Categories
Babies For Parents Toddlers

Sleep training for babies: Is it too early to start

Right after birth, your new baby is immediately dependent on you for all his needs, including the need to rest when he is tired. Very often, mothers of very young children look forward to the day when their babies are developmentally advanced enough to soothe themselves to sleep, because how well-rested your baby is, affects his wellbeing and that of your family’s as well.

As sleep is so important, sleep training is getting very popular these days.

Would you consider sleep training your baby?

What is sleep training?

Sleep training is the process of helping your child learn to fall asleep independently in the first instance and to soothe himself back to sleep during the arousal portion of his sleep cycle.

Generally, sleep training experts recommend sleep training anytime from 3 months old to 6 months old. Sleep training newborns are generally not encouraged as they have tiny stomachs and it is natural for them to wake frequently to feed.

To sleep train or not to sleep train?

There are two camps to the idea of sleep training.

Generally, parents who are against sleep training believe in allowing nature to take its course. In contrast, parents who are for sleep training believe in equipping their babies with the ability to thrive through ample rest by their intervention.

If you’re in the process of making that decision for your family, you may want to understand the various reasons for and against sleep training.

Reasons against sleep training

  1. My baby is smart! He has the ability to develop naturally and learn how to soothe himself to sleep when he is developmentally ready. I feel like what works best for my family is following my baby’s lead. (Read: Tips and tricks on Getting Babies to Sleep.)
  2. My baby has the need to be comforted at bedtime. At this stage in his life, I want to choose to provide it to him. Sleep training feels like I’m trying to compromise my baby’s needs for the sake of my modern lifestyle.
  3. I’m not a fan of some sleep training methods, like the Cry It Out method. I don’t want my baby to give up hope that I will respond to his needs.

Reasons for sleep training

  1. I want to stop feeling helpless when my baby is frustrated at being over tired.
  2. With intervention, my baby can learn when and how to sleep independently. This enables critical brain developments that are dependent on adequate rest.
  3. Sleep training can improve the sleep for all members of the household. It is the best decision for my family.
  4. As long as I select sleep-training methods that are suitable for the personalities and circumstances of my family, I believe that my baby will not be emotionally affected by sleep training.

Some parents feel that it is too early to start sleep training their babies, and wait till their kids are one-year-old, or toddlers.

Pros and Cons of Sleep Training

Whichever camp you are on, here are the pros and cons of sleep training to help you further with your considerations:

Successful sleep-training can end the days of sleep deprivation for good.

Advantages of sleep training your child

  1. If successful, sleep training allows everyone in the family to get sufficient rest on a daily basis. This supports the family’s wellbeing.
  2. Your baby gets to benefit from developmental growth that is dependent on adequate sleep.
  3. Parents are less likely to experience stress in the marriage that comes with having to cope with a cranky baby and flared tempers from sleep deprivation.

Disadvantages of sleep training your child

  1. The process of sleep training may cause some levels of stress to your baby.
  2. Skeptics of sleep training believe that some sleep training methods, like the Cry It Out method, could have long-lasting negative effects on emotional development.

Whether parents decide to sleep train their child ultimately lies in the parents’ beliefs and your family’s needs. There are gentle sleep training methods too, so you may wish to consult a sleep training expert that you are comfortable with.

Have you embarked on sleep training for your child? Do share your thoughts in the comments below!

Categories
Babies For Parents Uncategorized

Mums share: Breastfeeding concerns that we struggled with!

Breastfeeding has many benefits for babies and mummies. However, it is a skill that needs to be picked up by both mother and baby. Some may learn it faster than others, but contrary to what most mums think, this learning process may not be instinctive nor is it one that naturally falls in place for some of us. In fact, many variables make breastfeeding challenging for a majority of mothers, even those who are not first-time breastfeeding mums.

Often, breastfeeding is an emotional process. It is the next immediate emotional rollercoaster you ride on after birthing your baby. Do not be surprised if you feel intense feelings from time to time and there is nothing to be ashamed of if you decide it is necessary to prioritise your family’s well being and opting for infant formula instead.

To provide solidarity for mums who may be struggling during their breastfeeding journey, we ask our friends to share about their own breastfeeding woes and how they eventually handled them.

