My Consultatiebureau
I Am A Mom, I Am An Expat, My Expat Life

My CB Said What? Ridiculous Advice From The Consultatiebureau

My Consultatiebureau

To provide a little background for this post, the Consultatiebureau, also known as CB, is a place where parents bring their children in for baby well check ups. Babies are weighted, measured and vaccinated. Parents get advice on parenting, feeding, and -in theory-get referred to specialists should problems occur. It is all for free. And while it is wonderful to have a place where the babies are being checked on, advice given to parents, the advice they give often doesn’t make sense.

In expat circles, the Consultatiebureau is famous, or should I say notorious for providing parents with all kinds of useless, or often ridiculous advice. So far, they have been good to me though. Sure, some of their advice was less than useful, but they weighted, measured and vaccinated my children, and everything else I sort of figured out for myself. Once, they even found an appointment for me that was on a Saturday when other times didn’t work for me. So I smiled when others told me that their doctor or nurse at the consultatiebureau asked them why they’re not feeding their child more bread or milk because I just couldn’t relate. Until yesterday. Yesterday came the advice that changed everything.

“Put tape on your nipples to wean your son off”

Can I just let this sink in? We were talking about his low weight, and the doctor seemed surprised that I was still breastfeeding at 11 months. I was telling her that I am fine with waiting to wean him off but she insisted that I increase his food intake, and give him formula. I am planning to wait for another month to wean him off and was relaxed about this, but she thought I would best wean him off. As great ways to do it, she suggested: giving him the bottle or a cup. Having someone else give him the bottle- wow, how funny I didn’t think of that! And, as the last resort, “put tape on my nipples”. Obviously, this is the piece advice I am willing to ignore, among with many others.

But then I thought that I have heard, countless times, other expat parents complaining about the Consultatiebureau. I then asked them to share the worst advice from the consultatiebureau.  Some of the stories I am sharing below are mine, others are from other expats in the Netherlands. I have included commentary (in Italics). Enjoy the worst advice from the consultatiebureau.

 

“I once called because my 4 year old started having frequent “accidents” (as in wet panties) when he started school. After being toilet trained for 2 years without problems, I was concerned about a regresion. The lady at the phone literally laughed at me. And then giggling gave me another number for questions… So very professional!” Very professional, indeed. 

“Less vegetables, more bread and milk” Really. Really? You have a child who actually eats vegetables and you tell the mom to make him eat more bread??? When asked for an explanation, they said: “The vegetables and fruit don’t teach her how to chew as well as bread, and she’ll like the cheese. “

“Mix water with milk so my son would be more hungry, to eat more.. to slowly substitute the milk with water until is water only.” that is not how you get children to eat more, sorry

“After revealing that we co-slept @ 5months, Nurse says to me, “Well, what would YOU say to your friend who shared a bed with her 5 month old? Wouldn’t you say that it sounds like the CHILD is owning HER?!” I would never say that to a friend, because how their baby sleeps is their business and their business only.

“I once also got an interesting advice when I asked why my daughter doesn’t want to sleep during day..they told me in cb that is because she feels that I think about her so I should make myself busy with ironing for example and don’t think about her….” Yep,didn’t know thoughts could wake up a baby. Maybe we should stop thinking altogether?

“once an i”talian mom with a big 4 month old boy was told her kid was too fat because of her breastmilk and that she should replace some feeds with bread!” With bread. Are you sure? With the Dutch, air-and-plastic bread? And how can you overfeed a breastfed baby???

“When she stuck my son, he really cried and I said, “wow, he’s never cried with his shots before,” to which she replied, “it’s not good if they don’t cry.” it couldn’t be the fact that you stuck a needle in his arm as if he was some object, not a living breathing baby could it?

“I was told that I needed to start bottle-feeding my 6-month old (rather than breastfeeding) so that I knew the answer when they asked how much she was drinking every day.” I am so so sorry I am causing you great anxiety by not telling you how much my child is drinking. 

