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Cross-cultural shorts 2: baby led weaning

We were at our friends’ place and they also had some younger people over. It was 3pm, so lunch time, and I gave Callum some roasted (plantain) banana.

All of a sudden I realised these young people were staring at me, and remarking to one another. They started looking jumpy, like, actually physically agitated. Finally, someone said to me that they didn’t think it was good for Callum to have the banana. They were concerned that it would hurt his teeth.

I said I thought it was good for his teeth – having something to bite in to, and his gums are pretty hard too. I haven’t really been doing purees – we’ve gone the baby led weaning approach where the baby just eats whatever the family does, and they choose what they will and won’t have. Of course the baby’s main source of nutrition continues to be breastmilk, so no big deal trying to shovel food in if the baby refuses. And the baby eating themselves helps to develop hand eye coordination and various physical and social associations.

I explained this to these young people. It did not help at all. I could tell that, so I said, “None of you believe me!” and they all laughed – exactly right! And fair enough too I guess. We all like to believe our child rearing ways are ‘the best’ but no matter who you are a lot of it is received wisdom which may or may not be accurate.

Categories: Tanzania Written by Tamie

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Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

2 replies

  1. Co-sleeping was the cross cultural difference I encountered with Jo , my wife, when we had Sean. I was raised with the idea of SIDS and medical staff being antagonistic towards co-sleeping. This was non-existent in Singapore and co-sleeping was the norm and something she didn’t want to give up. Consequently she struggled with child and maternal health appointments because she was scolded for co-sleeping and so deliberately hid the fact.

    1. Oh yeah, co-sleeping is a given here too. I asked some friends if they thought it was dangerous and it sent them into peals of laughter.

      Poor Jo. I had a great CYHN in Adelaide who gave me all the official stuff about co-sleeping and then told me to keep right on doing it. And even then I still felt like I’d been told off!

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