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Babies Babies Family Fun For Parents Toddlers Toddlers

How to choose the right infant care centre in Singapore

In Singapore, infant care centres offer educare services to newborns from 2 months old till 18 months old. It is an option for working parents who are unable to look after their infants during the day.

Making the decision of sending your baby to an infant care centre is the first big step forward. The second decision that requires some prior research is determining which is the “best”infant care centre in Singapore.

We’ve come up with a few pointers and questions you may want to consider when deciding on the right infant care centre to send your precious little baby.

Infant care centres in Singapore are overseen by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA).

  • Location and Accessibility
    Is the infant care centre located within convenient distance from your home or workplace? Is it located near a bus stop or train station? It may not seem like much, but 5 minutes saved on travelling each day adds up to 100 minutes in a month of 20 work days!
  • Fees and subsidies
    The fees for infant care centres vary depending on centres. You can check out the infant care centres listed under ECDA’s Partner Operator Scheme and Anchor Operator Scheme, as these centres have a fee cap for both full and half day infant care programmes. Also, parents with certain household income may apply for basic or additional subsidies to save on the monthly infant care fees.
  • Educarer:Infant Ratio
    The stipulated educarer:infant ratio by ECDA is 1:5, but some infant care centres offer a lower ratio for more individualised attention. Do take note that centres with lower ratios may charge a higher fee. 
  • Cleanliness and Hygiene
    Infants below six months old are especially vulnerable to illnesses as their immune systems are still developing. Apart from standard temperature checks and hand sanitisation at the door and throughout the day, check that the educarers practise frequent hand washing and use gloves when changing diapers. This can be observed when you visit the infant care centre.

Infant care centres do more than plain routine care for infants.

 

  • Ventilation
    Most, but not all, infant care centres are air-conditioned. If the infant care centre that you are interested in is ventilated naturally, check that they have air purifiers in place for use when the air quality is unsatisfactory.Also, for non-air conditioned infant care centres, look out for safety features such as window grilles and the type of window blinds or curtains used. The latter should ideally not have hanging cords as they are a safety risk for curious infants and toddling tots.
  • Milk feeding arrangements

For babies who are on breastmilk, find out from the educarers if they have the knowledge and equipment to warm up expressed breast milk. For babies who are drinking formula milk, check with them what parents should prepare e.g. number of milk bottles, should you leave a tin of infant formula milk labelled with your baby’s name etc.

  • Curriculum
    Infant educarers do more than just routine care. There might not be a fixed classroom schedule for younger infants as they spend most of their day sleeping. When they are awake, educarers engage infants in activities that stimulate their senses, such as music, art and craft and sensory play.
  • Parent Communication
    As your infant will be spending many hours in the infant care centre, it is important that you are comfortable with the communication tool the school uses. Certain infant care centres use a communication book, where updates are detailed in pen on paper. Other infant care centres provide updates via an application where you can be alerted to updates the moment the details are keyed in. 

While there might not be a perfect infant care centre, do take some time to discuss the top three must-haves when choosing a comfortable centre for your baby.It would help to visit the infant care on a weekday and talk to the educarers and principal to understand about their processes and beliefs too.

 

Read our guide to choose the right childcare centre or preschool when your child turns 18 months old!

What were some of your deciding factors when selecting an infant care centre? Share it with us in the comments!

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Health & Nutrition Toddlers

Essential Nutrients for Toddlers



Eating well and eating right offers your children with the right nutrition to meet their growing needs.

 

“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”

– -Hippocrates

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Health Promotion Board of Singapore (HPB), “For optimal growth, development and health… recommend exclusive breastfeeding (with no other food or drink) for the first 6 months (i.e. 180 days) of a baby’s life. Mothers are encouraged to continue breastfeeding their children until they are 12 months old and thereafter as long as mutually desired, together with the timely introduction of solid food from 6 months of age.”

Breastmilk is the most natural and best milk source for babies, and breastfeeding is encouraged by medical experts. When it is not practiced due to medical conditions or other concerns, formula milk is introduced, and toddlers may continue to consume breastmilk, formula milk or start on fresh milk to complement their diet.

