In the Name of Nuturing the Child

I am going to share something part and parcel of every couple’s life- an argument in the morning. We were in the kitchen together and my husband was carrying 8 month old Matty while I was preparing her milk. Matty gripped his shirt tightly and he teased her that she was going to crumple his shirt. So what was the big deal about it? I was most irked at how he said it to her. As an attempt to develop both Matty’s English and Mandarin properly in the long run, Daddy will be speaking mainly to her in Chinese while I will be speaking to her in English. Parenting or language experts will tell you that children learn languages more effectively this way. So Daddy spoke in Mandarin but for the word ” wrinkled”, he used a dialect word for it. I snapped at him harshly and asked him why must he use dialect for that word? So he defended by saying it will be good to let her pick up some of our dialect as well.

I have nothing against dialect and I am proud of my own roots as a Chinese and dialect group. It was just that I do not want her to be influenced and speak with Chinese or English that is mixed with dialect jargons. To be frank, it sounds crude and as a parent, it makes me shudder when I imagine if my daughter speaks like that next time.

After snapping at him, he said to me firmly in a controlled manner that I should not had lost my temper and bark at him right in front of the baby. What if she learns that from me and eventually disrespects him? I could have spoken to him about it privately.

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”
― James Baldwin

I went silent and apologised meekly, then he went off for work. Those words hit me hard and I thought about everything that I intended the “best” for our daughter. Was that moment of teaching what is the ” best” for her?

He was right. It was not about how good my intention was for our daughter but how I talked to him. I had displayed rudeness, disrespect, harshness and impatience to how I responded to his actions. If I dont change my behaviour, I think it is soon that our daughter is going to pick it up from me and react to Daddy in the same way that Mummy does.

I can’t explain why, since the birth of our daughter, I have been snapping at him more often. Many a times, it was related to things he said or did pertaining to our daughter which seemed to me were not essential or beneficial. I think the phrase ” primal mother’s innate defensive mechanism” is definitely not a reason for me to react this way to him. It is time that I should start praying about this aspect and that God give me His grace to be gracious to my husband too.

Later in the noon, I text him and apologised again, assuring that we love him and will never want to disrespect him. He said it was fine, and when he got home, we spent the evening happily together with our daughter.

Weighing between what would seem to benefit my daughter’s linguistic development versus the virtue of respect, the latter is paramount and nothing will change this.

A Parenting Generation that Steals our Kids’ Childhood

I came across a blog( http://happinessishereblog.com/2014/10/childhood-rush/ ) the previous night and the author wrote something very precious about giving back children their childhood.

It also reminded me of a book which I had read some time back ” Einstein Never Used Flashcards” by Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Kathy Hirsh Pasek and Diane Eyer. The gist of this book is that children learns more effectively through play during childhood years than attending enrichment classes that make them memorize through flashcards. And in her book, she mentioned that Einstein never used flashcards but he was a genius. How he became a genius was he that he explored and asked many questions about his surroundings while he was learning through playing.

The blogger emhasizes not to rush children with whatever they are doing , for example, when they stop to smell the flowers or observe the shape of the clouds. Because in a blink of an eye, they will soon all grow up and have lives of  their own, and gone were the childhood days spent with them. In this 21st century where everything is faster seems better and smarter, we often impose these two principles on our childrens’ learning and growth as well. From the book, the author explains that children are learning while they are playing too so dont take away their play time and send them for overwhelming enrichment boot camps.

Both the book and the blog post made me reassess two decisions which I have made recently. I been attending an infant swim class with my 8month old Matty on every Thursday morning, which lasts 30mins for each session. The reason why I joined was because we had really enjoyed ourselves during the trial class and the bonding in water was really special. We are at 3rd week of our course and the instructor feedbacked that Matty is progressing well and has high confidence in water, so she was allowed to join the older babies group. She is bold and takes it well when being submerged.

I have also signed her up for a Japanese right brain training program which makes use of color cards, flashcards and puzzles to stimulate their brain vessels. I have signed up with Heguru Education, it is some sort of similar to those of Shichida Method or Glen Doman method.

