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

(437 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.

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 26-Mar-14 08:45:39

Because I was 37 when dd was born no-one actually believed there was any milk in me at all, sour or otherwise and kept saying "but you are giving her bottles as well, aren't you?"

Reader, I had that much milk, it could have been bottled and marketed for yoghurt factories.

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 26-Mar-14 08:47:25

Oh- and most people do carry on breastfeeding for years, but they never ever tell anyone.

Naps are a must until child is about 13 and refuses to have one. Then parents shake their heads sadly and ask why Junior won't go to bed until 3am. Because he's slept for 5 hrs this afternoon you mup.

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 26-Mar-14 08:48:50

One of my favourite WTF moments was in the park with my group of Italian mammy friends after the clocks had changed and there was an hour long (felt like) discussion as to what time one should give the yoghurt now the time was different. At the old 11 o clock, or the new 11 o clock.

riksti Wed 26-Mar-14 08:55:45

Oh yes, napping... It's the same in Estonia. Here it seems most 3-year-olds no longer nap during the day and then go to bed at 7-8 o'clock and sleep for 12 hours. In Estonia 4-year-olds still have a 2-3 hour nap, stay up late and get up early. So the same number of hours of sleep, just differently arranged. Playgrounds are brilliantly empty during the daytime nap, though, so we try to time the playground visits to after lunch whenever we go to Estonia.

PourquoiTuGachesTaVie Wed 26-Mar-14 09:04:48

This is fascinating.

keep them coming, this is fascinating stuffgrin

Novia Wed 26-Mar-14 09:10:55

Annoying - posted but it didn't save. My Spanish family think I'm weird because:

- I didn't pierce DDs ears in the hospital at birth.
- Didn't give her a dummy - they pin theirs to the baby's clothes!
- Have a bedtime (7.30) instead of taking her out to the bar til the early hours of the morning in a pushchair.
- Don't let her have chocolate and biscuits for breakfast. Or let them give her sweets and lollipops (she's 11 months old!)
- Make my own baby food instead of giving jars.
- Give her fresh milk instead of UHT. So difficult to get this in Spain!
- Put her outside for all her naps, rain or shine. They are horrified by this and told me: "you English won't put your dogs outside, but you'll leave your babies there!" grin

They are ace though - totally pro BFing and unfazed by doing it publically. They also love children, even airport security guards will ask for a cuddle! grin

YouForgotToCallMePeppa Wed 26-Mar-14 09:18:25

Oh yes, I forgot the clipping the dummy to clothes. Our health insurance company sent us a congratulations on your new baby pack, which included a set of wooden beads with a clip on to attach a dummy to clothing, and our paediatrician gave us another one.

BikeRunSki Wed 26-Mar-14 09:38:15

In the South of France my sister was considered strange for bf beyond a few days, and certainly for doing do for a year.

notaflamingclue Wed 26-Mar-14 09:40:21

Sangria Keep posting! Laughing my tits off here. grin

cory Wed 26-Mar-14 09:54:59

I am Swedish and I found the UK quite rigid.

Some differences I noted:

In Sweden the weaning guidelines were 4-6 months, rather than absolutely no solids to pass lips of infant before 6 months.

You could take your child into bed with you if he has a nightmare without instantly outing yourself as the adherent of some special parenting school. (My British HV earnestly tried to convince me that I would be making a rod for my own back and never get them out of there- funnily enough, this doesn't seem to be a problem with my 13yo).

Water and cotton or cloth were more common than chemical wipes.

You could give the occasional bottle without compromising your status as a breastfeeder: those babies don't seem aware that this will make them unable to suckle forever after.

You could take them out in any weather, pouring rain or sub-zero temperatures, because apparently they don't melt.

For an older child (say a 6yo) you can leave them alone in the house for 5 minutes without immediate fear of imaginary SW's snatching them away.

Nobody expects you to cook two dinners, one for the children and one for the adults.

As a parent, you get to decide when they are mature enough to start school (at 6 or 7).

It is perfectly reasonable to expect a 10yo to go to the shops for you.

It is also reasonable to expect your child to eat school dinners without a fuss unless they have allergies and/or religious prohibitions.

dodi1978 Wed 26-Mar-14 09:55:55

Everybody - thank you very much! I was hoping for lots of responses over night :--))

Babieseverywhere - thanks for the DVD tip, that might just add to my Amazon bill!

DrankSangriainthePark - I know the "Wet hair makes you ill" think from my upbringing in Germany! My mum still gets kittens when she sees me with wet hair and I am 36!

Youforgottocallmepappa - oh yes - my parents were shocked (and still are I believe) about the lack of layers DS is wearing, especially at night. Babies seem to be wrapped up so much more warmly in Germany.

Yes, it is interesting to see the differences even within Europe!

Generally, I guess most countries will say they are just following WHO guidelines... but they are interpreting them differently!

TheTerribleBaroness Wed 26-Mar-14 09:57:42

I live in the Netherlands and have no funny stories. sad The Dutch attitude to everything is 'pfft, whatever works for you'.

I have noticed though how different countries have different average size babies - not really that odd if you think about it. Everyone thinks that DS is slightly on the small side here, he's Mr Average in the UK, and considered enormous in southern Spain.

The one thing they all agree on is that no child should have quite that much energy...... grin

chattychattyboomba Wed 26-Mar-14 10:01:33

grin This is fascinating. The only differences I have found between here and Australia (Aussie living in London 8 years now) is that a lot of Australians seem to be very open and pro natural/alternative/Eco options. Although it could just be my social circles. I also know of many other families who are probably less this way inclined and more into set routines, packaged food, modern medicine etc. but I definitely felt a slight 'competitive' level of how natural/alternative/hippy one should be.

Everything is organic, even if you can't afford to pay the rent you have to spend $500 a week on organic groceries and products
Your children MUST wear amber teething beads- until they are at least 10 and no longer teething grin
Bedtime? No! They lay where they fall...when they fall.
Children who bite other children should not be reprimanded. It's their way of crying out for love and besides- your were warned he bites!
If you breast feed your 6 year old you are officially the best mum in the world- extra points for tandem feeding to term with 2 children.
Home birth. Unassisted. Also wins a prize especially if you make your own birth smelling tinctures
Shoes? They ruin your children's feet.
SPF sun lotion has all sorts of nasty chemicals and preservatives. Best make your own out of coconut oil and crushed beetles (exaggeration)...
same goes with immunisation
Home schooling. Nay! 'Unschooling'
Co sleeping
Attachment parenting
The dangers of baby training!!
Peaceful parenting
Baby wearing
Baby lead weaning
Homeopathic remedies
The universe will teach your child natural consequences. No need for things like baby gates, electricity plugs, locks on chemical cupboards.

NB although this does sound cynical I see a lot of benefits in many of these practices

Coveredinweetabix Wed 26-Mar-14 10:11:02

My Spanish friend also had her DC in really hard, rigid leather boots (like old fashioned walking boits) shortly after they started crawling as that gave them more support so they'd be walking sooner. Totally different to the cruisers sold in the UK.
The idea of a Gina style routine was just laughed at. Obviously your child doesn't go to bed at 7pm as you won't be heading out for dinner for at least a couple of hours after that.
One thing I'm always amazed at - and relieved by - is how much cheaper children's things, especially clothes, are in the UK.

Cantremembermyid Wed 26-Mar-14 10:18:27

had two kids in italy and one in uk but I am from another europeancountry.

agree about different weaning foods so just made up my personal weaning schedule and became very relaxed about 'forbidden' foods. smile

italians in general are very afraid of getting ill so they have woollen hats on babies in may and are extremely wary about wet hair or sweating. Fever sends them to a&e in a panic. (yes I am also married to one but i did manage to man him up a bit although I still sigh when he needs to blowdry the kids hair until it almost catches firegrin)

now in the uk I think having dinner at 5/6 and have sleeping kids at 7 is unimaginable! Mine go to sleep at 9 to the utter disbelief of my very english neighbours grin

in general though I had more 'problems' with a difference in generation and approach to children then with a difference in cultural approach iyswim.

WidowWadman Wed 26-Mar-14 10:19:51

The German's are very rules-crazed, the endless threads about what the right order of puree is and how many grams of quark are allowed...

It's like their obsession with taking temperatures rectally, as allegedly it's more precise, because, y'know, that 0.1 C really makes the difference in the decision wheter to shove up a paracetamol suppository up their kid's bum (Seriously, what is it with the anal obsession? Seemed completely normal to me when I grew up in Germany, but after 9 years away, I find it really weird).

CoilRegret Wed 26-Mar-14 10:22:24

My SIL is German.

She is constantly amazed by the difference in our upbringing and experiences of labour, birth and children.

She had first out of hours, so had to pay extra for consultant to get out of bed. No baths for first 6 weeks for new mum, and no sex for ages.

I had a hospital birth and was damn near forced to bath 3 times per day, & encouraged to have sex before 6 week check.

Hers are encouraged to walk alone to kindergarten, mine still aren't allowed at 11 without a written note.

When I went to a birth centre for the last 2, hypnobirthed in water with no consultant present, she was shocked,

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 26-Mar-14 10:31:31

Children should never ever no not never be shouted at.

Junior can jump the queue for the slide in the park, tearing the clothes of other Juniors in front of him. This does NOT matter. Even the parent of JuniorVictim will smile and agree that "ma sono bambini"

This then translates into later life queue jumping where, should you ever tell anyone off (in my case about 10 times a day) you are the one who gets tutted at while they all go "fancy that, telling someone off for robbing your place in the queue".

A controversial one, which I haven't experienced myself, but have on authority from expat Mums in Italy I used to hang out with......(though this one has been denied vigorously by Italian MNers in the north) paediatricians encourage mammies to erm, help their boy children to, erm, pleasure themselves, until such time as they learn to do it themselves. and then they wonder why the umbilical is never cut between Italian man and his mammy

barnet Wed 26-Mar-14 10:32:08

Norway: the kids can ski and use a whittling knife before they are potty trained. (Normally get out of nappies at 3.5yrs.
They walk home from school by themselves before they are fluent readers. (walk home from 6-7yrs, which is the 1st year of school)

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 26-Mar-14 10:32:46

When my American friend thought her son had meningitis (he didn't thankfully) she took him to A and E and was really really shouted at for knowing the word. 3rd degree interrogation "who has told you that word?" "how do you know the symptoms?"

Bonsoir Wed 26-Mar-14 10:34:44

dodi1978 - I am English living in France and encountered many conflicting child raising rules when my DD was little (fewer now that she is older - or maybe I have just made my own decisions now!).

FWIW, I think the UK is extremely unreliable when it comes to weaning. Good advice and practices on many things, but not on weaning.

<dons hard hat>

Cantremembermyid Wed 26-Mar-14 10:40:30

no italian doctor ever told me to touch in any way my ds' bits!
however I know that my mil's generation was told to 'open' the penis for cleaning purposes. I am very happy that that's no longer the advise and they now just wait until the foreskin slides open naturally and the child cleans himself. grin

Bonsoir Wed 26-Mar-14 10:41:22

Sangria - you are hilarious! I have a friend here in Paris who is from Southern Italy and I know, from frequenting her for a long, long time, that she doesn't dare admit to a zillion mad mamma practices that the vast majority of Parisian expat mummies would find positively medieval grin

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 26-Mar-14 10:44:16

I think that must be where the origin of it lies, can'tremember. But I was on an expat forum back in the day and all the mums-of-boys had been told to fiddle until ejaculation. shock

I don't want to come across as nasty about my adopted country- I still think, bonkers rules and all, it is still a wonderful place to be bringing up a child otherwise I'd have shipped out and left 'em to it years ago

There are just so many mad rules that there don't seem to be in the UK.

Oh, and their bums are clean enough to eat your dinner off, with all their intimate washes etc, but you sniff their hair and their pits. Minging. Seemingly as long as your arse is antibacterial-wiped every hour, all is well in the world.

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 26-Mar-14 10:44:58

Constipation? Stick a parsley stalk up your arse!

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 26-Mar-14 10:45:23

Melon? Instant death if consumed after sundown.

Cantremembermyid Wed 26-Mar-14 10:47:27

as to childbirth in Italy;

I gave birth in a known maternity centre in the north and yes compared to the UK it was very medicalised apart from the epidural which I didn't get hmm . After birth I was advised to not have a bath until six weeks as you do have an open wound in your uterus (which made sense to me) so also in the UK I only had showers after birth. No sex until ar least the first 6 weeks or later if preferred.
I noticed also that italians are very wary about foods having influence on your milk, I just ate everythinggrin

lovesmycake Wed 26-Mar-14 11:13:41

Norway - I was chastised for not dressing DS in head to toe wool, (Which it turns out is very practical) and for giving up breastfeeding at 6 months.

The kids walk to school from an early age and the nursey is very relaxed quite often turn up when they are outside and get told 'he is around here somewhere'.

Also SAHM is not a thing here everyone 'contributes' to society so no mums and tots classes etc, but the childcare is very reasonable and the working hours are brilliant and very flexible (lots of child days etc)

We love it reminds me of my childhood, more free range then the uk.

LadyInDisguise Wed 26-Mar-14 11:20:35

In France, epidural is the norm for giving birth, birth pols are unheard off.
No such strict routine re bed times. It's OK for a 2yo to still be up at midnight if her parents are having a meal with friends. Also normal if this happens every other weekend.
Children are keeping their nap much later on (4~5yo) but they also go to bed later than here (7.00pm bedtime is unheard off. makes sense as a lot of women do work and won't be back home until 6.30~7.00pm anyway).
Feeding on demand for a bay is again very unusual. babies are fed every 4 hours more or less right from the start. The result is that the baby bottle are actually bigger than here (clearly babies then have bigger feeds less often).
But they will expect to feed their baby until after 2yo so they don't get all dirty. Mines were holding their own spoons by 10months old (and were covered in food from head to toe lol).

chattychattyboomba Wed 26-Mar-14 11:27:55

Ladyindisguise we are in France at the moment holidaying. DD was covered in lunch yesterday (she's almost 3 and refuses to let me help her- it was spaghetti) but the look we got from the waiter was just..appalled. shock hehe

LtEveDallas Wed 26-Mar-14 11:32:25

I gave birth in Germany and was told I couldn't have a bath for 6 weeks after (and the wards didn't have them). I felt such a rebel sliding into the bubbles back home 5 days later!

Something I noticed when we lived in Cyprus was the lack of horror towards a child drinking juice/squash instead of just water. DD was a water refuser, to the point of hospitalisation and the Cypriot Doctor went absolutely bonkers at me. Proper spitting shouting at how stupid I was trying to push the water issue. He wrote a letter to the British pre-school chastising them and calling them neglectful. They actually changed their rules after we left.

LoopyDoopyDoo Wed 26-Mar-14 11:37:22

Here (Malaysia) kids are spoonfed mush while they are babies. Babies are any aged kids up to about 5.

Bed time is between 10 and 12. They couldn't go earlier, because the shopping centres don't close until 10. confused

Children are often beaten sad for doing anything that might lose the parents face. Education is a big one.

LoopyDoopyDoo Wed 26-Mar-14 11:38:45

Oh, also they add sugar or syrup to fruit juice, and everything is sweet.

Fusedog Wed 26-Mar-14 11:39:59

I come from a West Indian background

And I am a bad mum because

I cut my sons hair before he could talk
Don't wrapp up my kids in layers when it's like 30degress outside

maybemyrtle Wed 26-Mar-14 11:58:02

It's been posted already, but this thread is absolutely fascinating smile

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 26-Mar-14 11:58:29

"Bed time is between 10 and 12. They couldn't go earlier, because the shopping centres don't close until 10. "

Yes! Also because it's less hot at night so you go out and socialise then. But lots of them have afternoon naps.

Also very big on being polite to grown-ups. Must call all relatives by the right title. grin

And sad about corporal punishment.

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 26-Mar-14 12:01:36

I'm a bad Chinese (or maybe just my particular background) parent because I let my children argue with me, I let them go in the rain and get wet shock, I let them eat cold things in winter, I let them eat cold things when they are ill (not instant death, like someone posted about consuming melon after sundown, but close), I let them drink cold milk in the morning, I let them drink cold milk in the evening.

Actually just avoid the cold stuff.

tanukiton Wed 26-Mar-14 12:04:24

ha ha I let mine eat ice lollies when sick with sore throats, parent fail in japan.

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 26-Mar-14 12:07:13

tanukiton grin

SooticaTheWitchesCat Wed 26-Mar-14 12:09:59

My DD was brought up in Turkey and I was thought very odd because I didn't dress her in 6 layers in the middle of august, because I put her in a car seat rather than let her crawl around the front of the car and because I didn't give her loads of sugar in everything, including milk. Also I used to put her in bed at 7.30 rather than 11pm!

They don't send children to school until they are 6 there.

2kidsintow Wed 26-Mar-14 12:23:16

This thread has just cost me £5.71 to buy the book mentioned upthread about the changes in customs over time. Dream Babies.

MummyBeerest Wed 26-Mar-14 12:33:31

Parents and grandparents are Italian.

Don't know about the masturbation one (probably because I had a girl,) but everything else, spot on. Esp wrt to baby slop, wool for all seasons, and napping. Oh, and the rules about babies outside. My grandparents are horrified that DD loves playing out in the snow for hours. (We're in Canada)

I must pierce DD's ears, but she simply cannot be wearing an amber necklace. She could choke!

Though my DGF was wholly supportive of breastfeeding. He let me have the Lazyboy!

LadyInDisguise Wed 26-Mar-14 12:34:05

Upto you let them drink milk??? shockshock.
You DO know this is the worst thing ever to do too don't you?

I know a few Chinese medicine practitioners (who aren't Chinese!) who would completely agree with your family. Anything cold is bad. So are dairy products and raw foods.
Also I know that Chinese women would never accept to have a fan on when they are giving birth, even if it's 35C outside and they are overheating.

Claxonia Wed 26-Mar-14 12:35:22

Purées rule in France and baby/toddler diets are very regimented - have heard mothers discussing how many grams of protein their children have per day. My child's paediatrician was horrified by me giving finger food at 7-8 months.

You are asked constantly if your baby is sleeping though and are considered freakish if he or she isn't by 3 months or so. Not sure if babies here do sleep for longer stretches or if everyone just lies because of the social pressure, although leaving even young babies to cry is much more acceptable than in the UK.

Also great enthusiasm for putting babies and toddlers in loads of very warm clothes inside/outside/in bed and much scolding by old ladies if you do take your baby outside without 5 layers plus snowsuit plus blankets when the temperature drops.

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 26-Mar-14 12:37:55

In the hospital where I gave birth no-one except me even knew what an epidural was. I became a bit of a sleb, and went round the ward telling them all that next time it didn't have to be either a c sec or no pain relief at all, they could have this jab.

My American friend (the same one as before) however gave birth in a different town where the first so many to ring a special number on a special day got an epidural (paid for of course) while everyone else just had to bite on their husband's hand and get on with it.

dodi1978 Wed 26-Mar-14 12:38:12

Thanks for all those replies! This is great stuff!!!

Yes, Germany with its fascination of rectal temperature-taking... I remember these from my childhood! When I looked up the stuff on weaning yesterday, I also found exact amounts for the meat - vegetable - potato - puree... like 50g of this, 20 of that... Excuse me? When I liquidize our roast, I just throw a bit of this and a bit of that in the machine without measuring... otherwise my dinner would be cold by the time I'm done!

The one thing I do miss is the fact - also mentioned - that kids are given more independence... such as walking to school etc. I cycled to my best friend's house when I was seven (about 2 miles away) - the only rule was that I had to call when I arrived. I also cycled to school (4 miles away and crossing an A-road) when I was nine, despite there being a school bus. I just fancied it.

And as for being left on my own at home, ahem, I probably was six when my mum popped out to the local shop and eight-ish when she would leave me alone to go to the supermarket. Ok, what helped was the fact that my grandma and aunt were just a stone throws away in case there were any problems.

As for birth - my mum was shocked that a cousin who gave birth just a few weeks before me (in Germany) was left to labour for 11 hours before being given a cesarean. Ahem, I was told that the average first time labour is 18 hours! A couple of my NCT friends certainly were in labour for longer! Lucky I did it in 5 hours, or my mum would have told the doctor his fortunes!

Generally, things around birth appear more medicalised in Germany - Gas & Air is apparently not used at all so the first measure of pain control is an epidural. I kind of liked my Gas & Air...

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 26-Mar-14 12:39:36

Oh! My SIL also weighed her (perfectly well formed, non preemie) baby after every meal until she was about 2. And kept a chart.

Same SIL's husband (dp's brother) is a vet (so kind of educated in medicine stuff, albeit for animals) and they give both children antibiotics from October onwards, once a month "in case they get flu".

LadyInDisguise Wed 26-Mar-14 12:41:27

Same for France. They really don't rate either gas and air or diamorphine (well it's morphine) so they will not use it routinely for birth.
gas and air will only be use in case of emergency (eg someone who is completely panicking and in dire pain waiting for a 'proper' pain relief so only for a very short time)

LadyInDisguise Wed 26-Mar-14 12:43:52

Oh yes weighing babies! they did in France before. I remember my mum saying that she was supposed to weight me before and after each (bf) feed so she could tell how much milk I had for that feed.... Thanks fully they don't do that now.

Also seeing a paediatrician and not a GP for children health problem (I would be happy to do so tbh) and following the advice of the paediatrician to the letter (otherwise you are likely to get told off by said paediatrician who knows better than you)

RockMummy Wed 26-Mar-14 12:45:57

I'm glad I gave birth in the UK albeit 10 years ago. I think the only thing I agree with is sending the children into formal education later. On the whole I think few children are ready for formal education at 4 or 5. I know that reception is mainly play centred learning but there is still some formal learning of phonics etc.

zingally Wed 26-Mar-14 12:50:19

RE: The tights for boys.