Toddlers require a wholesome diet to support their development, fuelling them with energy and nutrients for healthy growth!

What are some of the essential nutrients toddlers need?

Children from one to three years old enter toddlerhood, and this is also the phase when they undergo development in all areas such as cognitive, emotional, motor skills to name a few. Nutrients from the food they eat provide them with the essential nourishment to promote and support healthy development as their organs mature alongside their physical growth.

Some of the essential nutrients that toddlers need are:

 

Carbohydrates

  • Carbohydrates provide a source of energy to toddlers, and these active bubs need plenty of energy to fuel their daily activities.
  • Food sources: Carbohydrates can be obtained through food such as grains, rice, noodles, bread and cereals.

 Proteins

  • Proteins are necessary to help babies build their bodies and supports their growth. Dietary proteins are digested into amino acids, which help maintain the development of organs, muscles, bones, teeth, hair and skin.
  • Food sources: Offer high protein foods such as vegetables, meats, beans, eggs, dairy products such as cheese and yogurt.

Lipids

  • Besides supplying a major source of energy, lipids help reduce body heat loss and act as padding to protect body organs. Lipids also aid in the absorption of Vitamin A, D, E and K, which are needed to build baby’s immunity, vision and skin health. Essential fatty acids (e.g. ARA and DHA) associated with visual and neural development while further studies are warranted (i.e. sample size, duration, dosage)*.
  • Food sources: Fatty fish such as salmon and cod offer healthy fats such as DHA and Omega-3 along with proteins. Avocadoes are fruit sources that provide good fats to support healthy development, and are known as superfoods as they pack wholesome nutrients

Calcium

  • Needed to build strong bones and teeth, calcium absorption is enhanced with the presence of Vitamin D. Experts suggest that an adequate intake of calcium during childhood may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis during the later years.
  • Food sources: Milk is a common source for calcium for children. Besides dairy options such as cheese and yogurt, other non-dairy food with high calcium includes tofu, soy beans and soy milk, oranges, almonds, beef, broccoli, peas and ikan bilis.

To offer variety to your toddler, try cooking food with different methods, herbs and spices so he obtains a range of nutrients.

 

Choline

  • Required for the normal functioning of cells, choline is linked to memory and learning functions of a child too.
  • Food sources: Animal and plant-based sources such as beef, eggs, salmon and cauliflower.

Iron

  • Iron is necessary for the formation of haemoglobin, which help to carry oxygen around to the organ and muscles through red blood cells. Research advise that iron deficiency leads to poor weight gain, irritability, pale skin and poor appetite. Toddlers with low iron levels or are anaemic, iron-rich food should be added to their diet. For ideal absorption, consume with food rich in Vitamin C.
  • Food sources: Heme sources (meat) such as beef, pork, lamb, liver, veal, chicken; non-heme sources (plants) such as spinach, broccoli, legumes, beans, eggs, lentils, and iron-fortified food such as cereal, whole grain bread and enriched pasta.

Vitamin A

  • Vitamin A is needed to support toddler’s visual development, immune system and promotes healthy skin and hair.
  • Food sources: Eggs, milk, and dark coloured or orange coloured fruit and vegetables like carrots, spinach, kale, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, apricots, papaya and peaches.

Vitamin E

  • A powerful antioxidant, Vitamin E helps to protect the body against germs, and supports healthy development in toddlers.
  • Food sources: Nuts such as peanuts, peanut butter, almonds, sunflower seeds, spinach, wheatgerm, broccoli and kiwi.

 

Vitamin C are iron-rich food are friends – when taken together, Vitamin C helps to improve the absorption of iron by the body.

Vitamin C

  • Besides promoting the absorption of iron and calcium, Vitamin C is needed for wound healing and resist infection, and helps maintain bone and teeth health in toddlers*.
  • Food sources: Citrus fruit such as oranges and lemons, guava, kiwi, strawberries, honeydew

Depending on individual babies, nutritional needs may vary. Experts advise that a healthy balanced diet would suffice in providing the essential nutrients needed for toddlers. While supplements should not substitute a diet, toddlers on special diets or have medical concerns may consider doctor-prescribed supplements.

