Checklist for baby’s arrival

I’m doing up a list of things I need for baby and thought it would be good to share, so here goes:

Breastfeeding

  • Breastpad
  • Nipple cream
  • Breastpump (optional)
  • Milkbags / containers (in the early days small containers like snappies are useful; later on bottles that fit directly on the brand of pump you use are best – I use medela)
  • Cooler bag
  • Coolant pack

Bottle feeding

  • Steriliser
  • Bottles with teats
  • Bottle cleaning brush
  • Bottle cleaning liquid
  • Vacuum flask (optional)
  • Formula (optional)
  • Formula container (optional)

Clothes

  • Many onesies
  • Many pyjamas
  • Socks
  • Mittens
  • Pretty clothes for special events
  • Hats

Accessories

  • Bib

Bathing / cleaning

  • Washcloths
  • Tub
  • Baby shampoo and soap
  • Nappy cream
  • Baby powder
  • Baby lotion
  • Misc medications you believe in (gripe water, ruyi oil, Vicks…)
  • Nail clipper
  • Comb
  • Diaper
  • Wet wipes
  • Towels
  • Changing mat
  • Laundry detergent

Bedding

  • New mattress (used mattress apparently increases risk of cot death)
  • Sheets
  • Blanket / swaddling blanket / sleeping bag

Misc

  • Car seat
  • Stroller
  • Diaper bag (can be any big bag but diaper bags has many compartments which can be useful)

For mummy

  • Maternity pads
  • Nursing bras
  • Tummy binder

Its christmas season!

Yes, the festive season comes earlier each year. One almost wonders whether the suggestion of one of my readers that our Mid Autumn light up is an early celebration of Christmas may become reality! When I was younger Christmas season was in December itself but I guess its a combination of businesses wanting to maximise profits from the season’s buying spree and (as a friend suggested) the influx of Americans for whom the holiday season starts with Halloween moving into Thanksgiving and then the rest of the world, also congregating in Singapore moving into Christmas and New Year and after that the Chinese moving into Chinese New Year.

Here’s Sophia saying happy holidays with festive diapers. Aren’t they oh-so-cute? Wish we had these in Singapore.

Just as I thought I had the best angel baby in the world…

At least when it comes to sleep training since Sophia has been sleeping from 10-ish to 7 without voluntarily waking up since she was, oh I don’t remember, somewhere between 6 weeks and 2 months old, and this progressed to 8pm to 7am as she got older. BUT last night she screamed for a full 3 hours and more before eventually sleeping at 11 plus. Ok, the poor girl was sick so I should cut her some slack but I’m not used to dealing with a sick baby. Prior to this Sophia was breastfed so never fell sick except once when she was about 6 weeks old and she was very good that time, no fussing or anything. Ate and slept as per normal. I do hope she recovers soon. Brought her to the doctors for some non sedating cough syrup which hopefully will help her sleep better. I need some sleep……

At times like this I kick myself for stopping breastfeeding.

Hush Hush and its synonyms

I’ve been visiting a lot of friends in my one month break while I was in between jobs and as a result got to see a lot of people at work calming a crying baby. Its surprisingly interesting to hear people’s pet word for pacifying their baby.

1) Whistle – yes, not shhh… but an actual whistle. It was quite surprising to me because I’ve always associated whistling with getting a child to pee than getting him/her to stop crying. Not that I’ve used it in either instance because I also don’t see how making that sound will inspire pee.

2) “sak sak” – as in love in the doting sense in cantonese. Not an unusual work but I guess I just have never heard a predominantly cantonese speaking person at work calming a baby till now so the continuous repetition of the work “sak” is interesting to me.

3) “stop it!” – cute, especially when the mum in question said it in a way that was firm but at the same time as if she wasn’t really expecting it to work.

Me? I say “love love” more than anything else. I also say “mummy love”, “Mummy carry”. “mummy’s here” and “Sophia go to sleep” depending on the situation, but especially when Sophia was younger, “love love” was the most common phrase. So mcuh so that when she refused to be carried by her father, the father said “Daddy also love love what”.

What about you? What’s your pet calming phrase?

Quite the sweet girl actually

For all I say about Sophia being a cowgirl (which I still maintain she is), she is also quite sweet and there definitely is a trace of maternal instinct in her, even at this age. Consider this sequence of events:

Happily playing in a corner of Antionette (a cafe at Scarlet Hotel)

Inspecting every nook and cranny

Suddenly, she heard a baby scream and turned her head, concerned.