Some breastfeeding mum don’t have enough support

One of the most common encounters amongst our friends is a lack of support for their breastfeeding journeys, largely from extended families, particularly those with whom they live with. Husbands, who may or may not be supportive themselves, may feel trapped between his wife and his other family members.

When members of the household are not equipped with breastfeeding knowledge or unwilling to respect a breastfeeding mother’s decision, it gives rise to tremendous pressure for the breastfeeding mother to “perform” and/or persist in breastfeeding. There may be a domino effect from these pressures which add additional stress onto the new mother.

Some of our friends mitigated the situation by attending breastfeeding courses with their husbands during their pregnancy, and, share nuggets of breastfeeding knowledge with extended family gradually over the course of their pregnancy.

Equipped with breastfeeding knowledge, you can also take the chance to gradually and gently set expectations with household members on how it might be like during breastfeeding, so that they would be mentally aware of what it entails. Adjustments and compromises can be made as you go along, to reach a balance that works for everyone in the family.

Breastfeeding mums believe that they do not have enough breast milk

It can be devastating and stressful for breastfeeding mothers if they experience a delay in milk coming in, are not aware of how little baby actually needs initially or, have to endure opinions of this nature.

One of our friends broke down in tears after trying to express breast milk for the first time, because all she managed was a tiny ring of milk that covered the base of a milk bottle, in addition to having to endure comments that her baby was inconsolable from being hungry due to her insistence to breastfeed.  Unknown to her at that time, the amount of breast that she managed to express is actually just about the amount her newborn baby can stomach.

Newborns only require a very small amount of breastmilk. 

Knowledge gives rise to confidence that we are progressing in our breastfeeding journey. With the necessary breastfeeding knowledge, you are less likely to panic, feel out of control when you encounter situations that may not seem to be in your favour.

Breastfeeding mums endure sore and cracked nipples

Almost every breastfeeding mother has experienced sore / cracked nipples at least once, usually in the beginning of their breastfeeding journey. This commonly happens because baby may not yet have a correct latch, or, when mums have sensitive nipples that suffer abrasion from having to repeatedly

Cracked and bleeding nipples during the start of your breastfeeding journey can be nerve-wrecking for new mums.
Photo credits: Estella Goh

The breastfeeding mother can bleed from her nipples due to repeated latching after abrasion and the baby may even swallow blood from her mother’s nipple. The pain and sight can be scary for a first-time mum, as she struggles with getting her baby fed while riding through her physical pain.

Breastfeeding mothers can apply lanolin cream, nipple relief cream or breastmilk to relieve themselves of sore and cracked nipples.

Breastfeeding woes with mastitis

Mastitis is an infection that occurs from plugged milk ducts in your breasts. Usually, this can be encountered at any point in your breastfeeding journey, especially when mums do not empty your breasts of breast milk efficiently enough.

Symptoms include fever and flu-like symptoms as well as a pair of painful, rock hard breasts. Mastitis may need to be treated with an antibiotic treatment, during which you may have to pump and throw away breast milk within 2 hours each time you consume the antibiotics. Wasting breast milk is a huge source of distress or breastfeeding mothers, who may already find it difficult to provide enough milk for their baby.

Cold cabbage leaves work to reduce milk supply quickly and are very effective in reducing engorgement. They could be used in initial treatment of mastitis, by leaving these cold cabbage leaves on for about 5-10 minutes. As this method is also used by breastfeeding mums who wish to reduce their milk supply, remember not to leave them longer for 10 minutes as some may experience a reduction in breastmilk thereafter.

Having to express breast milk in unsuitable environments

Not all workplaces are breastfeeding-friendly and breastfeeding mothers who need to return to the workforce may not have a suitable place to express and collect their breast milk hygienically.

Several mothers reported that they were required to express their breast milk in the toilets or storerooms. To manage the situation, they suggest procuring a suitable container, which you can sanitize daily, to hold your breast pump, parts and bottle during expressing. At the very least, the surfaces that are in contact with your pump equipment are clean!

Travelling for work while breastfeeding

Many working mothers have to travel on work assignments. In order to continue giving their babies breast milk, they need to ensure that their milk supply does not drop or prevent themselves from suffering infections such as mastitis, breastfeeding mothers have to work around their pump times and/or figure out how to transport expressed breast milk from one country to another.

