Challenges we share with families from all cultures

Parenting is never easy! Some things are tricky for parents no matter what cultural or nationality. Transition to solids, establishing routines, and being worried that you’re doing something wrong are all really very common difficulties.

“Our big problem is feeding. We try to feed but still it’s too hard. She is 14 months and still avoids bottle completely. She was six weeks premature. Sometimes yoghurt is okay. She vomits a lot because she can’t chew and swallow.”

Transition to solids | Routine / timetable [which word is best in Nepali?] | Are we doing it wrong?

Transition to solids

At some point, children need to move from breastmilk to other sources of nutrition, including foods that they have to chew before swallowing. Knowing when and how to do this isn’t easy. For Nepalese families, these issues often come up around the time of paasni, but can be tricky for a long time after that!

“He cannot walk yet, so I’m not sure whether he’s ready for solid and salty food.”

[parent name]

“My close friend, I tell her so many times about what I am giving to my child. She said ‘No, what if she will choke? I can’t give that to my daughter’. It’s the parent that is scared, not the child.”

[parent name]

“Maybe with the first child like me they are scared to give solid foods. Maybe the kid isn’t ready to eat, chew and swallow. Maybe they are going to choke. Lots of my friends, their kids are 18 months, and so for one year they have been giving only really soft food. They are scared they are going to choke. That’s why they don’t offer solids.” [maybe audio as well? Fm voice]

[parent name]

Parents had lots of tips and stories about how they encouraged and helped their children with solid foods. One parent explained how she let her child’s reaction to foods help her know what to do:

“Suppose I am giving her purée food but I want to give her some solid food. Just let me try to offer something, little bit one step more than purée. Just offer and if she likes it, then why should I purée it, instead we can go to soft food, then gradually harder food.”

[parent name]

A key thing that lots found useful was offering different foods separately (like Thali?!) so children could see different colours, and test and taste foods one at a time. They will be curious to explore new food, but also sometimes a bit cautious, so separating the foods makes it easier for them. Children can also enjoy eating alongside their parents, and learn a lot from this, especially when it is relaxed and fun and you can make a mess together.

“I try to give different food with different texture, that makes it more interesting to him. Instead of mixing in a bowl, serving in an interesting way – with plain rice and other food.”

[parent name]

“I stopped blending after 9 months. I would give varieties of food so they can see what they are eating.

[parent name]

“I use English spinach as well. I fry slightly with ghee and he would eat well. I don’t feed him puree. Since the age of nine months, I introduced solid food and he eats well.”

“Plain rice and accompaniments with them allows kids to experiment and makes it interesting.”

“We eat along with them. My husband tries the same food. We make it fun by giving two spoons. We eat what they are eating but on a separate bowl. It’s a bit tasteless for us but it encourages them eating.”

[parent name]

You can find more in the resources and videos section

Routine / timetable

Lots of parents would like to get a routine or timetable established with their children, and feeding is a bit part of this. Particularly for young children, when so much in the world is new to them, being able to anticipate what will happen can be really comforting. But should the routine follow what suits the parents or what the children seem to like? And what if things keep changing?

Children often challenge our plans for a nice routine! Having two children of different ages can make this hard, and every child will be different.

“Almost every mealtime is a bit messy and haphazard. We try to set up some timetable, but both sisters follow their own timetable and are inconsistent.”

[parent name]

When parents do shift work [see HLINK] this can be even harder. Maybe the shift patterns don’t match what the children would prefer, or maybe work hours change so it’s hard to feed at consistent times.

Some message from us here would be really useful, and/or an external link – about feeding routines/patterns, and especially reassuring about the ideals of (i) having a stable routine and (ii) following children’s preferences – that often life is different, that’s all okay. What matters is…

Are we doing something wrong?

It is totally normal to worry about parenting! Sometimes parents worry when their experiences aren’t what formal guidelines or medical advice tell us is ‘right’. Sometimes, parents worry when things are what others say is ‘normal’ but still it doesn’t feel right.

“She can go without food for 6-12 hours. Doctors say it’s okay without eating up to 3 days. But I cannot accept that as a mother. It bothers me. During the day, it’s too much for me if they don’t eat for 7 hours. We wonder, whether we are making a mistake as parents. Maybe it’s because we don’t know the right way that we are unable to get this feeding right. Because she kept vomiting, we tried soft food, but now she can’t chew and swallow.”

[parent name]

While it is natural to think in terms of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, often reality is more complex, and what works for you and your child might not be exactly what others say is ‘right’.

It is really important to trust your instincts if you think something isn’t quite right, and to get things checked out.

“Our first born, any time of day, he would eat, we were relaxed and took it easy. This became his habit. He wouldn’t chew, but swallowed everything. We would give him food mixed in a bowl and he would eat without fuss… Generally kids pick things up and put it in their mouth, and we used to take it easy and feel good that our son was not doing that. But later we realised it was not a good thing. As a new parent, we didn’t realise it was anything to worry about.” (Read more about this in the real story [HLINK]

[parent name]

Rather than wondering if you are responsible for a difficulty your child has now, it can be more positive to think about what kind of help will be most useful to get the changes you’d like to see. If like this parent above you have concerns about your child not being able to chew you could… we need to add info here…Are there bits of the main website we could translate and put here? Parents doubting or blaming themselves kind of thing, or breaking out of this way of thinking

 [NH1]Anjana suggests being clear about distinguishing PND here – I agree would be useful to say something (ie. if you’re worried it doesn’t necessarily mean PND, but if you think you might have PND, the next step would be…)

Binita suggests we can mention support through child and family health nurse, supported playgroups etc.