“Cry it out at five weeks of age.” CIO works for some babies. It probably won’t work for a 5 week old. It’s heartbreaking for the parents as well.

“Don’t breastfeed your baby at night anymore, you wouldn’t give in to your toddler crying for some lolly’s at night either, would you?!” It’s not the same, you know…

“What about bottle feeding before bed, they sleep longer that way” No, not necessarily

“Don’t always pick up your crying baby from the play pen, he is just manipulating you, yes even at 4 months of age” Yes, that’s exactly what he’s doing. He’s thinking: “Hey, let’s manipulate mom a little”

“Let’s just wait and see what happens”- about a girl who wouldn’t roll or crawl at 12 months. What happened was therapy but only after I intervened.

“She’s not putting on weight, come back in another month”. After a month: “She’s fine, what were you so concerned about?” Rinse and  repeat at least three times. 

‘If she’s not sleeping during the day, it is her way of saying: “Leave me alone, I want to go to sleep”! Because you know the baby so much better than the mom even though you only saw her like maybe twice for 5 minutes?

“Just speak Dutch to them” How would you like a child to learn Dutch? From somebody who speaks it really well- a Dutch person- or someone who doesn’t speak it much? And evne if the parent spoke Dutch, they should choose what language to talk to their children

“Praise her when she eats well” My biggest pet peeve.I am quite relaxed about what they eat. But I am not praising them for cleaning their plates, or eating food. I would praise a picky eater for trying new foods (it’s about the trying not aobut the food), but would prefer to remove all praise from eating.

“Oh, you can pick her up from school earlier, that’s not a problem”. – Except the school is at the other end of the town and I don’t have  a car. And two more children to look after. How am I going to do that? Do you have other ideas? Didn’t think so.

They told me when my son was 4 months that he had development problems because his head circumference was lower than the normal on the chart. He was premature, and they were comparing him to the normal chart. Let me repeat. He was premature. That means that he is not developing like the chart, but may hit growth and developmental milestones later. And you compare him to a normal chart.Aren’t you listening???

“Your child is too small” (to the child’s also very small parents) too small for what? Too small for whom? So he or she is small? can’t you think of worse problems?

“No, choking isn’t dangerous”- except we almost needed to perform the Heimlich maneouver on her

“Just give him some bread, with processed cheese or ham”- we’re talking about a 6 months old here. And I am just ignoring the fact that noone should eat processed cheese or ham. Especially not 6 months olds.

“Is it strange that my son had a different skin color from me!” How about you keep your curiosity to yourself or maybe you can ask this question in a more tactful manner?

At around 9 months, they told me I should give Ben milk mixed with lemonade. We had no problems with his growth and this was after I’d told them he was drinking his milk quite happily! Milk. With lemonade. The mom told you her son likes milk. Without the lemonade.  And can you explain why you suggested lemonade at all?

I had difficulties to start breastfeeding (had little milk), and asked a doctor (not a nurse) what could I do to stimulate it, besides feeding all the time. She told me – well, you could research on the internet….. Also, i was literally advised to stop BF at 6months as APPARENTLY it is of no use the baby anymore.” Hm.. here I thought you were there to help and not tell people to do research on the Internet? Oh and as to when to wean a child off is the parents’ decision, and not yours.

“That’s weird. He is not looking at me. He’s only looking at you!” No really? A little baby is looking at his mom, not at some weird doctor. Weird.

These comments and pieces of advice would be hilarious if it hadn’t been for the fact that they are voiced by doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. I am just a mom, not a doctor and shouldn’t be made to check and double- check on everything they tell me. I know that is some cases I am more qualified than they are (for example, about bilingualism), but in other cases I truly want to trust that the doctor is well-educated and knowleadgeable about children and their well being.

But what should you do when a lot of this advice is just, out of need for a different word, ridiculous. The fact that we live in a different country isn’t making our job any easier- because often ideas about health, baby wellbeing and development are also culturally sensitive.