Our friend, Florinda Tay, felt compelled to share her knowledge on preserving and transporting expressed breastmilk on a work trip in her photo album here: https://www.facebook.com/florinda.tay/media_set?set=a.10156206580292794&type=3

Photo credits: Florinda Tay

We hope that these true stories of breastfeeding struggles can give you some insights on how every breastfeeding mother may experience their own challenges. Hopefully these stories can help support and encourage you on the tough journey of breastfeeding.

We’d love to hear your breastfeeding stories too, share with us in the comments below!

Categories
Babies For Parents Pregnant

Pregnancy week 41 – 42: Going past baby’s due date

At week 41, if your expected delivery date has come and gone and your bun is still nestling comfortably in your oven, don’t worry just yet!

Pregnancy Week 41 – 42: Large watermelon

Your baby is now the size of a large watermelon! He may be 55cmto 70cm long and may weigh about 3.5kg to 3.9kg.

As your body gears up for labour, your baby’s endocrine system, which is responsible for hormone production, gears upas well for him to send the necessary chemical signals to trigger the labor process.

During this time, your baby will produce more stress hormones than any other time in his life, but rest assure that this is good stress for your baby. These fetal stress hormones are the same ones our body produces in flight or fight response to a life-threatening situation or a stressful event. They help your baby to transition and adapt to their life outside of your uterus in the following ways by helping him breathe, increasing blood flow to your baby’s brain and kidneys, increasing your baby’s immunity and supplying energy to the baby after birth.

There may be changes in your baby’s movements in utero at this stage, because the space your uterus has become much smaller for your baby since he is at his full size and weight now. You should still feel his movements and do consult a doctor if there are any significant decreases in fetal activity.

Going past your estimated delivery date (EDD) – pregnant mum’s emotions

You can’t wait to have your baby and it can feel like the longest weeks of the pregnancy, although it seems like you have just entered the third trimester! On one hand, you may feel tense, restless, frustrated, apprehensive or anxious in one moment due to the uncertainty of labor, or the fear of impending labors pains. On the other hand, you may feel anxious, excitement and happiness on the impending arrival of your baby.

It’s normal to feel anxious when you’re baby is staying longer in your womb than it’s expected due date.

There are a whole lot of feelings going on inside you and you might find yourself having intense, realistic dreams about baby. Feeling tired even if you have had a lot of sleep, and, imagining all kinds of situations about the birth of your baby and your life afterwards is to be expected too.

During this time, telling yourself to relax and stop feeling or thinking is likely to be counterproductive. You are entitled to allow yourself to experience all of these feelings, so take time for it and give yourself the necessary space to do so. Often, acknowledging our own feelings leads to acceptance and even relaxation and better rest, after you’ve been taken care of emotionally.

Changes in your overdue pregnancy body

 From this week onwards, you may be asked to note down baby’s moments and any bodily discomforts or changes you notice. You could also be asked to check in with your gynae more often for assessments on how the baby and yourself are doing.

From week 41 to week 42, mums may be experiencing physical discomfort such as backache, strong pelvic pressure, cramps, frequent urination and the inability to rest well due to these discomforts.

The estimated delivery date, or EDD, given to you by your gynae is a working due date that has a five-day margin of error and is not necessarily the time nature decides to takes its course. In fact, fewer than 5 percent of babies arrive on their due date, and you are actually not considered overdue until 42 weeks gestation.

There are several signs that help you know when you are going into labor. One sign of impending labor is a bloody show, which is a pink or brown tinged mucus discharge from the rupturing of blood vessels in your cervix in preparation for labor. You may have hemorrhoids, more commonly known as piles, because there is increased blood flow to your pelvic area and the pressure rests on your rectum. You could experience diarrhea too because the internal muscles are loosening in preparation for childbirth. One of the most obvious signs is, when you experience a constant fluid leak that is probably your water bag breaking.

Tips to induce labour when baby is past his due date or over 40 weeks

There are several ways to help “quicken” your baby’s arrival, the most common one of which is a “Stretch and Sweep”, where medical practitioner will separate membranes attached to the amniotic sac with a finger or two during internal examinations. This method will feel uncomfortable, but it is an effective method that can trigger the hormone that stimulates your uterus to begin contractions.

Other ways to speed up labour include eating spicy food, getting an induction massage from a credible therapist, going for walks, squats and having sexual intercourse.

Kudos on the pregnancy journey, and now it’s time to welcome your new baby into the family.