I'm an infant teacher, and often get the boys from Eastern Euro and African countries rocking up with tights under their trousers in the dead of winter. It struck me as strange at first (but of course I never said anything about it), but now it's quite normal. However, once the boys get to Year 1 and beyond, it seems to stop. I think as the kids and parents twig that here tights are seen as "girl clothes".

Oriunda Wed 26-Mar-14 12:52:30

Ooh, Sangria, thank you for posting! Saved me having to repeat and agree with everything you said!

Il colpo di vento is my favourite .... A deadly breath of fresh air that is responsible, amongst other things, for colds, vomiting, stomach aches etc etc. Colds require antibiotics (give them out like sweeties to kids) and of course that essential visit to A&E.

When my in laws came over to the UK to 'help' when I was 8 months pregnant, my niece got a cold (caught because they overdress her, don't take her jacket off when on tube etc). Their solution was to turn the central heating up to Max, keep her wrapped up, and when she started sweating so much her hair got wet, use the hair dryer to dry it. Surprised they don't use leeches. They also rang us at 3am to say DN had a fever (never a cold) and could we check flights back home.

A friend's little nephew was recently knocked unconscious in a car accident. He had been sitting in the front seat with no seat belt. I was deemed cruel for wanting to put my sleeping 4 month old DS in a car seat when I should have been holding him in my arms.

Italians love children, but restaurants have no changing facilities and high chairs are very rare.

Zhabr Wed 26-Mar-14 12:53:14

Fascinating read!

In Russia: Babies should nap outside during the day, or at least on the balcony. Up to -15 degrees is absolutely fine and good for health.

No disposable nappies in the house for the older baby-skin should "breath". Potty training should be done by 12-15 months old. 2 year old in the disposable nappy may be called some rude names.

No bottle from around 10-12 months, should always drink from the cup.
No dummy after 12 month, no thumb sucking- even a small baby may receive a smack on the hand.

No pushchair after 2yo, should walk everywhere. Again, good for health.

When the child is constipated, enema is your saviour.

Also should always wear shoes inside the house, ideally with ankle support, to prevent the flat feet. Considering with the rule "no disposable nappies inside the house", you will need several pairs of shoes.
For older child, slippers should be worn all the time inside the house, as cold floor is deadly for the little's ones health and can ruin kidneys.

Hat should be worn outside even when it is +18 degrees. Common belief is that's how you will get meningitis.

Soup should be put on the table every day for lunch. That is the easiest way to be labelled as a " bad mother", again, you are ruining your child's stomach.

Between 1 month old to 12 months old you are supposed to take your baby to the various specialist doctors, such as ophthalmologist, orthopaedist, psychiatrist etc., just to be on the safe side. Also need to take him for blood test at 3 month old.

Unfortunately, smacking and shouting are very common.

That's how I remember the child-rearing from 15 years ago. Hope, that it is now changing for the more positive attitude. Needless to say, I was very down and very worried the first several years of DS1 life. Could not believe how relaxed I am now.

Driveway Wed 26-Mar-14 12:53:26

Enjoying this thread!

OnlyLovers Wed 26-Mar-14 12:59:27

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 think that sounds rather cosy, loving and sociable. However! I don't have kids, so I do realise there may be dangers inherent in it that I don't know about.

This thread is fascinating. I think Sweden and Norway sound the most enlightened.

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 26-Mar-14 13:01:56

Oriunda- and don't forget the dreaded cervicale!

Which I used to think was a terrible illness affecting a female's nether regions until I noticed that men are just as likely to get it.....

My oft-neglected blog may have got a whole new post that day grin

Halfling Wed 26-Mar-14 13:02:11

I was in India till my DS1 turned 2. I am a terrible mum according to Indian standards because:

1. I objected to my baby being given honey on the day he was born. It is a standard Hindu ritual, Jatakarma, where the favourite family member is given the privilege of feeding the new born honey, in the belief that the baby will imbibe some virtues from that relative.

2. I breast fed DS1. While most mums are expected to bf their babies during the initial months, I had a medical doctor (along with MIL, DM, aunties, neighbours etc.) telling me that breast milk is less nutritious than formula once the baby is around 6 months old confused. I bf till DS was 2.5 years.

3. I refused to put kohl in my baby's eyes. Apparently applying Kohl improves the baby's eyesight hmm There are special baby kohls available is shops.

HazleNutt Wed 26-Mar-14 13:03:05

I'm Estonian, had a baby in France.

For Estonians, I'm a bad mother because:
-I went back to work when baby was 4 months old. That's all the mat leave you get here. As was mentioned earlier, you get 18 months full salary in Estonia, but your job is kept open for 3 years, so you are a bad mother if you can't save enough of the maternity benefits to at least stay home for 2 years.
-I freeze my baby. I don't put socks and hat on him in the middle of the summer, that's a massive no-no. Babies must have hats! All the time!
-I don't wash his butt under the tap during each nappy change, but use wipes.

In France, I'm weird because
- I still breastfeed (DS is almost 9 months). It's generally considered odd to bf after 3 months.
- I don't do cc. I have been told many, many times that I just need to let him cry for 3 nights and by 4th he will be sleeping through. Thanks, but it's not for me.
- we walk a lot and DS naps outdoors even in the middle of the winter. In Estonia, you are a bad mother if the baby does not get fresh air daily, no matter the weather. Here I'm bad mother dragging the poor baby out when it's raining or snowing, for no good reason.
- DS is wearing tights. They are practical both under trousers and just for crawling around at home, no frozen legs or disappearing socks. zing even in Eastern Europe, tights are for small boys only.

Lottapianos Wed 26-Mar-14 13:03:11

'I'm an infant teacher, and often get the boys from Eastern Euro and African countries rocking up with tights under their trousers in the dead of winter'

Same here - not a teacher but work with little children and lots of the boys from those cultures wear tights under their trousers in winter. I hadn't noticed that they stop around Year 1 as I work with nursery age and below - interesting! Cant' have him looking in any way like a girl I guess!

Some of these are interesting and some are horrifying, especially the under-18 month olds being forced to potty train shock

Slothful Wed 26-Mar-14 13:03:29

The phrase "the past is a foreign country" seems so true, as my kids are now young adults, and the current advice is really quite different to the advice I followed. Weaning from 12-16 weeks, use pureed food etc.

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 26-Mar-14 13:04:23

LadyinDisguise grin at milk-drinking. I've not heard this one, but then my parents have been quite progressive when we were growing up. smile

But girls are not to wash their hair during their periods. shock Of course no contact with anything cold after giving birth.

Cold things must be unnatural and are the invention of the devil. wink

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 26-Mar-14 13:07:17

Not mocking though. There were a lot of good things when I was growing up and a lot of things I'm doing with my own DC. I'll post some when I can remember them. wink

Moroccan babies are weaned on biscuits mushed with milk at three months. They are given whatever adults eat including very salty or sugary food. My DNS are the least fussy kind I know whereas my DS is a prissy nightmare with food so I'm not going to criticise that too strongly.
Moroccan kids take themselves to school. Reception age kids will walk to school holding hands. DN was getting the bus to pre school at 3 years and walking to and from the bus to his flat door alone.
The layers! Babies are bundled in far too many layers, especially when ill. I was genuinely afraid for my DN when he got a cold at a week old, I thought he was at risk of seizures due to being overheated.
Very early schooling. Pre school (private) is actual school, they are reading and writing by 4. This doesn't apply to kids in state schools of course.

poorincashrichinlove Wed 26-Mar-14 13:09:20

Great thread. My expat days were pre children but SIL is Greek and the pregnancy guidance there differs tp UK. Can you imagine telling a Greek woman not to eat feta (sheep's milk cheese). You would be laughed at.

SignoraStronza Wed 26-Mar-14 13:10:51

Sangria I am nodding along and laughing at your post. My dd1 was born extracted in a provincial northern Italian hospital and we survived living there a few years after that. Ex is the son of southern Italian terrone immigrants. Everything you say is true!

I was told my milk goes bad after six months - quite authoritatively by a nursery worker.

If you don't give your child a dummy you are a cruel mother.

If you are aged under 30 40 then you are a 'young mother'.

Every household must have an 'aerosol' (nebuliser) bywhich preventitive antibiotics and steroids must be administered before the onset of winter (which occurs on a proscribed date, upon which your infant must be bundled up like a Michelin baby).

If you use a sling it means you can't afford a PegPerego/Inglesina pushchair and are trying to be 'like those black women'.

Heaven forbid your child should actually chew something before the age of five. Choking is a massive hazard.

A trip to the pediatra/a&e requires several generations of the family to accompany the child and regular forced demonstrations of the minor cough to all in turn in the waiting room.

It is cruel to strap a child in a car seat, however one of the aforementioned bsby carrisges will do the job for at least five years -enabling late night restaurant visits (the child will eventually pass out in it after tearing around for several hours).

kaffkooks Wed 26-Mar-14 13:12:31

This thread is really funny. Reminds me of when my Syrian friend invited us for dinner and I said we would need to find a babysitter. He looked totally shocked and told me he had a perfectly good sofa for baby to fall asleep on and why was I putting my son to bed at 7pm anyway.

lavenderhoney Wed 26-Mar-14 13:14:41

I had my ds here in the UK and dd in the Middle East.

Dd birth- before the birth, lots of raised eyebrows as I didn't want to know the sex. lots of fuss about dh being there during cs, and my desire to bf and have baby in the room and look after her myself. I also didn't have a maid, so that caused some fuss about how I would manage at home with a baby and a dh.

Bf was considered fine, and it was generally the expats who glared at me out and about. The locals didn't bat an eyelid and always smiled/ complimented the baby.

In France however, everything I did was wrong, from feeding a newborn when he cried ( he has to learn who is boss), to letting them feed themselves as soon as they could hold a spoon, and mil said a bib should be worn at all times to keep clean. Even at home. And bedtime- just put the child in its bed, say goodnight and flick out the lights, closing the door firmly behind you. Don't go back ever as they won't learn to fall asleep. You do this from birth, apparently. My sil did it and the screaming went on for hours and hourssad

HazleNutt Wed 26-Mar-14 13:14:56

Oh and all ff mothers here are bad mothers, because the official advice, also printed on formula tins, is never to use water hotter than 40C for making up bottles. None of this 70C stuff.

Oh yes and in morocco a 12 hour labour is unheard of if you give birth in a private hospital (and if you can afford it you do, public hospitals are...not great). SIL had a c sec because she had been labouring for almost 12 hours and they were all panicked it was going on too long. I know an English ex pat who almost gave birth in the car park because she had a dread of going in too early and being pressured into a c sec.
You don't get birth partners either. Fathers would be absolutely not allowed but you can't even take your mum in. Other SIL was 19, terrified, induced birth and had horrible intervention I think because she was unsupported and scared. The midwives shouted at her!

YY to Malaysian bedtimes being late! DH was shock shock shock that my relatives were making arrangements to meet us, including 4-yo DTDs, for meals after shopping centre closing times so after 10pm. It may have led to a few, um, domestic arguments between us blush

And also the spoon-feeding of mush until an advanced age. We had people staring and commenting (impressed, mostly) that DTDs were completely self-feeding. OTOH, there is no acceptance of food fussiness (good) nor any concept of allergies (bad). No special children's menus except in very upmarket, Westernised, restaurants.

CharityCase Wed 26-Mar-14 13:15:47

- Local women in Hong Kong still have a confinement period of a month post-birth where they eat certain foods, can't wash their hair or bathe and have to stay inside.

- Babies under 6 weeks old don't go out. My colleague didn't take her baby out for 6 months. That is totally normal. When the baby finally went out, it screamed the place down because it was so overstimulated.

- Yes, yes, to levels of clothing. We get "cold weather warnings" here when the temp dives below 15 degrees centigrade. Chinese grannies will chastise you if you go out in August without a baby blanket on the push chair.

- If your kids aren't free reading in English and Chinese aged 5, they may as well apply to wipe tables McDonalds now because that's all they'll be good for. Most of DS's Chinese classmates at his "free play" focused English Kindy lead a double life and go to Mandarin kindy in the afternoon where they copy characters in flawless calligraphy.

- Seat belts are wholly optional. Most people don't have cars and you can just get in a cab with a baby/ toddler on your lap or in a sling.

- Also, not a parenting one, but my helper, who is Filipina, won't iron if her hands have recently been wet, as she thinks it makes you sick.

SignoraStronza Wed 26-Mar-14 13:16:26

Oh yes, the hospital required me to weigh my newborn before and after each feed. Only when she began to regain weight was I allowed to leave. Not helped by her being kept in a nursery (in which the nurses had full on screaming matches over rota assignment) and no possibility of rooming in.

Your child requires a medical certificate (€20 cash to the pediatra) before being allowed to register for any kind of sporting activity - including baby swim classed.

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 26-Mar-14 13:19:09

Oh I forgot the aerosol thingy. I am the only person in town with neither an aerosol or a hairdryer.

lol- and yes, yes, yes to the uncle Tom Cobbley and all going to the doctors.

I was, at 37, rather chuffed though to hear the woman in the opposite bed's mother (who of course stayed all night in the hospital with her) whisper theatrically loudly "is she a ragazza madre?" (about me) My youthful good looks I expect....

My friend, aged 33, still takes her own mother with her to everything because "I'm so young the teacher/doctor/hairdresser/greengrocer won't take me seriously". Not while you keep letting them think you are some sort of care in the community case love, no they won't.

Another friend took her dd for the annual check up every year, on the child's actual birthday. Well, it was the 3yr check wasn't it? So had to be done on that day....

DBro is having a baby with his Hungarian gf. She's panicked because she had to wait to register with a gp before getting a midwife appointment. Apparently over there they get a check up when they discover the pregnancy to 'make sure they are capable of carrying a child' - I have assured my bro that this is rally unnecessary and pointless, but it must be really odd if you come from a country where pregnancy and birth is very medicalised, and probably paid for, to a country where there is a very non interventionist approach like the uk.

Beastofburden Wed 26-Mar-14 13:27:00

Mine were born in the UK but I lived in germany when they were little. Mainly I got fed up with having to see a paediatrician for everything.

I do remember going for dinner in France when DS was about 13 months and asking what they had as a child's menu, thinking they would find us some hideous chicken nugget or something. The waiter considered for a moment and then recommended the lemon sole grin.

Once deboned, it was indeed just the job.

Bluewednesday Wed 26-Mar-14 13:27:20

In Poland:
Babies and children wear hats, covering their ears well, even in July if it happens to be slightly windy.
You are supposed to keep strict diet when breasfeeding, so for instance cabbage, beans are not allowed as they might give baby a tummy ache. The list of forbidden foods goes on and on (including dougnuts, cherries, any fried food, chocolate, etc). But apparently milky tea (not normally drunk) is very good for mother's milk.
Tights (for both boys and girls) are a must, even when the weather is mild, or if child stays indoors (it's a winter outfit and simply must be worn).

In Algeria
I got stange looks for putting my children to bed at a resonable time of 8 pm. Also insisting that my younger one is in a car seat got me bad reputation. They thought I was strange because I always made sure my 6 year old had her seatbelt fastened when travelling in the car (completely alien idea to them).

monopoly123 Wed 26-Mar-14 13:33:22

This thread is great.
There was something on the World Health Organisation website a few years ago that followed 6-7women across the world, they had an interview during pregnancy, after the birth and when the child was a few months old. That was really interesting.

Sneezecakesmum Wed 26-Mar-14 13:35:50

I lived and worked in Germany for a couple of years a fair few years ago and was shocked at the rigidity and the obedience to rules over there.

Having to stand at the pedestrian crossing until the green man came on despite a totally empty road was completely confusing!

No experience of child rearing there but the slack arse way us Brits drag free and intuitive way we bring up our children must be most confusing!

monopoly123 Wed 26-Mar-14 13:37:39

The WHO feature is called Great Expecatations and was from 2005, it's still on their website.

HazleNutt Wed 26-Mar-14 13:43:03

I would not call British way slack arse, quite the opposite actually. During playdates or similar, British parents are supposed to hover over children, interact with them constantly, follow them around playgrounds, manage issues with other children etc. Anything else and you will read threads on MN about neglectful parents just sitting there, while someone else had to entertain their children.

French children are just left to their own devices while parents have coffee. Anything else and you're an overprotective hen mother, who won't allow the child to become independent.

horsetowater Wed 26-Mar-14 13:45:45

Bulgaria - one rule I liked for clothing for babies - one layer less in the summer, one layer more in winter.

DP from Scotland made dd wear a balaclava through most of her babyhood (in London).

lainiekazan Wed 26-Mar-14 13:49:33

My relatives live in Italy. I think because the birth rate is so low the children are total little prince and princesses. You often see one child + parents + four grandparents + several aunts/uncles out and about. The child is never having a particularly nice time as they are trussed up like a 17th century aristocrat and being shouted at not to scuff their 200 Euro shoes.

Agree that state employees are having a laugh. One relative discovered gleefully that her ds had a milk allergy. This afforded her five years off work.

And yy to the eternally young children. I know so many 40-somethings living in the sitting room. Mamas feel really sorry for anyone who has actually got married or had a baby and consequently feel the need to do absolutely everything for them.

lovesmycake Wed 26-Mar-14 13:50:47

YY to the tights - we also got told off at the nursery for not having wooly tights for DS and once again they are incredibly practical.

Oh and the wool breast pads (definitely a wool theme in Norway) when I read up on them and started using them they are brilliant - self antibacterialising <not sure thats a word> and you guessed it incredibly practical.

PoopMaster Wed 26-Mar-14 13:54:30

I'm loving this thread!

I got horrified looks from my French relatives at my BLW 11 month old eating proper "adult" French food (smart girl).

Then at 20 months when I was pregnant again and still BFing her, I thought my older aunties were going to pass out when I mentioned it! My younger cousins were less visibly shocked, but still very surprised. oh and DD was the only child among 5, including some 2 years older, who ate her food without any fuss

WidowWadman Wed 26-Mar-14 14:11:18

To be honest we did get strange looks from my English in laws about BLW, whilst my German mother thought it was a great idea. So whilst the English don't tend to worry about minute details of what's in the food, the idea that a 5 months old can just chew on an asparagus spear instead of being spoonfed mush does discombobulate them too.

MrsPear Wed 26-Mar-14 14:14:16

Hi my Dh is Albanian and i am English I have managed to shock by
Not dressing my children in enough clothes - I helped my niece with the loo and she seven layers on and it was in the late teens
Bottle feeding my youngest - this caused great concern and we had to explain the regulations etc
Putting my children in their own rooms at 6 months
Having a routine with bedtime at 7 - unheard of
Blw - this again caused great concern
Having slim children - the fatter they are the healthier they are. My nephew is 8 and. 46kg
Saying no - but it makes them cry
Putting them in car seats - safer in my arms apparently
Not agreeing to circumcise my boys - culture rather religion
Putting baby down on rug on floor
Having toys out and leaving them to play

With regards to food the only thing we agree on is no honey before one other than that we are at loggerheads. They see no harm in salty food or excess sweets or chocolate. No lumps before 2. My sil, who lives here, says she can't believe the variety they eat or that I give them the same food as us. My boys are one and four.

sittingatmydeskagain Wed 26-Mar-14 14:15:57

My spanish cousins' babies are weaned on cereals mixed into their bottles (with the teats cut bigger) until they move onto beef steak chops at around the age of two years. One had his secons birthday party in a cider house. smile

enormouse Wed 26-Mar-14 14:18:40

My parents and grandma are Indian but live in the uk.
When my dbros twins were born my gran was aghast that they'd need carseats to come home from the hospital ('why? She has a perfectly good set of arms to carry them. Plus when enormouse was born 25 years ago we put her on the parcel shelf/in the footwell/boot)
Also much alarm when my dbro changed nappies and made up bottles as men didn't do that. Men also can't know woman have periods.

I remember the kajal in the eyes a pp mentioned. To make the eyes more beautiful, apparently. hmm

An old Indian lady I met a few days after DS1 was born told me I needed to shave off (his full head of dark curly) hair so it would grow back thicker. Needless to say, I didn't and DS1 has so much hair he needs monthly trims.

I also shouldn't insist on DS1 being in his own bed at 2.5 and DS2 being put down in his own crib. They need to be in bed with me, whenever I decide to go to sleep is fine. DNieces needed a double bed each, with a parent each to do this. They're almost 5 and as far as I'm aware still do this. (I'm not against co sleeping btw, did it with DS for 10 months but bed sharing with him as a toddler would mean no one would sleep)

OnlyLovers Wed 26-Mar-14 14:20:31

The waiter considered for a moment and then recommended the lemon sole. grin I love it.

enormouse Wed 26-Mar-14 14:30:52

I remembered something else - practically bubble wrapping kids

When Dnieces were about two I bought them (an age appropriate) wooden toy - I think it was an ark with animals. They were playing away nicely and one of them managed to nut herself with a wooden elephant. Cue a short lived burst of tears which abated fairly quickly but I was descended on by dbro, his wife and my mum who confiscated the ark for being 'too dangerous'. I just sat there slightly stunned.

I also had the whiskers cut off any cuddly toy by my dm in case I poked myself in the eye with them.

horsetowater Wed 26-Mar-14 14:36:25

I know a Nigerian woman who used to chew her baby's food and spit it back into her mouth (in a mama-bird-like, nurturing way) when she didn't have baby food to hand.

Also another that sucked the snot out from a baby's nose rather than use a tissue.

Both sound vile but actually for a baby it's probably more effective than using unsterilised utensils and rough tissues.

LoopyDoopyDoo Wed 26-Mar-14 14:44:45

I'm going to nominate this for classics. smile Great thread.

