Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Are all babies water babies?

"How to teach your baby to swim" was the most informative Doman book and actually made me want to swim more with B! Swimming helps to stimulate brain growth and development at a critical time in early childhood, especially when babies' physical mobility is still limited.  Virtually all muscles are used when swimming, providing for an excellent aerobic workout!  Children who are competent and confident swimmers are also more likely to be participants, not just spectators in life.  As the baby swims more, his heart and lungs will develop, breath will be held longer, muscles and chest will grow, overall mobility, immune system, language and manual competence will improve.  Overall success in physical excellence = ideal environment + maximum opportunity.  Some tips below.

For newborns (birth to 6 months):
Babies have been "swimming" in utero since birth. Once born, swimming provides an opportunity to move in an environment where he will be buoyant and baby fat advantageous.  Focus on enabling the baby to love being in water and to learn breath holding under water, be consistent week to week and swim daily where possible.  Activities include: Balancing and floating with baby's chin on parent's shoulder, floating on back, blowing bubbles, bobbing up and down, passing under a gentle shower (up to 10x nonstop, followed by going underwater), gentle jumping (with support of parent's hands) into the bath, grasping the side of the tub or parent's thumbs.  Before swimming:  ensure newborn is fed and rested, hugs, kisses, cuddling throughout and at end!

For 6-12 months:
Gradually transition to a pool or open water, preferably heated.  Note: Children can tolerate the cooler temps of an outdoor pool only at around 18-24 months.   Extend the length of time baby goes underwater, holds his breath and keep up the newborn activities. Activities: Floating on the back, swimming from one to another parent, climbing out, blowing bubbles, bobbing up and down to breathe/submerge (say, "1-2-3-under"). At 1 year, he may even be able to sit by the side of the pool, jump in, swim a few feet and resurface to breathe -- with limited assistance!  Swim as often as possible, ideally 3-5x a week

For 1-2 years:
Apply the same principles -- cuddling, kissing and joyousness, do each activity frequently, briefly and move on, keep the structure of each swim time/lesson the same.  Focus is on independent activities, esp. climbing out of the pool, swimming the width of a pool (underwater/resurface to breathe/underwater), safely diving into the pool.  If there is exposure to the beachfront (lake/gentle sloping ocean), the child can eventually walk into the water with you, swim out a short distance, turn around, swim back and walk out of the water onto the beach!  Activities: Bobbing up and down, holding the side of the pool, swimming to the steps and from the steps to parent, and then, continuing to swim, floating on the back, jumping and diving from a sitting, then kneeling, then standing position to a parent, pushing off (from a ladder) and swimming to a parent, climbing out of the pool using steps and a ladder with a little boost as needed from parent.  Goal:  Child can happily and easily jump into the pool, swim across at least 6 years/meters, and climb out independently

For 2-4 years:
Children in this age group are extremely active physically, in constant motion, and MUST be well fed before swimming.  Time to introduce goggles. Activities: Streamlining, flutter kicking, breathing and pulling with arms, flutter kicking as the child holds one side of the pool or as you hold the child on the side of your body, diving and streamlining to you from the side of the pool, dive from a standing position and streamlining, dive in the water to the bottom to retrieve an object.  Goal: To swim the length of the pool with a crawl stroke taught via 3 proposed methods:

  • A: Breathing and head turning while holding side of pool, rotate chin towards the shoulder and inhale, straighten the head as it enters the water and exhale 
  • B: Same as A but with parent holding child in the middle of pool
  • C: Using arms for the crawl.  Hold child on parent's side and progress to independent swimming 
For 4-6 years:
Focus on helping the child swim easier, more secure/safer and faster, improving the quality of streamlining, endurance, the crawl stroke (outside the pool) and diving.  Goals: 4 years - 100 meters crawl, 5 years - 200 meters crawl, 6 years - 400 meters crawl. Once your child loves to swim and is doing well with the crawl, move on to other strokes/flip turns and continue to teach in a loving way!  Activities:  Streamlining with independent breathing, further nonstop crawl strokes (inhale left and then right), improve diving in the sitting, kneeling and standing position.  Bench activities (face down): Rotate chin to shoulder and inhale, straighten head and exhale, flutter kicking (knees over the end of the bench and movement from hips, not knees), rotate and pull with both arms (moving over and below the sides of the bench), combine pulling with arms + flutter kicking + breathing

Make it fun!  Suggested water play (2 years up):
Retrieve toys such as rings/brightly coloured objects, swim between legs of one parent then both, riding on your back like a dolphin, racing/chasing/"tag", parents throws kid into "deep" water while standing, push off the bottom and rocket to the surface, see how far you can swim underwater, swim in deep water, play soccer/water polo/basketball with floating net, go underwater and somersault forwards/backwards, stand on your hands on the bottom of the pool, "Marco Polo" (kid holds themselves in a tuck position - knees held tightly against chess, parent throws them into the air, they splash in water and swim back)....

Friday, December 7, 2012

Kindermusik: Dream Pillow

I've noticed how much B seems to love music and rhythm, and signed him up for Kindermusik Village classes at around 10 months. Over the weeks, I've been pleasantly surprised by how wholistic (comprehensive?) his classes are.  One would think that baby music class mainly involves moms singing a bunch of nursery and action songs, hoping that at least half of the little bubs pay attention while the other half don't get too cranky!  But in reality, there's so much more that goes on.  Here's what we learned from his first "Dream Pillow" term:

Babies are great listeners but they get distracted as they grow through improved visual acuity and mobility. Activities ("opposites" and body action songs) and instruments that introduce rhythm create opportunities for anticipation and sequencing.  It also ensures that the vestibular system which contribues to movement and balance gets adequate stimulation early on.  In addition, the longer babies are exposed to appropriate music and experiences, the better their audiation, i.e. the ability to sing silently/hear music inside our heads which is critical for musical memory and performance.

Babies learn best when emotionally involved in an activity because the incoming sensory stimulation is first processed through the non-rational non-conscious limbic system (the seat of emotion) -- and only THEN, goes to the neocortex, the rational brain. Simply put: The less emotional the content/experience, the less memorable!  That explains why to this day, he recognises and responds to the "I Love You" from Skinnamarink, rhythm and audiation from Sarasponda, various instrumental action cues from Tants, Tants, Yidelekh, random joyful dancing to Dance, Little Baby, slowing down to All Through The Night and pausing to rest with Softly, Softly.