 

Waiting for the arrival of your baby in the final stages is an experience in itself. Now that your hospital bag is packed, your birth plan is ready and you have read our guide to preparing for a new baby, do try to indulge in enjoying the couple and me time available now. You’ll be glad you did!

Did your baby arrive past his or her due date too? Let us know in the comments below!

Categories
Babies For Parents Toddlers

Oral Motor Development: What Parents Need to Know

Most parents usually look out for gross motor skills development in their baby, but did you know that oral motor development should be observed as well?

Oral motor development refers to the use and function of the lips, tongue, jaw, teeth, and the hard and soft palates. The movement and coordination of these structures are very important in speech production, safe swallowing, and consuming various food textures.

Complex oral motor skills are needed to consume a simple meal like this. Read on to find out which milestones to look out for in your baby’s oral motor skills development.

Oral motor skills are the finest of the fine motor skills we develop as human beings. These reflexes that support feeding at full term begins in the womb between the 28th week and the 37th week of gestation, and are fully developed and established when your little one is three years old. By about five years old, most children can safely eat and drink without choking.

Here are some important milestones for oral motor development that you should look out for in your baby from birth till five years of age.

During gestation, the baby begins to develop the sucking and suckling reflexes. At birth to three months, the baby starts to demonstrate many reflexes to protect his airway. She responds to stimulation in and around the mouth, turns her head toward the nipple when the cheeks are stroked, signalling that she is ready to be fed. She is able to consume breast milk or formula milk using a nipple and coordinate her breath with two to three sucks of liquid before swallowing and breathing.

If you are bottle feeding, it is important to choose the appropriate teat for your baby as different teats have different flow rates and your baby might choke if the flow is too fast or be frustrated if the flow is too slow. New parents, check out the bottle feeding guide to see which teat to choose for your baby!

Choosing an appropriate bottle and teat for your child may take some trial and error. Be sure to check out other tips to make baby more comfortable during bottle feeding.

At three to six months, the baby is able eat rice cereal or pureed fruit and pureed vegetable from a small infant or toddler spoon during feeding. At six to nine months, the baby is able to clean the spoon with her upper lip and eat pureed meats and a variety of pureed baby foods.

When the baby is nine to twelve months, she demonstrates lip closure while swallowing liquids and soft solids. She may attempt to eat small, soft dissolvable solids such as soft crackers and small cereals. At this time, she starts learning to drink liquids from a sippy cup and is able to consume mashed table foods. With her oral motor skills improving during this period, she begins to drink through a straw.

Once your baby is able to coordinate drinking from a straw, you have the option to start weaning her off the bottle.

At 12 to 18 months, the toddler is able to coordinate sucking, swallowing, and breathing patterns for longer sequences. With these improved oral motor skills, your toddler begins to eat finely chopped table foods and is able to bite through crunchy foods such as cookies and crackers. She is also able to move the food in her mouth from side to side as she chews.

At 18 to 24 months, the toddler starts to self-feed with some assistance. At twenty-four to thirty-six months, the toddler consumes a variety of liquids and solids through straws and open mouth cups. At this stage, she moves toward fine tuning all her feeding skills.

Between 36 months old to five years old, the child progresses and starts being able to chew and swallow advanced textures (for example, meats, fried foods, whole fruits) with close supervision. Lastly, she is able to drink from an open mouth cup with no assistance.

The presence and strength of reflexes is an important sign of nervous system development and function. Having poor oral motor skills usually also translates to speech development issues.

Some of the more noticeable signs to look out for include:

  • Mouth frequently hangs open
  • Refusing to eat food that needs to be chewed
  • Gags frequently when eating
  • Has trouble sticking out his tongue or moving it from side to side
  • Drools excessively (past the age of 18 months)
  • Lisps excessively

Hence, should you notice that your child lags behind in the above milestone developments, or exhibits any of the signs, it may be time to make a trip to the paediatrician who will refer you to the Speech-Language Therapist or an Occupational Therapist to evaluate and develop a plan to strengthen your child’s oral motor skills.

Do share with us if you have any concerns about your child’s oral motor development!

Categories
Babies For Parents Pregnant Uncategorized

Pregnancy Week 33 – 36 

Congratulations! You are in the eighth month of your pregnancy, which means there’s just one more month to go!   