Consult a nutritionist of health expert when in doubt. After all, eating right is key to raising world-ready citizens for our future too.


 

 

Categories
Babies For Parents

Have you heard of these bottle feeding myths?

“Give your baby more formula milk so your baby can sleep better”.

You may have heard this bottle feeding myth from well-intentioned but misguided relatives, confinement nannies or friends. We collate a few bottle feeding myths from local parents and suss out the fact from fiction. Whether you’re feeding formula milk or breastmilk, watch out for the myths below.

Feed your baby the recommended stage of infant formula milk according to your paediatrician’s advice to ensure that your baby is fed adequately and appropriately.

#1:“Feed your baby some water after milk to let your baby get accustomed to the taste of water.

“My mother-in-law assisted me during my confinement period, and she insisted on feeding my newborn with water after every feed. Her reasoning was that children needed to be fed water early on to get used to the taste of water”, recounts Jaclyn, mom to son Keanan, 1 year old.

Not only is this bottle feeding myth untrue, it is dangerous. A newborn’s stomach is tiny and even a small amount of water can dilute the electrolytes in the baby’s bloodstream, leading to serious issues such as low body temperature, seizures and in worse cases, brain damage or death.

#2:“Feeding your baby while she is lying down is more comfortable for both of you.

As a first-time mother to Elysha, Yaz was unsure of the right way to feed her baby, and a relative told her that feeding her baby lying down was the most comfortable for both her baby and her.

The truth is that bottle fed babies should be fed at an incline to prevent painful middle-ear infections. These tips help you keep both you and baby comfortable during bottle feeding.

#3:“Put in more formula to make baby sleep better.

“My confinement nanny, who claimed to be highly experienced, confidently told me that she would add in a bit more formula in the bottle to keep babies fuller for longer. It wasn’t until later that my baby suffered from constipation that I realised it was a wrong practice,” says Esther, mum to daughter,Ellie.

 Formula milk is nutritionally adequate with essential vitamins, minerals and nucleotides for development but it has to be prepared in strict accordance to the manufacturer’s instructions that are found on each tin.Too much formula may cause constipation while watered down formula could create an imbalance of electrolytes in the baby’s bloodstream. Einmilk formula milk is available for babies and toddlers in shops in Singapore, and parents should pick the right stage for their children.

Babies under six months old drink infant formula milk, and do not require any water.

  1. “Formula fed babies don’t bond with their parents.

Mum-of-two Jasmine had a medical condition that prevented her from breastfeeding and used formula milk from the beginning. One of the most hurtful remarks she heard was from an ex-friend who told her that her baby wouldn’t be close to her because she was not breastfeeding.

While breastfeeding has its benefits for both mother and baby, it is not the only way parents can bond with their babies. Bonding can happen in various ways. Singing, cuddling, eye contact, gentle caresses and talking to your baby can build up a strong and unbreakable bond.

What’s the most surprising bottle feeding myth that you’ve heard and debunked? Share it in the comments for other parents to know!

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For Parents Toddlers Uncategorized

Quick Tips for Potty Training Your Son

Potty training little boys is a process that requires cooperation and consistent encouragement from caregivers. Toilet training typically starts from 18 months of age in advanced countries where diapers are heavily relied on. The best time to start is when your son shows signs of readiness, and during a time where no major changes are expected.

 

Signs of readiness to use the potty include passing a motion at a regular timing, controlling his bladder, being able to stay dry for at least two hours and being able to pull his pants up and down.

 

Though most tips may apply to both boys and girls, there are slightly more challenges when it comes to potty training little boys.

Potty training your toddler requires patience and consistent reminders.

1. Teach your son to sit, not stand
One popular question when it comes to training boys is, “Should they sit or stand to pee?”. The answer is to sit. It takes more skill for young boys to keep still when peeing and sitting prevents the unnecessary mess. When they have successfully mastered the basics, you can then guide them to stand up to pee. Some little boys are able to stand and pee without going through the sitting stage – it all depends on your child’s readiness and comfort level!