Music is as much silence as it is sound and elements of both help develop a life skill of focused attention.  On the flip side, babies need plenty of rest too (and not just sleep!). Balance structured stimulation and engagement in age-appropriate activities with wakeful leisure time, unstructured moments where you just don't DO anything but rather, BE restored together.  This down time helps your child's brain process the learning that occurs. If quiet time is elusive, try to engage your baby with soft conversation, a gentle touch, light movements (standing/rocking/walking slowly). Relaxation is actually a learned behaviour!  Watch your baby for cues and pace yourselves during the day, alternate between boisterous and quieter activities, hold baby close and breathe deep, massage!

Some term book recommendations from Ms. Shauna at Kindermusik with Love:
  1. Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting. Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn
  2. Smart Moves: Why Learning is Not All In Your Head. Carla Hannaford
  3. Goodnight Moon. Margaret Wise Brown

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It's fun to be ONE!

One year ago, you came into our lives and it's been a ONEderful, occasionally sleepless, always amazing journey. May you grow godly, healthy, happy and wise. Love you too much! 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Month 11 Week 2: How To Multiply Your Baby's Intelligence

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. - Mark Twain
There are only two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots, the other wings. - Hodding Carter

It took 3+ hours to curl my hair (after 5 years!) so I managed to finish Doman's book on "How To Multiply Your Baby's Intelligence" as I'd been curious about their approach since that Gymnademics trial class.  Stuff that got me thinking below.

Why start now vs wait for formal school (primary at 6 or nursery/kindergarten at 3)
  • Learning begins from birth
  • The brain grows the most at the early stages
  • The first six years are the genesis of genius, limited only by how much material babies get to learn and how it's presented
  • All significant brain growth is finished by six years with growth in ability dropping sharply each year
  • See this recent article on how frequent, positive stimulation can make a big difference in the early years 
  • What we do not use, we lose - the human brain has the memory capacity to hold ~3 million hours of TV shows :).  What are we filling ours with? 
    • Input: see, hear, touch, smell, taste
    • Output: mobility, language, manual competence
  • When "teaching," have fun. Tell your kid how great he is, how much you love him ... often!  
How to teach your baby to read:
  • Only humans can read
  • Words must be large, clear, repeated enough, presented enthusiastically
  • The more speed, the more new material, the more joy, the better
  • Suggested sequence: Commonly used words, self/body, home objects, baby's possessions, foods, animals, actions, colours, modifiers (pairs, opposites), x is a/an/the y z (e.g. "Mango is a sweet yellow fruit") 
  • Suggested approach: Start with 25 words - 5 new ones 3x/day, mix order. Remove one word/day after 1 week. 5 steps: Single words => couplets => phrases => sentences => books
  • Note: I'm already reading books and flashing words with B but like the sequencing and approach which makes more sense than following the alphabet.  After all, what does "A" or "Z" really mean?!
How to teach your baby encyclopedic knowledge;
  • Suggested approach: Show 10 cards, 10 sec, 3 consecutive days. Intro related facts and sub-categories, list 1 to 12 magnitude of knowledge, expande on sub-categories
  • Suggested categories: biology, history, geography, music, art, math, human physiology, general science, language, literature
  • Note:  Instead of following Doman's (excessively) detailed "bits of knowledge" specs, I may start a digital catalog instead (on iPad/Windows 8 tablets?). This is environmentally friendly, cost efficient with unlimited capacity given the ample real-life beautiful pictures and facts available online
    How to teach your baby math
    • Intro with the facts vs intro "laws" i.e. numerals and symbols
    • Science = branch of knowledge dealing with a body of facts systematically arranged to show the operation of laws
    • Suggested 5 step approach:
    1. Quantity recognition: Use dots and patterns to intro 1 to 20
    2. Equations: Demonstrate additions, subtractions, multiplication, division
      1. Using the same dots, illustrate +, -  and x first
      2. Intro 0 - shift similar quantity dots around (e.g. 5 dots + 0 = 5 dots)
      3. Intro up to 100 (does not have to include all numbers from 20 on)
      4. Illustrate / division
    3. Problem solving: Offer choices, sequencing (e.g. 1, 3, 5, 7), greater less than scenarios
      1. Doman's overall approach is that teaching/learning should be fun and testing should be limited to games or real-life evidences
      2. Even if they get it wrong, your response should be along the lines of "Good try, that's actually X, this is Y"
    4. Equalities: Intro (in)equalities, fractions, simple algebra 
    5. Numeral recognition: FINALLY, digits (numbers) as we know them!
      1. Use equalities to show 0-20, mix up the order of dots and numerals 
      2. Intro 1-100 and go beyond 100s
      3. Proceed to equations with numerals

    Saturday, October 13, 2012

    Month 11 Week 1: Reading intentionally

    These are 2 general approaches to boost speech and vocabulary: whole words and phonics. What I'm doing is combining the two when reading to B, supplementing with flash cards and picture books, using some of the tips for tots below (go here for more great reading material and tips!):

    1. Your attitude and approach
    - joyous and enthusiastic, approach it like a game or adventure
    - teach at a time of day when both you and your baby are happy
    - best duration for reading sessions is 30 seconds or less
    - introduce new material when your child is ready for it - follow his lead
    - be consistent with doing your program
    - start as early as possible - the younger the child, the easier it is for him to learn
    - go here for fun ideas on reading out loud to your kid

     2. Size and orderliness of reading matter
    - the younger the baby, the bigger print should be used!
    - size of the print is crucial to your success - very young children have immature visual pathways
    - if the print is too small they get frustrated because they have to work so hard to see the type
    - make a gradual transition from large to small print and from words to couplets to short sentences to longer sentences one change at a time

    3. Read with mom (or primary caregivers like dad or grandparents)
    - Doman believes that parents are the best teachers
    - their love and confidence in their children provide the best inspiration, regardless if they are with the child the whole day or working and able to spend just a few hours a day

     4. Always stop before your baby wants to stop
    - one of the most important rules: the child should be begging for more
    - if your child gets tired after 5 slides, show just 4, but leave him hungry for more
    - don’t bore your child!

    5. Keep it fun, fresh yet consistent
    - introduce new material often, show it quickly
    - if no interest, show it even faster, update even more often (or use sound effects!)
    - show less words more often and consistently than more words occasionally
    - kids learn by repetition as long as you update your material often enough
    - Doman believes testing is a sign of distrust, the opposite of fun. Though ... there are games/tricks that can keep your spirits up by showing that your child is actually learning, and can be even more fun for him!

    Monday, September 24, 2012

    Month 10 Week 2: Little man cometh!

