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Responses to parenting choices in different cultures - your stories!(67 Posts)
I had a similar thread on this a few years ago, but will try to give this one a slightly different spin.
So here it goes: I am German-born, but have lived in the UK for a long time and am raising my two kids here. DS2 has just started weaning, and we do a mixture of finger foods and purees / mashed food, same as for DS1 really.
Spoke to my parents last week and my dad very excitedly told me that there is a new trend amongst German mums of feeding babies only finger food. Yes, I say, this has been known here for a long time, and it is called baby-led weaning. When I weaned DS1 in 2014, BLW was hardly known in Germany. I spoke to a German friend at the time who is a sort of health visitor (although her role profile is a bit different) and she had never head of it, despite having two kids herself.
After the phone call, I started looking for articles on BLW in the German press, and lo and behold, they started appearing in 2015. What intrigued me is that the main critique of BLW is that babies may not get the right amount of nutrients with BLW. This seems to be taken very seriously.
Now this may be because BLW is so new in Germany and quite established in the UK. But are there other parenting choices two which responses in other countries were quite different?
I work with lots of pre-school dc in a very multicultural city. We often see trends amongst people from different countries.
This can be to do with discipline, attitudes to special needs, ages that families decide their dc are going to do things (such as when to wean / give up bottle / even be carried everywhere), attitudes to play - all sorts of things.
Often not because people have necessarily researched and made a choice, but because that's the only way it ever occurred to them to do it. In other cases it can be because parents are out working all hours and Grandmother is bringing up the dc.
in my culture (Swedish) it was quite a normal thing to let a child come into your bed if they woke up in the night
(db, bless him, often ended up with self, partner, 3 children and 2 cats squeezed into the same bed)
when I had my own dc in the UK I was taken aback to find that "training children to sleep in their own bed" was one of the main criteria by which parenting success was judged
HV (visiting re 2nd child) was not impressed by my approach
As a Brit married to an Italian living in Germany I find this really interesting! When I weaned DD1 in 2015 using BLW my German friends were quite curious as it was not widely known at the time. I now have a 4.5 month old and the advice here is to start purees from 4 months which would get you accosted on Mumsnet 😀 The reasoning is so a baby is ready to eat meat at 6 months when the mother's iron reserves start to fall (as formula is the devil's food). Personally I find it way too early and am happily ignoring my midwife.
Over here it's very common to stay at home for 2-3 years per child. The nurseries in the town where I live only take children from 12 months and close at 16:00 which makes an early return to work or full-time work almost impossible. I went back after 12 months doing 75% which invites many raised eyebrows.
I have embraced some German habits though, such as leaving the baby to sleep in the pram in the garden. Even when it's snowing
As for the Italian influence, my in laws think I am insane for having my toddler in bed at 8pm as Italian kids roam around until late at night. We embrace the Italian eating habits though and let our toddler eat Spaghetti Bolognese in restaurants - the Germans look on aghast whilst the Italians positively relish the mess!
I live in the Middle East and have noticed that Arab mums have a very different idea about what counts as a safe temperature! If I take 6mo DS out in shorts and t shirt without socks/blanket I sometimes get bemused comments from ladies I know - even when the temp is in the high 30s!
Today I saw a baby at the dr wearing a suit, wrapped in a thick blanket and then placed in one of those big padded presenting pouch things. It's 41 degrees outside and even with air con it was over 20 indoors.
I think growing up in a desert gives you a different idea of what 'cold' means
corythatwas I'm similar, Italian living in the U.K....if I tried to explain CC to the average Italian their response would be
Italian peadiatrician advice nowadays for non-sleepers tends to be 'just put them in bed with you, don't worry they won't get spoiled, try again (to get them to sleep by themselves) when they are toddlers'
We're also more chilled re: bedtimes, DM jokes about 'magic English children' that fall asleep at 7pm.
mind you I wish I had one
On the other hand I think English parents tend to be more sensible about illness, my Italian cousins all run to the paediatrician for the slightest sniffle.
In India potty training is usually completed by 12-18 months.
It's funny you say that camomila - DH and his family run to the Dr for everything whereas being a Brit I need to be on death's door before I waste the Dr's time! My MIL has more medication at home than the local chemist and dispairs that my medicine cabinet consists of some plasters and out of date aspirin. It's caused many a heated debate between me and DH as to whether our children need to be taken to the Dr for something (which of course also requires consulting "la mamma" for an opinion too!)