Week 33: Pineapple

Your baby is now about the size of a pineapple! He is between 40 and 48cm long and weighs between 1.7 and 2.1kg.  

This week, your baby’s bones are hardened with the exception of the softer skull which needs to be malleable to fit through your birthing canal in a few weeks. His skin is losing its wrinkles and the immune system is being developed this week. Antibodies are being passed from you to your little one as he continues to develop his fetal immune system, which will come in handy once he’s outside the womb to fend off all sorts of germs. 

During this period of time, about 3 in 4 pregnant mums start to experience third trimester insomnia. With the hormonal changes, midnight bathroom runs, leg cramps, heartburn and your basketball-sized belly, it’s no wonder sleep becomes elusive. Try to make yourself as comfortable as you can – do something that soothes you before bedtime, such as reading a novel, listening to some soft music or drinking a cup of warm, comforting milk; or better yet, get your partner to give you a loving massage because you deserve it! 

 Week 34: Wongbok 

It’s week 34 but you may feel like you’ve been pregnant for longer. Your wongbok-sized darling is working hard on putting on the pounds this week, weighing about 1.9kg to 2.4kg, and is about 40-50cm long. Your little precious one is in a deep sleeping and waking routine now. This is a good time to start talking and singing to your baby as this helps with bonding. 

Pregnant mums, besides talking and singing to baby, you can also start reading to him.

 

This week, you might find yourself being unable to see as clearly as usual. But don’t rush off to get your prescription lenses changed yet because this blurry vision, as with the rest of the discomforts you’ve been experiencing, is another result of pregnancy hormones. While it may be slightly uncomfortable, it usually clears up after the baby is born. 

Week 35: Winter melon 

Intense brain growth is occurring for your baby this week! The neurons and early connections in their brain are developing more so that at birth, they will be able to receive stimulation. So, remember to eat foods rich in DHA and Omega 3 and continue to take in the essential nutrients for pregnancy to help support your baby’s brain growth. 

Your baby will still be gaining around 450g this week and laying down fat cells, which will help to insulate them when they are born. 

You may be a little weepy and prone to emotional meltdowns this week. With the increasing weight you have to bear and all the discomforts stacking up against you, that is perfectly understandable. Do something you enjoy before the baby arrives. Go easy on yourself and rest for a couple of days if you can. Everyone needs a little rest and tender loving care, and guess what? You deserve it now the most! 

Week 36: Celery  

One more week to a full-term baby! Your baby weighs about 2.7kg this week and is about 51cm long. With his pink skin and chubby legs, he’s looking more like an infant now. This week, your precious one’s hearing will become even sharper so don’t forget to continue talking, singing or reading to him! 

If you wake up one morning and find yourself fussing over the tiniest details in the house, and trying to clean every nook and cranny, or you become the newest Marie Kondo convert overnight, that would be the nesting instincts kicking in. Getting anxious about the arrival of a newborn is natural. To alleviate your anxiety, you can start by reading about the necessary preparation for baby’s arrival. Some mums also start buying more baby essentials at this stage or when there are baby fairs or online sales, whichever scores them a better deal. If you have family, friends or colleagues to bless you with hand-me-downs, that’d be even better!  

 Are you feeling ready for the last lap of your pregnancy? Let us know in the comments! 

Categories
Babies For Parents Toddlers

Baby’s Brain Development & Milestones: 0 to 1 year old

Did you know that babies grow tremendously in the first year of their life? From helpless newborns to learning how to sit, crawl, walk and talk, the first 12 months is full of milestones for your baby.

This list of developmental milestones will help you see if your child is on track or if there could be possible developmental delays. If your baby is premature, use their corrected age instead.

Birth to 3 months old
In these first three months, your baby will spend most of their day sleeping, drinking and crying. At birth, their eyesight is poor and the world seems like a big, noisy and scary place. Your voice will be the one that is most recognisable to them as they have been listening to your conversations from inside the womb.

At about two months old, your baby will be able to figure out that they have some control over their body and start to kick their legs, grasp your finger tightly and even smile when you smile at them.

 Milestones:

  • Smile in response
  • Track objects with eyes
  • Moves fists from closed to open
  • Brings hands to mouth

Activities to stimulate brain development:

  • Cuddle and sing
    Babies thrive on touch and keeping your baby close to you fosters a stronger parent-child bond.
  • Massage your baby after baths
    Gentle touch has been linked to improved growth and better motor development, especially for premature babies.
  • Hang a colourful mobile above their cot
    Babies thrive on sensory stimulation, and a cot mobile aids in their visual development.

