How they do it in Sweden

Last week we went to Sweden to visit my brother and his family, hence the silence on the blog. Don’t think I got the Swedish food experience though, as we went to a Turkish restaurant, which was very nice by the way, and cooked at home the rest of the time. My little one even helped making pizza, and ate whole can of sweetcorn with her cousin before we managed to use it as a topping. 

My sister in law also made smörgåstårta for my birthday which is a savoury sandwich cake, the adult version of a birthday cake. It can contain all sorts of ingredients, but generally it is cheese, meat and seafood in different combinations. I had it a few years ago from a shop and it was good but full of mayo, this homemade version however contained mainly low fat cream cheese, so not as heavy, but still delicious. If you are not big on sweets but would still like to present something spectacular for an occasion, this may be the way to go.

Although I try to avoid processed sugar, there is one sweet you cannot avoid in Sweden and that’s kanelbullar or a traditional cinnamon bun. They are everywhere in slightly different forms and are consumed by Swedes in great quantities. Usually not very sweet, but I am planning to make an almost sugar free version in the near future.

I also got a birthday gift in form of cheese, a lot of cheese. The thing is, you don’t really get small packets of anything in Sweden. Cheese is usually sold in half kilogram packages or bigger, the same goes for butter! They do have large families…

I also got really good organic tea, maybe not very Swedish, but it is really good, certainly one of the best green teas I have ever drunk.

How kids eat in Sweden

There is something interesting about the way they eat in Sweden. Firstly, there is a rule of not giving kids sweets throughout the week, they are reserved for one day, usually Saturday. This is just a tradition and most seem to follow, to the point that my brother got told off by a random child this summer who spotted him eating ice cream in the park on a non-sweet day. If he couldn’t eat ice cream, no one could :) So kids can eat sweets, but it is limited in this way, certainly better than having them eat even a little bit but regularly, as this is how habits are created. This is also believed to have dramatically improved health of children’s teeth.

Secondly, when children are being weaned, baby led weaning is recommended and parents are encouraged to feed them family food. So no purees, just standard solid food. Moreover, variety of food is encouraged and the suggestion is that a child should get a portion of meat and a portion of fish during a single day, so no serving of the same food over and over again. Whether parents actually follow any of this advice is a different story, I don’t suppose everyone is willing to cook a couple of times a day, but the principles are interesting. Comparing to what the advice is given in the UK, this is much better.

Few more interesting facts:

  • a child can eat a banana in a supermarket for free, there are baskets with bananas especially for this purpose, keeps kids happy while parents shop (not sure if it’s in all shops)
  • breastfeeding is normal in public places, and I mean normal as it should be
  • there is always an IKEA highchair in a restaurant or a cafe (other highchair brands are available)
  • there is a proper playground in every park and every housing estate / communal garden
  • employers are supportive of both parents taking parental leave and it is very common for fathers to take a few months off with a baby
  • Sweden is probably the best country to have and raise kids (well, this is just my opinion)

If you have any experience of how children are fed and raised in different countries, please share them in the comments, I love reading about the differences and reasoning behind parenting advice.