Monikita Wed 26-Mar-14 15:08:06

My parents are Indian but I was born and brought up here in the UK. DH is white and English. My SIL (married to DH's brother) gave me the Baby Whisperer when pregnant and loves it. I (in my naivete) thought it was the manual for bringing up a baby and spent ages trying to put DD down in the crib and following the breastfeeding routine. I got seriously depressed, was nearly the end of breastfeeding and then thought 'sod it' and just went with my indian instincts. My English DMIL and DSIL think I'm completely mad for the following:

1) DH and I don't leave DD to cry - even for 5 minutes.
2) I'll (and DH) rock, cuddle and sing her to sleep (I also used to feed her to sleep before she self weaned at bedtime) - they think we've made a rod for our backs. What they don't realise is that we actually really enjoy this time with her (we are also slightly evil for working full time and commuting).
3) We co-sleep with her (she's 14 months). Again, I love it - that's when we bond but I'm also really lucky that she doesn't kick or squirm. This is the way she also sleeps through.
4) I didn't wean DD until she was 6mo and I didn't puree everything (spoon refuser!).

Halfling I think it's very true that the generations have a bigger gulf than cultures sometimes. My DM and DF are both older parents (they were around 40 when I was born) and they think breastfeeding is so important for as long as the baby/child wants it. DM even remembers nursing from her mum (so she must have been at least 3yo) and gets a little teary - it was a really special bond for her. When DD wasn't really that interested in solids at first, my DParents were the ones reassuring me that she got plenty of nutrition from BM.

BettyBotter Wed 26-Mar-14 15:11:03

According to my MIL from a Middle eastern-ish culture, I risked the life of my dcs by:
- going barefoot when pregnant in plus thirty degree heat because I would 'catch a cold in my ovaries and damage the baby'
- refusing to add a little salt to the baby's milk. 'It makes them thirsty so they drink more and get stronger.' hmm
- refusing to dress my dcs in several wool layers when they are red and sweating from heat as they will obviously catch a cold from by sweating
- allowing my baby to lose a sock when travelling through an airport. The air-conditioning would obviously freeze his foot off.
- allowing my older children to play with water from a hosepipe again in mid thirties temps. Obviously once again they would catch a cold and die.

Other areas where the In laws all smiled and laughed at me behind my back about my strange foreign ways included my insisting on dcs wearing seatbelts, refusing to travel in a car with a drunk driver, having bed times, not spoonfeeding my dcs until the age of 5 (I've even seen parents coming into school at lunch times to spoon feed their 6 year olds) and my allowing my boys to run around pushing a dolls pram in case it made them gay.

Footle Wed 26-Mar-14 15:11:45

Not from experience but I keep reading that Israeli babies' first solid food is often rusks made with ground peanuts. Can anyone confirm this ? If so, is peanut allergy more or less common in Israel than UK ?

Takver Wed 26-Mar-14 15:24:02

I was in Spain with dd - I was weird because:

- not piercing her ears
- ignoring the very strict list of weaning guidelines specifying exactly what food could be given on what week post weaning (followed UK much simpler guidelines!)
- not wrapping her in umpteen jumpers
- no socks!
- carrying her around in a sling (but she'll be so hot!) erm, maybe it will cancel out the lack of jumpers (but she'll be so cold!)

Extended breastfeeding seemed pretty uncommon (b/f til 20 months), but I got loads of really positive comments on it from older women about how she would grow up much stronger and better as a result, never had any negative vibes no matter where I fed smile

Nancy66 Wed 26-Mar-14 15:25:22

My older Irish relatives insist you should add bleach to the bath water to get rid of 'worms' in children. They think the reason DS is so thin is because he doesn't bathe in bleach and is therefore riddled with worms.

Not sure if that's an Irish thing though or just my mad family

Forago Wed 26-Mar-14 15:27:54

I am English and work with a Nigerian guy and we have a third colleague who is English and expecting his first baby. He was asking for tips. We both have three children of similar ages.

I mentioned that we found cranial osteopathy very useful for our first, who wouldn't lie on his back, after a difficult birth and got badly stuck and bashed around. So much so that with the second two we immediately took them to a cranial osteoptah as newborns as well to "optimize" their skulls and any misalignment caused by the birth. All have been good sleepers from early on and I was saying that I think the cranial osteopathy may have helped. New Father was asking ok great who do I need to see, ok a cranial osteopath with a specific extra qualification in treating newborns, right, got it.

My Nigerian colleague started laughing and saying, see, this illustrates the difference between the Western and Nigerian approach to getting newborns to sleep - you take them to extra qualified cranial osteopath, we just give them to the old lady in the village for half an hour to sort out their bones!

Amrapaali Wed 26-Mar-14 15:33:22

Yep, I recognise the Kohl thing. My mum made some for DD- homemade stuff that had rose water and almond oil in it. Admittedly it cooled you down in a hot climate. And I have used it on DD as well, when she turned two. grin

No cribs, moses baskets or cots. Only baby hammocks made of the softest yet sturdiest muslin. Apparently good for a baby's developing spine. I hunted high and low for a baby hammock manufacturer in the UK and did find one. DD was a brilliant sleeper because of it.

Nappies are very much frowned upon. Disposables, I mean. Washable cloths are fine, but I still cannot understand the point of a "nappy" that was nothing more than a fig leaf really. Absolutely did NOT prevent accidents or hold anything in. Parents seem to change this cloth "nappy" every half hour.

Circus daredevil riders were not a patch on fathers zipping through traffic on motorbikes. With mum riding side-saddle on the back. With a three month old on her lap.

BoffinMum Wed 26-Mar-14 15:49:03

I am half German.

German children seem to wear lots of layers - vests, long johns, fleeces, thick socks, proper boots with fleece linings, hats, scarves, gloves, and so on. They will put this lot on even to pop to the shops.

English children wear coats very occasionally, clearly preferring to tough it out, even if it's -5C and snowing, unless their mothers are particularly keen on outer layers.

Consequently German parents think English parents send their children to school practically naked.

German children seem to immediately remove shoes the minute they see a carpet, and put on extremely expensive slippers with little zips, hand made out of organic felt.

English children will occasionally remember to put slippers on but they tend to be nasty nylon things with Angry Birds depicted all over them, and things like that. Often you can only buy slippers in the UK around Christmas time as they are traditionally associated with the holiday season, for some bizarre reason.

German children will enthusiastically eat a big bowl of salad every time they have a main meal. They are salad connoisseurs.

English children will look at salad mistrustfully as though it has been left there by aliens, and they will only eat it if they are bribed or threatened.

German children will fling themselves down mountains and into random bodies of water on the slightest pretext, from the age of about two. They can all swim and ski and generally comport themselves with serious coolness when out of doors.

English children cry at the merest sight of a bee, wasp or moth; express distress when invited into the outdoors, and require health and safety slips in order to walk 5 metres away from their parents.

I could go on.

BoffinMum Wed 26-Mar-14 15:54:20

I went over to Germany last month and because the kids were going to be in ski school, I bought special stuff so they would appear to be sufficiently well dressed, even though it was incredibly warm for the time of year and I knew we would all be roasting. I did not want to be judged on whatever the German version of Mumsnet is. blush

halfdrunktea Wed 26-Mar-14 15:55:30

This is a fascinating thread. I'm afraid I don't have any of my own to add but there is an interesting book on the subject called "How Eskimos Keep their Babies Warm".

halfdrunktea Wed 26-Mar-14 15:57:39

WRT to Israeli children, I don't know about their first food but Bamba is a very popular snack and that's made from peanuts. I remember reading that peanut allergies are less common there.

poorincashrichinlove Wed 26-Mar-14 16:05:35

horsetowater I instinctively chewed my DCs food and reluctantly sucked the snot from their nose. So many instinctive, traditional practices are lost as newfangled technology takes over.

Footie Interesting point. A complete abstinence policy re peanuts has never made sense to me. I purposefully ate peanuts in pregnancy and when BF to provide some exposure.

tallskinnylatte Wed 26-Mar-14 16:12:44

Fantastic thread! I've often wondered why my eastern European friend has her children's ears pierced - I'm sure her girls looked like girls anyway (and does it really matter- my DD was also being told she was a bonny boy) but some things are so deep rooted I suppose. I've never dared ask as I do think it's hideous but don't want to let her know that!

learnasyougo Wed 26-Mar-14 16:20:41

Indonesia (specifically Jakarta - village life will be different):

pierce their ears as babies, so you know it's a girl
eyeliner on babies for photos
slap on the eucalyptus oil to 'keep the baby warm'
carried everywhere in a sling (I heartily approve of this, though)
no sitting at the table for meals once walking. Toddlers are off playing and they return to the table for the next mouthful (administed by hand from mum's plate) whenever they feel like it.
I've seen 'babysitters' (actually teenagers employed as 'nannies') run around after kiddies in the playground, hovering near the child on the climbing frame, to pop in another chunk of banana, so as not to interrupt the child's playing
nursery being about 20 children and 20 nannies (I know of a nursery that tried to ban nannies accompanying the children, but parents objected - they needed both a nursery and 1:1 care).
leisure time is wandering around a shopping mall while your nanny schleps on behind you carrying your infant, the bags, bottles and all baby paraphernalia - if you have a meal in the food court or a restaurant, nanny waits outside.
Motorcycle safety is being held in mum's arms, who is riding side saddle at the back, or if a little older, sitting in front of dad at the front.
car seatbelts - optional
care seat - what's that then?
when a baby is born, about 50 friends and relatives pile into the room to congratulate the new mother, before she's even had a chance to pop in a maternity pad. Almost no time alone to bond with the baby (that's what all that extended family are here to do).
bath times are in a bucket (once they can support their heads). Soap 'em up and rinse 'em off, while they hang on the sides (very cute, actually)
in villages, children play freely with little supervision. Other children supervise your toddler/stop them straying into the road/poke stray dogs with sticks.

VioletGoesVintage Wed 26-Mar-14 16:22:31

Fascinating thread.

(Asian culture) I did not:

-Circumcise my son
-Shave my newborns' heads
-Give my babies honey as their first taste of anything.

The first probably caused my in-laws real distress but, to their credit, they never said a word to me about it and it has not soured our relationship.

The second I had to argue with my DH about. The words "over my dead body" and "cold day in hell" were mentioned.

The third, DH and I were united against.

On the other hand, I have enthusiastically converted various other people to the practice of putting tights on their baby boys. And, actually <shushhh> my Y1 DS still wears them at home. It's great that there's lots more choice of boys' tights over here now, although I have had some very cool pairs from Germany.

Amrapaali Wed 26-Mar-14 16:23:37

No sleep routines in India either. "Play till you crash" seemed to be the motto.

On the other hand, getting them to sleep wasn't actually a problem-tiny babies were given THE most amazing massages ever. Some old toothless grandma would lay down an equally toothless baby on both her legs and give the little one a wonderful rub-down with warmed coconut oil and herbs. Followed by a warm shower. The baby would be so blissed out and start sleeping during the massage.

For a while I was walking around quite envious of babies who had spa treatment on tap. envy

learnasyougo Wed 26-Mar-14 16:25:26

The peanut abstinence has been debunked. I mentioned to my midwife that Indonesians eat so much peanut, that if this caused deadly nut allergies, 90% of Indonesian babies would die at weaning.

She said her dissertation was on this very subject and she cited countries with high peanut consumption (such as Indonesia) as evidence that peanuts during pregnany, breastfeedig or early infancy are NOT the cause of nut allergies.

In a way, that's a shame, because it means we still just don't know what causes it or how to prevent it.

Enjoyingmycoffee Wed 26-Mar-14 16:39:37

Such an interesting thread!

My DH is South African. I got the distinct impression that slings and carriers are not the done thing, by the white population that is. My MIL seemed genuinely mortified to be walking beside me when I had DS at 8 months in a carrier.

No concept of healthy baby snacks. Everything is sugar loaded.

Forago Wed 26-Mar-14 16:48:17

my Y1 ds also wears tights - all my 3 boys have worn tights all the time when babies and toddlers and then when skiing, snow days etc. Bonkers not to. I was bought up in Europe where this is normal, though am English, thank god for H&M!

chattychattyboomba Wed 26-Mar-14 16:55:17

This might just be a generational one but my (Australian) aunt scoffed at me for buying the buggy I bought. She called it a 'biscuit' and said the babies will be so cold in London because they hang out of them instead of more enclosed like what her children had (silver cross style?)
She also told me I should swaddle (advice in the UK was at the time NOT to swaddle to prevent SIDS)
Also advice in UK given by MW was 'cold baby cries, hot babies die' for this reason DH refused to let her wear more than a legless onsie for naps in April.
He was brought up in Papua New Guinea though by 7th day Adventist parents. He was fed by a wet nurse (who also breast fed her pig...yes) Luckily I have girls or would be criticised for not circumsizing.
Danish friend criticised my parenting for giving DD a bath before bed (her children aged 4 and 7 have only 1 or 2 baths a week- apparently bad for skin)
Greek friend got angry that I lay my DD flat to sleep- said head should always be ABOVE the feet or else... Some doom and gloom. UK says no pillows for babies. Or in fact anything in the bed to prevent risk of SIDS.

NK2b1f2 Wed 26-Mar-14 16:57:00

Agree regarding the layers in Germany. My niece was practically exploding at her christening in 29 degrees and high humidity. When I held her I realised she had a baby grow plus tights plus top under her heavy thick christening gown. It led to a row with my dsis. Even at the lunch the poor child still had her tights and top and cardigan on.

Come to think of it even my otherwise quite sane mother will wrap my dc in blankets, put socks on them and bring them hot water bottles grin. She must think we keep them practically naked most of the year.

I've done half my living and all my breeding in the UK and have taken a pick and mix approach to parenting grin. BF and FF, purée and finger food, pushchairs and slings...

BoffinMum Wed 26-Mar-14 16:57:15

Amrapaali, I actually did a course in that type of massage and my offspring absolutely loved it.

behindthetimes Wed 26-Mar-14 17:04:19

My husband is from North Africa (I can feel a name change coming on)...I am English. He's from a rural area, so differences even more pronounced.
I could write a book on cultural differences grin
I seem to cause shock and horror with my inlaws by taking my baby outside if it is hot, cold, windy or basically any weather condition you can think of. They would be shocked that I would not wrap my baby in a double fleece blanket when it is soooo hot that if we were in UK we would have baby lying in the shade in just a nappy!
They are highly amused that my DS goes to bed at 7 (DH loves having evening time as adult time though), and think I am a bit stupid for not knowing that you rock and sing a baby to sleep (rather than teach them to lie down and go to sleep).
Discipline apparently does not apply to children under the age of about 12, and if I tell DS off, even for something really naughty, they tell me off!
Had to stop myself from flying at my MIL for feeding DS large spoons of honey (home brewed) when he was about 4 months old. At the same age DS got really ill and I got VERY told off by a pharmacist for not giving him water as well as breast milk at a very hot time of year. My DS now drinks untreated well water and seems to thrive on it!
I asked my neice what the word in their language for nappy was, she didn't know, she'd never seen one before shock
There must be so many more examples that I've forgotten.
On the plus side my in-laws are lovely and deal with most of our differences with humour.
I've also benefited from DHs alternative views on many issues, and 'gone over to the other side' on some things, for example, co-sleeping (although I don't do very well in the same bed, DS is 3 now and still sleeps next to us, I wouldn't change it). DH grew up on a diet of home grown and home reared food, and completely rejects any sort of processed food, which is challenging at times but does mean that DS has had a pretty good diet.
They do baby wearing not as a new fangled thing but as the only sensible way to get the necessary daily chores done, so baby is strapped on the bag, covered (of course) with a fleece blanket (including it's face, I always worry they'll suffocate), and life carries on. This is actually great I think, the child gets used to being part of day to day life without having to be the centre of attention.
What I find challenging is that people (including complete strangers) will come up to you and tell you what to do with your child, for example, put your child in the shade, or they need a hat etc etc, in a way that we'd think of as sooo rude in the UK, but I try and see it as a positive way, as a sign of a country that still rears it's children as a society.
Really enjoyed reading these!

I am Italian, our dc were born and spent their first years in the UK.

In the UK I was a bad mother because:
- They went to bed at 8, which was considered late there (but shockingly early in Italy)
- I do raise my voice at times.
- I sent my dc to nursery p/t even if I was a sahp or worked from home at times.

When we came back to Italy, I was a bad mother because:

- I didn't fret if they were "sudati" (sweaty) after playing in the park.
- I didn't routinely clean their noses before going to bad with those little pumps Italians are so fond of.
- we rarely carry an umbrella or panic when it rains grin

thesaurusgirl Wed 26-Mar-14 17:15:31

I spent some of my gap year as a teaching assistant in North India and can verify that you never see an Indian baby by itself - it's always in someone's arms, though they don't seem to mind very much whose arms. No baby is ever left to cry, someone always races to comfort it immediately.

A nappy is literally a napkin - a square of cotton cloth. As soon as it's soiled, the baby is washed down. If it shits on you, it's considered your fault for not moving quickly enough.

You also see very small children (5 and 6 year olds) taking care of their toddler siblings. Initially thought this was to do with poverty but you see it in the richest households. Really touched me, actually.

It's not all love and attention though - Indians smack liberally, pull hair, and twist ears to punish even the smallest transgressions sad. And not just their own kids, but anyone else's who happens to be misbehaving shock.

Amrapaali Wed 26-Mar-14 17:20:26

It's the best, isnt it, BoffinMum? smile

Kveta Wed 26-Mar-14 17:24:55

DH is Czech, and his friends/family excuse all of my parenting 'eccentricities' because I'm British - for example, returning to work when DS was 7 months old (lots of sharp intakes of breath on that topic), then 3 years later, NOT returning to work when DD was a baby, because somehow their culture has shifted massively in 3 years hmm

bfing past a year AND in public sometimes
not feeding DC herbal teas to get them to sleep
not piercing DD's ears
baby led weaning
sending them to school before they are 6
not potty training as soon as they were able to stand

and the one that annoys me the most, which I have seen in a few czech friends, is the concept that boys are spoiled by being held, so male babies are left to lie down a lot, whereas girls can be cuddled as much as you want. Cue many Czech males with flat heads (seriously, I used to think it was a genetic thing over there, but have since heard from a few mums that it's because boys shouldn't be held much hmm)

other than that, there are not too many differences!

Kveta Wed 26-Mar-14 17:27:14

Oh, and I have been berated in the street in Czech many times because my DC don't wear hats in sunny weather (or in any weather given the chance).

I know the Czech for 'what a neglectful mother, where is your baby's hat, she/he will die of pneumonia!' even when rattled off at me at a hundred miles an hour by an elderly lady grin

funny how DH isn't neglectful though, even if he is the one carrying said child...

CoilRegret Wed 26-Mar-14 17:38:55

In most of Eastern Europe draughts cause death. So hats and large underwear are essential. In all weathers. My grandmother was furious to see me for the first time in just a nappy. It was very humid, over 40degrees, and mid august, and I was in an un-airconditioned car not in a car seat

CoilRegret Wed 26-Mar-14 17:39:37

Maybe I mean drafts?

I've never believed in them, I love fresh air, so never learnt to spell it. ;)

CoilRegret Wed 26-Mar-14 17:40:21

Oh, & the sharp intakes of breath when I went to boarding school! And bought uniform from the second hand shop. Oh, the shame.

MysteriousCitiesOfGold Wed 26-Mar-14 17:43:17

I'm finding this thread so refreshing!!

Everyone in Ireland is obsessed with teething. All crying can be explained by teething. Even if a baby is hot, tired, hungry, and overstimulated, it must be 'them tooths'. Even random people in the street stop me and comment that my baby must be teething because of her red cheeks. She's not - she just gets really red cheeks when she's a bit too warm. I've learnt to smile politely.

I'm from a French background and no-one ever seems to talk about teething.

Ditto wind. MIL and PIL always seemed very concerned that I wasn't winding dd thoroughly enough. I preferred to just let her sleep when she fell asleep at the breast!

Iwillorderthefood Wed 26-Mar-14 17:54:32

I am British, my husband is Sri Lankan tamil. He came here in 1991, and his parents in 1990 (dad) and 1995 (mum) along with their two daughters.

I was strange because:

I did not stay in the house for 31 days after birth
I did not have my baby's head shaved on the 31st day
I got dressed quite quickly post birth
I let my children pick up leaves from the ground (they are dirty you know)

I will not allow my daughters to have a puberty ceremony in front of all their family.

I let them out of the house to play in the winter. It's too cold and they will catch cold

I encourage my children to be active.

My children are too skinny (instead of obese which is healthier apparently)

I insist on car seats every trip

I have not pierced their ears.

I let them out of the house in the rain! They will be ill apparently

I walk them to school - driving is by far the best way apparently.

My children clean their teeth in the morning and the evening (it is not necessary to clean teeth in the evening - although the state of my nieces andnp nephews teeth say otherwise)

I let my children drink tap water !

Oh and I sometimes allow my hair which is pretty grey grow quite a long way through, which is wrong as apparently a wife must have the same colour hair as her husband.

somuchtosortout Wed 26-Mar-14 17:56:12

Africa - really, I am in AWE:
Nobody has ever heard of milk supply problems. It is just assumed that everyone has enough milk for their baby. I am surrounded by what must be a portion of the poorest population on earth, lots of round bouncing babies. Not saying there aren't any problems at all, just saying nobody is starting with the assumption that breastfeeding 'might go wrong'.

It is actually possible to breastfeed a baby in a sling while walking in the street with 20kg of tomatoes on your head. (ashamed of the many conversations I had about the ideal breastfeeding position and 'saving my back' or 'baby not latching on'…...)

It is actually possible for a 4 year old to walk several miles to school without whinging or needing a snack.

Non walking children will never touch the ground until they can walk.

Attachment parenting and smacking dispensed simultaneously.

Women manage to bring up healthy happy children in what we would consider extreme conditions, and then get sent on a one day course on how to look after children by their expat employees.

Well, although I am half Italian, so may be biased - I gave birth to dd1 in Italy and had amazing experience. Three nights in hospital with warm meals and could have baby as much or as little as wanted as standard. Paediatrician available at all times for the smallest pfb concerns.

Ok, a bit over the top with the fevers and the food etc but took it all with a pinch of salt (maybe as I was already prepared for it having partly grown up there)

I did wonder while growing up how amazing my stomach must have been, I was able to eat a bit of chocolate without being struck down suddenly by a terrible mal di pancia (stomach ache!).

