If you have an infant in Sweden – chances are you have heard of the miraculous Swedish baby food also known as Välling. From around the age of 6 months and above, välling becomes the cornerstone of the Swedish baby's diet.
In the US we are taught that babies receive most of their nutrition until the age of 1 from either breastmilk or formula. But in Sweden, most of the old school nurses (who you meet with instead of peds) will tell you that none of that is really necessary. All a baby needs is a complete diet and lots and lots of välling.
Swedish parents swear by it as well. It is probably one of the things Swedish ex-pats miss the most when living abroad – since Välling does not seem to exist anywhere outside of Scandinavia.
So what is Välling? And why is it the liquid of the vikings?
Surprisingly, Välling does not fulfill many of the standard Swedish rules. Which shows just how important it is, since Swedes are willing to overlook these rules. 1) It is factory produced – you cannot make Välling yourself, you have to buy the processed form. 2) It is a WHITE product – not a dark, GI favorable food (although you can now find fiber enriched välling as well).
According to the nurse we see, Välling is a cereal – similar to feeding your child oatmeal. The main difference is that it is often wheat based. It is slightly thicker than formula, and fed to babies in bottles, often before bedtime. There is also quite a bit of palm oil and canola in most of the forms of välling. Most are also fortified, to supply all of the minerals needed in a balanced diet. And they contain powdered milk.
If we conduct a completely unscientific study and look at Swedes vs. Americans, despite the strange ingredients it appears Välling as a child does not leave you with a lifetime risk for obesity, and other illnesses. There was one study that seemed to show it can give some increase risk for gluten intolerance.
Personally, we haven't tried Välling in our house – but if we don't get some sleep around here soon, that might change.