Interesting experience in France

(23 Posts)
GingerDoodle Mon 01-Jul-13 21:21:09

We're just back from EuroDisney. DD, 9 months, is pretty good with food, will happily take a spoon or feed herself.

On more than one occasion, French families looked on in horror (making it very obvious) at the mess DD feeding herself was creating. It didn't bother me per sae, I'm pretty thick skinned, and I guess it must be a cultural thing but

1. It was Disneyland, not the Ritz. The restaurant are mainly buffets.
2. She was enjoying herself whilst eating
3. I offered to clean the resulting mess up (which tbh was not THAT bad).

Now in 2 weeks I'm taking her to Heston Blumenthal's Michelin Starred pub - I fully expect to get a few raised eyebrows there! ... (In my defence it's mil's birthday and I rang ahead to check it would be ok first - they even supply high-chairs which surprised me!)

JiltedJohnsJulie Tue 02-Jul-13 08:19:39

So glad your dd is enjoying food. What were the French babies doing?

hazelnutlatte Tue 02-Jul-13 08:32:11

so how do French people wean their babies then? Spoon feeding was a very messy experience for us - dd would just bat the spoon away or grab it and wave it around, so blw was actually the least messy option for us.

WouldBeHarrietVane Tue 02-Jul-13 08:33:27

Sounds like all is going very well with your weaning smile

I would ignore any looks tbh and file in 'cultural differences'!

Yonihadtoask Tue 02-Jul-13 08:35:21

Babies eating is usually a messy affair no matter who feeds them isn't it?

As long as you do offer to clear up the area in a 3 metre radius from baby then all is good. smile

Enjoy the restaurant.

GingerDoodle Tue 02-Jul-13 10:51:58

Tbh she was one of the youngest we saw in the restaurants - the french families tended to have older children who were either feeding themselves or a couple (probably ages 5/6) were being fed by mum.

I read something a few years ago that the French are quite particular about children eating food in a civilised manner and preferring to spoon feed until a knife and fork could be used properly.

babysaurus Tue 02-Jul-13 10:58:55

Mother of another messy eater here!
Sounds bizarre that they were so disapproving. Personally, I love to see a baby or child enjoy their food and as you cleared up the mess, I have developed a antibacterial wipe habit precisely due to this, what's the big deal!
Enjoy Hestons, you lucky thing!

Nancy54 Tue 02-Jul-13 11:20:28

Ha! I live in France And my partner is french (I'm English). He is HORRIFIED by the mess that our 9 month old twins create when eating and doesn't understand why I don't just spoon feed then! I'm not doing blw so they are spooned a bit but have lots of finger foods too and he can't cope with!

There's lots of differences between french and English weaning actually. They keep them on puréed much longer, they are very precise about quantities, they are very paranoid about choking (hence the purées for longer), they tell you not to give them lentils til they're two, no mango til they're one and very other things!

Theyre loads of differences in so many aspects of child rearing between the two countries. I've lived here for 9 years and always felt pretty well integrated but having children here has made me feel like a total weirdo!

Nancy54 Wed 03-Jul-13 07:27:48

Interestingly though, all the french children I know over 2 are much less fussy eaters than the English ones I know so they must e oing something right!

Nancy54 Wed 03-Jul-13 07:28:18

Something not o ing!

Fantail Mon 15-Jul-13 09:54:21

We took DD to France when she was 6 months old and we had just started weaning, was amazed by the range of purée available - artichoke anyone?

We also took DD to fancy restaurants (not in France) early on and the chefs loved her because she would put anything in her mouth and try it. To this day she prefers rare steak and very strong cheddar. IMO if a restaurant has highchairs they expect children.

MadeOfStarDust Mon 15-Jul-13 10:03:21

my dad is from France and we weaned the French way (I'm a bit OCD - don't really like food mess - probably due to my being weaned mess free hmm ) - puréed everything, fed on a spoon, my kids now 11 and 12 are also not-at-all fussy eaters .

NomDeClavier Mon 15-Jul-13 10:11:01

I don't think purée and fussy eating are linked. The range of puréed food on the UK is limited and generally yuk in comparison. Plus unless you're they type of famiu who regularly buy, say, artichokes you aren't going to feed them to your child but if it comes as purée then why not. I tend to take the view that if they feed it to them puréed I'll feed it whole. DS is less fussy than British children his age and will try anything once.

He also has better self-feeding skills and motricity in general than French children his age which I put down to a BLW style approach.

He's not potty trained though, and most French DC are around 2.

