July 27, 2005

Eating: Babies In Japan

Every baby under the age of one in Japan is as fat as a sumo wrestler. They ride around, inert, and sprawled in their tiny strollers like drunks on a frathouse sofa. I can't figure it out.

Here are three things I do know:
- Baby food in Japan has all kinds of stews, udon noodles, and fish, for kids as young as 6-9 months,
- But they don't start using chopsticks on their own until they're 2, at least according to the chopstick sizing chart in this Harajuku chopstick shop.
- Which means the kid is 3.5 years too young for the 16cm chopsticks I bought her at Muji.

Conclusion: Until they turn two, Japanese babies are force-fed rice and stew with giant spoons, stuffed like foie gras geese. Then there's some kind of preschool SAT, and the babies who fail are turned over to a witch and baked into fancy cakes. Hey, I mean, if they eat whale...

14 Comments

It could be a genetic thing... all of our asian friends' babies are pretty chubby looking. One little girl born a month after ours has just caught up to our daughter, who herself is in the 90th percentile for weight at 6 months, and this is all on breast milk...

I guess my maternal grandpa's skinny tall Ukranian genes were the dominant set... :)

I think it is also parenting approach. I think they have a tendency to feed the baby on demand and not structure their feed schedule much. This is what I have observed from the oriental people I am friends with. Although, becoming a Sumo wrestler is very prestigious!

Friends of ours recently adopted from an orphanage in Korea. When they got back, they hermitted for awhile but then invited us over. Of course, in their emails and phone conversations they had led us to believe that this baby was coming from a very impovrished part of Korea, underfed etc.

We got to S&G's house, and waited for their son to wake up from his nap. We were sitting in the parlour and then little Brian woke up. A minute or so later, who should come around the corner but a mini-me Michelin Man. He looked 5 years old, not 18 months. I literally had to shut my husbands mouth, as the cookie proverbially crumbled out of it.

Cute and delightful little boy however! Whatever they are feeding them, I want some for my twiggy monkeys!!

Our daughter is a little on the skinnier side. Maybe it is due to her problems with dairy ... the pediatrician assures us she is just fine. My wife worries a little bit about her not being very Micheline-like, but I think average sized babies are cuter than the big roly-poly ones... but maybe I am biased.

Any chance your friends adopted a skinny baby from an impoverished area and are over-compensating by feeding him too much? (is that possible for a baby that young??)

Also, Jason, oriental is not the preferred nomenclature. Asian-American please. [Or just Asian, so you don't upset all the Canadians... -ed.]

Five posts, and not one person asked why you were eating babies in Japan.

why are people eating babies in japan? i think fatbabies are cute.

Babies in Japan...mmmmmmmm
(in a Homery way)

You should buy a couple of baby cookmooks too. They generally have delicious recipes with carefully chosen ingredient lists, and kind of build a system so that the kid ends up trying a great variety of (Japanese) things. The end result photos are obviously way too beautiful for people who actually *have* kids, but still...

[this country is mook, mook, mook 24/7, let me tell you. -ed.]

Cam D said : all of our asian friends' babies are pretty chubby looking

Not true, don't generalised and stereotyped. My baby is 8mths, and she's not very chubby, and I'm very Asian.

It all depends how the parents feed them, and what they feed them.

So, that's where the term "baby cakes" comes from!

I agree that not all Asian babies are chubby. Mine isn't. (I can't tell if Daddy Greg had any kind of judgement on the fat baby thing, but in traditional Chinese culture, fat babies are preferred--a sign of health and wealth way back when there were no Costco's or refrigerators for that matter.) My guess is that chubbiness in babyhood is not necessarily a predictor of what happens in adulthood, as Japan's population (and that of many other Asian countries) has a much lower rate of overweight and obesity than in the U.S.

Do Japanese really eat babies for meal? I'm asking 'cos there is this mail going round with weired pictures of people that look Japanese eating or preparing babies for meal.

[not since Nanjing, pal, sorry to disappoint. -ed.]

ugh, I kept forgetting to ask... this is for Greg and anyone else who might come across this very old post: at what age do kids start eating fish cake in Japan and other countries where it is consumed? did The Kid eat some & like or hate it? For some reason, this question keeps popping up in my head, like an annoying IM message.

[I just found an infant cookbook I bought, a regimen for introducing solid foods. I'll look it up, but I remember that fish shows up very early, while fish cakes/processed fish products show up NOT at all. The kid ate a bunch of sushi over there, mostly rolls, though. Tuna or cucumber. -ed.]

I live in Japan, and am preparing to have my first baby here. One reason babies here are fatter is because of insistence about formula feeding. That is, all mothers are expected to breast feed, but in general no one thinks that is enough, so they are expected to supplement with formula and sugar water. Not doing so is considered dangerous. Newborns are not supposed to lose weight before the mother's milk comes in, so sugar water begins during the one-week hospital stay. Trying to keep sugar water and formula away from one's newborn in the hospital is a real challenge.

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