Many expats give the advice: “Just smile and nod and ignore”. As it turns out, the Dutch do the same thing! We are more integrated than we thought!

So, what’s maternity care like where you live? Who performs check-ups, vaccinations, and gives advice on parenting and child development? Are you happy with the system?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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27 Comments

  • Reply Farrah February 17, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Ha! Oh I think you know how I feel about the whole thing. Hence, I am counting the weeks until we visit the States and can go see our old pedi. The one that was there when my children were born. I think it’s wonderful that this service is available to parents, but that first few months with my oldest, I was scared out of my mind, and had it not been for the advice of professionals that I trusted- who knows. I don’t even want to consider it.
    Farrah recently posted…BubblesMy Profile

    • Reply European Mama February 17, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      Hi Farrah- yes I know how you feel- how nice that you have a great pediatrician in the States. I know it is so important to have someone whom you trust- especially at the beginning. It is just not the case here and that is quite sad.

  • Reply Ace CB @ Life in Dutch February 17, 2014 at 9:33 am

    We only made 2 visits to the CB – one at 3 years and one at 4 years – and thankfully didn’t have anything to give me any real pause. But reading some of these stories makes me appreciate that we dealt with an acid reflux issue back in the States.
    But “bad” doctors and nurses exist in every system, and where there’s a need for people to fill positions you can end up with all sorts of “professionals”. I once had a doctor tell me that my asthma symptoms that had been diagnosed by another doc in the same practice years earlier “didn’t sound right” and it must really just be a cold – Yes, a cold that was uninterrupted for years but responded positively to inhalers… But as someone once told me, someone has to be at the bottom of every graduating class. They may have the basic requirements, but that doesn’t mean they really know what they’re doing. So, smile and nod, and then consult Dr. Google.
    Ace CB @ Life in Dutch recently posted…#SundayTraveler: Climbing Aboard Noah’s ArkMy Profile

    • Reply European Mama February 17, 2014 at 4:24 pm

      Hi ACE- thank you for your comment. How good for you to have had good experiences with them. I agree bad doctors and nurses exist in every system- doctors aren’t perfect at all! “They may have the basic requirements, but that doesn’t mean they really know what they’re doing”- yes exactly!I would rather not consult dr Google because of all the false informaiton that is out there, so I am using my good judgment to figure out what is a problem and what isn’t.

  • Reply Varya CWOV February 17, 2014 at 9:41 am

    How funny! Reminds me of most of the doctors here in China. I would think in Europe WHO has better influence in regard of breastfeeding! I laughed a lot while reading the comments.
    Don’t worry about low weight. After 6 months they slow down and by 11 months they gain in 100-250 gr a month and then go down to 100-500 in half a year to a year. So nothing is wrong with your baby! Enjoy your breastfeeding journey!
    Varya CWOV recently posted…Silent Monday: Glimpses From A WeddingMy Profile

    • Reply European Mama February 17, 2014 at 4:17 pm

      Hi Varya, thank you for your comment. I am not worrying he is fine! He is big and happy and that is what matters most. It is just ridiculous what they tell you here- I have never heard more silly advice then here! It just boggles my mind that doctors here are so ignorant…

  • Reply Aletta February 17, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    I live in Delft, and the CB has been just fine. I am surprised to read the above. They never told me to stop bfeeding or wean the baby or give her bread or concentrated juices. In fact, I clearly remember the “doctor” saying no ready made juices, no tea (it’s common back at home), our kid is at P50 for dutch models, despite the fact that we are small etc. Ok, the measurements are done by “secretaries” so there is quite an error bar, but hey, get your charts at WHO and do them measurements yourself.
    The only odd one was the “intake” when the lady told me she had 3 kids and since the first two were healthy she decided not to screen the third pregnancy for Down (obviously she doesn’t get how chromosomal anomalies occur).
    Back at home (Greece) we have a similar center for the vaccinations and (back then) for fluoridation only, for the rest we go to pediatricians (duh,pedia=children in greek), no GPs or minimally educated nurses and paras. That’s my only complain here; no gynecologists and no pediatricians. Good luck to everyone!

