Parents in France -goûter messing with dinner

(20 Posts)
bunnyfrance Thu 11-Nov-10 08:34:49

Hi all,

A question about what happens in French homes:

DS (14 months) is with a nounou in the day - she gives him a goûter consisting of a yoghurt, a compote and some gâteaux (biscuits I imagine) at 4pm. I then try giving him a dinner of veggies and rice/pasta/potatoes at 6:30 and he's just not interested. He just has some milk (BF) and goes to bed at 7:30pm, exhausted. My problem is he wakes at 5am and I'm convinced it's from hunger, having not had any dinner.

I've asked the nounou to give him less at the goûter, but she persists and says that he wants the same as the other kids.

So, my question is, what do French kids eat for dinner and at what time??

OP’s posts: |
colditz Thu 11-Nov-10 08:36:37

He's a baby, he's not going to want dinner at 6.30, that's bedtime.

Try him with a bowl of cereal before bed and get nounou to give him his 'dinner' at 4pm.

bunnyfrance Thu 11-Nov-10 08:39:59

If he went to bed at 6.30, he'd be up even earlier...

Find it hard to believe that breakfast at 7am, lunch at 12 and goûter at 4pm is enough food to last until the next morning? Is it really so?

OP’s posts: |
stillbobbysgirl Thu 11-Nov-10 08:45:25

don't know about France but my vague routine for my 2 was :
breakfast at 7ish
snack of fruit or rice cakes at 10 ish
lunch at 12 ish
snack again at 3 ish
dinner at 5ish
bed at 7 after millk and a biscuit

little kids can't go longer than about 3 hours without something (actually nor can I smile)

Merrylegs Thu 11-Nov-10 08:46:39

Perhaps he wakes at 5am because he is 14 months old?

If you are worried he is hungry I would also second colditz suggestion and try him with something more 'comforting' before bed - I am thinking warm milky cereal perhaps.

If he is going to bed at 7.30 he will be hungry at 4pm because that is supper time so he should be having perhaps more food, not less.

natation Thu 11-Nov-10 08:48:30

I've worked as a childminder in the UK and again with children in Belgium.It's very hard to have one child on a different regime to the other children. You can't explain to a 14 month old they cannot have eat what the others are eating, unless your child is alone, in which case the change in eating pattern would seem a reasonable request. Children need feeding little and often, I imagine your 14 month old gets a collation at 10, lunch at 12, sleep, play, gouter at 4, that's the pattern for children in our local maternelle for 2 1/2 year olds. You could ask perhaps if the gouter time could be brought forward a little, but that would mean all the children's gouter time would have to change. We give gouter in our creche at 3.30pm. 7.30pm to 5am sounds a typical sleep pattern to me.

Weta Thu 11-Nov-10 09:05:25

I would try pushing his dinnertime back to at least 7pm. Does he have a big sleep in the afternoon?

I think most French children go to bed significantly later (more like 8/8.30pm) and have dinner around 7/7.30pm. The 4 o'clock gouter is an absolutely entrenched cultural tradition that you will have trouble fighting if he is in any kind of care etc with other local children.

We have dinner at 7pm (considered early by French standards) and when DS2 was that age he was going to bed between 7.30 and 8pm (again relatively early by French standards). That seemed to work ok with the gouter...


hobbgoblin Thu 11-Nov-10 09:09:42

My DD is 16 months and goes to bed at 8-9pm, you need a later bedtime with a late afternoon nap that way you can fit everything in.

I doubt hunger is waking him but I don't buy into the idea of hunger waking children at all and never have.

AuldAlliance Thu 11-Nov-10 12:38:33

DS2 is 19mths old, and is with a nounou. He has goûter around 3-4:30pm, depending on when he and the other kids wake up. DS1 is starving by 6pm, so I dish up the kids' supper between 6 and 6:30.
DS2 eats a very variable amount in the evening, ranging from nothing to a biggish meal. He goes to bed at 8pm, and wakes between 7 and 8am, (if given the opportunity to sleep that long). The amount he has eaten the previous evening makes no difference to his waking time.
I think that at this age, it's perhaps not hunger waking him, TBH. I am not suggesting you give it up, but the early waking may be linked to the BF; mine both tended to wake much earlier when they were still being BF and slept through more once I'd stopped, around 13-14mths.

bunnyfrance Thu 11-Nov-10 16:42:43

Thanks for your replies everyone. It's just that for early waking, one of the solutions is supposed to be feeding them up before bed...

Now with the long weekend, I'm trying things my way to see what happens. So today he had a very small goûter, just a few spoons of compote, that's all he wanted. We'll see if he's more interested in dinner, and more importantly, if he sleeps later after eating more later!

He only has two BFs a day, and I don't offer before 6am so not sure there's a link there.