    These past few weeks, B seems to become more and more like a little man :D  

    - Got his first haircut!  Quite stylish, and actually complements his big head that's slightly flat on the back, hehe
    - Drinks his own sippy cup, self feeds cookies/biscuits/fruits, eats slightly mashed foods (no more purees) 
    - Verbal diarrhea and cognitive milestones!  Responds to cues by looking, pointing, signing and occasionally doing the right actions.  He can "show me the cars/wheels/balls/etc", turn on the light switch, aircon and fan buttons, goes to and picks up books/bottle when he wants to read/drink, shakes his head, waves his hands, raises his arms.... Also coos, gurgles, babbles all the time!
    - Stands upright, letting go briefly. Cruises more confidently, holds onto and pushes objects while on the go
    - Loves music and movement so I've started him on Monday bounce & rhyme sessions in the park, including circle time in our Wednesday playdates and signed him up for Friday Kindermusik Village classes in early October (each term lasts 8 weeks)
    - Going for his first Chinese immersion class at Julia Gabriel's Chengzhu Mandarin holiday programme.  This should be quite an experience as my Chinese is terrible, and he's mainly been exposed to English (and Malay/Bahasa) at home.  If he takes well to it, I may consider signing up for regular classes there
    - Finally met his maternal uncle on a surprise visit from San Francisco (via Seoul) -- hooray!  
    - Got his Singapore passport (along with mommy!) in time for his first overseas trip this weekend.  Wish us luck!  I suspect we'll have to bring more stuff for him than all of our own combined ;)

    Sunday, September 9, 2012

    Month 9 Week 4: It's back!

    TMI post alert.  I finally got my monthly period after almost 19 months (since Feb 2011) of "freedom."  Guess this means we can REALLY gun for #2 now -- hmm, wonder if I should whip out my trusty old spreadsheet tracker?  I know it seems like overkill, but it works esp. when you've got two people with unpredictable schedules, travel ... and now increasingly active soon-to-be toddler!  Speaking of babies, B got the flu for the first time and then passed it on to me.  One week cooped up indoors, compounded by the haze outside. Fun times....

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012

    Month 9 Week 2: No right brain left behind?

    A fellow mom friend invited me to a trial Glenn Doman class last weekend. Curious, I took B along for a 1:15 hour fun, fast and furious "right brain" lesson at Gymnademics. Affiliated with Doman's Institutes For the Achievement of Human Potential, the bambino class (5 mos - 1 year) mainly covered bilingual language (English with a little Mandarin, conversational and thematic words), psycho-physical (visual tracking, lifting, twirling, balancing, pull-ups, backflips, group interaction) and music and movement activities.  Flash cards were a key tool as they believe the right brain functions at a high speed, registering input as images and processing them all at once, so the faster the stimulation, the more the brain is activated. This was a new experience for us and I was somewhat skeptical that the babies remembered, let alone understood what they saw at the pace the cards were flashed - surprisingly though, most did pay attention. I was also informed that the class basically introduces a set of prepared activities which parents are then equipped to replicate daily at home. Overall, B managed to stay focused, even enjoying some of the stimuli.  More importantly, it got me thinking about the merits of engaging a child's "full brain" esp. in the early years, plus ideas to incorporate at home, e.g. building up his vocab with real, beautiful pictures and big clear words, using slides or my iPad to make homemade flashcards.

    There seem to be three main right brain schools:  Glenn Doman, Shichida Method and Heguru.  In Asia, success - be it academic or work - has typically been associated with left brain abilities such as analytical and critical thinking, and right brain abilities such as conceptual and creative thinking have largely been the domain of a niche group (artists, designers, consultants, etc.).

    No surprise that these rational, competitive based skills are dominant in local formal education from 6 years on.  However, even kiasu Singapore has acknowledged that this system could be outdated in the future and possibly marginalise or minimise the potential of talented children at present.  While encouraging, the bigger the change, the bigger the resistance and it'll probably take years for the local education system to truly evolve.  Meanwhile as parents, we could also reflect a more wholistic brain approach at home with our kids under 6 years (or enrol them in preschools that support this).  I'm not yet sure about joining further Gymnademics classes as I have questions about Glenn Doman's approach and results.  It would be good though to supplement the open ended Reggio inspired play that B's been exposed to at the Blue House until he starts Pat's toddler program next year. Maybe we'll check out Shichida next....

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012

    Month 9 Week 1: Going going going

    B is 9 months old!  At 39 weeks, he's officially "outside" mommy longer than he was inside (he arrived early).  We just had a regular check up where B got his final pneumoccocal jab, which leaves one more jab for the year i.e. MMRV sometime in November, after his 1st birthday. Reminder to self: feed him eggs (yolk, then white) beforehand to test for allergies

    What's new:
    1) Weighs 9.7 kg, 73.5 cm long, 47 cm head circumference, tracking at 90+ percentile among his peers. Still our big headed tall boy :)
    2) Crawls faster, pulls up to stand, cruises and climbs.  Unfortunately, all this newfound mobility doesn't quite make him sleep more soundly but rather he's up practicing day AND night!  We've caught him standing up in his bed and calling for us many times =0  Meanwhile, we continue to find new areas to babyproof as he's on the go
    3) Celebrated our first national day as a fully Singaporean family.  B got his first passport and mugshot, and I officially renounced my Malaysian citizenship for Singapore
    4) Eating finger foods and mashed (not finely pureed) meals

    In addition to tagging along with mommy for errands and weekly home playdates, we've also started going to Blue House parent-and-baby discovery programs. Their Reggio Emilia inspired early childhood approach and infant and toddler atelier is quite remarkable, quite a contrast to the dime-a-dozen care centers / indoor playgrounds in Singapore.  We may also check out baby signing, music (bounce & rhyme meetup, Our Music Studio) and right brain classes (Gymnademics - Glenn Doman, Shichida).

    Lastly, we registered B for Pat's Schoolhouse Baby Haven for when he turns 19 months (June 2013, toddler group). After finding out that 2 other preschools on my shortlist were already fully booked with a 2-3 year waitlist, I decided I needed to be kiasu and register him ASAP!  If you can't beat em ....

    Friday, July 20, 2012

    Month 8 Week 1: On the move!

    B is officially on the move!  After belly scooting, creeping, butt rocking for weeks, he finally crawled when he turned 8 months.  I've attached a video of his bouncy-butt-jerky-crawl :)

    Here's a fun list of the types of baby crawls....  Onwards, B!

    Wednesday, July 11, 2012

    Month 7 Week 4: Reading, signing, talking ... and teething!

    We started reading and signing to B around 4 months with basic words (milk, eat, drink, sleep, bathe, book, car, plane, etc.), black/white picture and touch books with simple words, rhymes and numbers.   Lately, he likes colourful peek-a-boo books with foldable, pull out tabs/toys and books with real baby photos and different textures. He still loves nursery rhymes and songs that we make up/"bastard"ize and use every day.  Evidently children use familiar words and rhymes in their speaking vocabulary at a more rapid pace as well as contexts and concepts such as counting, time, measurement, position, and weather. B reaches out to pick/grab books when he sees them, and seems to engage and focus quite well when we read to him. Since he can't talk, sing or sign back yet, I take this to mean that he understands more by now....! He does babble a lot at times and experiments with his tongue for pitches and inflections to indicate that he's curious, wants yes/no, sleepy/tired, bored, happy, satisfied, etc.