    • Reply European Mama February 17, 2014 at 9:51 pm

      Aletta, I actually lived in Delft for a while- and I was also quite happy with them once I got used to ask questions and be confident. It probably varies greatly from CB to CB, right?Your doctor sounds like a very reasonable one, stick to her! I agree that she could have taken that test- you’re older with your third than you are with your first or second. I would love to go to the gyn instead of the huisarts! Good luck to you, too!

  • Reply Nathalie February 18, 2014 at 1:42 am

    Haahahahh so funny about CB !

    I also dont like all the advice from them !
    with my first child, i gave him breastfeeding and CB said to me you could stop it when he is 6 months old and just introduce the bottle when he is 6 months old ! …ja ..ja ..ja and what happend? my son refused the bottle and we tried almost 1 month but still he refused it ! then i went again to CB for advice…what should i do ? and u know what they said to me ??? “they said DONT breastfeeding him till he accept drink the milk from the bottle…so that means I should let him in hunger whole day ?are u out of your mind?he is just 6 months old !!!

    and not only that…they said my son is to fat ( should diet?) after i did the diet for him and we controled his weight…and now they said “my son is skinny”!! wtf (sorry for my languange !), and since that i just ignore all their advice !

    • Reply European Mama February 18, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      Hi Nathalie, thank you for your comment. Oh yes that sounds like advice they would give- so “helpful”.

  • Reply Amanda @ Expat Life with a Double Buggy February 18, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Sounds like I’ve been lucky – or I’ve switched off to it. I think by the time you get to your third you don’t even ask their opinion so much anymore and take other’s advice with a pinch of salt (not just at CB). The only one issue (just sprang to mind) was a late referral for my middle son when he kept lying on one side of his head only and we couldn’t persuade him otherwise. That wasn’t a pleasant experience – very stressful and he ended up wearing a helmet because it was too late to get much out of physiotherapy.

    • Reply European Mama February 19, 2014 at 8:19 am

      Amanda- both possiblities are just as probable! No I don’t think I ever asked their opinions (especially not after I heard that choking isn’t dangerous). And the late referral was like something they would do, although in my case they asked me if my children preferred a side to lie on. They also referred my daughter at 12 months even if it was visible from early on that she may need it.

  • Reply Karien February 24, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    Haha. Glad I was spared the consultatiebureau by having my babies abroad. It is not necessarily much better there though. A British health visitor (same thing, really as a CB) once told me my 2 month old, fully breastfed, growing faster than the growth chart, never crying, very happy and fat baby should not sleep through the night, and needed to be woken for a night feed. Yeah sure.
    btw all my Dutch friends complain just as much about the CB. One calls it consternatie bureau, for the fuss they kick up
    Karien recently posted…Pangolin down the drainMy Profile

    • Reply European Mama February 28, 2014 at 10:18 am

      Hi Karien, thanks for commenting. Oh dear it seems that there are bad and good doctors everywhere, right? And good to know that the Dutch complain as well. And I have heard the Consternatie Bureau description, too!

  • Reply Yuliya February 28, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    This is great! I hated the CB we went to when my son was first born. We had visited some family in the US, and when we came back, I asked about how to help him adjust to the time difference. He was about four months old. The lady looked at me like I was crazy and said CIO, obviously. I was really surprised and asked if there were any other options, anything else in the world that we could do. She said that the only way he would adjust would be with CIO. Yea, thanks. We asked some friends with three children, and they said to try skipping a nap or pushing it up or rocking him to sleep. Guess who was perfectly adjusted within a week without CIO or CB advice.

    We moved since then, and now we go to a CB located in a larger city. I love the nurses there! They offer fantastic advice, and actually listen to my questions.