A close friend then asked me if I was being a little over competitive to train her in such areas at such a tender age. Another close friend said it was definitely worth it and many of her friends are doing so too.

Of course, I had asked myself what are my objectives for doing so and what are my goals for each program. As for the swim program, I am looking at a unique bonding experience, allowing her to pick up some water competency and get into a form of mini playgroup in water. Ultimately, I hope she can develop some more significant attributes such as confidence and perseverance.

Right brain training will only begin in November and I cannot assess anything now. To begin with, how did I even think letting her try this program. It all began with a Facebook advertising page and I clicked it to read more, which led me to Google more on forums and online resources. Having read some of the benefits and potential, I attended their parents information session and from there I learnt to understand how babies’ brain works, and from birth to 6 years old, it is the right brain being dominant. So when you develop their right brain during the prime age, they can learn useful skills such as photographic memory and some other skills which may help them to pick up faster in academic, music and other things that they do. There have been many positive parental testimonies that their children are able to stay concentrated far better and hence absorb more during lesson time. They are more self controlled too. Could it be I have been sucked in by the overpromising advertisements?

For us, we just hope that she will become an independent thinking child who is self motivated and responsible. I have been a tutor for about 10 years and been to many different homes. And sad to say, I have seen many kids and teenagers who are lacking in discipline and responsibility. Many dont even want to think when you ask them questions and their favourite answer is ” Dont know.” And they just blanked out there waiting for someone to perform a miracle. Some simply just cannot concentrate at something and it is not that they are lower in IQ or what, but probably they are just not keen or cannot wire things together.

Many a times they come from backgrounds that parents just leave it to nature and pray that things will just turn out better or simply just feel that ” they will get over that stage”. I am definitely not saying that attending a right brain training class and these will not happen, but I feel it might help to enhance her overall learning process and things might be easier. I am not entirely against nor for using flashcards and I definitely enjoy our play time together where I will teach her things as well. I feel that flashcards if use appropriately can achieve some desired results such as in the form of right brain training. At home, I prefer to use real objects and toys to teach her about colors, shapes and songs to learn ABC.

There again, I will never want to steal her childhood away.

When parents consent kids to take it out on others when they get hurt

Matilda turned 8months old today. During one of our play sessions, she slightly bumped her head against the edge of her toy and cried. I comforted that it was alright and hugged her till she calmed down. And we continued playing. This mini event that seemed so normal made me recalled some of the incidents which I had witnessed and set me thinking about an issue.

You have seen some kids at the playground or probably a relative of yours trying to comfort a crying child who had hurt themselves while playing. But these were some of the things heard from the adults. For example, a child was frustrated at the mechanics of the toys and began to cry for whatever reason, ” Bad toy. Granny will hit the toy!”, ” That was a naughty boy, he caused you to fall down by leaving his toys everywhere.” etc…

With all good intention to appease the crying child, I think what they had said was trying to tell the child whatever bad consequence that happened, it was somebody’s or something’s fault but probably never their own fault for being negligent.

I had heard from a close friend that on a particular day, her mother in law, herself, her daughter K and her cousin W were out together. W was angry and started crying because he had hurt himself and her mother in law tried all ways to appease the boy. He threw tantrums for the mishap, wailing out loud in public. Next, hear that the appalling thing that her mother in law said to my friend’s daughter, K. ” K, just let W hit you a few times.” Both kids were about 5 years old at that time. My friend could not believe her ears and cut in” No way am I gonna let him hit my girl for anything she had not done.” I thought it was really ridiculous when I heard that. Both kids are her own grand children and I can understand that she favours the boy more because she takes care of him. But to ask your own beloved grandson hit another grand child so that he could vent it out and feel better was atrocious.

Fortunately, K was not hit by the boy. I couldnt imagine how K would feel if she had been whacked by the boy. In her little mind, she would be shocked and confused, why is she subjected to abuse and why did one of her immediate family members allow it? How hurting that would be! One of the scariest things is that the boy would soon learn that he is empowered to take it out on others because Mom or Dad blamed the other party too.