Infants and young children love bopping to the beat of music, and music has been known to stimulate brain development too!

4 to 6 months old

No longer a newborn, your infant is now alert and active. Curious about the world, babies love learning about the world through simple activities. You will notice that your baby is learning how to flip and can raise their head when lying on their tummy. With clearer vision, your baby can enjoy toys with complex patterns and colours.

 Milestones:

  • Flips from back to tummy and tummy to back
  • Reaches for nearby objects while on tummy
  • Able to lift head up
  • Turns head towards sounds
  • Babbles to get attention

Activities to stimulate brain development:

  • Play simple games
    Simple games like peek-a-boo or hiding a toy under a blanket encourages your infant to interact with you in a fun manner.
  • Read to your baby
    It can never be too early to introduce your child to the beauty of books. Reading promotes speech and thought development. Start by reading basic picture board books featuring large, bright pictures and be as descriptive as possible.
  • Offer simple toys
    Building a sensory boxcost very little, and you don’t have to specially buy things intentionally for this purpose. Look around your house for items that you can use to stimulate your baby’s sense of smell, touch, sound, sight and taste.

Reading is a good habit that can be cultivated from young

 

7 to 9 months old
Your infant is becoming more mobile and if he hasn’t started crawling yet, he will soon. One of the most exciting moments of this stage is that your baby can have his first taste of solid food. His gums may begin to ache and your baby may be drooling more often than usual.

Milestones:

  • Says first word
  • Stands with support
  • Sits upright
  • Grasps objects between thumb and forefinger

Activities to stimulate brain development:

  • Introduce stacking toys
    Among the fun activities that a 7 to 9 month old baby can do is stacking. It doesn’t have to be limited to blocks. Books, cups, containers – anything can be stacked up.
  • Offer finger food
    Whether you’re doing traditional weaning or baby-led weaning, finger foods such as steamed broccoli, avocado or teething rusks encourages your baby to self-feed and explore various textures and colours.

10 to 12 months old
Before your baby turns one-year-old, you can expect greater cognitive skills, evolving language skills and a distinctive personality unique to your toddler. Infant development is rapid at this age.

Milestones:

  • Pulls to stand or cruises
  • Stands without support
  • Claps hands
  • Shakes head
  • Waves goodbye

Activities to stimulate brain development:

  • Converse with your child
    Your toddler may be babbling, but did you know that babbling is how toddlers develop communication skills? By responding to your child’s babbling in proper sentences, your child will feel respected and engaged.
  • Outdoor play
    The benefits of outdoor play are immense, and the world is your toddler’s playground. A walk at the park or even to the Zoo can be an exciting trip for him.
  • Teach action songs

Action songs like “Head, shoulders, knees and toes” or “Hokey Pokey” not only teach your toddler about her body parts, but gets her bopping to music. Dancing is a way for toddlers to express themselves, much like singing.

As your baby enters toddlerhood, their reliance on milk decreases. Some mums may wish to transit their baby from breastmilk to formula milk, or supplement their diet with formula milk powder. Ensuring that your toddler eats well and right helps them to meet their growing needs.

What was your most memorable baby milestone? Share it with us in the comments!

Categories
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!

Categories
For Parents Toddlers

Mums, this is why your kids act up when you are around!

Mums, does it seem like your kids behave differently when you are around them?

Remember that full-fledged meltdown with theatrical waterworks in the middle of the toy store that was reserved for you only? What about that night when you gave her fresh milk in a cup but she start screaming because she really wanted a bottle of formula milk at bedtime?

Mums, do you notice that your baby “misbehaves” more than usual when you are around them?

Even the best behaved children seem to become utter monsters when left alone with you in the room, yet they don’t “create problems” for other caregivers? Why is this so unfair? Do your babies hate you?Or maybe, they just love throwing tantrums when mummy is in sight?Before sailing on the guilt ship, here’s the silver lining to the dark clouds – this is good news. Yup, plot twist ahead.