    Meanwhile, B now has 6 teeth!  That's a record among his peers who have on average 2 teeth.  He got the 2 lower central incisors at 6 months and then the 4 upper incisors (central and lateral) over the past few weeks.  Ouch! While the teething resulted in plenty of sleepless nights, seeing his pearly whites makes all those groggy pats/cuddles/rocking worth it. I hope there'll be a brief respite so that he can eventually settle back to sleep "through the night" again (i.e. sleep by 8p, may wake briefly 1-2x but settles back on his own, real waking at 6/7a to start the day). Also, he seems to put everything in his mouth these days -- that is, everything BUT his actual teethers.  What irony.

    Physically, he's pushing up to stand wherever he can -- cot, sofa, toystool, etc. though he tends to tiptoe still.  He continues to creep, roll, turn, scoot backwards, rock and bounce as he tries to move more than 2 steps forward. We've installed our window grills and bought a play "fence"  - waiting for him to crawl for real!  Guess B's been too busy growing teeth to focus on his crawling this past few weeks :)

    Read more:

    Saturday, June 9, 2012

    Month 6 Week 4: Halfway there

    This time last year, we were chillaxing in Langkawi for our babymoon/anniversary and I was anticipating my new life with a baby. Not once though did I imagine I'd be a full time mom, let alone enjoy it, most of the time.  This year, we took a staycation at Sentosa - what a strange feeling to be babyfree for 24 hours!  We slept in, ate well and talked about our hopes and dreams for the future including the possibilities ahead of us now that both my parents have long term passes and I've received my in-principle Singapore citizenship, as well as when to start work and/or try for #2! :)   My dad and mom kindly babysat for us -- and sent me regular SMS updates, heh.

    B unfortunately caught his first bug which laid the entire household out sick for 2 weeks.  Just when he was sleeping through the night without too much hassle or training, it all went to shambles.  May need to tweak his daily routine to support later morning wake ups (he's up 5/6a and ready to go, argh), him lasting longer in the afternoons and most importantly, learning to sleep on his own again.  At the moment, he still needs 3 naps in the day and sadly, rocking to drift to sleep, else, he'll get quite cranky.  Besides this relapse, there's much to be thankful for.  Feels like he's growing by leaps and bounds every day:
    - Proud owner of 2 bottom front teeth! :D  Ironically, his first tooth came the day after his 6 month celeb 
    - Sitting steadily upright, rocking back and forth on his tummy, scoots backwards, moves in a circle with his legs and arms, basically can't stay still. Crawling soon?  
    - Fascinated with his fingers, loves to touch, enjoys finger rhymes/games, being tickled esp on his feet and tummy.  Also continuing to learn basic baby sign language
    - Loves swimming but our condo pool isn't the best for infants. May sign him up for Aquaducks instead
    - Goes to weekly playgroups now with similar aged infants from my condo complex and our local meet up groups. We take turns to host at our homes.  I'm looking forward to other parent and child activities for us too, including Reggio Emilia discovery at the Blue House.  Quite keen to expose him to this environment
    - Saying consonant combo strings now:  babababa, googaa ... still no mama though :(
    - Food purees tried so far: avocado, chicken, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, onions, potatoes, spinach, sweet beans, radish, apple, pear, blueberry, plum, mango, papaya, chickpeas, beetroot (not such a fan on the last two tho!)
    - Started weaning.  50% mommy, 50% formula milk now. Ahhh... it's really quite manageable now, though I will still try to gradually decrease (vs cold turkey!)

    Thursday, May 3, 2012

    Month 5 Week 3: Routine matters

    In a week's time, B will be half a year old.  Motherhood hasn't necessarily gotten easier but perhaps I'm learning to adapt to (and to some extent, accept) this new "lifestyle."  I started a regular newsletter of highlights, tips and photos with B's caregivers and closest family members, got to know more moms with similar aged babies in my condo complex, church and also through the local Meet Up groups.  

    Mommy lessons:
    1. Mutual weaning:  There are many days when I struggle to find my equilibrium. It's almost like I need to wean myself from B just as he starts to wean from breastmilk to solids. How to ensure I have time for other stuff including self and couple care?  First things first. After a quick breakfast, I go into his room to watch him and join in a short cat nap, check mail and do my QT. 
    2. Elusive sleep - Just when you think you've cracked the "schedule," it changes :( - B used to sleep through the night from 9p to 5a but now wakes up intermittently, usually crying out loud and needing help to settle back down just like his first few months. It could be that he's subconsciously processing all the stimuli. Some babies have difficulty sleeping when they're facing major developmental milestones like rolling, sitting, crawling, walking, talking and new people or environments.  Meanwhile, I'm re-tweaking his daily routine to hopefully help:  6a wake up, 7a brekkie, 8a bath, 9a nap #1, 11a lunch, 1p nap #2, 3p milk, 5p nap #3, 6p outdoor time (weather/baby permitting), 630p dinner, 7p sponge bath/quiet down, 8p bed time - with one late night/early morning milk feed as needed ... and mommy pumping and getting her own stuff done in between.  Wish us luck!
    3. Mosquito magnet: The weather has been insufferably hot.  Even though we live on a high floor, there was an outbreak of mozzies (and roaches), and B got 4 nasty bites on his left leg, right elbow and chubby cheek (!) despite all our best attempts.  He hasn't recovered as quickly vs previous bites/cuts, and sadly, these have left quite a scar too.  We've tried turning on the aircon, using spray, lotion, patches, those-things-you-put-below. Maybe we'll get a baby-safe fan next....  Help?
    B milestones:
    1. Check up: At 5.5 months, B weighed 8.5 kg (18.7 lbs), 69 cm long (27") with a 42.5 cm (16.7") head circumference -- over 90 percentile now!
    2. Eating 3 "meals" a day with milk and water to supplement: So far, so good.  Has tried cereal (rice, corn, buckwheat, quinoa), carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, green beans.  Next: Fruit purees
    3. Physical: He stands with support, in fact, B tends to always push up when/wherever he can; sits tripod style - propped up on arms and/or rests on his elbows, lifts head 90 degrees and scans 180 degrees; rolls tummy-to-side (though it's still one sided for now); wiggles forward; uses a two-handed embracing reach; significantly improved dexterity with his fingers and legs (reaches, grasps, transfers from hand to hand/mouth), cranes neck forward to see or eat.  Next: Block play, sorting, crawling?
    4. Language/social: Shapes mouth to change sounds; mimics sounds, inflection, gestures; blows bubbles; laughs hilariously when tickled, makes motions for attention (flapping arms to be picked up, babbles, coughs, even shrieks; develops better depth perception; gazes intently; tracks accurately
    5. Cognitive: Interested in colours. In the mornings, I read his Scholastic baby colourbook and then point out all the items that match the colours around us. Forms mental images of what to expect when given a cue (baby signing will pay off soon I hope); Becomes aware that people and things have labels (who's your mommy, B?); learns which sounds and gestures get a response; shows decision-making expressions with mouth and hand; figures out objects; Changes hand position to touch objects.