 

2. Buy a cute urinal
Once your child can sit to pee, you can start training him to stand up to pee. There are child urinals which are colourful and attractive with water wheels to make it fun for your son to aim his pee at. They can be mounted on the wall and easily removed for cleaning.

 

3. Use loose fitting bottoms

Get him some loose fitting shorts with elasticated waistbands that he can simply tug down to remove when he needs to pass urine. To make it extra special, bring him along to shop for a few pairs with his favourite cartoon characters!

Be prepared to clean up accidents that happen during potty training.

4. Have potty training sessions
The key to successful potty training is consistency. Put your son on the potty every 15 minutes for two to three hours and whistle to encourage him to relieve his bladder, or ask if he needs to poop. At the end of the session, use regular diapers or training pants to go on with the rest of your day. Aim to have at least two training sessions in a day.

 

Training pants come in handy when potty training your son.

 5. Play a game of “Guess the colour of your poop”
For toddlers and preschoolers who can name colours, play a game of guessing the colour of their poop before putting them on the potty. Poop colour is a sign of your son’s health. If he guesses correctly after pooping into the potty, reward him with a small treat.

 

6. Do the Pee Whistle and Poo Hum
Studies have shown that sounds are an effective communication method to trigger the child’s bowel release. Mothers who practice elimination communication, the method of toilet training from infancy, use sound cues such as whistling to let their babies pee and humming for poo.

 

7. Settle day time training before a night training
It is tougher for your son to stay dry during his sleep as it takes much more awareness. Night training can be done after your son can keep his training pants or briefs dry during the day. You can use a waterproof mattress liner and sheet to contain accidental mess if you are letting your son sleep with loose shorts.

 

Limiting drinks before bedtime can help in reducing the need to pee while he is asleep.

 

Potty training involves a lot of communication and closeness to monitor your son’s cues. Don’t be disheartened if it seems to take longer than expected. If your son attends school, check with the teachers how you can work together to support your potty training attempts.

 

Is your son off diapers and uses the potty on his own? Share your potty training strategies in the comments below!

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For Parents Health & Nutrition Pregnant Pregnant

Breastfeeding Mums, Remember to Care for Your Breasts too

Besides providing nutrition and comfort to your babies, your breasts are bosom buddies that are often neglected too, right breastfeeding mums?

During breastfeeding, you may find that the shape, size and lift of your breasts may change. Caring for your breasts not only makes you feel better but prevents painful problems like mastitis and nipple soreness.

Did you know that our breasts can have stretch marks too? Stretch marks are linked to genetics but can be lightened with moisturising cream.

#1: Moisturise your breasts to lighten stretch marks

 Stretch marks are genetically caused but the appearance of stretch marks can be lightened with over-the-counter creams, stretch mark oils and some mums, say, breastmilk too.

#2: Apply breastmilk to heal cracked nipples

 The best nipple cream is stored in your breasts – that’s right, breastmilk! Breastmilk has been shown to relieve and heal cracked nipples in a shorter time than commercially sold nipple creams containing lanolin. Besides using breastmilk, mums can easily buy nipple creams or balms from shops in Singapore or through online stores. To keep your breastmilk supply up, be sure to avoid these milk killers!

Breastmilk is an amazing liquid that not only helps to moisturise dry skin but can also be frozen to help with your baby’s sore gums when teething.

 #3: You do not need to clean your nipples before latching or pumping

It is a misconception that nipples have to be cleaned before nursing. There is no need to wash with soap and water before each feed, as soaps and shower gels strip off the natural oil produced by the Montgomery glands (those little bumps on your areola) that will cause dry skin and irritation and in worse cases, cracked, painful and bleeding nipples.

In fact, not cleaning your nipples before each feed helps your baby build up his natural gut flora, strengthening his immune system.

#4: Support your bosom buddies

Treat your ladies with care by choosing a nursing bra that supports them well without being too tight. Choose bras that are made from cotton for breathability and comfort. Your breasts should be encased in the bra cups without spilling over or having gaps in between. Ensuring the shoulder straps are at the right length keeps your breasts supported. Some nursing mums prefer to avoid underwire bras due to comfort reasons.

Breastfeeding mums, taking care of your breast is part of self-care too.