According to Karen Dudley, a child development specialist with UCLA, children feel most comfortable expressing strong feelings when they are around their primary caregiver. That’s great news because it means that you are their safe space and they know that they can show their raw feelings without needing to mask them. Awww… nothing like showing their genuine selves in the presence of their safe harbour, which happens to be you, mums!

In addition, a toddler’s memory is improving, so he can remember what he wants more often. This change in behaviour is also partly due to your child’s rapidly developing brain.

The next reason is that young children are learning about social relationships and establishing connections with other people. One of the methods of creating boundaries is to find and test limits. Therefore, if you’re the one who spends the most time with your child, you’re likely the one who faces the brunt of those frequent and intense meltdowns.

Why does your angelic child morph into a huge wet mess so often whenever she’s with you, mummies?

Young children crave attention, and to do so, they will try all means and ways of getting undivided attention from their loved ones, even if it is negative i.e. being scolded or punished for misbehaviour. To alleviate this problem, talk to them and give them some undivided attention, especially if you have more than one child. Try out some of these activities with your child and also ensure your child has adequate naps and sleep, and have a healthy lifestyle which include a good diet of nutrients.

Besides outdoor play, young children need a balanced diet for enough vitamins and minerals to support their growth and daily energy needs. The best formula milk for kids are brands that work well for your children to provide nourishment, complementing their diets.

While understanding that their misbehaviour is a part of establishing boundaries, how we react is important. Responding to tantrums appropriately helps them to feel validated and that you understand the difficulties they face in expressing themselves properly.

Mums, now that you know what your kids behave terribly when you are around, how will you be managing this? Do share this with your mummy friends too!

Categories
Babies For Parents Toddlers

Does Your Baby Have Nipple Confusion?

Does “nipple confusion” sound mind boggling?

Nipple confusion refers to a situation where a baby develops problems with latching on the breast after he or she is used to drinking milk from a bottle. Nipple confusion could also arise from being given a pacifier.

Although both latching and sucking from a bottle appear to be the same, the mechanics of breastfeeding are fundamentally different. Breastfeeding is an acquired technique.

Firstly, babies have to open their mouth wide and use their tongue and lower jaw to hold the breast against the roof of their mouth. Then, they use their gums to compress the areola while their tongue moves in a rhythmic front-and-back fashion to draw out milk. To take a break, the baby just needs to stop sucking.

Babies can get frustrated when they have nipple confusion and are unable to feed well.

When babies are fed formula milk or expressed breast milk in a baby bottle, there is not as much technique needed to draw milk out. Some new parents in Singapore may think that baby is rejecting the infant formula milk, but that is usually not the case.

As milk flows from the bottle due to gravity, any action that they make with their mouth and gums will get milk flowing out of the bottle. Therefore, babies can suck only with their lips or clamp down on the teat with their gums. Babies drinking from milk bottles depend on their caregivers to physically remove the bottle from their mouths in order for them to take a break from feeding. This is because as milk flows from a bottle even when baby is not sucking, the baby is forced to continue feeding.

The benefits of breastfeeding for both infants and mothers have been widely publicised and for mothers who direct latch, encountering nipple confusion can pose an obstacle to breastfeeding.

To prevent nipple confusion and encourage your baby to latch on well, it is advised that you avoid giving your baby a pacifier or any type of artificial nipple (including bottle teats) for at least the first 3 to 6 weeks. This duration is to give your baby enough time to master the technique of latching efficiently. If there are problems with latching or if you feel extreme pain when your baby latches, consult an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant who will guide you. Or, speak to the Lactation Consultants from the hospital that you delivered your baby at.

 Signs of nipple confusion

  • Thrusting their tongue up while they’re sucking, which can push the nipple out of their mouth
  • Failing to open their mouth wide enough during the latch (in this case, they can’t get much milk, and their mother’s nipples will be very sore)
  • Becoming frustrated that their mother’s milk isn’t instantly available because it takes a minute or two of sucking to stimulate the let-down reflex

How to prevent nipple confusion

  • Avoid all artificial teats for the first 3 to 6 weeks if at all possible. Use a cup or spoon to feed your baby if needed.
  • Use a slow flow nipple as the flow from the breast is considerably flower than that of milk bottles.
  • Be sure to coax baby to open wide before putting the bottle in his mouth.

Guiding a baby with nipple confusion back to latching

  • Before latching, snuggle your baby close to you to make him or her feel calm
  • Do a ‘sandwich hold’ with your breast to fill up your baby’s mouth
  • Try latching when your baby is calm and not starving.

