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The way we feed babies and young children isn’t always the same in Nepal and Australia. It can be hard to manage this sometimes, especially when grandparents or in-laws are around (we have a whole page on this here!)
Wherever meals are held – at a table, pirka or chatai – when parents are trying to manage feeding while taking care of other responsibilities under a time pressure, all while children might be making a mess, being noisy, or wandering off – they can sometimes get a bit chaotic. Often parents find it hard to keep meals to a set routine and habit in the way that they would usually happen in Nepal.
“In our family meals can be quite chaotic.”Parent
Parents told us about mealtimes getting messy, children wandering around, or taking a long time to finish a meal.
In fact, messy, chaotic meals are normal for most families in Australia – from all cultures!
One parent explained how she found watching videos on YouTube helped her. e’ve made some videos especially for Nepalese families.
“Watching videos on YouTube helped me. It made me feel it’s easier. Like to feed pasta on a high chair. These kids were eating easily on the video. So I tried putting my child in a high chair. They were eating by themselves so I also thought maybe I could let them try too. It was very messy on the video as well!”Parent
The issue of nut allergies can be confusing. People often make a big deal out of it here in Australia, but not in Nepal.
“Stories and issues about nuts are so different in Australia. I find it hard to understand. In Australia there is so much about nut allergies, but with Nepalese that’s one of the primary things mothers and children eat.”Parent
Peanut allergy is the most common food allergy in children. In Australia, about 3% of children are allergic to peanuts.
This means that in a school year of 100 children we expect about 3 of them to be allergic to peanuts. Sometimes this allergy can be life-threatening, which is why we take it seriously here. Safely feeding your children a small amount of peanut before the age of 12 months may help reduce their chance of peanut allergy. For more information in English please click here.
Often in Nepal, parents might feed a child straight away after they vomit. Nepalese families living in Australia noticed that this wasn’t so common in Australia. One parent explained:
“Don’t feed your kid if they vomit. We Nepalese try to feed soon after they vomit. That’s not necessary.”Parent
Children vomit for a reason. They may be full, not ready for the next mouthful yet, or need a break. For a child, being fed immediately after vomiting does not feel good and sets up a bad experience of feeding and mealtimes. This makes them enjoy eating less, and over time may mean they start refusing to feed.
If your child vomits, give them a short break before offering them more food. ALWAYS wait for them to show you that they are interested in feeding by opening their mouth before feeding them again; never force them to feed.
If you are worried about lots of vomiting or not accepting enough food, please see your doctor or community nurse.
In Australia there are often guidelines from health services about what is safe and healthy to feed children at particular ages and stages. Many parents aren’t quite sure what the guidelines are. Sometimes these guidelines might be different from traditional ways of feeding children in Nepal.
“I am a bit worried about giving salty food: I wonder if it’s too early and whether he’s too young for these foods at 14 months”.Parent
The guidelines are only a guide, and if you’re unsure or things don’t seem right, you can always ask your GP or community nurse. There are lots of options for offering Nepalese-style food within the guidelines that are commonly used in Australia.
Click here to watch our videos on safe ways to feed a child taking into account Nepali and Australian customs.