My half Italian side always slightly disconcerted at the fact that other people's children can be pouring snot all over the playgroup/other child's toy and no one bats an eyelid.

WouldLoveACupOfTea Wed 26-Mar-14 18:02:04

I think you'd all enjoy "how Eskimos keep their babies warm" by Mei-Ling Hopgood. Though it's much more interesting reading all these posts first hand :-)

I'm Irish myself living in UK. I'm going to dare to say this at the risk of being shouted at (plus I might need a name change after). I find parents here sooooooo much more fussy than my peers at home. Child-centric helicoptering I'm talking about. Us Irish are more relaxed though I agree with cityofgold everyone in Ireland is obsessed with teething. When DS was a few weeks old everyone said he was teething every time he even whimpered. He's five months now still no sign of teeth.

Bracing myself for a backlash!

Coveredinweetabix Wed 26-Mar-14 18:10:59

Reading some of these has made me realise why 11mo DS got such an audience when he was completely smeared in pasta & tomato sauce in a restaurant in Spain last summer. He had just shoved it in with his fists but his aim hadn't been that accurate so was covered from his forehead to his tummy. Not only did the waitress bring over the other waiters/waitresses from the restaurant we were in but from the neighbouring restaurants too.

Snuppeline Wed 26-Mar-14 18:15:32

I'm in Norway too. Had first dd in UK and am finding the differences between that time and having my second dd in Norway amusing. Highly educated women in my mother-baby group in Norway prefer to give baby food from jars if not giving tiny morsels of bread with liver pate on, or baby porridge. The jars are preferred because the food in them are sterile and they trust that the professionals who have concocted their contents know their stuff. Personally I'm more reluctant to leave my dd's diet in the hands of the food industry. Besides I'd like my dd's to taste what real food tasts like and I don't think having grains (eg bread or porridge) 2-3 times per day gives a balanced enough diet. ignores the fact that youngest dd seems to hate my lovingly prepared nosh and would probably wolf down jars...

No antibiotics unless a diagnosis proves it is useful. This
is quite good iI think though.

I'm also breaking all conventions by not giving my dd cod liver oil. All children should consume this evil from the age of 4 weeks. However, it is utterly rank and I don't find it particularly charming to have the lovely wool clothes (they are great as pp said!) ruined by posseted cod liver oil <boak> Not when there are civilised supplements available anyhow!

Sleeping outside, don't do this as I'm petrified of cats, of which every household seems to have at least one. Several ladies in the mother-baby group seem to only give their children their naps outdoor and in their pram. And you must take a long walk with the baby everyday whatever the weather. Is good for them, less its minus 10' ish. Love the outdoorsy attitude in general though.

All I can think of right now smile

ContinentalKat Wed 26-Mar-14 18:43:45

You cannot feed German children under the age of 12 months pulses, because they will die.

Nearly had a heart attack when my British friend fed her baby some Heinz baby jar with lentils in! Luckily her baby survived grin

I love the way this thread puts everything into perspective.

somewherewest Wed 26-Mar-14 19:04:59

I'm Irish myself living in UK. I'm going to dare to say this at the risk of being shouted at (plus I might need a name change after). I find parents here sooooooo much more fussy than my peers at home. Child-centric helicoptering I'm talking about. Us Irish are more relaxed though

I'm also Irish living in the UK and OMG yes. English parenting is definitely more anxious and intensive. For example I find it incredibly strange how parents seem to feel its their job to lay on entertainment for every second of their teens' / preteens' free time. I have a theory that its related to family size. While most Irish people of my generation (born 1980) have the standard one to three kids, most of us come from 'big' families, as did our parents and grandparents. No one has the time to helicopter parent five or six kids.

kaffkooks Wed 26-Mar-14 19:22:54

Somuch, agree with what you say about west Africa. I worked there for a while and one of the colleagues I have kept in touch with had her first child 2 days after my son was born. What I found hilarious was that she was reading Gina Ford and all I heard about from British friends was attachment parenting. She is Kenyan middle class though.

Eyelet Wed 26-Mar-14 19:29:07

Sparked by a statement upthread (this is truly fascinating btw) at what age fo other countries/cultures toilet train? Dd1 is considered very late at 3.7 and yet nothing we try works.

I'm wondering about emigration!

LittleBearPad Wed 26-Mar-14 19:37:49

This is fascinating. Spending last Spring to Autumn in Greece I saw babies bundled up like it was an English December. I'm sure DD's tshirt and shorts combo was judged. The little prince/princess idea did seem true there too.

The playgrounds were always deserted in the afternoon but would be massively busy at ten pm and restaurants had toddlers in at the same time. Made sense it was bloody hot in the afternoon.

All children's clothes must be ironed apparently after drying to kill bacteria was one thing I was told. Slattern mother ignored this one!

The loveliest bit was how friendly the locals were to DD; they loved chatting to her. Coming back to unfriendly London was a bit of a shock.

All the Eastern Europeans I know (Latvian, Polish, Chec (sp?) Republic) bundle their babies up like it's minus 50 outside all the time. Hats in doors etc. One European baby I saw today had a vest, trousers, shirt, jacket, hat and 4 times folded blanket on... I was wearing a vest top and jeans, my own boy was in a shirt and trousers....

And they're all obsessed that if you get wet feet you'll catch a cold.

Also, they don't seem to take their kids outside much at all.

Takver Wed 26-Mar-14 20:30:15

"not feeding DC herbal teas to get them to sleep"

Again in Spain, we were given Blevit Digest - powdered chamomile/fennel tea for dd. She loved it, not sure it did any good as she was a rotten sleeper regardless, but we figured in 40C heat any extra liquid had to be a good thing smile

I did feel a bit weird feeding her herbal tea (just regular teabags by that point) when we came back to the UK and all the other littlies were drinking juice, though grin

Great thread. I live in France but on the border with Luxembourg. The DCs were both born in Luxembourg and their paed is in Luxembourg too. They go to nursery in France.

Luxembourgish children are often raised speaking anything up to four or five languages. The doctors are pretty relaxed about speech as bilingualism (trilingualism etc) can slow stuff down at the beginning. In France they seem much more worried about slow speakers.

In both countries weaning starts at 17-18 weeks. I was laughed out of the place when I described current trends in the UK. I puree weaned from 17w and added some finger food from about 6mo. Both my kids ate proper food a bit earlier than is the norm over here which raised eyebrows, especially at nursery and in restaurants.

Even in hospitals the UK ff heating to 70 etc is not followed at all. Here you add powder to certain brands of mineral water, shake and heat a bit if you want to or if the baby wants, but no more than 40 degrees. The exception of course is for preemies.

I have not heard anything negative about bf'ing; indeed it is encouraged, particularly in Luxembourg. You are left to make your own choice though. None of the debates you see on here.

Babies drink follow on milk until 3, not cows milk. There is pretty solid medical reasoning behind this, and my DC had no cows milk except in food until 3.

I have never been told to just let babies cry it out over here, though controlled crying is practiced to a certain extent.

Children nap in the afternoon, even at school the first few years, and stay up later.

Babies' temperatures are taken rectally and paracetamol also via suppository. Once I'd got over the first time I understood the reasoning and quite happily did both.

There seems to be far less debate about rights and wrongs here. Lists of banned foods seem shorter and people just aren't that bothered about how you do things. Or maybe I don't notice it as I don't engage in baby chat very much.

I find the weaning and feeding guidelines in the UK quite bizarre, and BLW particularly so. Tbh the only cats bum face I ever had re ff/elcs/epidurals etc have been from British expats. I don't recall any French women asking (except family) if I bf or ff. Ditto re vaccinations.

The French do have some very bizarre attitudes to SEN, ASD and PND among other things which make me uncomfortable and uneasy. If my kids prove to have SEN I would probably move back to the UK for their education.

Maybe things are different in Paris, but other than the odd elderly lady tutting at my babies not being wrapped up warm enough, out here I have found parenting pretty stress free, and the support medically is brilliant.

Other than expats in Lux however there are zero activities for SAHMs with babies and toddlers. No baby groups, massage, music, zilch. Means I put my toddlers into nursery pretty much full time to stop us all going mad. French women rtw at 3-6mo.

WouldLoveACupOfTea Wed 26-Mar-14 20:37:43

somewherewest I think you're right, I'm one of seven myself. My parents would have laughed if we'd suggested they had to entertain us 24/7. In fairness I had enough siblings to entertain me.

eyelet older people in France say toilet training should start at 12mo. Current practice is to start it between 18mo and 24mo from what I can tell. They're expected to be day trained by the time they go to school so at about 3.

dancingnancy Wed 26-Mar-14 20:40:57

Lived in Asia and it was common for parents to hit their kids and scold them often, not use car seats in their very expensive cars. Kids are tutored after school rather than do sports or more fun type stuff. Also potty trained much earlier.

Oriunda Wed 26-Mar-14 20:48:50

No mother and toddler/baby activities in (our part) of Italy either. Took MIL to a couple of DS' activities in London and she said that it would be impossible for mothers to do stuff like that in Italy as they needed to be home preparing lunch for their husbands shock!

thesaurusgirl Wed 26-Mar-14 20:54:02

Nancy The first time I saw an Indian child being walloped by his father I nearly died of shock. It was a proper smack - it would have hurt another adult of the same size, and the poor kid was only up to his hip. I never got used to it, and it happens all the time. As I said, even other random adults will do it.

I realise this is going to be controversial, and I cannot condone smacking at all, but all the Indian kids I met were incredibly well-behaved, certainly in school. Really polite and sensible kids.

Far more impressive than being nappy trained as soon as they can walk - they all know their full set of times tables by the age of 7 grin.

vitaminC Wed 26-Mar-14 20:56:01

I lived in the UK for a couple of years when DD2 was a baby, and realised then just how different things were.

In France, we were told never to use sheets and blankets in a cot, as a baby could get tangled up in them, so always to use a sleeping bag type thing.

In the UK, the opposite advice was given - babies could overheat in sleeping bags, so always use a sheet and blanket!

There were many other examples of this kind of 180° divergence, so from that point on, I just ignored the official advice and did my own thing smile

ikeaismylocal Wed 26-Mar-14 21:10:23

I'm English living in Sweden with a Swedish dp and a 15 month old ds.

in Sweden I am odd because:

I breastfeed ds after a year, the only other people I see doing this are immigrants.

I refused to give ds liquid porridge in a bottle at 4/5/7/10/13 months because I don't see the point when I produce a perfectly good drink for him myself.

I refused to put extra butter in all of ds's food when he dropped from the 98th centile to the 80th centile in weight.

I don't dress ds in full thermal underwear, a snow suit and thick hat/gloves in March if it is +10 (the Swedes dress their kids for the month's expected weather rather than the actual weather on that day)

My son did mostly baby led weaning. Seen as neglect to most Swedes.

I had the occasional glass of whine whist breastfeeding.

If my ds is doing something that is disturbing others or causing a problem I tell him not to do it in a strict voice. This is very frowned upon as "children will be children"

I didn't want to dangle my newborn under the tap to wash his bum when he had done a poo, I just used baby wipes. This is seen as unhygenic.

In the UK I am seen as odd because:

We co-sleep, my sister was horrified and asked how we ever managed to have sex (she asked this at a busy family gathering) I am now pregnant with dc2 so we managed to find ways.

I dress my ds in clothes that are weather appropriate rather than gender appropriate. Even when I buy new clothes I buy the clothes that I think have nice patterns or colours which are often purples/hearts and other "girlie" things. A boy at my ds's nursery regularly comes to nursery in dresses, he has special pink slippers that he wears when he wears one of his dresses as "you have to have pretty slippers when your wearing a dress"

We took my ds skiing for the first time when he was 13 months old.

Ds sleeps outside when possible, even when it is really really cold.

If we are at the park (it has a water play bit) or beach or river I let my son be naked.

I leave ds asleep in his pram outside cafes whilst I have coffee with friends.

Me and dp parent ds equally, dp is currently on paternity leave and dp is just as likely to stay at home if ds is ill (in the future) dp takes ds to playgroup, the park, the Dr just as often as I do.

HoneyandRum Wed 26-Mar-14 21:19:55

It sounds like many of you would enjoy "Our babies, ourselves: How Biology and Culture shape the way we parent" by American anthropologist Meredith Small.

I am a Brit married to an American. Our three kids were all born in the US and we are now in Germany.

Local hospital has been certified "Baby friendly" by the UN (or somebody) this meant tons of very supportive and encouraging parenting classes offered before the birth about birth/becoming a parent where mothers and fathers were shown how breastfeeding works and how to support mum and baby.

Labor and birth in the same room with rooming in with baby and a bed for dad/partner.

Lactation specialist to help you before you left hospital.

Breast feeding Unit in the hospital that you could call or visit any time with bambino with questions/concerns about BF. Also hospital shop selling/renting breast pumps, slings etc. etc.

I cloth-diapered first DD and kind of fell off the wagon with second. With both I had a cloth diaper service that dropped off a huge bag of clean cotton diapers every week and took the festering bag of dirty ones away.

My very loud second dd was frequently complimented on her "great voice" by admiring Yanks i.e. you could hear her two rooms away.

Shy children were thought to be suffering a terrible malady that literally needed intervention by child-psychologists at a young age. Parents of shy children were very worried and apologized for their child's social bashfulness as a personality defect. I am talking 5 year olds.

Bragging (boasting) about your children/grandchildren was totally socially acceptable and encouraged by the selling of "Brag Books" small photo albums you carried everywhere to show random strangers on the bus or at the supermarket (maybe outdated by FB etc. now).

Sports mad culture and children started in "pee-wee" soccer/football/baseball/basketball from pre-school years.

Children catered for wherever you went: child hairdressers, party stores, playgrounds, children's menus etc. etc. Every restaurant/store had high-chairs, changing facilities etc. Everyone very welcoming of children, the children were talked to directly and asked about their preferences etc. Any "mean" or overly strict/harsh coach or teacher immediately sacked after complaints from parents.

Many families with three or more kids.

Male Americans wear the same uniform from the age of 2-92. Long shorts past the knee, t-shirt, baseball cap and sneakers.

A lot of anxiety around education and whether your child will "make it" and be a success in a highly competive view of life where there are "winners" and "losers". (I see the same heightened anxiety transferring to the UK)


Immediately my American children that were considered "so polite" in the US for saying "please" and "thank you" were considered rampaging barbarians in Germany.

Loud children are severely frowned upon here, even being noisy in the park or swimming is a social no-no.

Suddenly my über exuberant 2nd DD was being frequently corrected for being too loud.

Organization is considered to be an innate quality. Children MUST be organized from the moment they enter school (at 6). Teachers hyperventilate if your child forgets the correct book for class.

Children wear huge, expensive, specially designed school backpacks and schlep all their gear and books in and out of school everyday as they have no lockers or anywhere to leave their belongings.

Children from 5 and up take themselves off to Kindergarten or school in the pitch black of winter (possible snow and/or hail) If you walk them to school each day you are not letting your child learn to be independent.

Of course they start school at 7:45 and finish as early as 11:45 to walk back home to eat the hearty midday meal lovingly prepared by Mutti.

Our youngest was 2 when we arrived and I was soon to discover the wonderful world of German tights for boys, helpfully color coordinated in navy, grey or bottle green. Also all children wear hats, gloves and scarves with no complaints. My two year old son found this all way too frustrating and frequently discarded various items of winter clothing before we had reached the bakery across the road. There he outed me as not just a Bad Mother but a foreign one by stripping his coat and sweater off and revealing he was wearing a short-sleeve t-shirt in January. Absolute scandal and horror reigns as German Omas hoik bosoms in unison.

HoneyandRum Wed 26-Mar-14 21:28:29

Oh I BFed our three kids for 5 years, 2.5 yrs and 4.5 yrs and never received a negative comment form anyone in the USA. (Of course, many of them probably assumed we'd finished that palaver years previously!) All doctors and medical staff very supportive.

BoffinMum Wed 26-Mar-14 21:31:02

One hilarious if worrying thing done in Germany is that parents stick their toddlers on the front on their skis, and then bomb down a slope with them at about 100mph. Occasionally dads have to take avertive action to avoid using their own children as airbags, however.

In Germany you can buy fennel tea and chamomile tea in little crystals that you add to hot water for babies, and they do like it. Older children have 'Kindertee' which is a kind of tea bag with red fruit tea inside. This is served cold in summer and hot in winter, and is actually better for them than juice.

Most of Europe just whops Evian into the milk powder to make formula, and it works just fine. Some people even just fill bottles from the tap. shock

BoffinMum Wed 26-Mar-14 21:32:46

Oh yes, and in Germany it's quite normal to stick a massive feather duvet over a baby at any excuse, and interestingly they sleep better because they are not freezing thanks to UK cot death information. Not sure about their mortality stats but I would be surprised if they are massively different from here.

BoffinMum Wed 26-Mar-14 21:34:15
HoneyandRum Wed 26-Mar-14 21:36:10

Sorry one more thing that I sorely missed about the USA. At the supermarket they pack all your groceries for you and if you have small children they offer to take it to the car for you! A cheerful employee puts all said shopping in a trolley and whisks it outside while you drag your darlings behind you. Shop employees will also stop to chat to your kids and enjoy entertaining them while you attempt to do a weekly shop with three under five.

In Germany all your shopping is flung down the conveyer belt at a rapid pace and you are expected to expertly pack it in a neat and orderly fashion if your recyclable cotton bags. If you take too long all the line will glare and you but would never think to help with three small children.

ikeaismylocal Wed 26-Mar-14 21:36:18

The Swedish kids are also kept very warm when asleep ( often under the same duvet as the parents I was never given any safe co-sleeping advice but I was repeatedly advised to co-sleep) the sids rates are much lower in Sweden than in the UK.

raydown Wed 26-Mar-14 21:39:44

I wonder about the SIDS stats too. It seems other countries don't really follow the rules about not letting your baby get too warm. Quilts are normal for babies in Germany. Babies are wrapped up in many layers, always wearing a hat.

BlondePieceOffFluff Wed 26-Mar-14 21:43:38

Lack of car seats seems to me one that keep coming up for some countries in this thread. In Norway, not only are car seats required by law and all adhere to it, but rear-facing seats are used until ca four years of age, by almost everybody. I think this is the same in Sweden and Denmark, but not so much in the rest of Europe?

BoffinMum Wed 26-Mar-14 21:44:52

Germany uses similar ones to here. Taxi drivers often carry booster seats routinely.

peppinagiro Wed 26-Mar-14 21:45:21

I've just got back from Italy with 9mo DD. Things I did that got blush looks were:

- carrying her around in a sling (she is a total pushchair refuser)
- putting her to bed before midnight
- not wrapping her up in thick, padded layers, blankets, and a hat in the 20+ degree sunshine. Don't I know it's March? Therefore spring, and time for thick clothing until a set date in July.
- not feeding her honey or salty chips

I was interested to see PPs' comments on Italian babies being exclusively raised on purées. My friends have actually followed baby led weaning (autosvezzamento) with their youngest - apparently it's quite a new idea around their parts (rural central Italy) but is gaining ground thanks to a book by an Italian paediatrician who advocates it. Anyway, I was really surprised as I'd fully expected to be considered a terrible parent for chucking my baby pizza crusts and whatnot.

And finally - where on earth do Italian mums change their babies when they're out? Does anyone know? I didn't see any changing facilities, anywhere at all. Luckily we had an apartment/hire car/friends' houses to change her in, but I'm genuinely intrigued to know how they manage.

BoffinMum Wed 26-Mar-14 21:47:02

Peppa, they change them on the floor of the nearest loo.

BlondePieceOffFluff Wed 26-Mar-14 21:47:14

And porridge, practically all babies in Norway are weaned on porridge, porridge and porridge.

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 26-Mar-14 21:50:15

All Malaysian Chinese babies are weaned on rice porridge / congee. My children gag on it. They are not very authentic. hmm

It's probably my fault. grin

ContinentalKat Wed 26-Mar-14 21:59:10

Car seat and sitting in the front of the car rules here are much less strict over here - except for in my car. Mummy's car is a German car, German rules apply!

Melfish Wed 26-Mar-14 22:03:40

The Indonesian thing about carrying baby in a sling everywhere is true; Indonesian DM used to cart me about in a sling made of batik then used the same one for DD. Though having visited her village it is quite normal for little girls aged 8 or so to carry their baby brothers or sisters in a sling for some of the day. DM also had her ears pierced as a child with a sharpened type of grass- I guess she means like a pampas type leaf, ow!

Sunnysummer Wed 26-Mar-14 22:10:03

The warmth thing is interesting as it seems like such a focus everywhere but the UK!

In Japan you're also expected to bundle up your children in anything short of a heat wave, and you regularly see long sleeved trousers and tops when it's 30 and humid outside, plus the baby is curled up in a sling next to mum (who is also wearing a cardigan). Mysterious to me!

In China it was the same, with the added bonus that older women in particular will tend to dispense lots of 'helpful' advice, like coming up to you in public to loudly berate you for not covering your sweating 6 month old in a blanket.

The nicest thing we've seen throughout Asia is that fatness is a definitely virtue for babies, so our families display DS's million rolls proudly to strangers and other mothers will poke his enormous calves in wonder and ask what we are feeding to achieve this. smile

gutzgutz Wed 26-Mar-14 22:16:49

pretty certain that the wotsit shaped peanut favoured bamba is not the weaning food of choice for Israeli mothers although i did catch mil giving ds2 some at 7 months. not v impressed grin . the main difference is bedtimes. bit it makes sense to have a later bedtime there especially in summer when it is simply too hot until after 5pm to venture out. so an early evening trip to the playground, a later bedtime and a nap are all par for the course. plus children do nap until they are older possibly until school age 6. also children are there to be enjoyed and more part of the family so why would anyone want to ship them off to an early bed? massive generalisation of the English of course (of which i am one). also birth appears to be more medicalised with epidurals fairly standard. but based on insurance system so more consumer choice as it were perhaps.

peppinagiro Wed 26-Mar-14 22:20:11

Thanks for clarifying, Boffin. I did wonder if that was the idea. But the thought of wriggly DD rummaging around all over the grubby toilet floors...<shudder> I actually changed her outside on a bench one day. Ha! That got some looks. Just imagine what kidney infections/death/pneumonia would befall a baby with its bare bottom out in the fresh air!

