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? ūüôā

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 Рcontinue 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!

How to put an almost toddler to sleep

Here’s my bedtime routine for Sophia in case any first time mums like a reference. Only steps 4, 7 and 8 are sleep inducing actually, the rest are things that need to get done before she sleeps, that’s all.

1) eat dinner

2) take a bath

3) go for a walk to 7-11 downstairs and get her face pinched by the Indian cashier who says “chomaterpunay” to her countless times. I’m told this means “many many love”.

4) drink milk

5) brush teeth

6) bedtime story

7) lights off and goodnight song

8) get thrown into crib, pull self up, walk all over, tumble down, pull self up again, tumble again, repeat till tired enough to sleep. All the while mummy needs to be sitting by the crib but need not be actually doing anything.

I’m a bit miffed that without the maid dinner usually starts at about 7 and by the time steps 1 to 7 are completed its past 8 and on a bad day (which is, by the way, common), Sophia can toss and turn till 9. The plan was to put her to sleep at 7 each day so I have my own life after 8!

How to burp a baby

This is not a guide but rather a call for help. I never really knew how to burp a newborn and till now I still don’t. In the first few years of Sophia’s life, nothing I do seemed to work. The position I had least success with was what seemed to me to be the most popular among parents in Singapore – sitted upright on my lap with one hand supporting her chin and the other patting her back. Mostly because she seemed so flimsy that I never dared to keep her in that position for any length of time. The one I have most success with is with her upright resting on my shoulder. And I got most success with that after I carried her higher than I normally do such that my collarbone is almost at her tummy. Something about the gentle pressure there must have helped. But even then success was few and far between and mostly Sophia just led her life with a round tummy and farting a lot. The only other position I know about I never even tried, which is lying down on my lap because I suspected that it would just make her regurgitate milk.

Now that Sophia is older and stronger, all I have to do is to keep her vaguely upright and she will burp after a while. But when my next baby comes along, I’ll be just as clueless as a first time mum!

So tell me, how do YOU burp your baby?

The case against confinement nannies

1) Breastfeeding mothers

Most confinement ladies are about the age of our mothers. Remember we are from the formula fed era so they probably raised their own kids on formula and think its the way to go. Most confinement ladies I know of keep telling the new mothers they have not enough milk (I now believe there is seldom a true case of not enough, only of timing mismatch). Even Sister Kang of Mt Alvernia hospital says that when she sees mothers together with confinement nannies often the confinement nanny will say things like its ok here but won’t work at home. To hear this all day long when the new mum (especially first time mums) is already fretting about baby being hungry, crying for food all the time etc, I wouldn’t be surprised there would be higher incidences of post natal depression among mums with confinement nannies. Already without one I was stressing myself out so much for the first few days that I thought I had PND.

2) Uneducated and dangerous

Not properly educated on babycare knowledge. They can have ideas that could potentially harm babies. For example, I was told confinement nanny added an extra scoop of formula to the mixture. That is potentially dangerous. The confinement nanny was sacked on the spot.

3) Short term goals

As Tracy Hoggs said, with babies you should start as you mean to go on. Confinement nannies will only be with the family for a month. They will obviously take the path of least resistance with baby e.g. rock them to sleep so they can sleep. But over time baby gets used to this and dependant on the rocking. when the baby is 5kgs instead of 3, its the parents who have to keep rocking baby to sleep.

4) Stress

Perhaps this is relevant only for weirdoes like me, but I find it really stressful to have a stranger stay with me. I need to ensure she’s honest, clean etc and if she doesn’t, because she has taken care of so many babies, she can easily retort that none of her babies have suffered from her unclean practices. Worst of all would be if she steals etc.

5) If you had the best confinement nanny in the world who doesn’t present the above problems… you will be completely¬†traumatized¬†when she leaves.