    Saturday, April 14, 2012

    Month 5 Week 1: Solid success

    We introduced B to solids today as he's been able to hold his head upright steadily, developed a strong grip, shown more interest in adult food/eating, control over his drooling, and seems to have lost his appetite for an all-milk diet.  Since he checked in at 8.3 kg (18 lbs) last week, we also feel quite comfortable weaning him now.  For starters, I got him wholegrain rice cereal, mixed 1 spoon of cereal with 3 spoons of expressed milk and viola.  He took to it quite well and from what I can tell, the organic cereal tastes like Nestum which I grew up eating :). I plan to keep serving cereal alternating with milk, followed by simple fruit and veggie purees over the next few weeks.  It's fairly easy to get started -  a steamer and blender for preparation, small airtight food containers for storage, and baby food planning and cooking library books for inspiration.

    General rule of thumb below, though some moms I know do baby-led feeding and are more "liberal."

    (4)-6 months:
    • Offer the same solids 3 days in a row to ensure no allergies
    • Start by alternating milk and pureed solids for lunch/late morning feed (after he's satisfied his overnight hunger), and then do the same at dinner and finally breakfast/early morning feed
    • Maintain 800-1000 ml total daily milk intake (=4 to 5 bottles of 6-7 oz/180-200 ml milk).  Between 5-6 months, no milk should be needed after 7pm (B did this at 4.5 months)
    • Once he takes to solids, also offer some water to help with digestion and hydration, esp. during the mid-day
    • First foods - give them a runny consistency (add milk or reserve cooking liquid to dilute) as he'll need to overcome his protective reflex that prevents him from swallowing thick solids
      • Cereal - rice, maize
      • Veg - carrots, sweet potato, yam, butternut squash, pumpkin, potato, zucchini, sweet peas
      • Fruits (non-citrus) - avocado, banana, cooked apples, pears
      • AVOID - gluten (wheat, bread, rye, barley, oats), eggs, citrus, nuts, dairy/cheese, fish/shellfish, coffee, honey, excessive spice, sugar and salt
    • Tips and tricks:
        • Offer initial, small tastes (2-3 spoons) with a plastic, shallow weaning spoon - let him suck it off the end first, and gradually, he will learn to swallow without sucking
        • Don't worry if he rejects, it may take up to 10 to 15 tries so try and try again 
        • Crying in between spoonfuls usually b/c they are frustrated that feeding isn't continuous
        • Sit him on your lap to reduce stress
        • Don't mix solids with milk in a bottle -- this amounts to force feeding and may cause choking, faster weaning than needed, and doesn't enable baby to communicate 
      7-9 months:
      • Introduce single portion breakfast with milk, and lunch and dinner meals accompanied by cooled boiled water and diluted juice
      • Total daily milk intake (inclusive of milk used for food prep) ~600-800 ml (=3 to 4 bottles of 7-8 oz/200-220 ml milk) with milk primarily given after meals now in addition to the mid-afternoon and late night/early morning feeds, as needed
      • New foods - give a variety / coarser texture (minced/mashed vs blended) with iron and protein:
        • Meat (usually mix with blander foods e.g. rice, potatoes, and offer at least once a week) - fish, poultry, lean meat e.g. lamb, turkey 
        • Veg - artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, watercress, spinach, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, cucumber, leek, cooked lettuce, parsnip, rutabaga, squash, carob, green beans
        • Pulses - lentils, split peas, chickpeas, haricot, flageolet and kidney beans
        • Fruit - cooked apricot, blueberry, cherry, cranberry, peach, nectarine, plum, prune + citrus (mixed with other fruits to counteract sugar and acidic content) + dried fruit (mixed)
        • Finger foods - soft peeled fruit, steamed veg sticks/raw soft veg, bread, rice cakes + nut butters
        • Wheat (pasta, cereal), full fat dairy (natural yogurt, well cooked egg, cheese, soy)
        • Olive oil, herbs and spices can also be added now, starting mild, one at a time, as well as finely ground nuts, seeds - amaranth, quinoa, tapioca root, poppy, pumpkin, sunflower
        • AVOID - cow's milk (wait till 2 years old), shellfish, soft boiled eggs,  coffee, honey, excessive spice, sugar and salt
      • Tips and tricks:
        • No need to sterilise everything all the time now
        • Offer finger foods and water (in a beaker/sippy cup) in between meals, as needed. Get them involved in feeding themselves to encourage independence and coordination.  Finger foods also help relieve teething pressure 
        • Talk to your baby while feeding
        • If full, baby will close his mouth or turn head away
      10-12 months:
      • Establish routine with healthy snacks - 3 square meals a day with the family, eat together but beware his emerging personality (self-feeding, fussiness, food throwing, refusal to eat alone)
      • Total daily milk intake falls to 500-600 ml. Reduce late night milk feed and supplement the mid-afternoon milk with finger food snacks and water
      • Foods:  Try new things to stimulate appetite and senses, finely chopped and minced. Basically, almost all the food you eat yourself within reason:
        • Fiber - peas, fruit, veggie juice. Avoid bulky fiber in brown rice or whole wheat
        • Meat - at least one portion per day, wider range of fish - mackerel, tuna 
        • Herbs and spices - parsely, oregano, basil, coriander, onions, garlic, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla pod
      • Tips and tricks:
        • Drop milk intake to allow room for solids.  Keep up water and juice to avoid constipation 
        • Offer drinks in cups rather than bottles to help development of baby teeth as cup drinking is much faster - minimising contact with teeth
        • Nutritional balance towards strength vs immune boosting - starch, protein, sugar, unsaturated fat for calories and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins
        • Lots of energy rich food with fiber, esp. for breakfast (cereal, fruits) - his biggest meal 
        • Eat small portions but varied types of food, as often as needed
        • Enjoy the possibilities!