ThornOfCamorr Wed 26-Mar-14 22:25:16

In China living and working for a while i can confirm the no carseats thing is the norm everywhere. Little children are fed up until quite a late age but with a lots of different foods. It's fine to have a pee on the edge of the swimming pool if you are a child- that's what I found most disgusting!! But everyone was so lovely in general I had to just try to ignore it. Peeing in the street for children is completely normal whilst toddlers- over a plant pot,drains,bins any vessel available.

Never put your hands in your mouth- I had perfect strangers batting my toddlers hand away and scolding her for sucking her fingers! She did have a dummy for a while which was approved of and when my Chinese improved I could hear people discussing why we had one and it was solely to keep dd's hands away from her mouth apparently. There was much discussion from people about why my dd wasn't wearing any socks when it was boiling hot and massively humid!

Never give your children cold water- ever. On stiflingly hot summer days after swimming you absolutely must feed your children hot ginger water before they catch a cold. Many people use split pants still for babies and their little bits are on display despite the fact it's too cold to not be wearing any socks! Bottoms are throughly aired and friends were a bit worried my dd may end up sore and uncomfortable wearing a nappy.

Biggest cultural difference for me compared with the UK was how interested and friendly everyone was towards each others children with no suspicion and there is no routine for bedtimes,the play parks were full at 10pm with families just relaxing. Also loved how everything stopped dead at mealtimes and even Chinese fast food is simply amazing grin

ThornOfCamorr Wed 26-Mar-14 22:26:01

Oh how funny peppin- your bottom comment! Chinese babies bare it all!

ThornOfCamorr Wed 26-Mar-14 22:32:37

I definitely came back a more relaxed parent in many ways regarding earing habits and bedtimes but seem to have a slight obsession with the hands near mouth thing now!

ThornOfCamorr Wed 26-Mar-14 22:32:55

Eating habits

LookHowTheyShineForYou Wed 26-Mar-14 22:41:07

I'm German and had 2 dc there, then moved to the UK and had another one.

I think I was more the weirdo over here, having a proper Fußsack in my pram, which was fleece lined.

I didn't do any baby led weaning. I breastfed exclusively for 6 months, but can honestly say I had zero bf support here in the uk, and loads in Germany.

All our children slept in our bed when they were little. They had a cot in our room but slept between dh and me. We have German style separate duvets and the babies were in their sleeping bags.
I had no end of comments about that from English friends.

The wrapping up in Germany is understandable, I think. When my eldest was little, and born in winter, we had -15 degrees for weeks.

I grew up skiing every single day in Winter after school. On my own, aged 8 upwards. Together with loads of other kids. I walked to school aged 6.

I hate the fact that the roads in the uk aren't really safe for children, especially riding bikes.

When in Germany I get abuse if I cross an empty street when the lights are red. Been here too long wink

fizzly Wed 26-Mar-14 22:44:19

YY to peanuts and weaning in Israel

Great thread btw.

Oriunda Wed 26-Mar-14 22:45:36

Peppin .... I usually put DS in a pull up if I need to change him when we're out, and change him on my lap/standing up somewhere discreet. His christening, in a very posh restaurant with no highchairs and no changing facilities, I put 2 rubbish bins together with a change mat over.

Often mums (not me) will wait until they get home. Always remember my DN having done a hummer of a poo, and me telling SIL. Was summer and boiling hot, yet SIL said she'd leave it until we got home (talking in about 30mins time if not longer). I think DH and I shamed her into changing her then, hated to think about her poor sore bottom sitting in a pooey nappy in a boiling hot car.

dancingnancy Wed 26-Mar-14 22:46:58

Yes, I liked (mostly) how people just come to children and talk to them or touch them. My little very white skinned, blue eyed, blond curly haired child had strangers follow him and pick him up, take photos (had whole busload chase him up a beach).

I sounded critical earlier with my comments on smacking, shouting, car seats,ver tutoring, etc - but I understand they love their children and just have a different way.

dancingnancy Wed 26-Mar-14 22:48:39

Israeli kids are feral. No one ever says no to them! But they still seem to grow up quite mature (auto correct said Maureen - ooerr) and well balanced.

EurotrashGirl Wed 26-Mar-14 23:17:07

Honey what part of the US were you in?

Marrow85 Wed 26-Mar-14 23:25:07

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

stopgap Wed 26-Mar-14 23:27:11

English living in the US, at first NYC and now in commuter territory.

In NYC, you either:

Have an elective c-section.
Pump and monitor the number of ounces of milk your baby is getting, or else breastfed with the assistance of a gigantic feeding tent. If breastfeeding, 12 months is the general goal and not the 6 months more common in the UK.
Sleep train using controlled crying at twelve weeks. Ferber is still the sleep training bible of choice.
Buy every contraption known to man to get your child to sleep in a crib.
Absolutely 100% use a "paci" (dummy).
What the hell is baby-led weaning?
What the heck does a midwife do?
Enroll them in baby classes for music/gym etc. from a young age.
Send yourself insane by applying for a dozen preschools for the "2s Program" (preschools which have a lower acceptance rate than Harvard University).

Or you live downtown or in Brooklyn and:
Co-sleep for many years
Breastfeed for many years
Knit all your kids' clothes
Plan to unschool or homeschool
Encapsulate your placenta

Connecticut is much more like type one NYC parent. Very conventional, with parents calling their paediatrician for the slightest thing (no-one goes to a GP for their kids). I am considered quite odd for not having my baby on a schedule, for not using a pacifier, and for having used a midwife rather than an OBGYN.

calendula Thu 27-Mar-14 00:06:12

Mothers stay in the maternity ward until breastfeeding is well established (if they want to). An extra day or two is no problem.

Babies and children well into school age wear wool underwear for at least half of the year

Not wearing a hat is a bad thing, even in summer

Babies sleep outside, at least down to minus 10 degrees

It is normal to sleep with your windows open at night, even in winter.

Children do not die if they are left at home alone. OK to pop out and leave children at home for a short time from about age 6-7

After school care available until year 4 (age 10). After that children are home alone until parents get home from work.

Knives are tools, not weapons. Children learn to use them at nursery. Axes too.

Children have rain clothes and snow suits and are expected to be outside several hours a day at nursery, even before they can walk. Indoor playtime due to bad weather is an unknown concept. They are expected to keep a set of rain clothes at school.

Nursery playgrounds have rocks and trees. Children climb them, and survive.

Nurseries and schools can take children outdoors without filling out risk assessment paperwork

Breast feeding is the done thing. BF in public is normal.

10 weeks of maternity leave has to be taken by the father, or you lose it.

Children are much less micro-managed than in the UK. Parents just let them get on with things to a greater extent.

calendula Thu 27-Mar-14 00:31:57

Oh... agree with the cod liver oil and obligatory weaning porridge mentioned by a pps

I have obviously been living in Norway so long I had forgotten these might seem wierd.

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Thu 27-Mar-14 00:44:21

I was in Romania when mine were babies. Baby rice came with instructions of how to make it up to add to a bottle. Baby food jars (Hipp) came aged "from 9 weeks". Lots of different herbal teas were given to babies - eg fennel tea for colic or wind. We had a honey pharmacy that used to give you different honey depending on the illness. Gripe water had alcohol in it (oh what blessed luck!) and would be made up for you sometimes by the pharmacist.

You had to dress your baby in a snow suit all year round. A hot summer's day with your baby in a pram with a cotton dress and a sun hat, and all the grannies would stop you and tell you off - your baby was cold, would not grow properly, would not be healthy and needed more layers.

Tiny babies were swaddled to make them sleep better.

TanteRose Thu 27-Mar-14 04:17:11

Sunnysummer I kind of agree with the overdressing in Japan, but on the other hand, they always have the baby's feet bare (so they can control their temperature better)

also in Japan, during pregnancy, you are often VERY strictly monitored about weight gain and get told off for putting too much on.
Conversely, some things that are no-no's in the UK, like eating raw fish, are positively encouraged here, because sashimi is low-fat, high-protein.
Always have to cover your tummy when pregnant - there is a special belly warmer that you have, which you take to the local shrine to have blessed at 5 months or so.
always have to wear socks, even in the summer when it is BOILING hot.

Interesting about Ireland being obsessed with teething - in Japan, teething isn't even a "thing". There is no word for it, no-one thinks your baby is crying because of its teeth coming through - apparently, it just causes the gums to itch a bit, not painful at all. They recommend frozen washcloths as a chewing toy (wet a cloth, squeeze it out, put in freezer, give hard cold cloth to baby to chew on).

Also here in Japan, out and about, I see more babies being held - i.e. not in a pram, not in a sling, just in dad's arms as they walk around the supermarket.

By the time of primary school (starts at age 6), the kids are walking to school by themselves. Famously, if you are Tokyo, you see tiny school children, with enormous backpacks, running through the underground stations to catch their tube train to school!

Great thread!

TanteRose Thu 27-Mar-14 04:19:30

one more thing - far from being spoonfed, Japanese children are encouraged to start using chopsticks early. They even have kids chopsticks with easy to use grip function

snowqu33n Thu 27-Mar-14 04:26:34

Good thing in Japan is most ladies toilet cubicles have a small fold-out seat in the corner for you to put your young child in when you are using them.
DH told me you aren't supposed to cut your baby's hair until 1 year old or they won't speak.

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 06:21:02

Eurotrashgirl - Seattle area, pretty crunchy and one of the most highly educated parts of the US.

Footle Thu 27-Mar-14 07:00:09

The link to the "peanuts and weaning" article led to a defunct page. Shame, I wanted to read that. Thanks GutzGutz for trying.

snowqu33n Thu 27-Mar-14 07:17:28

YY tanterose my DH walked an hour to his school all through elementary. It was normal then for kids to accept lifts home from strangers, too.

NK2b1f2 Thu 27-Mar-14 07:20:47

I now want to live in Norway. envy

ScandinavianPrincess Thu 27-Mar-14 07:29:08

I am British but live in the Czech Rep. Quite a lot of differences I've found.
Most baby girls have their ears pierced. When asked why mine didn't I said I didn't like it. Her first gift from inlaws was earrings.
Temperatures taken anally when she was a baby. I hated it and it made feel very weird.
I didn't give birth here but homebirths are virtually unheard of.
Doctors and nurses generally seem bossier and more brusque although that could just be my take on things.
We live in a small village where I have seen people on scooters with a small child sat infront of them with no helmet on. I see kids in front seats and not in car seats regularly. There seems to be some odd belief that there can't possibly be a car crash or accident in our quiet village.
Weirdly though, in the boiling hot 30 degree plus summer heat you see babies wearing wooly hats. My father in law went mental at the sight of my sockless baby during the boiling hot summer.
Funnily enough though, my Dad used to always go mad about the wet hair and he was a Yorkshireman. It 'gives you pneumonia'.

About overdressing: I don't think there is such thing as overdressing. The perception of hot/cold is def cultural. If you are used to tough it out, then of course people from different countries will appear as overdressed.

On the other hand, as an Italian, I used to grin at so many Brits for moaning in heat waves, when it was never hotter than 26 degrees!

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 07:35:50

On the whole I would say that the USA is more of a child and youth centred culture while Germany is an adult centred culture. When I arrived in Germany that is what first struck me - Wow I am in the land of the Grown-Ups! It was quite a relief.

Interesting that although there is great emphasis in Germany on your children being indendepent at a young age, once they get through secondary level and are in college/university/apprenticeships parents are still financially responsible for them. It is normal to have grown adult children still living at home way into their twenties.

Despite a more structured and disciplined lifestyle I would say German children have more personal freedom than those in the USA and UK. Still considered a very safe society by its citizens, German children can wander at will around their neighborhood and in our case the enormous woods behind our village.

ScandinavianPrincess Thu 27-Mar-14 07:45:28

Just thought of a few more.
Boys in tights is very common. I found it weird at first but winter here is very cold so it makes sense.
Sadly, for me anyway, smacking is the norm, even for very small children. I find it hard to make friends with people as most of them smack their kids and it makes me angry. I was told by someone that people here think British kids are spoilt because they're not smacked!
Five year olds play out alone or walk to a friend's alone, which I find shocking. Kids start school at six and often walk home from there alone or with a friend.
Some things are a bit like my own nineteen seventies childhood. I think the better summers do mean kids can be a bit more outdoorsy, which is nice.

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 07:47:33

Germans are obsessed with draughts and the fact that moving from different changes in air temperature will immediately make you sick. A very close German friend when she found out we had air-conditioning in our house in America asked if we weren't constantly getting sick from moving between cold air inside and hot air outside? She explained how while on holiday at LakeConstance/Boedensee they had an air-conditioned cottage and immediately all fell ill.

However this doesn't seem to apply if you rush from the indoor warm pool to the hot pool outside on a winter's day and then immediately into the sauna and then back into the hottub at your local German swimming pool complex. Strange.

Everyone rides bikes including children, very healthy. The same society has machines selling cigarettes on the streets accessible to all age groups. Not uncommon to see Germans smoking a fag while riding their bike on the way to the Spa.

Grennie Thu 27-Mar-14 08:22:46

I went to a small park when in Hungary a few years ago, and there was a group of children who looked to be about 5 years old playing, while their two teachers sat on a bench talking. Some of the children even went outside the park. When it was time to go, the two teachers simply stood up and called for the children to follow them. No head counts. There were a few stragglers running to catch up. The teachers would have been sacked in the UK, but it all looked very relaxed.

CoilRegret Thu 27-Mar-14 08:24:03

I miss Germany.

Cigarette vending machines, having to return glass soft drinks bottles to shops, and draconian recycling rules including hours that recycling could be done. And the great nightclubs. Mostly in old bunkers. Some where clothes were optional. And only once did we make the mistake of going to a pubic hairdresser ;)

Kudzugirl Thu 27-Mar-14 08:24:36

Fascinating reading and the melon rule resonates with me. I grew up in Central America and melon eating after the sun sank halfway below the horizon was discouraged because of old fears regarding Malaria. It used to be believed that Malaria resulted from being out in the cold night air, especially the air around certain crops grown in sheltered areas.

You can see the same belief in the Laura Ingalls Wilder stories. Pa gets a craving for Melon and Ma warns him that he will develop 'Fever N Ague' as a consequence.

Southern Italy was decimated in parts by Malaria (Matera especially) and so it is not surprising that these customs and beliefs prevailed.

BoffinMum Thu 27-Mar-14 08:24:41

That is true, HoneyandRum, about the fag machines. And the draught thing. grin Germans are hilarious. As are the Brits.

The one thing that has struck me here is how stupid we are about letting our kids walk to school alone or in little groups. The roads around me are identical to how they were when I was 6, yet if I let the DCs walk to school along at that age as I did in 1974 I would be considered unhinged. I wish we could change that. I also wish it was acceptable to leave children home from a younger age. I think we rather baby our offspring here and they become needy and reliant. I think the US is an extreme manifestation of this, as there seem to be no proper adults in the entire country IMVHO.

Kudzugirl Thu 27-Mar-14 08:30:11

German nightclubs are the best Coil, I agree.

German children appear to use suppositories at quite an age. Mu niece does and she is ten. Gave me quite a start when she presented her bare rump for insertion when she had a headache!

Grennie Thu 27-Mar-14 08:32:42

In Switzerland, the nursery who catered for 3 and 4 year olds, would at the end of the session simply open its doors and let the children out. Many of the children walked hom alone. And if you didn't let your child do that, then you simply could never be late. All the local mums thought this was normal.

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 08:33:22

You are not wrong BoffinMum, when the financial crisis hit in 2009 there were headlines saying "Where were the Grown-ups?" - everyone assuming someone has to be sensible/boring and be in charge but no one wants to do it if it's not fun and/or high status.

BoffinMum Thu 27-Mar-14 08:40:38

For me, being able to get married at Disneyland is the perfect manifestation of what is wrong with US society.

Kudzugirl Thu 27-Mar-14 08:43:49

I used to go on the rickety anarchic old bus to school in Central America aged five by myself with my bags, a rolled up tortilla and piece of chile dowsed corn clutched in hand and have a lovey bowl of coffee on the platform with all the other five year olds! The only thing missing was a fag in the other hand grin

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 08:44:05

Kudzugirl I believe the suspicions of melons and what they harbor were on the right track. They grow well in humid or swampy areas where mosquitos lurk. The melons got the blame before we understood that mosquitos carry malaria. Another reason why Southern Italians and Sardinians lived in villages high in the mountains - they understood there was a connection between living in the river valleys and malaria.

Kudzugirl Thu 27-Mar-14 08:46:28


Yes! That is it. You have explained it so much better than me. I love Sardinia- the place to take your young child on holiday and watch them transmogrify into royalty in front of your very eyes. I have seen babies of customers carried aloft through restaurants to be presented to each and every diner for admiration.

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 09:00:52

Sardinia is the perfect family holiday destination, no crowds, beautiful beaches, great food and children can do no wrong. To be fair the Italian location that spoilt our children the most was the small town of Vieste in Puglia. It was March, we found a small restaurant to eat with our three kids ages 4-10. When youngest announced he wanted pizza we explained that wasn't on the menu but the young couple running the restaurant told us the husband was just making bread and whipped him up a gourmet pizza in minutes. Also were thrilled our kids ate mussels and brought out boatloads. I imagine there can be no greater compliment in Italy than your child is a great eater. This young couple came over and stood admiring our children eating their food like proud grandparents. They were truly lovely to us.

lovesmycake Thu 27-Mar-14 09:01:35

The paternity leave here in Norway is amazing and it is very common to see just as many dad's in the health centre for appointments as mums. Also my DH is entitled to the same amount of 'baby days' if DS gets sick as I am - I think this translates to society as a whole as you see many more women in 'traditional male jobs' then in the UK - construction, engineering etc

They have some sweet traditions around treats as well the sweetie displays in shops are quite often called 'saturday sweets' and on saturdays if they have done their chores they get a bowl of sweet porridge with cinnamon. This is from our elderly neighbours so i'm sure things are changing but I hope not to much.

JaneinReading Thu 27-Mar-14 09:02:05

I do though believe that some things are absolutes, right on any basis and some wrong and that we all try to work out what those are. obviously some don't matter at all - if the baby wears a hat or does not. Others can be fundamental to good care - love, closeness etc.

The Japanese co sleeping always seems particularly kind and good.

horsetowater Thu 27-Mar-14 09:02:22

Interesting that although there is great emphasis in Germany on your children being indendepent at a young age, once they get through secondary level and are in college/university/apprenticeships parents are still financially responsible for them.

This is precisely WHAT makes German parents more 'grown up'. They can't have six kids on welfare until 21 so make sure they damn well get them educated and independent at an early age.

Kudzugirl Thu 27-Mar-14 09:05:29

My nieces town in Germany still has that lovely ET like feel with great swathes of kids on bikes swooping past you from sun up to sundown. I love it. They career down the steep hilly streets at breakneck speeds that give me heart failure and run wild in the Black Forest. It is the childhood that my sibling had recreated in Germany for his own children.

JaneinReading Thu 27-Mar-14 09:07:30

My children were the only ones walking to their prep school at one stage and the school asked if they had permission (3 minute walk!!!). I said it was every other parent at the school who was at fault in not encouraging independence, not I. (UK). Their sister took a school coach from age 5.

MeeWhoo Thu 27-Mar-14 09:25:25

Haven't read the whole thread yet, but one of the main differences between UK and certain more traditional areas/families in Spain are the baby clothes.
You go to the park on a Sunday and you think you've inadvertently entered a time warp and are now back to Victorian times (I can't understand it and I'm Spanish)
Examples here www.pilicarrera.com/es/primavera-verano-bebe/look-book-pv14-bebe-243.html

Beastofburden Thu 27-Mar-14 09:27:08

What is the attitude to SN children in your experience?

The Norwegian "climb trees and rocks and it won't hurt them" thing, for instance, would have been impossible for two of mine. Would they have felt very sidelined?

In cultures where babies are very loved and feted, are SN kids given special love but not a whole lot of belief that they could become independent?

I know a young Greek girl who is studying in England because in Greece ppl with her (purely physical) disability just don't go to University.

horsetowater Thu 27-Mar-14 09:31:46

Beast good question, you very rarely see children with SEN in Germany, my guess is they go to special schools and live a segregated life. I would be interested to know.

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 09:40:32

We were in Southern Italy for Easter Sunday one year. Naturally everyone was beautifully turned out but the children were truly a sight to behold, all lavishly decked out in fabulous outfits. The church was standing room only with a crowd outside the front door. The children were all seated while elderly grandparents stood in the aisles. I was standing near the door when an ambulance crew pushed through and slowly made their way among the crowd on the right hand side of the church and then removed an elderly person on a stretcher. Mass didn't stop for a moment. In the US when something similar happened the priest paused and asked the congregation to pray for the individual in the emergency.

Afterwards all the children were given big bundles of Italian candy-like cakes and everyone took a stroll in the sun at the park on the waterfront. It was warm enough that my kids were in cotton sleeves and very comfortable. However as it was still officially Winter in Italy which goes by the calender not by the temperature children around us were in heavily padded jackets and fur coats.

CoilRegret Thu 27-Mar-14 09:45:45

Oh, the apoplectic fits at letting my children wear shorts and short sleeved shirts in the height of summer, anywhere in Eastern Europe. I was a very very bad mum. I also used sun cream on them, not olive oil.

In Kenya I was similarly berated for taking my 6 month old baby out under a black full buggy covering sun shade, and not carrying him. The uk health visitor tried to report me for even considering taking him to Kenya. We had a great time on safari. He was most admired by a cheetah, and had his nappy changed in an national park a suitably safe distance from lions.