I am in Switzerland and go over to Germany three or four times a week.
Baby tea is something i never came across in the UK, and every toddler seems to wear the hose amber beads.
My DP is Portuguese and early set bed times seem laughably earlier to him. As do special menus for children.
I find the idea of baby tea to be very strange, and I'm not sure why you'd give it or how!
We have teething powder in the UK. I personally found it far more soothing for dd than beads/necklaces.
Baby tea is indeed a big thing in Germany! It's generally fennel tea which is good for tummy ache - you either give the baby a spoonful or drink it yourself if breastfeeding.
I got told off by my Italian resident SIL for giving my toddler herbal and fruit tea as then she would apparently never drink water. Said SIL insisted that chamomile tea however is the only thing to be used for cleaning a baby's bottom 😀
I am English living in France. DD is 12 now but when she was little admitting that you were breastfeeding after 3-4 months was likely to induce trauma in your paedatrician (so you kept quiet) and cosleeping was akin to child abuse (babies needed to sleep in a cot in their own room with the door closed from day 1).
The French are far, far better at weaning, however. I wish I had given DD vegetable soup from 4 months!
I am Swedish but lived in the UK for over 20 years and had both my kids here. In Sweden all (most) kids have something called Välling, which is like a drinkable porridge from when they are about 6 months old. The good thing with this drink is that it fills them up and apparently they sleep through the night early. I have had lots of Swedish people ask me how on earth I get by without this magical drink. The problem I see with it is that it stops kids from eating at mealtimes and get them 'hooked' on the bottle. It is not as nutritional as follow on milk but more substantial. My kids never liked it anyway.
In Sweden dummy's are given straight to newborns and all kids I know there have had a dummy. Some tend to keep it a bit long in my opinion. They have a lovely ritual though when it is time to give it up and give it to the dummy fairy
The one thing I like about Swedish parenting though is the being out in all weathers just get the proper clothing. I think that is changing here too though but when my oldest were little we would be totally on our own in the playground if it was slightly cold and or rainy
Beads and necklaces for teething... god help! For me, that's on the same level than the popularity of homeopathy in Germany....
So you don't import Globulis back to the UK dodi?
Lord help me!
chloe - generally, I must say that I find healthcare in the UK far more.... hm... pragmatic than in Germany! When I was pregnant with my first, I looked at pregnancy information on both German and UK websites. I found German website far too much whale music and esoteric for my taste!
My sister had her DDS in France and like a PP said the done thing was to put the baby to to bed, shut the door and not come back till morning. She also got so tired of the pressure to formula feed after the first few weeks that she started lying and saying that she had switched to FF even though she BF until 12 months. The pinnacle of parenting achievement is to get your toddler to sit quietly through epic 5 hour meals. It's safe to say Dsis is not a fan of French babycare customs!
Dodi the website for my local hospital has massage oil listed under pain relief options in labour!
I have a few French colleagues and understand it's common to return to work after 3-4 months which I think the French tend to FF and sleep train very early. It's very surprising I think that a Northern European country is so ambivalent towards BFing.
My niece and nephew used to drink baby tea, and it was fennel and camomile, in the 90s. In the UK I mean!
chloechloe - France is a Catholic and Latin country at heart, not a Northern European country.
Chloe It's the same in Belgium, breastfeeding rates are shockingly low. When DS was 6 weeks, one doctor told me I wouldn't need to worry about contraception that would was BF friendly in a few weeks because I'd be done. And this was in a supposedly BF friendly hospital! Her face when I said I was also breastfeeding 22 month old DD!
Parenting here seems all about making things as convenient as possible for the parent. It really shocks me how different all the advice is across Europe. I expected it to be much more similar.
Parenting advice in France is about making life as convenient as possible for employers, not the mother or child.
It's also about making life convenient for men (there is more than one interpretation of the emphasis on new mothers getting their bodies back to pre-pregnancy shape, vaginal physiotherapy, sleep training for babies, FF...).
chloechloe Lovely to hear about the baby being left outside. My mother was taught to put the baby in the pram outside for 'fresh air', for my sister born mid '50s in Northern Ireland and me born 1960 in London
These practice must change over time as well as across geography.
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