OP’s posts: |
bunnyfrance Thu 11-Nov-10 16:47:29

No, Weta, he doesn't have a long nap, but that's another problem - he has about 30 mins in the morning and 30 mins in the afternoon. The nounou has never seen this before and says it's "pas normal"!

OP’s posts: |
hattymattie Thu 11-Nov-10 17:43:17

Stick to what's best for you - I've brought up 3 kids in France and avoided gouter or given them one or two biscuits not more. We eat at 6.30 ish. The french go to bed lots later and eat at about 8 ish. I find they have very rigid preconceived ideas about nap times and gouter (4 pm at the park and the yoghurts come out). My youngest slept like yours - all children are different - do what works for you - the nounou should fit in with your needs not the other way round.

Othersideofthechannel Fri 12-Nov-10 11:39:43

I think it is more to do with sleep rather than food.

DD declared herself an early waker about this age and would wake at 5.30 regardless of whether she had gone to bed with milk only or had wolfed down a large plate of pasta!

Have you tried bathing him before his evening meal? A lot of babies are hungry when they come out of the bath.

Weta Fri 12-Nov-10 13:48:00

Oh yes, now I remember (thanks to Otherside) that the key for us to managing a later bedtime was moving the bath to before dinner, which is what most French children seem to do.

But I agree that if he doesn't have a long afternoon nap the whole thing will be tricky. DS1 was like that, but wasn't in any afternoon care in France until nearly 4 so it wasn't an issue. Have you considered stopping morning nap and giving one long nap in the afternoon?

Otherwise you may just have to accept that you are 'pas normal' and work with the nounou as best you can.

flyingcloud Fri 12-Nov-10 21:42:28

Hi Bunny,

Just to reiterate what others have said:
My nounouu, who I love, says that once DD is able she must fit in with the 'routine' of the day, as otherwise it's too difficult to manage the children. She is now fitting in very well with the 4pm gouter.

DH and I are late eaters, between 8pm and 9pm, but I struggled to begin with to keep DD awake long enough in the evenings to feed her before bed time (around 7ish). She is not a great day-time sleeper, a bit like yours (although she was home today and slept 2.5hrs this afternoon, got LOTS done!) Then DH, who is never home before seven, asked if he could do the bath and feed her and do bedtime - as he doesn't see her in the mornings this is fine by me, so we have had to put her bedtime back to 8pm. This now works perfectly with her day with the nounou and to be honest she adapted pretty well - to begin with she used to sleep in the car on the way home from the nounou for 20mins and this helped too.

I think pushing bedtime back a bit would be good and would make things easier for you. I do think if children are going to grow up here in France then they should try and adapt to the French rhythm a bit (that's not meant to sound patronising just my thinking on the matter) - this will help when they start socialising with French children and other French families a bit more.

bunnyfrance Mon 15-Nov-10 10:01:36

Hi everyone,

Well, I've done a four-day experiment with a very small goûter and a good sized dinner, which he wolfed down. The result has been that DS has slept until 6am the last three mornings. This is a luxurious lie-in for us.

So, arrrggghhh, this could be a fluke or it confirms my suspicions that a good dinner is key to a good night.

It's so hard, fitting into another culture's routine. I myself am in bed by 9:30pm, 10pm at the absolute latest, I couldn't imagine DS staying up until then. It was all very well before having children, I could just do my own thing, once you have kids you really see the cultural differences coming out!

OP’s posts: |
jamaisjedors Thu 18-Nov-10 14:17:36

We struggle with this too.

We have asked our nounou to cut down the goûter but it's hard for her to say no to them especially when other children are around.

We usually eat around 7pm (bath before - but only twice a week) and the DSs go to bed at 8-8.30pm.

They have always had a long afternoon sleep.

DS2 dropped his last year but since going to school in September (he is 3) he has been sleeping at school every afternoon for 1-1.5hrs.

FWIW, I had DS1 on a semi-English schedule, with bed at 7pm.

He woke systematically at 5.30am.

The French thought I was nuts!

I still struggle with the lack of an evening, particularly as I need to work in the evenings, but on the other hand, we never have to get up before 7am anymore!

jamaisjedors Thu 18-Nov-10 14:18:51

Actually I DO find that on the nights when the DS have had a HUGE goûter at 4.30-5ish, and then gone to bed with maybe only a piece of bread extra, they wake earlier the next day.

winnybella Thu 18-Nov-10 14:23:02

My kids have gouter at 4.40 (after ds comes back from school).

Dinner at 7.30-8.

Bedtime at 9.

They are 8 and 21 mo. Both are hungry by the dinner time.

One of the reasons I don't put DD to bed at 7 is that I couldn't deal with waking up at 5 or 6.

She wakes up at 8 grin. Nap 2-4. Gouter after map. Dinner few hours later. Workes perfectly.

winnybella Thu 18-Nov-10 14:24:22

nap and works !

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