BoffinMum Thu 27-Mar-14 09:47:03

I think the UK leads the way in education for SEN, and inclusion issues. Not that there aren't postcode lottery problems, but the principles are sound.

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 09:50:58

Horsetowater that is one perspective but you do know that Germany's population is shrinking? They are not having enough children to replace themselves and are experiencing skill shortages. By mid-century they will no longer have the largest population in Western Europe, that crown will pass to France. It could have something to do with most schools closing by 1pm everyday and Germans believing raising children to be incredibly stressful and hard work.

I was rundown a couple of years ago and went to see my German GP. He believed I had "burnout" and recommended that he send me to a state funded spa for a month! Really wished I was able to take him up on that offer but not really doable with my husbands schedule. You can take your kids though as they have schools at some spas which the kids attend while their poor mothers recuperate.

BoffinMum Thu 27-Mar-14 09:52:07

HoneyandRum, what I would give for something like that right now. I think both DS and I badly need it. Do you have a link??

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 10:00:33

I will ask some friends - I know my eldest DDS good friend disappeared from school and went with her mum to a spa on the North Sea coast last year. Also another friend went through a divorce and took her three children for at least six weeks. The kids loved it and the mother looked like a new woman when she got back.

The Germans take stress very seriously.

lovesmycake Thu 27-Mar-14 10:04:35

Yes interesting question beast. Anecdotally I have heard that depression isn't really a thing here (Norway) and this applies to PND.
However my HV did let us know that couples counseling was available for new parents and they had a psychologist available if needed so I'm not sure if that ties up?
Different to Germany you do see lots of kids with SN out and about but I have no idea of what support they have, I would be fascinated to know if the 'get on with it, free range attitude' is applied to SEN/ SN as well?

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 10:05:13

Ae you in Germany BoffinMum? Talk to you dr she/he should be able to recommend some locations and it is covered by your insurance.

horsetowater Thu 27-Mar-14 10:06:22

I know that children in care in Germany live in a kind of 'village' environment - large foster communities - is that the same for children with SEN? Don't want to derail the thread but am genuinely interested.

BoffinMum Thu 27-Mar-14 10:06:40

HoneyandRum, I am not but I do have another kind of health insurance that might cover part of it.

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 10:09:06

In terms of child rearing I would say that in general Germans are hypochondriacs and love to tell you all about their latest health issues and discuss them at length with others in stealth boasting sessions. I imagine that spills over into health worries for their children so I wouldn't exactly call them free range because they seem to enjoy worrying.

lovesmycake Thu 27-Mar-14 10:13:14

Ah sorry honey I was calling the Norwegians free range, though reading back I see that's not clear smile

ikeaismylocal Thu 27-Mar-14 10:21:08

I have worked in a few nurseries and schools in Sweden and the attitude to sen seems to be inclusive and accepting.

In Sweden we have a simalar attitude to Norway regarding climbing trees and rocks, the children are allowed to climb and explore as they wish but it isn't mandatory and the children do it to varying degrees depending on their personality, ability and interests. There are always other options, it intra specific climbing trees class.

Children with disabilities are very well supported at school and nursery, they have a one to one carer who enables the child to join in as much as possible.

School trips are not allowed to go ahead unless every child in the class can take part, schools must fund the trips themselves so no child is left out due to family finances. There must be a way for all children to join in the activity.

My dp's aunt is blind and she was taken on all sorts of trips whilst at school, skiing with a guide, cycling on a tandom, she was allowed to climb trees and her teachers would verbally guide her from the ground.

There seems to be less of a rush to diagnose young children with specific learning disabilities and asd, the children showing signs of issues are given support at nursery before a diagnosis is given.

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 10:21:52

No probs or criticism implied lovesmycake smile just interesting that national mindset also does seem to influence decisions parents make. By US and UK standards German parents have a lot of support with a society that is more like the 70s in terms of safety and life balance (shops closed by 2pm Saturday and not open Sunday). But Germans must be comparing their situation differently and they seem to see life as very stressful. So it's all relative.

I do hear complaints here that salaries are low but housing costs are also very reasonable it seems.

LeaveYourSisterBe Thu 27-Mar-14 10:27:32

Meewhoo I'm laughing at some of the boys in that lookbook. I imagine so many of them are looking at their feet thinking, "What the f*ck are these shoes?" Do Spanish boys really dress like that?

WelliesandPyjamas Thu 27-Mar-14 10:29:57

Great thread. Bookmarking it for bedtime reading smile

We lived in Bosnia while ds1 was aged 2 to 5 and we were bad parents when:
- we let him go barefoot indoors when there was an R in the month. Thick socks and thick slippers are all that are allowed Sept to April, regardless of central heating and underfloor heating.
- we didn't insist that he wear socks with his sandals outside in the summer (with no R in the month!)
- we didn't ever layer him up enough, even when we made an effort to dress him in what we were being told to for trips out!
- we didn't keep him indoors ALL the time during the snow months
- we let him feed himself. I was always trying to hide my feelings when DS1 was stuffing his face nicely and next to him, our friend's nephew was sat on a lap being spoon fed...right up to when they were both 5!
- we let him drink from a normal cup once he mastered it, instead of giving him a bottle.
- we fed him the same food as us instead of polenta, meat paste on bread, processed meat slices, and lots and lots of sweets chocolate and crisps!
- we didn't encourage him to learn to push, shove, punch other boys in parks and cafe play areas
- we tried teaching him to write and read before he was 7.

Am aware I'm sounding a bit negative grin but on the whole it was a lovely place for him to spend his early years.

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 10:39:20

A friend of mine married to a Bosnian said she scandalized the neighbourhood by taking her baby out for walks in the stroller/buggy as supposedly a baby should not go outside for the first three months! This was about 18 years ago now however. Did you hear about that WelliesandPJs?

AmyMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 27-Mar-14 10:44:41

Hi everyone, we've moved this to classics now. So interesting to hear all your tales of different traditions!

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 10:57:06

Congratulations Dodi1978 now your thread features in a Mumsnet cultural tradition! grin

lovesmycake Thu 27-Mar-14 10:58:56

I didn't know that about school trips ikea sounds lovely smile

BoffinMum Thu 27-Mar-14 10:59:15

it is a great thread.

dodi1978 Thu 27-Mar-14 11:03:41

Excellent! I am thrilled grin and absolutely love reading all these stories! I am the features editor of the local NCT newsletter and am now thinking about doing an issue where local mums and dads write about their experiences of raising a child in another country!

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 11:04:02

What about school trips? Where did your children go? My son was taken to the local bakery and they made German cookies - not too shoddy! They also go on Wandertags (Wandering (Hiking) Days) where they go on long marches through the forest and kindly exhaust your children for you.

TheNewShmoo Thu 27-Mar-14 11:04:34

Oh Sangria I am peeing myself

Housemum Thu 27-Mar-14 11:07:36

Love the independence of kids from other countries - I got the shock look from a friend the other day as I left my 10yo at home for about 20 mins! Next year when DD2 moves on to secondary school, I will have to make sure I fully escort DD3 (will be in year 2) into school. At the moment I leave the pair of them to walk together - there are no roads to cross from where I leave them, I love the fact that they have that tiny bit of responsibility (actually, the 6 year old has a better sense of direction and self-preservation than the 10yo!)

Housemum Thu 27-Mar-14 11:10:10

There was a great documentary on BBC2 or C4 last year looking at the cultural differences between the UK and Germany - with a couple of exceptions, I liked a lot about the German model. As someone said, more like the UK of the 70s (without the strikes and riots). Anyone remember what it was called?

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 11:20:08

I think I watched that on YouTube recommended by an expat friend here. Was it called "How to be German" or something? It was pretty interesting the only very major problem was the Brits of course spoke no German and expected everyone to speak to them in English, which being polite and well educated the Germans dutifully did. Unfortunately this had the effect of making the Germans look very stereotypically serious and without a sense of humour - while I have found them to be in fact a very jolly nation who really enjoy their leisure time and protect it jealousy as a society. They would however be extremely conscious that they wanted to make a good impression if speaking English and would be focussing on not making grammatical mistakes etc. as language standards are very high here. Germans always apologize for their "terrible English" while speaking fluently. Americans will say they speak German if they took a year of classes in High School.

I think they should have thrown the Brits in and just had subtitles to really see how Germans do things.

I've thought of a difference with France actually now. I am quite laid back about colds and coughs (despite both my DCs having been hospitalised for complications as babies, I don't assume every cough will turn into pneumonia iyswim) and other bugs. I watch other parents picking up children from preschool and nursery and if the child coughs the parents always say something along the lines of "you're coughing! you're ill". There is a tendancy to rush kids to the paediatricians for all kinds of minor ailments, a real constant fear of illness and demanding everything be treated.

Similar with bumps and bruises. Parents seem to panic quite a bit more over here. My DD2 hurt her mouth at nursery and the staff were tripping over themselves to reassure me I didn't have to take her to hospital and get it stitched up, whereas the thought hadn't even crossed my mind.

Medical people and nursery staff seem to like the non panic attitude but I have received some filthy looks from other parents when I have shrugged at hearing the list of various minor injuries my kids have had that day and not really asking questions. I would guess I have rolled my eyes at seeing them panic over a bit of snot too though so it goes both ways.

frumpity33higswash Thu 27-Mar-14 11:25:01

well working professional couples see less of their children and use twee phrases like quality time

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 11:29:49

Dodi can I have a German Mutti badge? I caught myself worrying this morning about my daughter going out this morning on a very sunny day and getting "a cold neck" as she wasn't wearing a scarf. I even tried to insist but she brushed me off. I was very seriously worried that so much neck flesh was exposed. No loving mother would let her child out in such a state surely?

I'm so proud of myself, I feel quite emotional and a little tearful.

HazleNutt Thu 27-Mar-14 11:33:08

In Estonia, if you would ask the local mumsnet about after school babysitter for your school-age child, you would be told not to be ridiculous and wrap them in cotton wool - surely a 7-year old can just take public transport and be home alone for a few hours, til parents finish work.

In France, I have not found any restaurants where children are not welcome, including Michelin starred ones (dogs are also welcome in most, but that's another story). But there are also rarely ever any special activities or games available, children are expected to sit at the table just like adults, and behave. I have never seen any children shoving fistfuls of spaghetti in their mouths - either they use napkins, knives and forks, or are spoonfed.

Takver Thu 27-Mar-14 11:38:55

YY MeeWhoo to the great Spanish baby/children's clothes - also in our town there were several sets of identical twins - of course always dressed identically and fabulously. I have to say though that dd was dressed in classic british m/c unisex baby clothes (largely because I had two friends with little boys exactly 1 year older grin ) and I'm not sure anyone ever thought anything of it.

DH & I did have a theory on the multiple layers of warm clothes in what we'd consider very hot weather. Maybe if you are always used to being really quite hot, then it doesn't seem so unpleasant in the summer time when it is insanely hot to British bodies used to cooler temps? Having said that IME people in Almería complain more about the heat in summer than British people do about the rain ever, so if that is the plan it doesn't work that well!

HazleNutt I would agree re children in restaurants. Always welcome and often made a fuss of. Same with dogs. I find the attitude similar in Germany. I have never been made to feel bad about either my dog or my DC. Obviously took crying babies outside to cry but only ever had sympathetic looks, never cats bums.

horsetowater Thu 27-Mar-14 11:43:24

DM always changed her swimsuit when she gets out of the sea so she wouldn't get a 'Verkuehltes/n Karakter'. She didn't force us to though.

I think I only got my first painkiller at 14 given to me by a friend. I was never ill actually, probably just as well. German relatives still over there are obsessed with pills and medication.

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 11:45:23

I am a wimp Brit now as when I was in Norwich for New Year last year I was shocked, shocked (!) at the amount of young ladies wearing ballet flats, thin tights and short skirts with no coat while I was bundled in my German cover-your-arse-zipped-up-to-the-neck down coat, hat, scarf, gloves and knee-high boots.

I slept regularly in the British winter with my window open - I'm a total weather wimp now.

lovesmycake Thu 27-Mar-14 11:52:03

Talking of school trips our nursery regularly takes DS and his class into the woods near by. At our last parents meeting one member of staff conspiratorially leans towards my husband and talks about the time they couldnt find DS beause he had crawled behind a bush (he was maybe 14 months at the time) Husband didn't have a clue what she was on about smile Can't imagine that going down well in the UK

WelliesandPyjamas Thu 27-Mar-14 11:55:54

Oh, just remembered another one (from Bosnia). Cafes will almost always refuse to serve cold juice to children. Room temperature juice is best, the cold drinks will make them ill.

WelliesandPyjamas Thu 27-Mar-14 11:58:33

honeyandrum yes, I have heard about your friend and her foolish ways, people are still talking about her grin sorry, only joking!!

Yes, you very rarely see newborns out and about. Mothers and babies are kept indoors for a long time although I'm not sure for how long.

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 12:00:18

Ha ha! Cheeky monkey!

Monikita Thu 27-Mar-14 12:03:05

Iwillorderthefood I am planning to take full advantage of being pampered and not lifting a finger for 6 weeks (40 days' rest in the parts of India where my parents are from is the tradition) when DC2 arrives in September - although I'm not sure I could stay inside for that long! shock

My DM and DF actually moved down to be near DD (and me!) when she was born and so I'm looking forward to having mum around whilst I am pinned to the sofa surrounded by food and watching crap TV feeding DC2.

The thinking behind it is that it roughly takes that long for post partum recovery to take place (I suppose back in the day giving birth was so much more dangerous) and it takes around 6 weeks to establish breastfeeding.

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 12:07:58

Also it would really make sense before the days of modern medicine to keep a baby protected and away from others when they are in the vulnerable first three months. Apparently we have evolved to be born early in our neurological development (before we can hold our heads up, sit up or walk) because otherwise our massive brains would never make it though the birth canal. Plenty of colic etc. also clears up around 3 months too.

frumpity33higswash Thu 27-Mar-14 12:10:20

This is the most educational site on Mnet. Read it and learn about the customs of other countries

Monikita Thu 27-Mar-14 12:13:18

Sunnysummer my friend told me that in Thailand there is apparently a word to describe the urge to squeeze a chubby baby's cheeks grin

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 12:35:45

The documentary HouseMum mentioned is called "Make me a German" and the whole thing is on YouTube. It shows a couple and two of their kids going to Germany and living like a statistically typical German family.

ThornOfCamorr Thu 27-Mar-14 12:39:40

My German Aunt is absolutely paranoid about germs,soft egg yolks, children not wearing tights and a multitude of other things such as this!

LadyInDisguise Thu 27-Mar-14 12:39:40

I have to say I am still shockshock when I see women wearing more or less no clothes going out at night in the middle of winter. No coat, no tights, and strappy tops...
Same with babies about 1yo with no shoes, no socks on, vaguely a light jumper on pushed around in a pushchair. I mean even Brits wouldn't sit on their patio for an hour with no socks, no shoes on in the middle of winter!
Ime you can also see that in schools where no teacher will ever tell a child to put a coat on whereas they would never let a child go out 9in winter) wo a coat on in France

horsetowater Thu 27-Mar-14 12:42:49
HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 12:44:58

Danke Schoen! smile

LadyInDisguise Thu 27-Mar-14 12:45:48

And YY about wrapping children in cotton wool. I've had a strange look from another mum (who is also a HV) when I said I was leaving my 2 dcs go to the tennis club on their own. They are 9 and nearly 11yo.
I am sure she was biting her lips as to not tell me off and say it would a child protection issue.
Same mum didn't dare leaving her 2 dcs with a 15yo for a couple of hours in the evening. Her dcs are 9 and 11yo and she was planning to be 2 houses down the road. They ended up cancelling sad

On the same lines, it is quite usual in france to send children to summer camps. Most of them will accept them from 4yo but 'cautious' parents will wait until they are 6~7yo to send them away for 1~2weeks. A friend of mine use to spend 4 weeks away during the summer like this and did so from 5yo, every year (childcare issue there).
At my dcs' school, the first time children will have been away for a couple days wo the parents is in Y6....

ThornOfCamorr Thu 27-Mar-14 12:47:04

I was thinking about the question up thread about children with SEN and whilst working in a school in China for quite a few years I saw none. This was quite some time ago though. There is a deaf child in a school where a friends now works in China but he is considered naughty and isn't allowed any extra support as such. My friend works closely with his parents (her own choice not encouraged by school) who are amazing. Their son is the only child in his class who can read English and Chinese because of their work at home with him,he is only 5. Not saying this is the case everywhere as an attitude towards SEN in China nor every individuals opinion,but as an example any thing less than perfect is generally considered a weakness.

Housemum Thu 27-Mar-14 12:52:13

I have a friend who lived in Germany for some of her childhood, wonder if that explains our differing attitudes to illness. I'm not entirely sure that DD3 has ever set foot in our GP surgery (except for immunisations). DD2 only has been once or twice (10yo). My friend's children have had many visits to GP/out of hours service and have had ear/urine/strep infections. I wonder if her kids are really more ill (once or twice was patently obvious something was wrong, but other times I was a bit hmm ) - they will go to the GP if the child is a bit "under the weather" and usually come away with a prescription. My DD3 once spent all Christmas day (she was 3 or 4) on the sofa, didn't want to open presents or eat anything, managed a few sips of water, had a raised temp and a bit of a tummyache - but had no rash/could move her neck down/wasn't especially light-sensitive so figured I'd wait and see. A bit better next day and recovered soon enough. I'm sure many of my friends would've been straight on the phone to the emergency doc.

ThornOfCamorr Thu 27-Mar-14 12:54:02

Children in the UK definitely need more independence but as a British parent I am very guilty of not allowing this. Dd2 is 7 and going on first trip away in May without us. It has taken me a while to get over myself worrying!! It's so important to do things like this. She is beyond excited and I am really glad I didn't automatically say no but it did cross my mind! Learning from other cultures about independence is a very good thing. Dd was absolutely amazed to see a 5/6 year old boy hop on a bus in China in the middle of a busy road by himself on the way home from school. I used to go to the shop for my mum in the 1970's and cross a main road at 5! Not sure what's happened to change things so drastically in the UK.

horsetowater Thu 27-Mar-14 12:57:18

Thornofcannor - get your friends to learn BSL and teach it to their son. They will be able to say really contentious things in public without anyone knowing about it. Like 'look at him, thinks he's clever'. smile

ThornOfCamorr Thu 27-Mar-14 12:59:09

grin horsetowater great idea!

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 13:03:59

Thorn I think this cultural comparison thing swings both ways. My DH is American and extremely paranoid about our kids. Our children ask me "why can't we walk around the village like normal people" and I explain to them that their dad is from a much more violent culture (which his family have direct experience of) and we need to respect that and be understanding. He has generally got more confident as time has gone on here but I still drive our 13 yr old dd to school rather than her take a bus and a train. I think he may relax about that soon as we are moving to a house with a bus stop outside and where two classmates are down the road so could travel together. I understand where my DH is coming from as I lived in the US for 12+ years. The German parents would find it ridiculous though!

ThornOfCamorr Thu 27-Mar-14 13:21:45

So interesting reading about all the different attitudes and good point HoneyandRum regarding the safety worries for your DH. Haven't enjoyed a thread so much in ages! Despite very contrasting cultural differences between the UK and China regarding children,I felt very happy there. I loved talking with people I met about parenting and being surprised at what one another did or didn't do. It's a great icebreaker!

HazleNutt Thu 27-Mar-14 13:42:33

petite was actually quite shocked when a fancy Michelin-starred restaurant said that of course we can bring our 2 massive dogs, they even gave them water bowls.

As for children, I have to say that I have also never seen any children running around in restaurants, sitting under the tables, wandering around and chatting to strangers etc - at least according to MN, everyday occurrence in the UK.

CabbagesAndKings Thu 27-Mar-14 14:00:44

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this thread

Isn't the world lovely, and completely mad grin

LoopyDoopyDoo Thu 27-Mar-14 14:18:10

Yay! The classics nomination worked! smile Great thread OP

CheerfulYank Thu 27-Mar-14 14:31:33

I'm American, born 'n' bred, and I'm fairly sure I'm a proper adult Boffin. grin I got married in a church and everything, no Disneyland nuptials for me! The whole "no grownups" thing is a big city "liberal" attitude. Here in the rural Midwest it's shameful to not be responsible and a hard worker.

The US was settled at vastly different times by vastly different ethnic groups, so areas of the country and sometimes even the same state are markedly different.

I have lived in Minnesota since I was 7. The area where I grew up is way up north and is part of what's called the "Finn Hook"...an area mostly settled by Finns and Norwegians and Swedes. The culture is still evident there as most of us were only 3 or so generations "off the boat".

We went out in all weathers. With snow and ice and freezing temps 5-6 months out of the year we'd have gone stir crazy otherwise! The concept of Sisu is widespread and used as a slogan on T-shirts, bumper stickers, etc.

Now I live and am raising the DCs in a different part of Minnesota- still the same state but 300 miles south- and it's different because the original ethnic mix is different.

For instance I don't have as many of the "typical" American hang ups about nudity as it was still somewhat common where I grew up for everyone to take a sauna together. And jump through a hole cut in the lake ice afterward! smile

Here my SIL tried to keep her TWO YEAR OLD ds from seeing her breastfeed her newborn did! shock I know DH thinks it's a bit strange sometimes that DS (almost seven) sees me in a towel and occasionaly -gasp- naked! He also saw me breastfeed every day for the nine months that DD nursed, of course.

DS went to preschool, which is optional, for just a few hours a day starting when he was 3. He didn't start kindergarten ("proper school") until this year when he was 6. I walk him to school now but he will start going by himself or with neighborhood kids at 7 or 8.

I am considered odd for: never spoonfeeding DD, co-sleeping with her til nine months, giving her herbal tea, and having her outdoors all the time. I even bundled her up and brought her out just for a short walk down the street in -30 because I needed to get out of the house.

