One of the things that drives me crazy about being an ex-pat is the differing advice you get on child-rearing depending on what country you’re in. Case in point…

On our last trip to France, we ran out of Daktozin (an ointment for diaper rash). When we stopped at a pharmacy to get more, the pharmacists had no idea what we were talking about. So they did a search on their database, and on reading the ingredients, shook their heads in disapproval as they explained why we should not be using this cream very often. (It contains an anti-fungal agent and some other medicine.) Needless to say — Daktozin is not available in France.

On our return to Belgium, I made sure to double confirm with both our local pharamacists and pediatrician that Daktozin was not harmful. They all rolled their eyes at my story and assured me it was perfectly safe.

I would expect this kind of discrepency of opinion in travelling to the U.S., for example. But not in a country next door to Belgium. (This also happened to me during my pregnancy when I was taking Postafene for morning sickness. We were in Brittany on vacation when I ran out of tablets. At the pharmacy, I was scolded: “Madame, we stopped using this medicine on pregnant woman 20 years ago because of safety concerns!” When I asked my Belgian gynecologist about this, he just scoffed.)

So… who to believe?

Baby eating

This is my current dilemma as I try to further “diversify” our daughter’s menu. I have been following the advice of Belgian’s ONE, which says about 10 grams of meat a day is sufficient for babies 7-12 months. From 12-18 months, they recommend no more than 20 grams.

My husband, who’s reading a French book on baby food, says the French recommend 30 grams of meat a day beginning at 6 months, and then 50 grams starting at 12 months. So… is it no more than 20 grams, or is it 50 grams? It can’t be both…

Our French book also says — no more than one bottle of milk a day after one year. The Belgians recommend between 500-600 ml of lait de suite or formula until the age of 18 months.

I’ve purposely avoided looking at the American sites, because I don’t want to get even more confused. But I did accidentally stumble upon a British site which warns against pureed food — forget the puree, they say. Hand the baby that chicken drumstick and let her go at it! No teeth? No problem! (It also seems that — at  least in the Anglo-Saxon world — cow milk is a “go” after 12 months, something our Belgian paediatrician specifically warned us against.)

Now I’m really confused.

What’s so perplexing is the fact that there is no semblance of a consensus on child nutrition (at least within the EU), and that recommendations vary so widely from one country to another, they’re hardly comparable.

Who’s right? Do I follow the advice I get here? Because once I cross that border, I’m sure to be criticized for it. My mother-in-law was surprised we weren’t feeding our baby soup. (“Pas de soupe pour le souper?!”) My own mother (in the U.S.) was shocked we weren’t feeding our daughter cereals. (“They told me at the pharmacy it would only make her fat!” I protested.)

Still, the larger issue here is not one of tastes, but of nutrition. And that’s what concerns me. I need to know how much meat, how many vegetables/fruits and milk our baby needs to thrive. And the answer to that question has been surprisingly elusive.

One Response to To Live and Eat Like a Belge? Or Not…

  1. Sandra says:

    That is a tricky one, indeed. I tend to follow the advice given in my country because I am familiar with the cultural dos and don’ts. I have lots of friends to ask and then I will just brew my own formula from what everyone says. If all these are valid – the middle ground must be even more so!