    I also have stories about the US, too. The most ridiculous one was when I was a few months pregnant and went to visit my family. My mother works in the medical profession and there is an OBGYN that works in the same office. The OB said that because I am short, I would not be able to have a natural childbirth and would need a c-section. Whaaat? Yea, thanks, my midwife laughed when I told her this.
    Yuliya recently posted…Easy, healthy recipes: flavorful chiliMy Profile

    • Reply European Mama February 28, 2014 at 4:19 pm

      Hi Yuliya, thanks for coming back and offering your perspective. The CB was quite reasonable so far but sometimes the advice is just ridiculous. She obviously didn’t listen properly. I have also heard a lot of scary OBGYN stories from the US. As for me- I am short too, and my normal -sized daughter proved quite big for me (she was born in Germany) and I honestly wish someone offered a Csection to me. The other children were smaller and their births much easier, but it would have made a world of a difference if they didn’t push natural births on everyone.

  • Reply A Little of This, A Little of That... - The Three Under March 27, 2014 at 8:47 am

    […] Olga wrote a fabulous post all about it, so if you’re interested I encourage you to read My CB Said What? Ridiculous Advice From The Consultatiebureau. Fortunately for us, nothing was amiss with our visit and I was well prepared for any hints that I […]

  • Reply Sofía April 10, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Talking about ridiculous advice: a doctor at the Consultatie Bureau today told me that I should brush my baby’s tooth because breast milk causes cavities (he’s exclusively breastfed). They have been very helpful at times, and I’m grateful that this kind of service exists, but how igorant they are of certain -important- matters is scary. I’ve also been told to start giving him bread with low fat margarine. Low fat margarine. Unbelieveable.

    • Reply Olga Mecking April 10, 2014 at 5:27 pm

      Thanks Sofia for your comment! I think breastfeeding or not should be a choice, but it’d be better if they had more knowledge about it, that’s true. Low fat margarine? Wow… just wow.

  • Reply lauren April 17, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    Hi im from south africa and have a 2 year old, I just yesterday went to the cb…they told me my child was almost obese, and that he needs to be on diet, and can never eat chips or chocolate or cookies ….or anything like that.i wish you all could see my child, he isnt even fat let alone obese. Im so erritated andnow we must go back in 3 months so they can see if he lost weight….its madness

    • Reply Olga Mecking April 20, 2014 at 8:44 pm

      Oh no! That’s ridiculous! The child is never perfect but either too big or too small, it’s ridiculous, really!

      • Reply Mimi November 10, 2014 at 12:07 am

        My child was exclusively breast fed ‘ her weight seemed so much to me that I thought I was over feeding her. Luckily they said she was growing perfectly that my milk was good, because she was also very tall. I think not because a baby looks slim doesn’t mean he or she might not be overweight mostly with formula feeding it happens. Some parents say they breast feed, while they also give other foods like rice porridge .
        Maybe the ones I might knew their job so well.

        • Reply Olga Mecking November 10, 2014 at 7:54 am

          Hi Mimi, thanks for your comment. Glad to hear that all went well with your child. Just one thing, formula-fed children are only overweight whern their parents/caregivers exceed the suggested amount of milk. But good for you to have find a consultatiebureau that offers reasonable advice.

  • Reply Lilian June 1, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    Hi, I am a dutch mom of 2. After all, for me, useless and confusing advices from the CB with my first born, I decided to bring my second baby only to vaccinate.
    Still glad I made that decision because the CB confused me many times with their opinion about what to eat, how to breastfeed and how to sleep.
    CB is a service not a duty………. and you may always call them or go to the weight and measure mornings if you feel the need….(thats what the nurse from CB told me)

    • Reply Olga Mecking June 2, 2014 at 9:10 am

      Hi Lilian, it is confusing sometimes, isn’t it? Sounds like a good idea, to only bring in your child to vaccinate and if you have questions about weight and growth, you can come to the inloopspreekuur.

  • Reply My CB Said What? Ridiculous Advice From The Consultatiebureau - expatsHaarlem December 3, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    […] This article is previously published on the blog The European Mama. […]

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