the child reaches 6 mths, it goes bad. Like it's all stored there in one's baps, and immediately turns sour as the clock strikes midnight.

Colostrum- bit humphy about that, sends babies yellow you see.

When dd was about 10 mths old, a pharmacist friend gingerly stuck her nose out of my door, and said "I think you can start taking her out for 10 minutes every morning now".

Note: take her out in the morning only. Air goes bad in the afternoon. Fact.

Weaning/feeding children in general: Italy truly is the centre of Emperor's New Clothes. They bang on, (and love it when the rest of the world does too) about how wonderful their food is. Children are given pureed slop until they are about 5 generally. (might choke) Dp used to work in hotel kitchens and at lunchtime hoardes of Mamma's would come bursting in insisting they cook their own child's pureed slop.

Dd's first best friend, up to the age of 6, had baby pasta slop at lunchtime and baby pasta slop at dinnertime, with the extra addition at dinnertime of "baby cheese" (ie a cube of dairylea style stuff)

Angels protect babies in cars. I may have said this eleventy billion times on MN.

Everybody has a c section because their doctors tell them to. Their doctors tell them to, because it's easier for the doc to schedule a half hour op on a Monday morning than be present during a labour.

If you work for the state (ie have paid sick leave) then your pregnancy will absolutely be a "pregnancy at risk" and you will leave work the second the line goes blue. You will have no shame in telling everyone this "I'm going off on an at risk pregnancy". You get paid, a supply person who was previously unemployed gets a job for 9mths, what's not to like.

36.6 is a high high high fever and child must be a) rushed to the Emergency room b) have antibiotics administered.

Sweating is deadly. Kills you dead as a dead thing and necessitates the above antibiotics for weeeeeks. Wet hair is equally as deadly. People think I am liar when I say I don't have a hairdryer. Either that or am ghost as am clearly dead.

One new one I learned this week- children need their fingernails cutting every morning.

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