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Traveling with children: Baby food - what do you do?

People eat-food
"No, how fat - then your kids just eat everything?". A phrase Pernille often encounters when she talks to others about their often exotic travels with husband and children. Here are her tips.
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Traveling with children: Baby food - what do you do? is written by Pernille Smidt-Kjærby.

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Traveling with children with a penchant for grandpa food

One can also safely say that our children are gradually both accustomed to travel and open when it comes to new experiences, cultures and destinations. And with such an openness and a courage to meet the big world, well then one would think that this openness and adventurous spirit also applies to the encounter with new and often quite foreign food. But the short answer to this is just, no.

For enough, we travel a lot, and on the trips our children are presented with all sorts of more or less exotic food. And probably they have a mom who is a vegetarian with a penchant for Asian dishes. But when we are at home, we are so privileged that my parents help us a lot in everyday life.

Grandpa is really nice to bring some dinner - or feed the offspring - before they are delivered to us. And so grandfather comes from the country. From a home where there were quite a few children, where hard work was done, and it was only natural that you had to "go out and earn" as a 14-year-old. And hard physical work requires real baby food. Real food like in potatoes, meat and gravy. Lots of gravy.

That’s how it was in my childhood, and that’s how it still is. When Grandpa comes with food, it's real food. And of course he does not do that every day, but often enough that the kids love old Danish food, which their mother rarely dishes up, and often enough that he goes to kindergarten under the name 'Frikadelle-grandfather'. So the openness to new food can - especially in the eldest child - actually lie in a very small place.

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Exotic juice for the kids or not

For many children and probably also a number of adults, it often happens that if you can get what you know from home, then it would actually be quite nice. Here our children are no exception. Why indulge in colorful exotic fruits and juices if you just feel best with pears, apples and bananas?

Juice should also preferably just be apple juice, which can be a challenge in Asia, where they do not have an awful lot of apples, but instead mango, papaya, watermelon or pineapple. But it all gets a little too exotic.

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Doesn't traveling with children present challenges?

Traveling with children can present challenges, especially when you get a little off the beaten track, which we sometimes like to do and where there is far from free choice on all shelves.

You may not understand the language of the staff or the characters on the menu, if there is a menu at all. But here we also just have to keep in mind that it is actually quite cool that the children thrive so well with the travels and the new surroundings and experiences. It may also be ok to be less adventurous with the food.

Especially when they were a little younger, we often traveled with a packet of oatmeal in our backpack; then they could always get it if there really was nothing else they wanted. Or if Pelle after three weeks in Myanmar was getting well tired of rice with chicken.

Should we be away a little longer, we might have brought some familiar 'treats' in the form of cheesecake and vacuum-packed salami sticks. A little familiar is always good to keep the mood up with, and it does not have to fill quite a lot in the backpack.

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Baby food the easy way

When the children were quite small, we often had a small freezer in our backpack. For example, we enjoyed it Cuba.

Pelle was seven months old on that trip, and he had gradually started eating 'real food', but the repertoire was still quite limited. We had the box to lie under the stroller when we were out eating somewhere. If we were lucky that there were rarely many things that were suitable for a baby - eg cooked vegetables, bread, fruit or mashed potatoes - then we put the rest in the box and took it back to our Casa or hotel, if was a refrigerator.

In this way we ensured that he got a fairly varied diet in combination with the powdered porridge and fruit puree we had in our luggage. This was true even in a country where baby food at the time was still mainly based on rice, brown beans and very deep-fried chicken.

Now that both children are older and basically eat everything, it is fortunately often the case that you can either get noodles, rice or potatoes and maybe even a little cucumber. They also have ketchup in most places, and that goes a long way at home. It is easier to travel with children when they can recognize something on the menu.

As soon as you approach places with a relatively large number of tourists, the more 'safe' dishes such as spaghetti, pizza and fritters also appear just as quietly on the menu. It is our experience that if we let the children take it a little at their own pace and let them eat of the familiar where possible, then they will also feel like tasting a little different of the new. After all, no one bothers to eat the same thing for several weeks or months in a row; not even the little ones.

When we were in Japan og Uzbekistan, where the selection of 'typical baby food' was not very large, they actually thought it was a little fun to try some new things. Preserved, the trees do not grow into the sky, but yes, there was hole through.

Especially in Japan, where the food in some of the restaurants is prepared on the table right in front of you, so you can follow the whole process. It took cones.

They also thought it was a little crazy and quite funny that we often could not talk to the waiter. In some places we could not even read the menu card and therefore had to order what they got to eat at the next table because it was easy to point to.

It also helped a bit that you could pull baby food in an exciting vending machine in several places, or that you could only eat with chopsticks, which was also a fun challenge.

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Picky or adventurous?

I would not say that our children are fiercely picky. But one in particular is not quite adventurous when it comes to baby food. Still, traveling with children does not pose major challenges for us. We make sure to prepare a bit from home if we travel to a country where we know it can be a little small with familiar dishes. And then we gradually sense that it is coming just as quietly.

Pelle himself has formulated it very clearly when we were once with the school's health nurse, who was aware that we travel a lot. So her approach to talking about healthy and varied food was something like:

"Well, do you still travel that much?"
Me: "Yes we do."
Health nurse turned to Pelle: "So you are guaranteed to be really good at tasting new food?"
Pelle - with a clear and distinct voice: "No!"

Then we just kind of didn't talk about that case anymore. And yes, the globetrotter boy and girl are still quite fond of grandpa food like buns in curry. But curry is also a pretty exotic spice from India, isn't it?

If you are also going to travel with children, the message from here is just: Do not let worries about baby food deter you from visiting a destination, unless there are allergies or other special needs of course.

Children can do a lot, and if you give them space and time to learn new things, they should probably be able to travel and get some varied food in the trash on them.

Have a good trip with the kids!

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About the author

Pernille Smidt-Kjærby

Traveling is Pernille's great passion. She writes about her experiences on her blog, and also works in the travel industry. Her husband shares the same passion for traveling and going on adventures, just as her two children are already globetrotters, and have e.g. participated in Uzbekistan, Indonesia and Colombia.



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