What messages are we sending to our kids nowadays when something does not go their way? In this century, we have seen the rise of ill mannered kids, adults bowing to the whims of their kids, use of violence and some who dont feel that they need to account for anything at all. Probably it is also time that parents or the family members should reassess what are we saying to kids when some things go wrong.

There is always an area for telling them that it is alright that we hurt ourselves at times, get up and move on.

Can babies have onions?

So, as I have been taking 7mth old Matty old on a gastronomic weaning adventure with great tasting recipes from Annabel Karmel ‘s baby recipebook. Then, my husband asked if it was really OK for her to have onions at this stage. Some of the recipes I tried contain them and thus far,  Matty takes them well. She particularly loves potato puree with leek. Like onions, leek, chives,.garlic and shallots belong to the same family called allium.

The general rule is that we can start offering them onions added into a dish at about 8-10months, not as an pure onion puree itself (yucks ). When offering your baby onions, do ensure that they are fully cooked till soft.

Onions do not pose high allergy risk but may upset sensitive tummies as they tend to build up gas within, causing flatulence. In some cases, there might be reflux. Start by offering your babies in small quantity at the beginning, or if  in doubt, consult your paediatrician.

Some benefits of onions:
–  excellent source of antioxidants
– anti-inflammatory properties, so they can be helpful in reducing the symptoms of children with asthma.
– Packed with vitamin C
– boost the immune system
– enhance your baby’s iron absorption from other foods

These rules apply to leek, chive garlic and shallots as well. Like onions, they belong to the allium family.

Tempting to introduce onions or leek ? Try Chicken in tomato sauce and Braised beef with sweet potatoes

1st iherb purchase: Organic babyfood for Matty

iherb purchases, organic baby food

iherb purchases, organic baby food

iherb.com is an excellent platform for buying organic food stuffs with wide range of household products for the entire family. This is my first purchase after much sharing from my best friend so I decided to give it a shot. The shipping rate to Singapore is cheap, SGD$4 for registered shipping and delivered right to your doorstep. There are usually greater discounts if you buy in more quantities.

From the picture above, I have bought the ” Happy series” of Happybellies brown rice powder with DHA and Choline, Happyyogis yoghurt snack, Happypuffs snacks, and baby yoghurt.

These will definitely last Matty for some time or probably not, because Papa and Mama find baby snacks irresistibly good too.

Picking up from the floor? is the 5 second rule quick enough?

My husband used to blurt out the ” 5 second rule” when I dropped some food stuffs or a baby hanky/ bottle on the floor. Below is a research shared by my one of my favourite Twitter pages, #kidshealth. They explained that 5 second isn’t exactly quick enough to clear off the bacteria stuck on your food. Best solution: Throw it away if in doubt, dont take a chance to cause your baby to fall sick.

Finding good Tweets on parenting

I used to think that Twitter was pretty irritating with a whole load of page cluttered with tiny words, hashtags, some strange URL codes, some advertisement graphics etc. Just recently, I decided to pick up on how to use Twitter after I realized how these short tweet messages can especially be helpful and even educational to me, as a mother. I dedicate my Twitter page to follow some parenting and mothering pages. I also select who I follow carefully because I hate clutter of non-related tweets on my page.

Currently, I am following 15 profiles and here are some of my personal favourites: #annabelkarmel,#parentsmagazine, #babycenter, #kidshealth.

Share with me what’s your favourite parenting tweeting page?

Aquaducks Swim School at Tanglin Village

On the left side, there are the shower rooms. At the back, it is the resting area where you can change your babies into their swim attire. Right side, the pool.

On the left side, there are the shower rooms. At the back, it is the resting area where you can change your babies into their swim attire. Right side, the pool.

Alright, here is what I am going to show everyone how the pool which Matty goes to look like.

Why did I sign up Matty for a swim course?