      Wednesday, April 4, 2012

      Month 4 Week 4: Childproofing creatively

      While babyproofing our home, I challenged myself to think about redesigning for both safety and play.  As I've just started, the final result might take weeks (months? years? continuously evolve?) so I'm blogging ideas along the way that expand on the early play concepts from the meet up a fortnight back.
      • Children don’t play in order to learn, they learn while they play
      • Children need to feel a sense of belonging with the freedom to establish a culture and social world with their peers
      • Adapt to children's ideas rather than structure their ideas to fit the adult's. Projects with directions and planned activities are fine in moderation but more time (80% in their early years) should be spent in open-ended, self-initiated free play. Children these days spend too much time in settings that focus on structured educational, enrichment and recreational activities. 
      • Emphasize the enjoyment and value of the "process" of playing and creating, more than the finished product. Let children express what they see, hear, feel, think - and then find solutions and modify experiences to maximise creativity. Children should expect to "make mistakes." Accept unusual ideas and solutions - suspend judgment!  
      • Facilitate creative play indoors and outdoor:
        • Provide long, uninterrupted periods (45–60 minutes minimum) for spontaneous free play
        • Encourage children to manipulate the environment to support their play
        • Recognize the value of messy play, rough-and-tumble play, and nonsense play as well
        • Allow time to explore all possibilities, moving from popular to more original ideas, considering opportunities for challenge and age-appropriate risk-taking
        • Draw on everyday problems, observations and objects  
        • Provide a variety of materials to stimulate different kinds of play—blocks and construction toys for cognitive development; sand, mud, water, clay, art and food stuff, other loose open-ended materials for sensory play; dress-up clothes and props for pretend play; balls, hoops, climbing places, and open space for gross motor play:
        • Provide play-space(s) that allows age-appropriate easy, independent access to explore: 
          • Cosy reading corner: Place books into an appliance box surrounded by rugs, pillows, blankets, armchair -- where both adults and children can read together. Use voices for the characters in the books you read. Change a book into a talking puppet. Make up stories!
          • Open art center: Put a table next to an easel, tub of playdough, low shelves filled with supplies like crayons, glue, staplers, tape, scissors, cardboard/heavy/wrapping paper, collage materials (i.e. odds and ends - stickers, buttons, beads, scraps, etc.)
        • Increase opportunities for rich symbolic role play. Pretend play engages children in the same kind of representational thinking needed in early literacy activities. Children develop complex narratives, link objects, actions, and language together in combinations and narrative sequences
          • Change the furniture around and lay out a basket of props, clothes, etc.
          • Picnic on the floor instead of the usual table meal
          • Turn a chair/table over and make it a boat, car, house, bed, cave
          • Modify a corner into the home of the three bears, a rocket ship, a vets office, etc. 
          • Build towers and bridges with wooden blocks, tubes, empty paper rolls
        • Go outside! Natural landscapes outdoors provide rich, diverse, multi-sensory experiences; opportunities for noisy, boisterous, vigorous, physically active play; physical challenge and risktaking that are inherent in the value of play; rough, uneven surfaces, development of physical strength, balance, and coordination; and natural elements and loose parts that children can combine, manipulate, and adapt for their own purposes.
        • Show your appreciation of your children's creativity. Laugh, document, display and discuss often. Share works they are proud of.  Play on their terms, taking an interest, asking questions, offering suggestions, and engaging eagerly when invited - ride the slide, put on a hat, assume a role, etc.
        • Accept and love them for who they are!

        - Mary Ann Kohl's article on Fostering Creativity 

        Saturday, March 31, 2012

        Month 4 Week 3: Music to my ears

        Took B to a music and movement workshop for 0-6 month olds to get more ideas and meet like-minded moms.  Alas, the outcome was a little disappointing.  The environment wasn't too conducive for infants, facilitator well-meaning but pushy, and topics covered rather common sense.  Basically, they emphasised positive affirmation throughout the infant's development by offering comfort (0-2 months), interaction/observation (3-4 mos) and participation (5-6 mos), using music and movement as a means of experiential conditioning and incidental learning to stimulate the brain and bonding.  A few Kindermusic songs were introduced and parents were encouraged to touch, massage, use repeated motions synchronised with music, and compose their own lyrics and songs.  I guess there would've been some value for moms who may not have done this before but I found it rather simplistic as I've been talking and playing in-song with him since Day 1, we've both really enjoyed this and the other caregivers at home also try to follow suit.  Unfortunately, B got bored/fussed towards the end since they started late while we got there early, began to squeal/shriek and only calmed down once I took him outside.  I do regret not getting to know the other moms with 4-6 month old infants there as we didn't get a chance to introduce ourselves and our little ones within the group and I was too busy minding B.  Oh well, it was worth a try!

        ETA: Time to get going with baby signing, B is clearly trying to communicate and explore verbally. Till he forms words, his newfound shrieking will just continue....!

        Sunday, March 25, 2012

        Month 4 Week 2: The Hundred Languages of Childhood

        The child is made of one hundred
        The child has
        A hundred languages
        A hundred hands
        A hundred thoughts
        A hundred ways of thinking
        Of playing, of speaking. 
        A hundred always a hundred
        Ways of listening of marveling of loving
        A hundred joys
        For singing and understanding
        A hundred worlds
        To discover
        A hundred worlds
        To invent
        A hundred worlds
        To dream 
        The child has
        A hundred languages (and a hundred hundred hundred more)
        But they steal ninety-nine
        The school and the culture
        Separate the head from the body
        They tell the child:
        To think without hands
        To do without head
        To listen and not to speak
        To understand without joy
        To love and to marvel
        Only at Easter and Christmas
          They tell the child:  To discover the world already there 
        And of the hundred
        They steal ninety-nine. 
        They tell the child: That work and play
        Reality and fantasy
        Science and imagination
        Sky and earth
        Reason and dream
        Are things
        That do not belong together
        And thus they tell the child
        That the hundred is not there 
        The child says: NO WAY 
        The hundred is there
        -- Loris Malaguzzi (Founder of the Reggio-Emilia approach)

        Saturday, March 24, 2012

        Month 4 Week 2: Observation is listening with your eyes

        Attended my first local Parents and Babies Meet Up today around advice for early years kids. Couldn't have asked for better timing as I've just started thinking about how and what to do with B lately, plus any changes needed with our home, caregivers and his weekly schedule to best foster his growth. Thanks to Shona Sanosi of the Blue House Nursery for her insight and guided tour on how they've developed a child-originated, teacher-framed curicculum inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach. I'm even more convinced that I too can approach things a little differently (wholistically?) for B.  Programs offered by Gymboree, Julia Gabriel and the handful of like-minded centers here may supplement, but ultimately, it all begins at home.... with me!  