To manage nipple confusion: After your baby has mastered the technique of latching on, you can introduce milk bottles, ideally after four weeks of age.

After your baby is confident with latching and is more than 6 weeks old, you can try introducing milk bottles. Be sure that the bottle teats are of the appropriate type for your baby so that the flow of milk does not choke your baby.

When you are ready to wean your baby, you can check these tips to transit your baby from breast milk to formula milk. Pick the age-appropriate stage of formula milk for your infant or toddler to ensure he gets adequate nutrients for healthy development. One major difference you will notice is that their poop colour may change when you introduce formula milk to them.

Has your baby experienced nipple confusion? What did you do to overcome it?

Categories
Babies For Parents Pregnant

Pregnancy week 17 – 20: the start of second trimester

Congratulations and welcome to the second trimester -you’re almost at the halfway mark!

Many pregnant mums call this the “honeymoon period” as their energy levels seem to bounce back during this time. Also, your dresses from pre-pregnancy days might start to feel tighter, so you might want to swap them out for dresses with an elastic waistband or opt for maternity wearto accommodate your growing bump. Many maternity dresses double up as nursing dresses for convenient access when breastfeeding or pumping.

Your baby’s growth will be measured during gynae visits to ensure that your baby’s size is healthy during the second trimester.

Week 17: Pear

Your baby is now the size of a pear! His heart is now beating at a regulated pace of 140 to 150 beats per minute, twice the speed of an adult’s. What’s your week 17 baby doing in the womb? Certainly not slacking off, for sure. Your baby is practising essential movements to prepare for life outside the womb, such as sucking and swallowing.

Their identity will start to be more prominent as swirls and creases start to form on their fingers and toes – yes, those are fingerprints and toe prints!

 As your baby grows bigger and heavier, you’ll feel hungrier and hungrier, like you could really eat a cow! To prevent massive weight gain, try this instead of binging – have more frequent snacks of healthy food in smaller quantities. When planning your meals, make sure that your meals contain the essential nutrients for pregnancy and take note of the foods to avoid. You might also feel your back achingas the second trimester of pregnancy also marks more obvious weight gain. Get a cushion to support your back if your job is deskbound.

During the second trimester, pregnant mums should continue staying active, and consider prenatal exercises when given the green light by their doctors.

 Week 18: Sweet Potato

Your little one at week 18 is now big enough for you to feel most movements he makes. All those twists, rolls, kicks and punches could be strong enough to take you by surprise. You may even feel your baby’s hiccups. Other mummies have described baby hiccups as “bubbles” or a fluttering feeling.

Inside, your baby’s reproductive system is forming and the fallopian tubes and uterus are in proper position for girls and for boys, his genitals will be visible from the next visit.

Some pregnant mums’ feet and ankles start to swell during the second trimester. This is a sign of water retention as your body needs more fluid to support you and your growing baby. To alleviate the effects, keep your legs elevated and avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time.

Lines that start appearing on your belly are stretchmarks and while they are mostly genetic, you can use stretch mark creams to keep the skin moisturised as much as possible to minimise the effects.

 Week 19: Mango

Vernix caseosa, a protective covering that prevents your baby from coming out wrinkly at birth, starts to form. A mix of dead skin cells, lanugo and oil, it is your baby’s first anti-wrinkle cream. Your baby’s lungs are developing and the main airways are forming this week.

You could be suffering from constipation due to the pregnancy hormones and iron supplements. Increasing your intake of fluids and fibre may help your condition. Feeling dizzy at times? That’s due to the growing pressure on your blood vessels from your uterus that reduces blood flow and causes you to feel faint. Once you experience such symptoms, sit or lie down immediately to prevent yourself from getting hurt.

Week 20: Banana

Welcome to Month 5! One of the cute things your baby can now do in-utero is sucking her thumb. This sucking reflex is useful for her to self-soothe when she enters the world.

You may be feeling out of breath at times due to your uterus pushing up against your lungs. However, you can still attempt simple exercises at home to keep fit and stay healthy.

Is your husband feeling left out? He doesn’t have to be, as there are many ways that he can help you with the pregnancy.

Are you enjoying your second trimester too, mummies? Do share how different it was from your first trimester!