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

(444 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!

textfan Mon 23-Mar-15 07:32:41

I have absolutely loved reading this thread and roared at points. My parents moved to England (just from Scotland) and even there experienced huge differences (this would've been 70's).

I was fed what my parents ate from around 4 months old, albeit mushed up, English mums were using jars and baby rice (which my mum hadn't heard of)

home made soup was frowned upon.

I wasn't wrapped up warmly enough in the winter (my mum felt the weather to be mildly autumnal compared to a 'proper' snowy winter in Scotland).

Myself and then dB were put out in pram in garden to nap (too cold)

She was criticised for breastfeeding dB hmm

She cooked every day from fresh a proper evening meal, meat and 2 veg plus bread and butter plus pudding (she was confused at the other mums only serving beans on toast or sandwiches for the main meal of the day for the kids but then cooking for the adults)

She was and still is convinced going out with wet hair causes pneumonia!

The best remedy for teething is whisky!

I've lived in a few European countries plus a friend now lives in Italy (but her kids are teens) but I had dd in Germany.

Pregnancy was...interesting. I'd had 2 mc before inc one in Germany. Did my own research admittedly so in addition to no alcohol, soft cheeses or runny eggs or Mayo I also went caffeine and as far as possible additive free.

We holidayed in Germany for a weekend and the things I was avoiding caused many confused looks on the faces of waiters!! Especially no Mayo (ime they put Mayo on just about every savoury dish!)

I did this before actually falling pregnant as a cautionary thing as you don't know you're pregnant straight away. No alcohol was fine never been a big drinker but I got bad withdrawal symptoms from stopping drinking 6-8 cups of strong German coffee daily to none at all (oops!)

To be fair the ante natal care was amazing. They kept a very close eye on me. But this might have been because of my history. What I think should happen everywhere is pregnant mums carrying their info (mutterpass). I fainted several times and this meant that especially before I was showing, people knew straight away I was pregnant, blood type etc.

I also visited friends living in France when I was about 7 months pregnant. My wedding ring wasn't fitting so I'd stopped wearing it but ended up wearing it on a chain as my friend was getting awkward comments about my being an 'unmarried mum'. This was only 15 years ago, but rural France. I also got strange looks from the waiters there re what I wasn't eating but especially not drinking wine.

Had dd in German hospital, induced but eventually emergency c-section. Apparently the healthcare staff had not heard of gas & air or SIDS. Baby was poorly so in scbu at first. Hospital boiling but baby still wrapped in several blankets and covered in an overstuffed quilt as I'd not dressed her warmly enough (I kept removing blankets etc as she was melting!).

As my milk didn't come in immediately they bound my breasts and fed me 'milk producing' tea (as pp have said Germans seem to have a tea for whatever ails you) 3 times a day.

No rooming in I found strange

Also no curtain round bed so whole room privy to any examinations blush

Given a warm bean bag thing to hold against tummy for c section pain but also pain meds and the bag thing did help.

They were surprised dh visited daily and that we'd visit dd ' she's being perfectly well taken care of'

After going home yes loads of comments of not wrapping her up warm enough.

But breastfeeding was encouraged and very much the norm in public.

We moved to England before she was 6 months old.

Again I noticed more the difference between my parents advice and my English in laws. (Now ex)

According to in laws-

Shouldn't breastfeed after 12 weeks and never in front of anyone but dh

Should be 'topping up' with ff and water in summer

'Cooled boiled water' cured everything baby had

Never mind controlled crying, baby should instantly fit in with your routine inc not 'getting used to getting picked up every time she cries'.

Weaning with baby rice in bottle from 2 months

Also being from a Celtic family kids are expected to

entertain/amuse themselves.

Be outdoors as much as possible.

Not be fussy eaters

Know their alphabet, numbers and can write own name before starting school.

As several pp have said fascinating thread

LittleRobots Mon 17-Nov-14 08:33:42

Chrome - I've heard that its a lot safer for bf mothers as they sleep lighter - but not sure whether it was a credible source or not!

GreatAuntDinah Wed 05-Nov-14 09:07:23

Yeah we're talking actual tubes here too.

CruCru Mon 03-Nov-14 15:45:41

I have snot suckers (UK) but this is an actual tube that I suck.

MehsMum Sun 26-Oct-14 21:59:15

Dinah, glad it's not just me!

GreatAuntDinah Sun 26-Oct-14 13:24:49

e have snot suckers in France. I leave it up to DH, it gives me the boak.

MehsMum Wed 27-Aug-14 19:00:17

Haven't RTWT, but has anyone mentioned that great American baby-care aid, the snot-sucker? It's a little tube with a rubber bulb on one end. Squeeze the bulb, put tube up infant's snotty nose, let go of bulb. Out come the bogeys. Eugh.