        Some food for thought:
        • 5 developmental areas:  Cognitive (learning, problem solving), Social and Emotional (independence, interaction, self control), Verbal (speech, language comprehension and use), Physical - Fine Motor (small muscles e.g. fingers), Physical - Gross Motor (large muscles e.g. sitting up)
        • 3 stages of early childhood play: Solitary (first year), Parallel (~15 months on), Cooperative (~2.5 years on)
        • 100 languages of children! (and school and culture have stolen 99)
        • 3 key teachers:  Parents, Teacher (or next closest caregiver), Environment  
        • Encourage solo play NOW even if it's 10-15 mins at this time. Step in to affirm, distract, suggest but don't set rigid times or move on too fast
        • Keep an open, uncluttered environment throughout the home, not just in the kid's room.  Have space for teacher and child.  Use shelves for display and discovery, not storage.  Think "kid friendly resort."
        • Observe your child's interests and preferences and build on it. Suggest new projects, activities and experiences based on what he does/says/enjoys. Let the child lead (in playtime) and you extend.
        • Use open ended questions to think, communicate and imagine, e.g. "Why mommy?" "I don't know. What do YOU think?" 
        • Be flexible and respectful. A project that may seem like it's been running for ages, a silly question or art that doesn't look like art could be significant for your child
        • Set up a prepared environment. Provocation BEFORE your child enters playtime supports better and longer play
        • Store everyday stuff that could be repurposed for playtime, e.g. bottles, covers, ribbons, boxes, etc
        • Many mass market toys do not expand creativity.  Find simple ways to transform toys and their positioning to keep them in good condition and sustain interest. E.g. rotate the baby gym, offer daily sensory boxes/baskets)
        • Have realistic expectations. Keep play age and mood appropriate.  Reassure and comfort, not challenge when he's sick, hungry or tired
        • 3-6 months is a perfect time to start!
        • Side note: Still unclear on what's unique about Montessori vs Reggio Emilia though....

        Tuesday, March 13, 2012

        Month 4 Week 1: Each in his own time

        B's turning into such a delightful little 4 month baby boy!

        Mommy lessons:
        1. Milestone comparison syndrome:  Hubby and I have guiltily caught ourselves saying "he's 90% on this but only 75% on that" or "he *still* can't roll over on his own," etc.... We have to remind ourselves that every child develops at his own pace.  B can't always be above average, dear! 
        2. Food fussiness:  After weeks of relatively easy and fast bottle feeding, B started getting really distracted -- taking 30+ mins to drink 180 ml (6.5 oz) as he tugged on his bib/my hair/anything within grasp, skipping a feed and/or not finishing his bottle at times.  We upgraded his bottle teat to level 2/M for faster flow and also positioned him to face outwards, sitting upright instead with something to hold in his hands.  That has improved things though he occasionally drinks only 4 instead of 5 times a day -- even going 10 to 12 hours between bottles!  That said, as his growth has so far been OK, the doc suggested not to worry and wait till month 5 before introducing solids.  I am however starting him on a trainer cup using this all-in-one grow-with-your-baby set
        3. Socialising with baby:  B is becoming more responsive and selective with whom he interacts. He grins, squeals, laughs, babbles away when he's excited and also has a really loud high pitched cry now when he wants attention! (B has no idea what using your inside voice is ... yet). I've started to take him to some playdates with fellow newborn mom-friends and signed up for a few infant Meet Up events.  Am also thinking of teaching him baby sign language to help our communication.  Any recs? 
        Baby milestones:
        1. Tummy time everywhere:  He's been actively doing at least 30 mins now on the playmat, sofa, bed, mama's tummy, etc.  and seems to (finally) enjoy this more and for longer periods of time.  Once in a while he graces us with a wide grin when he discovers or accomplishes something like moving his hands forward, lifting his head up 90 degrees, making a full push up, etc.  
        2. It's never too early to read:  Storytime has become a regular part of B's day and bedtime ritual now.  My parents introduced me to the wonderful world of books very early on and I wanted to do the same for him with series like Go Baby, Baby Touch and Amazing Baby, as well as some great fabric,  musical and classic baby books from friends.  It's a plus that libraries here are well stocked, in generally good condition and well used.  Can you believe B wasn't even the youngest member when we signed him up at 7 weeks old?  Kiasu Singapore!
        3. His "I" is emerging - just flow with it: B's developing strong preferences and doesn't hesitate to show it.  E.g. When I turn on his mobile and he gets bored, he now uses his fists or feet to change the buttons.  He only likes the activity gym/playmat on our bed; put him down on it elsewhere and he'll just stare at it, unmoving!  He doesn't like to be rocked anymore to nap during the daytime and will squirm and squeal loudly; instead put him in his bouncer, rock/sing/shush gently for a few minutes and viola! 

        Sunday, March 4, 2012

        Month 3 Week 4: Second time around

        No, it's not my second pregnancy (yet!), it's just B's second round of vaccinations and wellness check ups with the doc.  This time, he got jabbed twice (left thigh 6-in-1 series part 2, right thigh pneumoccocal) AND received an oral rotavirus vaccine. What torture! I really wonder if we are over-immunizing our young generation these days.... Poor guy was in tears when the doc was done but calmed down after mommy whisked him out of the clinic with ample hugs, lullabies and rocks later. He thankfully didn't catch a fever but hasn't been able to sleep as soundly or eat as much as before.  Do babies feel phantom injections?  It almost seems like he's reliving the experience whenever he enters light REM sleep.... Hopefully these are just short term side effects of the vaccinations.

        On a brighter note, his developmental milestones are tracking nicely at 3.5 months. B remains our long limbed and big headed boy at 7.2 kg (15 lbs 14 oz), 64 cm (25") tall with a 43.5 cm (17") head circumference.  Jeremy Lin junior?!  Heh heh. Since his weight gain and overall growth seem okay, doc said no need to start solids till the 5th month or so.  The general rule of thumb seems to be to wait till your baby has lost his tongue protrusion reflex (the automatic ability to push out whatever enters his mouth), can sit with his head upright with minimal support to swallow well, can pick up small items and seems very interested in what we adults are eating.  Lastly, doc also encouraged us to keep working on his neck strength so he can roll over and sit upright with more confidence.  More tummy times for you, darling!

        Monday, February 20, 2012

        Month 3 Week 2: No rest for the weary

        When B began sleeping longer overnight, I still got up at regular intervals to express milk. However, when I mentioned this to a group of other moms at a friend's party one night, they told me to just sleep and wake with B instead. What a fantastic "get out of jail" card this sounded to a sleep-deprived newborn mom like me!  So last week, despite my internal alarm clock and tingling boobs, if B was asleep, I'd snuggle back down. Then last Thursday, I woke at ~1:30a with a sudden headache and burning boob!  My left side was inflamed and I spent the next few hours restlessly alternating between a low grade fever and chills after downing two Panadol pills and painfully emptying all the milk I could (a measly ~3 oz/90 ml after 6 hours--eek! vs my usual ~1-1.5 oz/30-45 ml per hour). The next morning, my obgyn and a lactation consultant confirmed that I was showing early signs of mastitis and prescribed antibiotics, painkillers, warm showers, cold compresses, manual pumping and massages for my left boob.  It'll take longer to express milk  because of the added TLC but this will enable me to recover and keep breastfeeding. Else, I could apply cold cabbages to dry up the clogged milk ducts but this would eventually reduce my milk supply.