Yes to lots of activities. DS had gymnastics at 2 then has had soccer, basketball, swimming, t-ball, and just a general sports program. Oh and tae kwon do. Not all at the same time though! smile

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 14:34:28

Talking of holidays in Sardinia (you can do cheap as chips RyanAir flys into three airports) be warned that all entertainment at Italian resorts starts at about 10pm. All the kids and toddlers are up gyrating at the "Baby Disco" one of the "Animation" team stopped by last time we were there to let us know they would be starting some kind of craft project for the kids - at 11pm!

CheerfulYank Thu 27-Mar-14 14:35:17

That is interesting Honey...here I would venture to say that 80% or so of households have guns but it's not scary or violent. A 13 year old who lived within walking distance of school but was driven would be hmm. Kids here walk to school and ride their bikes downtown from 8 or so, younger if they have older siblings.

I manage the cinema and we often get kids or 9 or 10 on bikes who come in with friends and watch the movie.

Wibblypiglikesbananas Thu 27-Mar-14 14:38:25

I'm British but live in the US. DC1 born in London, DC2 in Washington, DC.

Where to start? Birth here was highly medicalised - 7(!) scans vs. the 3 I had in the UK, constant tests and worries about conditions that it isn't deemed necessary to test for in the UK - strep B for example. Hospital experience was good, own room, nurses generally nice. I ended up with an emergency c-section but pre this, had enquired about gas and air. Might as well have asked for a crack pipe. The hospital did have one Canadian OB/GYN who was very pro introducing gas and air but his efforts kept being thwarted for spurious insurance reasons...

I am a bad mother here for not sleep training DC2, for sometimes co-sleeping (daren't tell the paediatrician that one!), my American friends think I'm mad for not having him circumcised as this appears customary (and they cannot understand why I've refused to attend various circumcision ceremonies, religious or otherwise). Ferber is seen as the way to go - to the extent that I have a friend who tells me she listens to her baby crying in his room at night and lies crying herself, but doesn't go to him as that's what Ferber says (apparently). She is highly intelligent, a lawyer, and I just want to tell her to follow her instincts!!! She is also weaning with purée from 4 months - I'm going to do baby led weaning as I did with DC1 in the UK and even talking about it raised eyebrows...

DC1 - now a toddler. Well - talk about anxiety over preschool places!!!! And what on earth is the point of a preschool that you pay a fortune to attend, but then actually have to stay at with your child?! Or, more likely, pay a nanny to stay at with your child?! I did go to some preschool open days and was amazed that they were talking about writing preK school referral letters for 2/3 year olds. Madness!

Other things - I have a friend who was told off by an American helicopter parent for letting her child touch leaves in the park. Leaves! Who knew?! I had a lady stop her car last year and berate me because apparently DC1 wasn't wrapped up warmly enough. Loads of children seem to have various therapists for reasons I can't quite fathom. And there are companies who specialise in baby proofing your home - hmm, cos you really need to pay a self appointed 'consultant' $600 to tell you to put ornaments high up and fit stairgates...

I think it's fair to say that I align myself much more with other European expat mums/parents in terms of views on childcare, despite the many differences highlighted on this thread. Medical care here is excellent if you have the insurance to pay for it, but there is a level of competitiveness amongst parents that I never saw in London (or certainly not to this extreme!). It's always fun to drop into conversation the fact that various generations of DH's family have been to Oxbridge and we're expecting the same for our two (I couldn't give a monkey's) and then watching the local alpha mums turn green...

CheerfulYank Thu 27-Mar-14 14:55:39

Wobbly I'm American and all that sounds mad to me! grin

Except for the medicalized birth and no gas and air. I'd never even heard of G&A til Mumsnet!

Sleep training is out here too...maybe some controlled crying or the gradual retreat but leaving your baby to scream, absolutely no. And the anxiety over preschool places is definitely a city thing...here you just call and sign up. smile

ScandinavianPrincess Thu 27-Mar-14 15:12:26

People are not very clued up on suncream where I live. People have also asked me if my daughter is cold in the height of summer. Very strange. I think just the commenting and saying you should do this that or the other goes on a lot more here. It would be considered very rude in the UK.

MarianneM Thu 27-Mar-14 15:42:29

I am Finnish and living in the UK but we spent one year in Finland when DD2 was born.

When in hospital following my c-section after a day or so the midwife asked if I had weed yet, and when I said no, she produced what she called a "wee cocktail" consisting of a couple of pills and a large shot of cognac! And it worked!

You have to have a padded snowsuit and hugely expensive proper winter shoes for your DCs in winter, a "mid season" all-in-one suit for another 100 euros or so for the Autumn months, and then of course a "mud suit" plus shoes and accessories for wet weather, all at a massive cost.

Children MUST play outside at all weathers. In the winter when going to the local play centre we would zoom straight to the indoor play area while all the other children played outside and the parents stood chatting in the freezing cold!

One sunny day in June we went to the beach with DD1 aged 2.5 and 1yo DD2 and in the morning there was a national warning in all the media about the dangerous UV rays that day and that all children should wear sunglasses! When we got to the beach my girls were wearing normal swimsuits - all the other children had something like wetsuits on, goggle style sunglasses and hats!

When we had other families over for lunch or dinner it was seen as weird to serve wine with the food.

Although I was quite agog at seeing boys at my DD's school here in the UK the other day in knee-length trousers on a freezing, wet day with the temp about +7 at most!

halfdrunktea Thu 27-Mar-14 15:49:10

NCT newsletter article is a great idea! I am always stuck for articles. Although I don't live in a particularly multicultural or cosmopolitan town (at least compared to London where I used to live) I have nevertheless met parents from at least 15 different countries and it would be really interesting to ask them about whether things are very different in their countries of birth.

petitemom Thu 27-Mar-14 16:13:07

We are bad parents, because unlike many other parents in the Philippines, we:

- Didn't use a belly binder or band (called a bigkis) on our newborn. It's supposed to prevent colic (called kabag) and help children grow up to have a slim waist and the 'perfect' innie -- as opposed to an outie -- bellybutton. Some people place a coin on the navel before the bigkis is wrapped around the tummy as this 'will hold the abdominal contents in'

- Didn't rub chamomile oil (^aceite de manzanilla^) on DS's tummy to prevent or cure colic. My dad keeps giving me small bottles of it to take back to the UK

- Didn't trim DS's eyelashes to make them grow thicker and longer

- Didn't pinch his nose lightly on a regular basis to make the nosebridge higher/thinner

- Didn't make him wear a tiny red bracelet to prevent usog (a kind of hex where a baby can get ill when a stranger greets him or her, eg "Oh is this your daughter, hello, you are lovely!")

- Didn't put a small handtowel or cloth on his back underneath his clothing while out and about -- supposed to absorb sweat from playing and prevent catching a cold

- Didn't just bathe DS in the mornings -- babies will get ill from exposure to hamog (the cold afternoon or evening air; read: 28C)

- Didn't prevent him from playing out in the sun -- don't you know his skin will turn dark like a field labourer's?

- Encouraged him learning to cycle and swim -- shouldn't he really be studying??

Plus other things bringing up a child in the Philippines:

- Fat kids are healthier

- Bottle feeding until 4 or 5 years old is ok

- No travelling with a car seat; babies are fine held in arms in the front or back of the car. We were crazy, overcautious parents for bringing a car seat with us

- For middle classes and up, nanny goes everywhere with child: in the car, grocery, school bus, sitting at the restaurant table or a little way off while parents have a meal with friends, and even inside the classroom. True story: a friend said her son was so proud he didn't need nanny in the classroom with him anymore. I think he was 8

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 16:21:35

Hi Cheerful Yank, yep my DD can't walk to school either it's a good 10 miles away, she would need to take a bus and train and in the winter that would be in the dark as school starts at 7:45.

I appreciate that there are many differences between different regions of the US and even between neighborhoods in the same city. However, statistically the US has more violent crime (rape, murder, assault and armed robbery) than other western nations and many developing nations. My DH grew up in a Californian suburb and I would say his paranoia comes from three factors: a) Paranoid parents b) His job in which he is dealing with the aftermath of violence and c) Violence affecting his immediate family - his dad had a gun pulled on him in broad daylight, a family friend was shot to death by her boyfriend.

I know statistically it is highly unlikely that any of us will encounter violence such as this in our lives but seeing what it does to the victims every day in his work does tend to make him more aware of the dangers.

When we lived in the US we lived in a neighborhood where kids could walk to elementary and middle school. I drove our kids to school as their school was out of the neighborhood and across a freeway and at the time they were in 2nd and Kindy.

DH reminds people that a gun in the house is always more likely to be used in a suicide by one of the occupants than as protection in a robbery or used in a murder.

Germans also have more access to guns than most European nations and our babysitter's boyfriend used one to commit suicide last year. He was 19.

juneau Thu 27-Mar-14 16:47:04

My ILs are American and DS1 spent the first two years of his life in the USA. I got in with a crowd of La Leche League mums who were fab - we were all into baby-wearing and BFing, BLW and making our own purees, but to my MIL this was all very strange and inexplicable. To her, BF-ing was something people did in ye olden days before formula was invented. In fact, she and oh-so-modest FIL were mortified when I merrily whipped my boob out at Thanksgiving and fed 4-week-old DS. I did go in another room, but they were red-faced with embarrassment. Me? Not bothered grin

As for weaning, I started with fruit and vegetable purees, then moved onto bits of banana, avocado, mashed sweet potato, etc, which MIL tolerated briefly before she started asking me when I was going to give him some 'hot dawg' and regaled me with tales of how her two DC were given hot dawg while still in their high chairs. I wasn't really sure where to start with refuting that one! She was also keen to shove sugary biscuits full of additives into his tiny hands at every opportunity and FIL thought nothing of firing up his pipe while his grandson was in the same room. Since moving back to the UK I have to say that I really appreciate the 3,000 miles of Atlantic ocean that separates us!

Kudzugirl Thu 27-Mar-14 16:52:31


That is absolutely fascinating- thank you SO much for posting. My interest in your neck of the woods was triggered by a book I read about two women who travelled around the US in search of Pie! It turned out to be quite an epic journey where they met immigrant groups all over, some of whom were the Belgians in the Kewaunee counties and the others were the Scandinavians around Door County.

A friend of mine is Finnish and uses that term 'Sisu' to describe some of her patients. It is lovely.

EurotrashGirl Thu 27-Mar-14 17:47:50

Boffin that is quite a sweeping statement. Have you met every single person in the US? hmm
Honey the US has a higher murder rate than the UK, but its rates of other crimes such as rape and drug offenses are lower.
CheerfulYank I grew up in Washington DC and I can assure you that Wibbley is not exaggerating grin.

Mercymeee Thu 27-Mar-14 17:50:43

The English obsession with perfectly shined school shoes is a puzzle to me.

EurotrashGirl Thu 27-Mar-14 17:52:17

Juneau You can refute your MIL by telling her that hot dog skins are a choking hazard for babies and toddlers!

sadsaddersaddest Thu 27-Mar-14 18:29:39

In France, I am considered crazy for :
-Refusing an epidural.
-Breastfeeding until about 3 and never buying a jar of baby food.
And I am not even going to mention homeschooling.

In DH's home country (the Berber part of Algeria), I was told off for sitting my baby in front of a table fan (it would give her pneumonia) and not using a hairdryer on DD1's hair (it would give her pneumonia too). It was 35°C!

fizzly Thu 27-Mar-14 18:43:45
monopoly123 Thu 27-Mar-14 18:57:54

I need to catch up on this thread, but has the "Finnish baby box" been discussed - is it true, in Finland when you have your first baby you get issued a box containing basic clothes, bed clothes, (duvet, pillow?) and the baby can sleep in the box? Then 2nd child you can opt out and get cash? I have images of lots of Finnish babies, dressed in government issued onesies sleeping in cardboard boxes.

Thetallesttower Thu 27-Mar-14 18:58:16

I have to say the fear of the harm caused by wet hair seems to cross national borders...except for in the UK.

CheerfulYank Thu 27-Mar-14 19:08:44

Oh I didn't think Wibbly was exaggerating in the slightest! I have an uncle who lives in Manhattan and he and his wife (who grew up there) are very much like that. The anxiety over preschool for their DD had me giggling like a loon, though I sympathized. That's just the way it is there.

My uncle and my dad are close in age but my dad became a father at 18 whereas my uncle didn't until his 40's, so his daughter and my son are only a year apart or so. It's been a really interesting look at the different cultural things!

My uncle and his wife, as I said, were both early 40's when their DD was born (my aunt may have been 39). I was 24 when I was pregnant with DS and that was frightfully young to them, but normal for where I grew up. They had a lot of choice and agonized over schools, whereas we just sent DS to the only one in the town...it was either that or homeschool.

I'm quite strict on please, thank you, excuse me, etc with DS. They "don't want to put pressure" on DD. Also she is shy and doesn't speak when people talk to her sometimes, whereas I would consider that rude and wouldn't allow DS to do it. (She doesn't have SN, selective mutism or anything like that.)

They are fairly neurotic people overall (though lovely!) and it seems like most of their circle is too. I'm pretty solidly Midwestern in that you just shake it off and get on with it.

Honey that makes total sense smile I know we are far more violent as a culture overall. I just meant in my particular area, I don't give guns another thought. I certainly wouldn't allow the DC to be at a house with unsecured guns but other than that, guns just are. Just a tool for getting food.

Speaking of my uncle (and guns) it made me bite back a laugh when one of his friends was stealth boasting about his daughter loving pheasant. Where I come from that's redneck food...it only costs a bullet! grin

Thank you kudzu, if you have any questions ever feel free to ask.

Footle Thu 27-Mar-14 19:10:07

fizzly, thank you for that - and sorry for thinking you were Gutz. I'm very interested to read those details.

WidowWadman Thu 27-Mar-14 19:16:45

travis allegedly petit filous (and even worse any type of Quark) makes the poor little ones' kidneys combust due to too much protein. Even 50 years later it still can be linked back to the petit filous, say the tin-foil hatted time travellers.

MarianneM Thu 27-Mar-14 19:37:40


Yes, the Finnish baby box is true. It is amazing, a lot of clothes, accessories, toys, bibs, reusable nappies, and the box can be used as a first bed for the baby!

Link (in Finnish, with pictures)

Sadly we didn't get one as we only moved there just before the birth! But they sent one to Prince George when he was born I'm told!

HoneyandRum Thu 27-Mar-14 20:20:58

We had a lovely life in the US and a great neighborhood, when we moved in various neighbors came over with pies and cookies. When DD2 was spending a lot of time in hospital and I was with her, our neighbors came over and planted up all our empty planters on our front porch with spring flowers. I am very grateful to the US because I was completely ignorant about babies and BFing and was extremely surprised to find my cynical London self nursing longterm but it was smooth sailing because of all the great support and advice I got from various sources in the US. We also coslept but that happened sort of by accident too. I called the free Nurse's helpline at the local Children's hospital asking about something completely unrelated when the nurse I was talking to asked if six month DD1 was in her own room. I said no, and the Nurse insisted we should get her in her own room ASAP. After that phone call I got very worried as I didn't have any close friends with kids at that point, so I tried frantically to call my Pharmacist friend in England and mother of eight to get her advice but I couldn't get hold of her.

Finally I told DH that we needed to move DD1 into her own room. He said why? I told him about the phonecall and he just said "but I don't want her down the corridor I like her in the bed with us". I was so relieved! I said "Really? Alright great let's just keep doing whatever it is we're doing". At that stage I had not read about attachment parenting or whatever, we just were doing what came naturally. But according to some Indian friends it could also be called Indian parenting! grin

ContinentalKat Thu 27-Mar-14 20:38:03

I love the Finnish baby box!

mizu Thu 27-Mar-14 20:55:15

DH from Sudan. We visited years ago when DDs were small.

There were No seat belts in cars
His sisters insisted on putting oil on their hair after I had washed it
No set bedtimes ever
All girls had ears pierced when very young, mine still haven't.

I conceived dd1 in Oman but was very pleased to give birth here as in Oman the doctors were totally unsympathetic to my horrendous morning sickness and I was basically told to get on with my job, no time off.

And women give birth over there with only a midwife present, no DH, mother or sister.

NK2b1f2 Thu 27-Mar-14 20:55:26

I like the pack of condoms in the Finnish baby box wink

Eyebrows were raised by my Iranian in- laws because:

I weaned my baby too early (6 months).

He has a set bed time routine and goes to bed before us. DS's cousins (aged four and under) are all still awake when they Skype us at gone midnight their time!

I used cloth nappies occasionally. They never knew they existed.

I discipline him by telling him off when he touches things he shouldn't for example. He's too young at 16 months to understand apparently.

I work four days a week. How do you do it they ask me, you must be exhausted. Yes but I have no choice. We wouldn't survive if I didn't.

rainyrainrain Thu 27-Mar-14 21:28:28

Another German here, have been in the UK for 18 years and had both DC here so I don't know a lot about german child rearing but here are a few things I have observed.
My german SIL is pregnant at the moment and as soon as she informed work she did not have to work nights and weekends anymore, its the law apparently. Lucky thing.
German prams and pushchairs are huge and must have proper suspension and the baby must be covered by an enormous feather duvet at all times.
You must wear slippers indoors. My grandmother still follows me round with a pair of slippers when I'm at home and will not rest until I give up and put them on. My mother was visiting when DD2 was a few weeks old and the health visitor was coming round. My mother told me I should put socks and slippers on DD1 or I might get in trouble with social services.Bare feet =neglect apparently. We have carpet everywhere and a very warm flat. I laughed, thinking she was joking. She was serious!
BLW is unheard off. The first time we visited with DD and went out to eat(not anywhere terribly posh) I gave her some pasta shapes on her high chair tray. She was actually not a very messy eater and was not throwing it around or anything. Regardless, the people at the next table were clearly stunned by such slovenly behaviour.
I have a german friend whose 14 month old has never been allowed to feed himself with a spoon. Because she makes a mess. Not sure how she is supposed to learn how to use a spoon!
All babies must have various check ups with a paediatrician, 6 in the first year.They don't have health visitors.

Dundonald Thu 27-Mar-14 21:38:03

I am German as well, and even after having lived in the UK for more than a decade, I can never get over the flimsy way parents dress their wee ones. Someone needs to tell them they're not in Spain :-) In this country, you will never ever need anything short-sleeved, let alone shorts! Those designers of school uniforms must be brought to justice ;-)

CheerfulYank Thu 27-Mar-14 21:45:20

Those Finns are clever wink

Americans are funny like that...where I grew up we talk about being Finnish and there are parts of the culture that remain and it's a pride sort of thing. Yet it's been a hundred years at least since my great grandparents came here.

JaneinReading Thu 27-Mar-14 21:45:58

Lederhosen surely.... shorts are not unknown in Germany?

CheerfulYank Thu 27-Mar-14 21:48:51

I agree about the Germans thinking air changes will make you ill. My next door neighbor is German and last summer when we were chatting I mentioned baby DD was sick. He said "well with this weather, one day it is hot, next day it is not so. Everyone gets ill!" smile

UptoapointLordCopper Thu 27-Mar-14 22:02:54

It's not just Germans - Malaysians think temperature changes make you ill too. smile This is especially interesting since it is just hot all year round.

2kidsintow Thu 27-Mar-14 22:17:15

I think the 'wet hair is bad' idea has translated across to the UK. I rarely blow dry my (or my DD's) hair and DH is forever saying we will catch cold as a result.

I'm laughing at the idea of people thinking we dress too thinly in the UK too. DD2 is as tough as her Dad as far as temperature is concerned. She needs to be made to don her coat even in the coldest weather as she doesn't like wearing too much. She's often out in shorts and a t shirt in the cold. She never notices.

BoffinMum Thu 27-Mar-14 22:17:49

I have thought of another one. The Fon. When this warm wind blows, everyone blames headaches on it and nods knowledgeably if a child reports feeling unwell. 'Of course it will be that!' they say. 'It's the Fon!'

CheerfulYank Thu 27-Mar-14 22:19:48

If massive temp changes made you sick I'd have never been well as a kid in the winter...going from the 88 degree (your temp) sauna directly into the -30 air and rolling around in a snowbank would have done me in! grin

Was never brave enough to jump through the ice but my dad and brother did all the time.

monopoly123 Thu 27-Mar-14 22:26:10

Is there something in either Malaysian or Manderin culture about sleeping in the bed the baby was conceived in for the duration of the pregnancy - no holidays, no new beds?

CharityCase Thu 27-Mar-14 22:49:09

I did scoff about the temp change thing but I think there is some evidence that you get a worse flu season when the weather fluctuates a lot during the winter, maybe because the viruses survive better. There's also something about how very cold dry weather constricts the bronchioles so can exacerbate respiratory infections. It's not to do with you going from a hot place to a cold place though. Still not sure how right this is, but in Hk this year we had a really odd winter- big temp fluctuations- puffas to t-shirts overnight and back again. It has been a terrible winter for really aggressive colds and flu. My teacher friends say that some weeks only half the class has been there.

ThornOfCamorr Thu 27-Mar-14 22:55:20

Not sure monopoly I know in China women are encouraged to stay inside for a month after birth and are looked after by relatives. I can't imagine staying in that long! I do think though here in the UK we don't rest enough after giving birth, there is a lot of pressure to look slim quickly and get on with things.

gutzgutz Thu 27-Mar-14 23:18:34

Israel: i think the peanut thing is because hummous is an ideal weaning food especially if home made and made with tahini paste. so not peanut wotsits! grin also i would refute the poster who said Israeli kids are feral, they are assertive because they have to be. the whole country is assertive. even my shy English (half Israeli) child found some balls to stand up to his cousin last summer. "loh, seh sheli" "no, it's mine" snatching it back. otherwise you just get ignored or trampled on (not literally) grin

CheerfulYank Fri 28-Mar-14 00:15:29

My mother thinks the garlicky hummus that baby DD loves will give her a stomach ache.

LookHowTheyShineForYou Fri 28-Mar-14 05:36:59

Big changes in temperature one day to the next and back again: yy to the Germans forgetting about viruses.