My best friend used to show me Youtube videos on how babies and very young toddlers can actually swim. We thought it was really cool and nice that a baby can do that, plus it is a life saver skill. But those babies shown are usually from overseas like countries in USA or Australia. In Singapore, I have never heard of anyone sending their babies for real swim courses. We were saying if Singapore really does have such programs, it would be great if Matty could enroll in one.

Hence when Matty turned 6 months old, I began to source on Google if there are any of such programs in Singapore. Finally, I found Aquaducks and I emailed in for a trial lesson at Tanglin Village, 29 Harding Road Singapore 249537, at Dempsey Hill beside The White Rabbit .

During the trial lesson, I joined a small group of about 3 mothers with their babies of similar age to Matty. The instructor used nursery rhymes to incorporate into the swim lessons objectives and all the babies were very engaged. For example, part of the routine exercises was to sit baby on the ledge and parent had to bring the baby down into the water to simulate falling into the water. So, the nursery song was ” Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall” and when the instructor said ” ..had a great Fall”, parents will bring their babies into the water. Also, there was also some light submerging and instructor taught us the techniques. The instructor would also used a small pail and pour water over babies’ heads to let them practice holding their breath for a short while and to let them adapt to underwater.

Lesson was 30mins long and everyone enjoyed themselves. There were no yelling and screaming babies, maybe except some would just whine and cry for a short while. I was pretty impressed by this at how the instructors could really pacify the kids.

After the trial, I decided to sign up Matty official as an Aqua Duckie at Level 1. It is $120 for 4 lessons a month, each lesson is 30mins. Price is excluding GST and registration fee. What I really loved about the lesson is that it allowes me to bond with Matty in a very unique way, learning about trust and confidence. In addition, the group was really small, and babies get most of the attention.The instructor to baby ratio is about 1:3 for older babies or 2:3 for younger babies.

Besides this, I enjoy the short stroll from the bus stop to the site Dempsey Hill is all quiet with its lush flora and fauna, and the sun at 9am was just fine for us.

After the swim lesson, you can be expected that your baby will fall asleep by themselves without fighting sleep! How awesome is that!

This is where Aquaducks Swim School holds their swim classes at Tanglin Village.

This is where Aquaducks Swim School holds their swim classes at Tanglin Village.

From the photo above, you can see some of the props used during the lessons, and these are usually meant for older babies from 1 year plus. The pool is chlorine free and can be heated up. I like it that it is sheltered despite being an outdoor pool.

Meanwhile, stay tuned for my next post to catch Matty in action when Daddy is on leave to video the process.

For more info, visit them at  http://www.aquaducks.com.sg/

Chicken in Tomato Sauce

Chicken in Tomato Sauce

Chicken in Tomato Sauce

This is a recipe from Annabel Karmel’s ” The Healthy Baby Meal Planner”. This dish is good itself for the entire family too. Its naturally sweet flavour are from the root vegetables and chicken. Blend this dish very thoroughly to avoid chunky and tough chicken shreds which your baby cant swallow at this time. Easy to make and ingredients are cheap and easily available too. Dive into it!

Chicken in tomato paste

Chicken in tomato sauce

Dried Apricots with Papaya and Pear

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This is a recipe from Annabel Karmel’s ” The Healthy Baby Meal Planner”. I replaced papaya with apples as I did not have papaya on that day, but still, it turned out fantastic. This dark gold caramel liked syrup is robust in flavour with the dried apricots. An excellent recipe for babies who have done their first tastes on papaya/apple and pear.

Note: Use only sulfur free dried apricots. Usually, the packaging will indicate whether it is sulfur free or not. On the ingredients list, it is shown as sulfur or sulfure dioxide. Sulfur may trigger asthma attacks in some babies, so be safe. Sulfur is also used to preserve the bright orange color of apricot flesh for aesthetic purplse. Sulfur free dried apricots are darker brown in color. You can get them from organic stores or well stocked supermarkets. They are usually more expensive though.

One of Matty’s favourite dessert for tea time.

dried apricots with papaya and pear

dried apricots with papaya and pear