She made mummy bring her to the baby and looked on, extremely concerned, as baby E screamed for milk.

Relieved to see baby E happily drinking her milk.

Asking (via brainwaves and sign/eye language) to play with baby after she's well fed

Playing with baby E, as gently as a one year old can be expected to.

Quite sweet eh?

Getting off the bed

Practicing with grandpa's help

Ever since Sophia fell off the bed while sleeping / crawling around in a drowsy state after waking up, she has been very cautious about getting off beds. We’re not sure what happened that time we left her sleeping on the bed and found her crying on the floor since nobody was in the room. My guess was she crawled around in a half stupor immediately after waking up. That’s what she usually does. Anyway, since then, she refuses to get off the bed on her own. Someone always needs to “spot” her even if we don’t touch her. We need to be there to catch her when she falls. And when she’s alone in the room she just screams for help. We keep telling her its ok, you just need to get off legs first but because it involves a little jump she’s still cautious. Hope she grows out of this soon but never ever progress to the stage of climbing out of her crib like these babies:

Formula for sleep

There was a post on The New Age Parents‘ facebook page yesterday featuring a question from a mum on whether she should partially breastfeed her baby because her confinement nanny told her that formula at night helps the baby sleep through the night. I was about to comment but the reply got too long. And it seemed to me that I was the  minority and I was afraid of getting rotten eggs thrown on me. So I retreated to my personal sanctuary that if my own blog on which I can say whatever I want without fear or favour.

I don’t think making babies sleep through is a good reason for partial breastfeeding. I have been exclusively breastfeeding for the past 11 months, with solids from 6 months, of course, and my baby slept through the night from 6 weeks onwards. Its not true that formula is more filling. It is more difficult to digest and hence stay in the stomach longer, that is true but volume for volume babies actually need less breastmilk for their energy needs. This must mean that breastmilk is more “filling” in that more nutrients and calories actually absorbed. My experience is that letting baby sleep through the night is a poor reason for not exclusively breastfeeding. It may not help but yet baby is deprived of exclusively breastfeeding benefits.

There are also a lot of benefits of exclusively breastfeeding that is lost once any other food, even formula, is given. The most common benefit of exclusively breastfeeding is a heathier “flora” in the intestinal tract but there are also lesser known ones for example iron in breastmilk is absorbed much better than other forms of iron but this benefit is lost once other forms of iron is introduced to compete with the iron in breastmilk. I don’t explain it wekk as I’ve digested all these informatino and retained only the conclusion I drew but see for example the following article: http://www.drmomma.org/2010/10/virgin-gut.html. Kellymom’s Why Delay Solids also has a lot of information that I drew analogies on . In a sense formula and solids are similar – both are not nature’s intended food for very young babies – even though formula is closer.

That said, genuinely not having enough milk after an earnest effort, or an ill mother or medically unwell baby or just being unable to cope with the hassle of breastfeeding due to say lack of help with babies are all valid reasons for not being able to exclusively breastfeed and formula is close enough to breastmilk for mothers to really not have to bash themselves up for not exclusively breastfeeding. All I’m saying here is make an informed choice, not a choice based on with frivolous words of a well meaning confinement who probably doesn’t have evidence backing her speech.

Poop disclaimer

I generally try to avoid discussing poop publicly for obvious reasons but I’ve been dying to share about this weirdest habit of Sophia so I guess I’ll have to narrow my exceptions to things like… oh wait, if I actually list the examples then I am actually subjecting my readers to the things that I promised myself not to subject you to. Anyway if I don’t define my limits I’ll have the option of pushing it right? 🙂

So my darling baby girl, she only poops standing up! I tried to google about this and there are others who say that their babies poop standing up but because they don’t have much control over their bodily functions so they poop in whatever position they happen to be in. Sophia she deliberately stands up when she wants to poop. Like even if its night time and she’s already lying down and about to go to sleep, if she needs to poop she will pull herself to standing position, cling on to the bars of her crib and start making pushing noises. It seems to in equal parts bode well and and not-so-well for future toilet training endeavours, well because she is clearly aware when she needs to go and will look at the nearest adult with a poo face, not so well because how are we ever going to get her to sit or squat over a potty if she gets used to doing it standing up?

So there. My first poop post. Hopefully that wasn’t too gross. At least I had a disclaimer in the heading and there was neither picture nor description of the actual product. It should hopefully be bearable to non-parents (assumption being parents are generally immune to poop).