The big downy duvet wasn't in fashion any more when I had my first 15 years ago. She was in sleeping bags of different thickness throughout the year.
Lots of my German friends sleep with their windows open all year round and we like a warm bedroom.

The Pantoffel obsession is very true, but then a lot of the German houses have tiled floor everywhere with underfloor heating, which is off sometimes. Most basements are tiled and have no underfloor heating. Walking on those with bare feet is a shock to the system.

Lots of Kindergartens require the children to bring their slippers, they wouldn't dream of letting the kids run around rooms in street shoes and play on the floor afterwards.
I still find it irritating that children run around the classroom in their shoes and then sit on the floor (carpet) in the dirt.

dodi1978 Fri 28-Mar-14 06:45:09

I just remembered another thing: when DS was just born my dad asked me in a very serious voice to check how much 'Elektrosmog' the baby monitor is emitting! He was very worried about his first grandchild's tender brainwaves being disturbed.... oh yes, Germans are worried about that kind of thing! I was a wee bit busy with bf, expressing and trying to sleep at the time, so did none of the checking and just said that I'd looked it op, and that our monitor was emitting at non- dangerous levels the next time he called ....

HazleNutt Fri 28-Mar-14 09:59:16

Oh yes, all children in Estonia would change to either slippers or clean indoor shoes - and not only in kindergartens, also in school, up to university level.

drinkyourmilk Fri 28-Mar-14 10:05:52

I worked for a British family as a nanny for a few years in Germany (moved across with them). They had a child with profound sen. She went to a regular kindergarten, they went out of their way to include her in all activities including a residential trip where one lovely lady slept on a mattress on the floor with her to keep her safe. The attitude was 'how do you know what she can do/will enjoy until you've tried'. It really challenged my thinking- I found that beforehand I had looking at the diagnosis instead of the person. I'm a far better nanny now.
After kindergarten she moved to an sen school, they operated on the same principle. Very positive, refreshing experience.

Back2Basics Fri 28-Mar-14 10:18:06

I asked my jamaican dp about the difference between there and here.

He said over here you have a baby and your house is packed with everyone coming over and wanting to meet the baby. In Jamaica (he's country so even worse) no but the inner circle of immediate family come in your house for the first couple of months so not to invite spirits in.

Also your with your baby constantly for the first year, yes you might go out for a few drinks but your mum/sister stays at yours with the baby you would never have someone have your baby overnight.

and plenty of smacking and no car seats goes on as well.

There's a few conflicts over when you should cut their hair, dps dm says don't cut it till they can talk or they will have speech problems and others say till they're two. dp also is a snot sucker LOL.

Hoppinggreen Fri 28-Mar-14 10:21:33

Mil is German and Austrian.
She is lovely but my fails so far have been
Not putting the children in vests at all times - they will get pneumonia
Not feeding peppermint tea with honey in from 2 months
Not leaving them to sleep outside
Not making them walk miles when very little
Not knitting all their clothes
Not giving schnapps to aid teething
Not hoping to the docs regularly even if they aren't actually ill
Not analysing every poo

IfNotNowThenWhen Fri 28-Mar-14 11:28:31

"The one thing that has struck me here is how stupid we are about letting our kids walk to school alone or in little groups. The roads around me are identical to how they were when I was 6, yet if I let the DCs walk to school along at that age as I did in 1974 I would be considered unhinged. I wish we could change that. "

Boffin-are the roads by you really the same as 1974?? I find that very hard to believe tbh. There isn't loads of traffic on the streets between us and school, but the difference between now and when I was a kid is that the cars are about 3 times the size! Every other person is bombing down the road in a frickin Range Rover tank type thing, and they can't see anything out the windows that is lower than 5 feet tall.
Every curb is also parked, making it much harder for a small child to see properly both ways before they cross.
Anyway, I doubt many roads in the uK have the same volume of traffic as 1974.
I do think the German (much mocked) thing of always waiting for the Green man is brilliant actually. I am training 7 yr old to do just that. Children can't accurately judge distance until arund 11, so teaching them " green man or don't cross" on a major road is just right!

I really wish children in the UK could have the freedoms we used to have, and that Scandi kids have still.

My kid is certainly going to die of piles because I let her sit for half a minute on a park bench in spring. (Living in Russia.)

BlondePieceOffFluff Fri 28-Mar-14 12:05:59

Somebody mentioned "lørdagsgodt" for Norway, I believe that is still the norm here. Loosely translated it means "Saturday-treat" which is to say that on Saturday the children are given sweets, pop and crisps as a treat. Usually given in the evening while watching tv. The idea is that you only get this on Saturdays, and of course on other special days like birthdays, for Christmas, Easter etc. I think nowadays this is not practised as strictly as when I was young. However I think most Norwegians would be shocked on hearing about UK lunch box treats, if this is true...? :-)

LePetitPrince Fri 28-Mar-14 12:21:37

Over the years, I've visited families in Ireland but not often enough for all the kids to know each other well. Imagine my initial surprise when my kids would be warmly welcomed, handed an OJ, a packet of sweets or crisps and allowed to choose the DVD or telly to watch! This is middle class families in the smartest parts of town. I would be run out of my circles of friends in the UK for doing similar.

I thought it was most strange but actually it's a splendid idea. The kids bond over TV then run around having a great time with their new best friends (full of sugar too) while the parents have peace to catch up.

And best of all - NO-ONE mentions how their child is doing in school, boasting is unheard of unless genuinely pointing out a real achievement (e.g. first prize in something) and there is no competition over whose children are "best". Ask how an Irish child is doing at school and you'll be told "grand" unless there is a genuine problem they want to share.

ikeaismylocal Fri 28-Mar-14 12:23:29

in Sweden kids have lördagsgodis which I think is the same idea as in Norway. It is still really common, you see kids choosing their sweets on a saturday and there certainly are no sweets/chrisps for lunch (apart from pancakes, they somehow count as a ballanced meal once a week) people are shocked that English kids are given chrisps and chocolate in their school lunches, they are also shocked they get given sandwiches for lunch, all kids get a free hot school dinner in Sweden, they only have packe dlunch when they go on school trips, then the kids have extravagant lunches involving different foods in plastic pots and thermos flasks.

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 28-Mar-14 12:36:52

LePetitPrince I'm going to seriously consider this idea of welcome for kids!

BlondePieceOffFluff Fri 28-Mar-14 12:50:51

In Norway we are, at least I am grin very envious of Sweden and other countries that serve nice warm meals at school. I believe France also have some good traditions when it comes to food at nursery and school. Or I may just be brainwashed by Pamela Druckerman's book "French children don't throw food"?

lovesmycake Fri 28-Mar-14 12:52:18

I mentioned the lørdagsgodt - im so pleased it is still the norm, our DS is only 16months but that's how I was raised and how I want to raise him so much easier if among his peers that's just how it is.

Merefin Fri 28-Mar-14 13:45:55

We've travelled and worked in Sweden a lot, esp when the DCs were little and we still do Saturday Snacks now we are UK based. It stops of a lot of whining during the weeks they know they can pretty much have their fill of treats on Saturday. It's not a forbidden thing so they don't go wild. Crisps and Coke that's all.

Me and DHT follow the same rule...Saturday is wine and beer and snacks for us too.

Then we all have the week off from treats, pretty much, unless it's a birthday or something.

Everything in moderation etc etc

BrassMonkey85 Fri 28-Mar-14 14:53:18

Great thread. I live in Gibraltar which has a mish mash of British and Spanish traditions and cultures. I was born and raised in the UK so some the practices here seem unusual to me.

When DS was born, everyone visits at the hospital (family, friends, work colleagues). At one point there was 20 people round my bed! Home birth not an option but level of care from MW was excellent.
It's common to give the baby manzanilla (camomile tea) for problems such as trapped wind, colic etc. Even recommended by the HV.
Most girls have their ears pierced.
Everyone is out all the time with their prams, something which has been great for getting out the house and meeting new people. Most people live in flats which means friends all meet in town rather than at each other's house.
DS received LOADS of gifts when he was born (from DH Auntie's friend kind of thing!)
Really happy to be raising my family here though!

AdoraBell Fri 28-Mar-14 15:05:19

I did all the baby/toddler stuff before moving abroad so I don't have direct experience, but a friend who had her baby here, Chile, was told by the Dr. To give him biscuits mixed into his milk at a few weeks old. These biscuits make me think of sponge fingers, with a thick later of sugar on them.

Not a mum, much less a mum anywhere excitingly exotic, but this thread is fascinating!

The one I really notice with SIL is, babies sleep outside, even if it is so cold an adult would be shivering, because it is healthy. But they have to wear masses of layers and must never be allowed to get wet or messy (even temporarily) because it could make them cold.

AdoraBell Fri 28-Mar-14 15:15:03

LRD my MIL told me To put my DDs outside in the Middle of winter. She was telling me How some people put the babies in their cots for naps, in a darkened room [cats bum face].

I just said - I know- as I took DDs upstairs To their cots and closed the curtáins so they could sleepgrin


ipswichwitch Fri 28-Mar-14 15:30:41

I love the Finnish baby box smile
The Uk government should have introduced that instead I the healthy eating money thing they did a while ago (and stopped just before we qualified typically!)

CharlieSierra Fri 28-Mar-14 15:54:14

This is really funny and fascinating.

My ex MIL is Austrian and I remember all the fussing between her and the old Oma (grandmother) re my refusal to dress my babies in hand knitted woollen leggings and hats in the middle of summer, topped off with a pram duvet if we ventured out of doors. Also, all drugs administered via suppository shock, catching colds from being barefoot, wrapping them up even more if they were feverish - i've literally wrangled DS1 off her to strip him off. And on top of it all hysteria, and arm waving - exhausting!

CharlieSierra Fri 28-Mar-14 15:56:11

Actually, I should be clear i don't think all Austrians are hysterical, arm wavers - these particular ones were evil through and through!

Mumzy Fri 28-Mar-14 16:51:02

When we lived in Hong Kong the full month celebration banquet for babies in restaurants was a big thing. I suppose it is a throw back to the olden days when you would celebrate your baby's birth if he/she survived the first month.

NK2b1f2 Fri 28-Mar-14 17:30:48

My six year old UK born dd is green with envy that if we lived in Germany she would only be in the first year of primary or even yet to start (rather than going into yr3). She also likes the idea of wearing her own clothes every day, walking to school on her own, with a flashy school bag, and coming home before lunch, then have the afternoon to race around on her bike and visit friends (she glosses over the huge amounts of homework I told her she could expect). She is practically apoplectic at the thought of having the annual July Wandertag (school trip) to the local Freibad (open air swimming pool). (And I wish I lived back in a climate where you can set a date in advance for this in the knowledge it will be summer!! shock)
I wish I could give her the kind of freedom I experienced as a child but relocating would mean my 4 year old would stay in Kindergarten another two years (she is reading and writing in English and would not be amused!) and besides I wouldn't get a job to support us all... sad This thread is making me quite nostalgic.

CheerfulYank Fri 28-Mar-14 18:35:07

My six year old is in the first year of primary in the US. smile

WidowWadman Fri 28-Mar-14 19:01:07

NK2b1f2 by "flashy schoolbag" do you mean the extortionately expensive Tornister (with matching PE kit bag and pencil case), which is ergonomically correct and has to be worn for all 4 years of primary school, as it was so expensive, even if she's sick of whatever colour theme she choose when she was 6 after twp years at the latest?

Don't understand the jealousy of having to wait so long to go to school - my 5 year old feels quite sorry for her German friends who have to wait so much longer.

I never understood the German negativ attitude to the "Ernst des Lebens", even when I was a child in Germany myself.

NK2b1f2 Fri 28-Mar-14 19:21:21

WidowWadman Thats the one. My dd longs for a 200 Euro purple design with fairies, or maybe the pink one with princesses, or the red one with horses... grin

WidowWadman Fri 28-Mar-14 21:10:25

Must say when I come across the "Help me choose the right Ranzen" threads on the angstridden German parenting boards I know, I'm rather glad about sending my child to school in the UK. Not only didn't her bag cost 200 owls, I actually got to make it myself :-)

And another strange German thing - every cold is treated with Sinupret and Acetylcystein and paracetamol as a minimum, sometimes Gelomyrtol on top. You simply can't get better without taking all that rubbish over there. But you can't get Lemsip for love nor money. Well, for a lot of money you might be lucky to find a soluble powder for hot drinks, but it's really considered rather strange.

CheerfulYank Fri 28-Mar-14 21:11:39

People treat colds? confused

learnasyougo Fri 28-Mar-14 21:16:25

Do they still do the Schultüte? That large cone filled with goodies German children get on their first day of school. What a fantastic way to mark this new phase in life. I remember mine fondly. It had sweets and crayons and a colouring book in it. I felt pleased as punch walking to school clutching it. wish we did something like that here.

NK2b1f2 Fri 28-Mar-14 21:16:48

Ahhh, you're making me 'home' sick WidowWadman grin. Been here (UK) too long...

WidowWadman Fri 28-Mar-14 21:31:14

They do the Schultuete, (which also needs to be colour coordinated with the Ranzen if you're really obsessed). Must admit I made a Schultuete for my daughter, because I didn't want her to miss out on that tradition

dodi1978 Fri 28-Mar-14 21:47:33

At my time, the Schultuete was filled with sweets and maybe one educational item (book, pen).

I am told that nowadays it's rather the other way round. What a pity smile.

But yes, my boy will get a Schultuete when he goes to school. Not publicly though... we don't want to make the rest of his class jealous! He will just 4 when he goes to school (August birth) so we'll probably have to help him carry it!

NK2b1f2 Fri 28-Mar-14 22:01:20

Dodi I got dd1 one of the smaller ones, about a third of the size of the big ones and meant for siblings I guess. Plenty big enough for a four year old!

file Fri 28-Mar-14 23:29:54

A UNICEF report a few years ago compared childhood in a few European countries. Very long, but extremely interesting. The UK does not do well at all compared to Sweden and Spain.


Ooh. Colds. In France we have snot sucking material and a thing you squirt up the nose. A kind of saline thing. It really helps babies with colds.

Your paed will explain how to so it at your first postnatal appointment.

We also have a chest physio person that will come to the home to treat babies and children with bronchiolitis and pneumonia. I have seen mine in my local nursery popping in for the last few days of treatment. This is free. And it helps. My British mummy friends have not heard of chest physio for such cases.

BoffinMum Sat 29-Mar-14 07:03:40

The English nursery I sent mine to puts babies outside to sleep in coach built prams in a special open pram port, unless it is 3 degrees or lower. It does actually reduce the incidence of colds etc, IMO.

bettykt Sat 29-Mar-14 08:31:35

I have an Iranian friend who cannot say no to her DC. She will trawl 4/5 shops to buy her DC the exact toy that they've decided they want on a whim. I don't know if this is cultural but her DSs are definitely treated as kings and are fairly undisciplined. She looks in horror when I say no to DC if they ask for something.

MamaPizza Sat 29-Mar-14 08:31:42

I still remember my Schultuete! It was bright orange. It matched my Schulranzen and to top it off - I was dressed in orange top to toe on my first day! I still have a picture and it makes me giggle. That was back in the 80s...

DS started reception last September and he is August born. I got him a fully coordinated dinosaur set of Kindergarten bag, P.E. bag, pencil case, money bag, umbrella for his birthday ready for school. He loves it and his class friends too.

I can't wait for him to be old enough to waste money splash out on a coordinated Scout system.

I suppose, having read this thread, that's the only German thing left inside me. I've been here too long, not in touch with German family anymore, but the obsession with perfect school gear is still in me.

Germans would definitely tut at me for taking him to school without a coat when it's only a couple of degrees outside. He doesn't want to wear it, he isn't cold and I suppose it's toughening him up. I on the other hand freeze below 20 degrees and wrap up in a winter coat even when most Brits walk around in t-shirts. I was even freezing on holiday in Barbados, fgs! Must be the many layers in my childhood that made me nesh (as DH says...).

AuditAngel Sat 29-Mar-14 15:03:29

DH is half Spanish /half Italian. We live in the UK.

I am always in trouble about the DC not wearing slippers. Last summer near Malaga the themperature was about 38c, DD2 got Bronchitis. MIL asked the paediatrician about the DC running around barefoot, fortunately he told her that unless it was barefoot outside in snow it wasn't a problem!

TheGrassIsSinging Sat 29-Mar-14 15:14:26

I was quite an anxious, by-the-book first time mum with my PFB and stuck strictly to the 'rules' on weaning my DS on baby rice and mushed veg. I remember having lunch at a Nigerian friend's home and her 1 year old was chowing down on chicken drumsticks and jellof rice. I was appalled grin

FrauEnglischLehrerin Sat 29-Mar-14 18:49:17

WidowWadman you might not get Lemsip, but you can buy tea to treat every possible ailment grin. We not only have Kinder-Erkältungstee (tea for colds) in our cupboard, but also Kinder-Hustentee (tea for coughs). I'm still not sure which you force feed your child when they are coughing because they have a cold, though!

Do other countries put babies' legs in a brace to help their hips set in the correct position? Dd's hips were assessed at birth by ultrasound and we were told to put a folded muslin between her legs over the nappy to keep her legs spread. After a follow-up appt at six weeks we were told she was then fine, but some friends had to have a brace on their babies for three months. I've never heard of any friends in the UK having to do this, is it just a German thing?

WidowWadman Sat 29-Mar-14 19:39:59

Don't even get me started on fecking Nieren- und Blasentee which my mother believes to be the elixier of life and doesn't understand why I don't drink it by the bucket load, and if not that I could at least drink effing fennel tea.

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Sat 29-Mar-14 20:18:12

Blasentee? Blow job tea? confused

learnasyougo Sat 29-Mar-14 20:20:41

blase means bladder.

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Sat 29-Mar-14 20:22:46

Frau Englisch - we had that in Romania too, with keeping the legs spread (we were told to put a folded muslin and another nappy on top). Took her back to UK for a check up, asked them to see if there was still a problem with her hips, and if she would have to have a brace - they looked at us as if we were mad and told us her legs were fine (in fact they looked at us as if we were mad when they saw the double nappy and muslin).

SeratoninIsMyFriend Sat 29-Mar-14 20:51:13

Yes there are hip braces for babies with hip dysplasia ("clicky hips") in the UK - my daughter had them for several weeks as a newborn: full-time at first then gradually less and less. Had to hold the bones still while cartilage in the hip socket developed into firm bone. Have hardly heard of anyone else needing it so not too common.

BikeRunSki Sat 29-Mar-14 21:35:27

I am feeling very [envious]. I went to. French school, answer had the huge posh satchels (cartables) but no enormous cone of sweets!

fuzzle Sat 29-Mar-14 21:57:00

WidowWadman - omg - like this one http://forum.gofeminin.de/forum/matern2/__f2448_matern2-Welchen-Ranzen-fur-Schulanfanger.html nuts and I thought ppl on mn were pfb!

WidowWadman Sun 30-Mar-14 02:10:22
HazleNutt Sun 30-Mar-14 10:22:14

That's another interesting topic, foreign mumsnets. The main discussions in the Estonian one seem to be 'What are your babies/children wearing today' and there's usually a bunfight between people who use winter snowsuit and others who are still/already using spring/autumn overalls.

eurocommuter Sun 30-Mar-14 16:18:08

Totally agree with dranksangriainthepark. Moved to Italy when DC were 2 and 6 weeks. So I was already a bad mother for travelling with such a small child. I am also a terrible mother becauses DC's bed time is 830. Apparently we arepunishing them with such an early bed time.

ItalianWiking84 Sun 30-Mar-14 16:56:41

I am Danish (or Danish/Italian, Luxembourgish) but brought up in Denmark. But have been living for some years in the UK, so here is my
UK compared to Denmark.

UK gives fare more antibiotic out, so easy to get, and often its given in a bigger amount than needed, just in case or for future use.
UK thinks children will freeze to death if they sleep outside in winter time,
in Denmark, children sleep outside in their pram, gives them fresh air. We use different duvets, so the child is covered in connection with the year.
in UK the school thinks, they know better what you child should be served, like white toast, fries and fried food and all these weird little bags of crisp. In Denmark we give our children homemade lunches with them,
made of rye bread, veggies and water/juice/lemonade.
In Denmark, children bike with their parents, siblings or alone to school, parents do not need to drive them around all the time.

mousmous Sun 30-Mar-14 18:38:19

my dc have 'ranzenenvy' but then the children in germany have to carry their textbooks with them and they often walk to school, sometimes a mile or so (on their own). so it makes sense that they are ergonomical. still too bloody expensive. dc's school backpack cost 10£ and is fine for the reading book, lunchbag homework book.

I'm a bad mum because
- I don't make my dc wear slippers (we get given at least 3 pairs per year as they are essential
- t-shirt in march is fine when it's 20 degrees
- my dc don't get warm drinks (herbal tea or milk) they don't like them
- they don't have to clear their plate
- I don't give homeopathic sugar pill for any ailments

oh, and I get berated about the early school start. can't I defer? family just doesn't get that the system is different.

DXBMermaid Mon 31-Mar-14 05:49:33

What a great thread!

I am Dutch.

My English friends think I am strange because I put DD in a play pen like this: www.babyzaak-online.nl/Coming-Kids-Basic-Shine-Baby-Box-p-19480.html one friend asked if DD didn't feel like a prisoner grin

They also think we are nuts for teaching our children how to ride a bike at a very young age and not putting helmets on them.

My one friend always comments on how DD's clothes are so different to the UK. Her DD is always in soft shades of pink or lilac. Mine wears bright colours and only a small amount is pink.

My Dutch friends hadn't heard of BLW, but it is starting to gain some popularity.

They are also a big fan of the up your bum type painkillers, however you only give them if really needed as having a mid fever is good. It is a sign that your body is fighting off the infection...

Sids is not such a big deal. The risks are quickly explained but the guidelines are much more relaxed. Yet our Sids death rates are really low.

Young children walk to/from school or cycle by themselves and leaving your dc home alone for a moment is not considered a criminal offence!