The Americans I knew were aghast that we didn't have these back in the UK.

They also had the most wonderful teething gel which numbed the fingertip of the parent applying it, never mind the baby's gum. I think it contained lignocaine. I seem to remember slapping it on mouth ulcers for instant and lasting relief.

mygreeneyedboy Sun 17-Aug-14 12:41:49

Oooooh. Love this thread! Having spent the last 3 months on holiday living with DP's parents in Norway with our DS 7mo I can pick up a few.

- yoghurt : (the packet says " 10 months in Norway, 6mo everywhere else") so DMIL doesn't buy it / I buy it myself.
- BLW : DP and his parents are petrified he'll choke every time I give him something hard. It doesn't help my case that every time he is given a piece of bread he pukes. So DP doesn't like me doing it at all.
- shoes: DS is walking with our help, which is a great pain because in Norway they don't buy shoes until 12mo so all shoes are too big.

The good points are that they are very open about breastfeeding, do it anywhere. They also have the baby in the same room for about a year (he's still with us until we get back to the UK and get a new flat - then he's out!). They also say 6mo for weaning as well.

They also like to let their babies sleep outdoors, we can't do that here as it's a farm and the cats will jump on him, but I do that in the UK - I know from my experience as an au pair in France that this would be frowned upon.

I'm not conceived as a bad parent here though, just relaxed.

chrome100 Fri 18-Jul-14 14:48:43

I was watching a French TV show recently and they had an "expert" come in to talk about co-sleeping. He was very insistent that only breast feeding mothers should do it, because there is something in their hormones that means they don't sleep as deeply and are more in tune with the baby. Surely this is total bollocks?!

turtlegirlwithpanpipenecklace Wed 16-Jul-14 15:54:42

I'm Estonian and have 20month old DS (born here in the UK) and here I often feel like i'm the odd one wrapping him up when all kids around us seem to run around with no hats or coats (that would be early spring, which to me still feels cold).
However having just recently been to Estonia DS was the only kid around NOT wearing a hat - in JUNE!! (Ok, it was not very warm, but still not THAT cold).

An Estonian friend recently had a baby and was advised never to put baby to sleep on her back!! Babies should sleep on their side apparently to avoid choking to death.
In the UK I was advised never to put my son to sleep on his side as to avoid him accidentally rolling on his stomach and choking to death. hmm

Homebird8 Fri 11-Apr-14 04:10:19

I absolutely agree Toadin the hole. I'm much keener on the parent by neglect approach. Was obviously born in the wrong country. grin

homebird8

Another English parent in NZ here. By British standards I am a bad parent because -

- my two DDs don't own winter coats
- I let them go outside wearing next to nothing if they want to, including no shoes
- if they misbehave, I bark at them until they behave
- I don't worry to much about breaking them, or them breaking themselves
- they are welcome to try to solve their own problems before involving me
- I don't think girly pink stuff is an inevitability
- if they don't eat what I give them, they're welcome to go hungry
- I don't expect them to turn into monsters on their 13th birthdays.

It's so much easier being a no nonsense Kiwi parent than a fussy wussy Pommy parent wink

BoffinMum Thu 10-Apr-14 20:22:28

Frankly given the fact that Prince George is surrounded by a massive entourage and cavalcade, they could have him in a vintage 1970s car seat with only one strap and he probably wouldn't come to any harm. They ain't much for them to hit, surely?

BlondePieceOffFluff Thu 10-Apr-14 10:40:41

I was actually thinking; hm, I wonder if prince George has some nice wool clothes or if he only wears cotton grin

Homebird8 Tue 08-Apr-14 12:15:51

Yes, and no. The advice group Plunket (a bit like HVs) recommend rear facing seats until the child is two or until they get too tall (NZ children are a long-leggedy lot). Little George is going into a forward facing seat. Plunket shrugged saying it was the parents' choice. A lot less angst here (but good car safety advice in the face of very weak law on the subject) and all advice can get the 'Yeah, nah' treatment.

HazleNutt Tue 08-Apr-14 09:32:22

I understand the choice of the car seat has raised some eyebrows in NZ as well though?

Homebird8 Mon 07-Apr-14 20:41:57

All the kids here in NZ are still in shorts, no school jumpers until after Easter and shoes, well nobody needs those. Definitely a culture difference from some of the 'wrap them up' nations. Having seen Kate in a coat though, it might set a trend!

HazleNutt Mon 07-Apr-14 12:04:29

You've all seen recent pictures of Prince George visiting Wellington, I'm sure. He is in tiny thin cotton summer shorts. Kate is wearing a coat. It's about 15 degrees there. There would be some serious tutting if they did this in Scandinavia.