Taking care of an almost 1 year old

So much has changed in less than a year. I can’t quite say whether it was easier or more difficult to take care of a newborn or the one year old she is now. Equal parts both ways I guess. As a newborn, what she needed was basically food and diaper changes. She didn’t quite have inexplicable cries due to any other reason (colic, boredom, reflux etc). So a typical day went generally along the lines of constant feeding with short breaks for sleep, diaper change and baths. The difficult parts were (1) that she’s so fragile and needed to be handled delicately and (2) she constantly feeding which takes a toll on the mum.

Now at 1 year old she has a lot more needs and wants. Food wise other than milk she needs solids which depending on taste and mood she may spit out or smear all over her hair or scream for more. Diaper wise she is still as nonchalent as ever, happy to go around even with a poop filled bum. Entertainment wise she needs so much of! And she must get what she wants. So now a typical day goes something like this:

7am – wake up, change out of pyjamas

7:10am – breakfast of solids, usually avacado mashed with another fruit

8am – milk approximately 160ml

8:30am – walk with mummy to work

9am – tear around the house, pull books off shelves, scatter toys around floor. In the middle of this demand snacks several times and get it from the indulgent grandpa

11am – hopefully fall asleep

12 noon – lunch

12:15pm – continue tearing around the house and making an even bigger mess. In the middle of this maybe read a few pages of hte books thrown from the shelves with grandpa. Eat a lot more pieces of snacks.

3pm – Fight grandpa’s attempts to make her nap. Eventually nap on a good day

5pm – either be up from nap or grandpa gives up attempts to make her nap. Tears around house more.

6pm – pick up grandma from tanjong pagar mrt station. I was told that for this trip she doesn’t struggle against sitting on the car seat and doesn’t cry on the journey. But once they reach the station she insists on being picked up.

7pm – dinner

7:30pm – bath, followed by walk either to 7-11 or cold storage nearby.

8pm – bedtime

Sounds easy enough isn’t it? But each diaper change involves a screaming child refusing to lie down, each bath involves fighting with a child insisting on putting the shampoo into her mouth and each meal involves a massive amount of mess. Well, we live and learn. And wait patiently for the day where our children are able to care for themselves. And pray that the day never comes where she is “too old” to spend quality time with her family.

Travelling with baby

Last month I travelled to Penang with baby and being the mad planner woman I started scouring the internet for packing tips and the results were all somewhat unsatisfactory. So I decided that for the greater good of motherkind I’m going to write the decisive quide on packing for baby. Ok I’m clearly kidding. You are going to have to adapt the list to your particular circumstances, like medication your baby is taking for eg. But I’m hoping this will be a good starting point for mummies as clueless as I was.

I) MILK (Very important)

If your baby is breastfeeding by direct latching, this is simple. You just need to bring your nursing tops and cover and you’re good to go.

If your baby is on formula its not all that tough either. Bring a small tin if you are not sure whether the place you are going to sells the brand you are using. If you plan to buy at the destination, even easier, just bring enough for the trip.

You’ll need water to mix up the and for the trip it can be brought in a thermos flask. Milk and hot water can be brought on the plane if you are travelling with baby. But its impossible to bring enough water for the entire trip and if you are travelling to a place where you’re uncertain about the tap water’s cleanliness, buy bottled water at destination. Select distilled water or drinking water or reverse osmosis water, not mineral water, mineralised water or natural spring water. This is because the additional minerals may be too much for baby’s kidneys to handle. There are certain brands of mineral water which is safe for mixing up formula, Evian being one of the popular ones, but to me its too much trouble to remember which are the safe ones. Just go with distilled water to be safe.

If your baby is on expressed breastmilk like mine is, its the most troublesome. You need to being your pump, pump parts, charger, bottle to store expressed milk, cooler bag to bring milk out with and a portable warmer. I packed prince lionheart’s on-the-go bottle warmer. I sometimes also filled a thermos funtainer with warm water which then can be used to warm milk as well as food.

II Sterilisation

This is kind of related to milk but I thought it deserves a separate category because there are a few options to discuss.

What I did, which I think is the most practical, is to bring a large heatproof container sufficient to fit everything I needed to sterilise (bottles and pump parts). After washing everything with local tap water I boiled bottled water with the kettle provided in the hotel room and poured the boiling water over the washed items placed inside the heatproof container. Towards the later part of the trip I just used boiling tap water and it was still fine but again depends on where you are and how safe the water is, and also how fussy you / your baby is. You may even want to wash with bottled water but I found that way too troublesome. The last boiling water rinse will surely flush away all the bad stuff.

