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WEANING: A ROUND THE WORLD TOUR

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Weaning: what happens in other countries?

We know it, food has a very strong cultural dominance. Around the world, the modes of preparation and consumption are different, and the ingredients used vary dramatically.

But then, what does happen when it comes to weaning? Does a Japanese baby follow the same steps as a norwegian one? Do they consume the same food? Do they do it in the same way?

What does this teach us about Taste Education?

Ratatouie is taking you on a little tour to find out how babies around the globe learn how to eat.


Europe

In the UK, mothers either feed their babies with a spoon or follow the baby led method, or a mix of both to follow their babies’ moods and appetite. It generally starts between 4 and 6 months with baby rice, then cooked vegetables and fruits, before introducing other food categories.

In Belgium, they start with raw fruits blended smooth with a bit of water that they call a ‘panade’.

Italians make their veggie purees and broths (usually carrot and courgette) a tad more interesting with a swig of olive oil and a sprinkling of parmesan, introducing meats like chicken from six months onwards.

Asia

Chinese babies are weaned on congee, a watery rice porridge. Congee is a great base to mix with other foods, such as puréed pulses and vegetables. Chinese mums often include ginger and garlic.

Interestingly, the manner of nourishing the baby can also be also different. For instance, in Japan, the adult generally puts the baby on their lap, back to them, and accompanies him/her in his gesture to bring the food to his/her mouth. There is no face to face relationship between the adult and the baby, as we can observe in Europe.

For Hindu babies, their first taste of solid food is taken in the lovely Annaprashan ceremony. The baby is dressed in ceremonial clothes, blessed by a priest, and takes a first bite of rice pudding. I think it should be like that in every country: the first feast is to be celebrated.

Africa

African mums usually breastfeedtheir babiesfor between 18 and 24 months, and start toweanaround 6 months. Weaning starts with matooke (cooked banana), cow’s milk and maize porridge, moves onto starchy vegetables, like potatoes, sweet potatoes and cassava, progressing to protein-rich sauces that include fish and haricot beans

In Nigeria, where the cult of the chubby baby is very popular, the mother holds her child's nose with one hand and carries the food to her mouth to allow her/him to swallow large quantities.

In Mali, like in a lot of other African countries, adults let the baby feed itself alone from the very beginning, thus choosing the type of food as well as its quantity.

In Morocco, from 8 months old, babies will be exposed to all types of nuts and dried fruits to accustom them to those widely used ingredients of the local cuisine.

America

In Peru, like in Mali, the child is left very early on in complete autonomy regarding his feeding. However the first tastes of solid food a baby gets is granadilla (the pulp without the seeds), a type of sweet passion fruit that’s a good source of fibre and essential minerals, including phosphorus, iron and calcium.

Argentina is a fervent adept of meat, and this from birth. Indeed it is customary to give small pieces of bread soaked in meat juice to infants.

Mexicans wean their babies off breastmilk with soups, tortillas, avocado, beans and fruits like papaya. They are also known to add sprinklings of chilli powder and a splash of lime onto fruit as a tasty snack.

Inuit

Traditionally, Alaskan Inuit mums breastfed their babies for 3-4 years, although many follow modern American weaning and bottle-feeding practices that has shortened this period considerably. Inuit babies can, however, look forward to being weaned on seaweed, nut-tuk (seal blubber) and caribou meat.

Conclusion

In general, the introduction of solids never seems to be to the detriment of breastfeeding or formula during the child's first year. However, it is interesting to note how much guidelines and habits vary from one country to another. It simply reflects culturally different dietary habits, that affect the food given to the children as well as the local availability of food. This shows that there is not one single good method, but that we must find the one adapted to our way of life. This also shows the capacity of babies and children to eat a wide variety of different food, thus annihilating the belief that they only like "bland and beige” food. In Europe, we have a plethora of different food available to us and we know that a varied diet is the key to healthy eating habits. Let’s embrace it from weaning onwards and gift our little ones with the extraordinary festival of flavours, colours and textures that different food provide.


Created On  10 May 2019 8:10  -  Permalink

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