Our son turned 6 months recently and this has led me to think a bit about things that have surprised me since his birth. Some of these may be the result of my lack of experience of babies, but some of them I think are more related to Danish culture.
In Malta body temperatures are normally taken under the arm or in the mouth. However, I was very surprised to find out that body temperatures are taken rectally! Any other temperature taking is very suspiciously looked upon. And this is not only for babies! If calling the hospital they will ask you for a rectal temperature…and wait for you on the phone till you give them one! Isn’t this a bit intrusive and traumatic to do to a child who is already feeling unwell? I have also been wondering if this is only Danish or also done elsewhere.
Traditional vs Latest Research
The WHO issued recommendations in the early 2000s (I think?) that babies should be on an exclusive breastmilk/formula diet for 6 months. However, Denmark still used the 4 month cut off when our son was born, and this seems to be a very popular thing to do. This year in March, however, new regulations were issued by the health department. These regulations are now on board with other recommendations, such as no cow milk before 1 year old.
So maybe late, but the recommendations are changing slowly. I would say that I have found that Danish society is very traditional rather than necessarily going with the latest research in other areas as well such as the benefits of bilingualism (have had a lot of negative comments on this!), and the boy/girl divide (boy/girl clothes and toys and playing with others of the same gender). Does anyone else get this impression?
Mother groups are quite a big thing in Denmark. When having a child some of the common questions are: do you have a mother group? Do you like your mother group? I can answer yes and yes to those! Which is good, as people seem to expect my mother group friends to turn into ‘friends for life’!
The way mother groups work out has been quite surprising to me though! A mother group is a self-organised group of 4-6 mothers with kids born around the same time. The groups are put together by the health worker. We host group meetings at our own houses and we offer food to the other mothers when they come to ours. First time I was up for hosting a mother group meeting I worried a lot about offering food that can be eaten one handed. However this does not worry Danish mothers it seems. Food is invariably Danish bread with toppings. The child is often just put down so the mother can eat. I tend to put in one-handed eating practice!
Luckily an English-speaking mother group has also been started, where I can relax a bit more and there is more one-handed food eating :D. Also, this group has children of a much wider range of ages, meaning that I could get advice from older-children mothers (and feel useful for the younger ones). If you are a new English-speaking mum in town and would like to meet others do request to join on this facebook group.