ChunkyPickle Mon 15-Jul-13 10:14:26

Oh god, I think I'm with them on the lentils... DS had some of our lentil stew (well lentil something made up) when he was about 8 months, and I spent the whole night rocking him and cycling his legs they gave him such bad wind..

BotBotticelli Tue 16-Jul-13 09:01:14

Hear hear NomDeClavier, thanks for pointing out that there's not necessarily a link between weaning your LOs using purees and being fussy eaters at a later age. My DS is 7mo and eating a range of both pureed food and finger food, and I am getting a bit tired of seeing comments on these boards which imply that I am somehow letting him down by not doing pure BLW!

Back in the early 80s when I was born, I am pretty sure most mums started off on pureed food (probably vile jars in those days) and then introduced finger foods as well. It's not like there is a whole generation of people in their 30s who will only eat mashed potato! I like to consider myself something of a gourmande, despite being weaned on 'mush' grin

Pascha Tue 16-Jul-13 09:07:31

Just as an aside to this conversation, DS1 was BLW'd and is the most fussy eater imaginable at 2.10. Some children just are.

It must be a EuroDisney thing. We took DD to France when she was 9 months and we did BLW, the chefs loved her, especially as she ate exactly what the adults ate. I think they loved the novelty of a 9 month old gnawing on venison and licking foie gras of bread.

We have also taken her to Michelin starred restaurants in the UK and have always been welcomed (except in Devon and Cornwall where no under 7s/12s are allowed in any of the starred restaurants at lunch or dinner times).

flower11 Tue 16-Jul-13 20:23:10

I dont think they do blw in France I saw lots of babies much older than our dd, 9 months being spoon fed puree. I noticed various people staring at me. dd would generally share my lunch, we did lots of travelling and often ended up at service stations which did good food compared to here. They had salad buffets, I used to fill a bowl with cous cous and cucumber and thinds dd liked, she also ended up having olives and mozeralla and we would share a bread roll. I also fed her chips in a restaurant which got some funny looks.

Badgerwife Wed 17-Jul-13 11:37:17

I'm French, although I live in the UK. I've chatted to my sister about this before and basically BLW is a very rare thing in France. I loved doing BLW and how easy it was to do in the UK with DD1 and I actually look forward to our next visit now that we have DD2 because I secretly delight in horrifying my countrymen and can't wait to have my baby tuck into steak in public grin

maja00 Wed 17-Jul-13 11:43:48

It's definitely a cultural thing - the French prefer puree and spoonfeeding a lot later than we would.

I was an au pair in Paris and was quite shocked to see children of 18 months+ still spoonfed mush, 2 year olds drinking a kind of milk-soup from bottles. They give formula for much longer there too.

It obviously doesn't make that much difference in the long run though.

We moved from England to France while we were weaning DS. I'm not surprised you got horrified looks! As people have said, it's more common here to stay on purees longer (and they are lovely -- norwegian salmon and asparagus, anyone?) and encourage neat eating at a very young age. Yes you still give finger foods but nothing too messy.

I think it's a mistake to think of it as just a difference in weaning, it's part of a much bigger difference in the overall approach to food. My sense is that for the French it's very important to respect food by eating it properly. Food is not just fuel, it is an important part of French culture. To let your baby play with food and make a big mess is not inculcating them with the proper respect that food deserves, basically.

You see this as well when they're older -- the school lunches at my son's preschool are quite impressive, 3 courses, things like risotto and fresh fish, fruit and cheese plates. Food is a serious business!

Obviously you should do whatever you want to do, but I think you'll find very few French people who will see any benefit whatsoever in letting babies play with food. Food is not something to be played with, basically.

Ipsissima Wed 17-Jul-13 12:01:26

I'm just wondering how the Hinds Head meal went !

GingerDoodle Sat 20-Jul-13 08:56:24

Hey all; I had forgotten to come back to update re the Hinds Head. The highchair was interesting; more of a booster seat and harness that a highchair tbh - would not have been suitable for much younger but DD was fine! That said, as she was sitting at the actual table, she cleared the deck in about 3 seconds. The staff were lovely; waving at her, washing her dummy and giving me a signed menu for her to keep.

She loved the bread, my mushroom tart and her Dads pate for starters. I just put a muslin on the table and was popping bits in front of her. For mains she had cottage pie; she was getting a bit hot and tired but this point (it was 32 degrees out) so sat her in her buggy and took the remains home for dinner (which she demolished). We didn't had dessert as neither my stomach or wallet (£10 for a glass of wine!) could cope but had a lovely time.

I was very aware that of the mess she was making and not being loud; but to be fair once i'd picked up the big bits there was only a handful of crumbs under the table. Overall I would def take her again for a family event.

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