#5: Make sure your baby is latching correctly

Improper and infrequent latching can cause painful problems such as sore nipples, engorgement, plugged ducts and mastitis. A proper latch and frequent 2 to 3 hourly feeding can help to prevent engorgement.

#6: Change breast pads frequently

 At the beginning before your supply stabilises, you may encounter leakages that can be embarrassing if you are outside or at work. Changing breast pads frequently once they get wet can help to prevent cracked nipples. Reusable breast pads are friendlier to the environment but remember to use a fragrance-free detergent when washing to prevent skin irritation.

#7: Seek help from a lactation consultant

 Consulting a certified lactation consultant is a part of breast care as well. Lactation consultants can identify latching issues and the underlying causes such as tongue or lip ties, improper latching method, infrequent nursing and others.

What are some breast care tips you find most helpful for breastfeeding mums? Do share in your comments below!

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For Parents Pregnant Uncategorized

Pregnancy week 25 – 28: Baby Bump

It’s the last stage of the second trimester! If you are a pregnant mum in Singapore, and are between 24 to 28 week-long, you will be offered an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test to determine if you have gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a condition where the body is unable to tolerate glucose during pregnancy. If the results show that you have gestational diabetes, you will need to modify your diet according to the dietician’s advice and make changes to your lifestyle. Otherwise, read on to see what you can expect during this pregnancy phase!

Week 25: Cauliflower

At Week 25, your baby is the size of a cauliflower. Most of your baby’s vital organs have been formed and your baby’s skin is becoming less translucent. Your baby is active, vigorous and responds to touch and sound. At this stage, you will be able to feel it when your baby is startled.

You may be experiencing a hardening or tightening of the uterus. This is known as Braxton Hicks contractions, and it usually does not cause any pain. It lasts between 30 seconds to 2 minutes and it serves its purpose as “practice contractions”.

Week 26: Kale

Baby is starting to take breaths of amniotic fluid in preparation for life outside the womb. Your baby has already begun to grow eyelashes and his or her pretty eyes will start to open soon. Isn’t that amazing?

Your baby will be going through a major growth spurt, so you have to ensure that you take in enough nutrients to keep your little one growing healthily. Staying hydrated is key in Singapore’s warm and humid climate too. One of the common issues expectant mothers experience at this stage is swelling in feet, legs and hands, which is normal. However, as severe or sudden swelling is a sign of preeclampsia, inform your gynaecologist if this happens to you.

During pregnancy, dads can talk to your baby too!

 Week 27: Lettuce

 Week 27 of the pregnancy is often defined as the last week of the second trimester! Your baby’s lungs have developed but are still immature. Premature babies at this stage have a great chance of survival with modern clinical healthcare advancements, but not to worry, as most mothers will be able to carry their babies to full term. If your baby takes in amniotic fluid and hiccups, you will be able to feel this too! Some mothers have described this feeling as “bubbly”.

At Week 27, your baby bump could be too big for your normal clothes to accommodate. You can consider choosing maternity clothes that flatters your bump and also doubles up as nursing wear!

Along with comfortable maternity wear, consider switching your shoes to a pair of support shoes to prevent accidental ankle sprains, which can be inconvenient during pregnancy. Leg or feet cramps and swollen ankles are common too, so having comfortable support for your new body weight during pregnancy helps make it a more enjoyable journey for you, mummy.

Baby is the size of an eggplant at around week 28 of your pregnancy – wow!

Week 28: Eggplant

In this week, expect your baby to open his or her eyes for the first time in utero! You won’t be able to see it, but you can ask for a 4D ultrasound scan, if your obstetrician provides one. Now the size of an eggplant, your baby continues piling on the kilos to smooth out wrinkles on his or her body.

You may experience shortness of breath as your baby grows bigger and seems to push your lungs and diaphragm. Be sure to take frequent rests if you experience discomfort or any pain. Staying active throughout the pregnancy by doing simple prenatal exercises can help you cope better with the labour process. Try out these simple exercises that you can attempt even at home!

What was the most uncomfortable pregnancy symptom you’ve experienced? Let us know in the comments!