Medela also sells some quickclean wipes that can be used to wipe down and sterilise but I can’t see how these wipes can reach the inside of the pump parts or the bottom of the bottle so I didn’t end up using these after buying them.

Pigeon and tollyjoy also sells sterilisation tablets which I used while on a staycation with hubby (without baby) but I did not end up using the milk pumped while on staycation so whether baby would drink that milk is still an unknown. The tablets are mixed with a specified amount of water and bottles and parts need to be submerged in the solution for a certain number of hours. The solution smelt like chlorine and I was told bleaches certain surfaces so I can’t imagine it to be very good for baby to consume even minute quantities of it.

Lastly, you can also bring along your steriliser but these tend to be bulky so only do it if none of the above are a satisfactory option to you.

III Food

If your baby has already started solids then this is another matter to consider. Even if you are generally fussy about preparing home cooked meals for baby (as I am) I would say forget it during the trip. If your baby is below 1 year old then bring commercial baby food purees. I like happy baby meals because of the BPA free packaging and organic ingredients. Sophia likes to eat them too. I didn’t bother heating the room temperature food up but when its the refridgerated portion (I separate the portions before feeding), I’ll use warm water in funtainer container to warm it up or ask for warm water at the restaurant.

If your child is above 1 and the place you are going will have clean restaurants then don’t even bother with commercial food. Just feed baby parts of the adults’ meal that is soft enough for her teeth/gums to process. Like the breads and roasted veges and fruits etc.

You’ll also need bowls or some type of container (I used Avent’s via cups which were convenient as both storage and bowl), spoons (I used munchkins take & toss which were pretty durable and BPA free but yet cheap so I didn’t feel heartache if I lost it or dropped it etc) and bibs.

I also brought pigeon hand and mouth wipes and some dettol hand sanitiser for cleaning up before and after meals. And tonnes of tissues.

Oh yes, don’t forget the sippy cup / straw cup.

IV Clothes

Pack according to climate and what your baby usually wears. Things to think about are: going out clothes, pyjamas, swimwear, shoes/socks, mittens if baby is really small, hat, jacket, winter wear, leggings and gloves.

V Diapers

Either bring enough for trip or buy at destination. Also bring/buy wet wipes and barrier cream.

VI Entertainment

What you bring in this category depends on what your baby likes at the moment. Definitely bring his/her favourite toy. Some books could be good. Security blanket if he/she has one. Snacks like little biscuits or rice puffs are also good when used sparingly.

VII Medication

Madaboutbaby made a good point about baby medication, which is especially essential if you are heading to a country where you do not trust the hospitals / doctors, or a country where you potentially will have difficulty communicating with doctors because of linguistic barriers. To me there are 2 categories, which I shall explore below:

First category being the “daily comfort” category ie gripewater, ruyi oil or whatever else you may use on your baby on a regular basis to make baby feel comfortable. I personally don’t like to get my baby reliant on these things so don’t tend to use them (plus I’m just too lazy). But if you do use them then a trip is not a good time to drop them and you definitely should lug them along.

Second category are the things that would come in handy if someone should fall sick or for minor accidents.

For minor accidents, all you need are really: (i) a disinfectent – a vial or two of normal saline available at most pharmacies will do. Or if you are not concerned about the sting then a few alcohol swabs. (ii) an antiseptic (yes, this is different from disinfectent) and it is again available at pharmacies. I tend to stock Burnol but there are many others out there. (iii) simple bandaging equipment. Some sterile gauze and a roll of surgical tape would serve most purposes. If you are concerned about looks then opsite’s good.

For the falling sick bit I guess the list can poteltially be very long, especially for people used to say the North American culture where people self medicate with otc medication a lot. I tend to head to the GP if I am sick and am generally unfamiliar with self medication options so only brought paracetamol.

Oh yar and I suppose there is one last category that I wrote off even though I know they exist – the equivalent of sleeping pills to knock baby out for the flight. They’re available from GPs and paediatricians and possibly even pharmacies. Even when my baby is sick I object to putting more medicine in her than is absolutely necessary so I certainly wouldn’t inflict sleeping pills on her when she’s well. But then again my baby is ok with take offs and landings and, though active, not overly so such that she will scream from boredom of the flight. So no judgement if you feel the need to use some modern medicine to preserve the sanity of fellow passengers.

I think those are the main categories. Let me know in the comments if there’s any I missed!