Marvintheparanoid Sun 06-Apr-14 20:01:31

Oh god the hissing sound for toilet training Indian babies. I got that advice from numerous aunts. It didn't work for a second with DD (must be the French and Brit sides of her playing it off), but lord it worked like a charm on me. DF finally admitted to having trained me with it.

BoffinMum Sun 06-Apr-14 14:17:08

WidowWadman

IME the following are proven as giving babies of German heritage permanent stomach damage:

Cold ice cream - needs to be mushed up a bit so melting and rather yukky
Cold milk on cereal - needs to be warmed up a bit before being poured in the bowl. Until children are about 15.

Tap water runs the risk of giving small people cholera, so only bottled water is acceptable.

Medicines are evil so you go to the (modern) pharmacy and ask for a special herbal tea to be mixed up for most conditions. They usually taste vile and do absolutely nothing.

Homebird8 Sun 06-Apr-14 04:37:41

After 3 years I am now more in line with the way things are done here in NZ (English by birth and in NZ with DSs 11 and 9) but am still taken aback on occasion.

Children here often don't own a coat, or shoes until they go to school. Even then shoes are only necessary for the walk to school and home again. Jumpers are only for the weak. A school bag balanced on the head is sufficient protection from all weathers.

If there aren't two or three broken bones in a class of children there must be something wrong. Paediatric A&E visits get you a high-five (for parents and children); a plastered limb is a badge of honour; and a long term head injury brings everyone's own accident history out for the edification of the injured child and its parents.

Children can be raised entirely on cocktail sausages and tomato ketchup.

I still struggle with a British concern that children be warm and dry, uninjured and encouraged to eat a little more widely. No real horror from Kiwis about my ways though. They are far too laid back for it to matter.

maui50 Sat 05-Apr-14 21:47:41

Really enjoying this thread, OP.

My Indian family members showed great concern in the early days of DS' life when it was inadvertently revealed to them by DM that the baby wasn't latching on (we eventually succeeded but after a lot of help from our wonderful local NHS breastfeeding support worker). And yet the first thing that the same family members asked me when they met us was 'you are of course topping him up, right?' i.e. with formula. Why on earth would I do that if we're bfing successully now? But it seems to be the norm there - top up if not with formula then with cows' milk, as soon as possible basically. Goes against everything I've been told here about successful bfing.

OP, regarding toilet training, there is a fascinating method used in India, which I had totally forgotten about until I had DS. From a very early age, they condition babies to associate a certain sound (e.g. a hissing sound, as if you were calling a cat!), with weeing. So you hold the baby, sans nappy, over a toilet and make this hissing sound - and lo and behold, baby will wee straight into the bowl. You time it so it's let's say, an hour after a milk feed. Saves nappies for sure (cloth nappies are still the norm there, which I certainly hope continues to be the norm) and seems to work later on when it comes to full-on potty training e.g. for a 2 year old.

Weaning is an interesting one too. Every Indian child I know has food issues - parents running around the house behind them, trying to get them to finish their meal. Highchairs are unheard of - every baby is spoonfed purees and bland foods for what feels like forever. My cousin's DD (see below too) was offered the same (somewhat nutritious) meal over and over again, every time I ever saw them, untit least the age of 3. No wonder she would wander off at mealtimes.

Co-sleeping is also the norm - although you could argue that it's the norm in the UK as well, if the MN sleep forum is anything to go by. I was surprised recently when visiting my cousin, who had just moved from a small apartment to a rather large house, to find his 4 year old still sleeping in the same room as the parents; the child's 'room' was a playroom but not a room where the child would sleep. Attachment parenting or what.

Saying all that, my parents have been very supportive of our parenting decisions e.g. no co-sleeping, move baby into his own room at 3 months, feed on a 3 hour schedule rather than purely on demand, do a dream feed, move to primarily finger foods at 7 mo etc. They view it as progress rather than a kick in the teeth for their culture. But I know plenty here on MN who would call me a bad mum for those decisions too.

WidowWadman Sat 05-Apr-14 21:30:56

I also just remembered that raw green beans will definitely poison and send you to an early grave, as long as your German.

JewelFairies Fri 04-Apr-14 22:55:58

Reading this thread has reminded me of the dangers of wet hair even in summer! According to my mother you should never go outside with wet hair and to be on the safe side, because your scalp is so sensitive after a hair wash, you should really stay indoors for at least 12 hours hmm grin

AuditAngel Fri 04-Apr-14 21:40:21

McGilly, I'd be even worse, DS was only a month past his 4th birthday when he started school. As he has an August birthday I could have kept him out of school until the term after his fifth birthday, but then he would have jumped straight into year 1 missing reception.

It saved me about £12k of child care costs though!

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