Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Consultaties, Compliments, and Crackers

A friend commented once on Facebook that she wasn't a big fan of the Consultatie Bureau (a sort of 'Youth Health' system). I've heard several people agree with her, but I'm more on the side of a mutual friend who commented back something to the point of, 'Funny, I like going there - where else do people want you to talk nonstop about your child? :D' I'll also be honest and admit that I enjoy the compliments we get there. Of course I'm a biased parent who thinks that my child is funny and smart and adorable. But it's not a hard duty to show up and have nurses, secretaries, and random other parents exclaim, 'What an alert child!' 'What beautiful eyes!' etc.

After the secretary finished cooing at Pippin (and remember, she probably sees 5-10 babies a DAY) I undressed him down to his diaper for the checkup. I once saw a mother pull out a miniature bathrobe for her little one, and commented how clever that was. I informed Faramir the other day that I'm planning to get Pippin one next winter when he's toddling around the house, but today I just grabbed a hooded towel/blanket to take. They do keep the Bureau rooms warm, so I tucked him in and held him on my shoulder so he could watch everything. A particularly enthusiastic papa smiled at Pippin and then said, 'Dear, see the cute baby looking at me! What a smart child! What big eyes!' She turned from undressing her own baby and nodded, then added, 'Oh, what a great idea, using the towel like that!' I laughed. 'It's the first time for me, too, trying it.'

Then I asked about their baby - a cute little grey-dressed girl of two weeks there for her hearing test. I bet the other papa couldn't wait for when she'd be old enough to watch the world and react to new people... but I also wondered how the other mother felt. And whether she was eyeing me and hoping she would be back in her old jeans by six months. I hope he reassured her later that he loved their baby the most and loved HER the most. Very important, because during the first month or two (or, you know, three...or six... or eighteen... or two hundred and forty) mamas need extra encouragement and love. Just a note.

The checkup itself went well.  Pippin was not allowed to eat the penlight that shone in his eyes and rolled all over trying to catch it. Middle of the curve on height and weight; 'Nicely average,' commented the nurse. 'Ach, and we were telling you that you were unique,' I teased him. She answered questions about when we could start baby sign language ('From day one, essentially') since I'd like him to be able to communicate a little instead of being frustrated when we don't understand him. I used to work with the 1 year olds group at a daycare/preschool, and it was great to see them progress from grunts to simple signs like 'more' and 'please' and 'all done.' She also asked how his eating was going, and showed me the section in the 'GroeiGids' ('Growth Guide') about how to vary his meals over the next few months. Apparently our next checkup isn't for another five or so months, but she assured me I could call or come to the walk-in open days if needed before then.

So there we were, finished for this time. I dressed Pippin again, smiled at 'Oh, look at his little mittens! Aren't those great!' from the other papa, and headed out the door to run some errands. Maneuvering a bulky stroller through stores is not fun, but we had several nice moments of, 'I'm sorry, we'll get out of your way,' and 'No, not to worry.' And a tram conductor who helped lift the stroller plus bags down to the ground when the curb didn't reach far enough. And a stocker at the grocery store who didn't know either what their selection was of 'Biscuits, but not too sweet or with chocolate... for the baby, but not necessarily a baby biscuit?'... but left to ask, and then came back and said they had a whole baby section.

There I found Liga crackers, which I recognised from my search online this week when I wondered what Dutch parents use, since I don't see Cheerios and British rusks on the shelves. And for the experience parents who are sniggering in their sleeves, I am well aware that this is my first child and I have time/energy to look up foods 'Suggested By Smart People Who Will Advise You How To Have A Perfect Child.' And I am aware that any following children will likely be hastily handed a piece of bread or cracker while I race after Pippin (or others) calling, "PUT THAT DOWN RIGHT NOW!"

Now that I'm looking at the packaging (the only one they had of that kind) I'm seeing a cheerful warning, 'From 4-6 months: Only to be crumbled into porridge; not suitable to be eaten out of the hand as a dry biscuit.' The question is now whether I am enough of a new parent to obey or whether we'll just decide that since Pippin is already 6 months, he'll be fine gnawing on it. He has teeth already, for crying out loud.

Looking up the crackers on the Liga website, I find that this entire range up to 12 months is just for porridge. So there goes the whole gnawing thing. And someone pointed out on a forum that beschuit (rusks) are healthier anyway, with less sugar. I check; sure enough, glucose syrup is the third ingredient on the package. Sugar is fourth.

Searching 'Cheerios kopen' I can find online websites where I can order them, but no supermarkets in the area. Oh, and a funny comment on a forum for Dutch people looking for their favourite British foods - 'I still have a healthy addiction, to Cheerios - a sort of round cornflakes.' Never heard that comparison before! We tried rice cakes last night at home but Pippin kept getting tiny chunks in his throat and coughing in confusion. Looks like it will be rusks at our house for the next while. And crumbs galore....



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