        I didn't want to wean yet, so I spent all weekend diligently treating my boobs, drinking fluids and resting in between.  Thankfully the pain and swelling have subsided and my milk output is slowly recovering.  Sadly, the biggest takeaway for me after this incident is simply -- breast is best but you get no rest!   Last night, when B amazingly slept a whole 8 hours (from 9p to 5a!), I dutifully woke up midway to express.  Nothing beats a mother's love and sacrifice :)

        Tuesday, February 14, 2012

        Month 3 Week 1: 3 month upgrades

        The "fourth" trimester brought along several upgrades. Some were unexpected, but each contributed to give us fuller hearts, a livelier home and an increasingly alert and active baby boy.  To be honest, motherhood is very much a work-in-progress but I do feel more confident and less anxious with B each passing day.

        Mommy lessons:
        1. Healthy sleep habits, happy child ... and family too: B's nap and sleep time were disrupted by all the Chinese New Year activity. Unfortunately, that brought back the overtired fussy baby (who we thought we'd literally put to bed by week 6) who needs to be rocked to sleep.  After several exhausting days, we bought a bouncer (the Baby Bjorn Babysitter Balance Air - a true Godsend!) and I introduced a sleep schedule: 7/8a wake up, 3 naps (9/10a, after the mid-day feed, 5/6p) leading into his 9/10p "longer bedtime" before the day starts again at dawn. It isn't easy to enforce this with the hubby who comes home late and B's many caregivers and visitors but I'm determined to give him the 15 hours sleep needed for his age
        2. Tummy time is good for you, boy: B hates to exercise (who does?!) and makes me look like a slavedriver when others are around to witness his complaints and whimpers. What does mama do? Sneak in playmat time when the critics aren't around, carry/burp him head-over-shoulder and allow daytime naps on his tummy (supervised of course). It's paid off - his neck is stronger, the flat spots (!) on the back of his head get a breather ... plus, I don't seem so evil anymore! 
        3. One unexpected "upgrade": I am now a full time mom.  I'd intended to return to work after my four-month maternity leave (i.e. end of February) and had scoped out infant care centers to accomodate that. However, recent personal and office developments led us down a different path. When I tendered at work last week, I felt really conflicted -- guilty for wanting to work and guilty for choosing not to. It'll take time to get used to saying "I'm a stay-at-home mom" vs "I work as X at Y" but I know that this opportunity, however brief, is a blessing and B will be the better for it.  No regrets.
        Baby milestones:

        1. Sleeping "through the night:" About two weeks ago (from week 11 onwards), B started regularly skipping one of his night feeds, i.e. waking up just once for a feed between 8p and 8a. As I'm still breastfeeding, I kept waking up every 4-5 hours to express and check on him but eventually realised that he's REALLY sleeping ~7 hours straight overnight (or at least can quietly self-soothe). What bliss!  I'm enjoying these extra hours of rest after months of sleep deprivation.  Pray for no relapses and longer night sleep.
        2. Physical development:  B does mini push ups, moves his head side to side with greater ease (though he still favours one side more), opens up and clasps his fingers together, reaches for, grips and shakes his rattles, blankie, crib mobile, kick-and-play piano, books, mommy's T-shirt, etc... and his all-time-favourite - sucks his fist (and thumb).  He briefly sits upright when propped up and can roll over while supported too. 
        3. Social development:  B really enjoys his 1-1 time of chatting, storytelling and singing. He smiles socially, pouts and chuckles on occasion (i.e. when playing peek-a-boo or funny faces) and imitates sticking his tongue out. He vocalises different combination vowels and different tones now and has new distinct  "babbles" when he's hungry, tired, angry, bored, etc.
        4. New year, new things: We had to upgrade him to a convertible cot bed earlier (thanks, 爷爷) after he got stuck in his crib at night for the umpteenth time. He's also outgrown his moses basket, newborn/0-3 month diapers, mits, booties, socks and vests. We've now switched over to 3-6 month and even some 6-12 month clothes, and passed the rest on to other expectant mom friends.  As for swaddling, forget it!  B is too active -- and no amount of wrapping can keep him cosy and warm.  We've started using sleeping bags instead and they work like a dream.

        Friday, January 13, 2012

        Month 2 Week 4: 2 month check up

        We were eagerly awaiting his two month check up to find out how he's doing and get all our random questions answered like "Does he dream?" He's now 5 kg, 57 cm long with a 39.5 cm head circumference - all growing well 8 weeks from birth.  While there's various average newborn growth estimates and developmental milestones, the important thing is he's on track on the key areas so mama, dada and doc are pleased!

        Mommy lessons:

        1. Momzilla appears when your kid's in pain: B caught a mild fever after his first 6-in-1 immunisation jab, and I had this overwhelming urge to provide him with security, comfort and as much milk as he needed.  He was down when our helper had the day off, hubby was at work and grandparents were out but thankfully the fever subsided within 24 hours and both mom and babe are back to normal.  Note to self: Make sure someone else is around to help after the next month four jab!
        2. Six states of baby consciousness: Newborns sleep up to 16 hours a day though it hardly feels like it.  Also, identifying which state B is in really helps us know what to do with him and when:  Fussiness, crying (argh - try the 5S!), deep sleep, which alternates every 30 mins with light/REM sleep, drowsiness, active alert (perfect for activities involving objects and his surroundings, usually before he eats or gets fussy) and quiet alert (perfect for 1-1 interaction)
        3. Babywearing: We took him out ourselves with both the Boba wrap (mama) and Manduca carrier (dada) and he was so cosy inside that he fell asleep for almost 4 hours.  As he grows, we'll hopefully be more confident using them given their greater mobility and intimacy vs the stroller.  I still find that they cause him (and the wearer) to sweat A LOT though so it's not for all occasions.

        Baby milestones:

        1. Water is fun:  After the first month, B suddenly loves a warm bath, face wash and body massage.  At first I thought it was a fluke, but no-- he smiles and coos at me when I do it and misses it if we have to skip or forget.  He's still a bit cranky when dada takes over on weekends, but I think that's just a matter of familiarity. We'll make a swimmer out of him yet. Up next: Baby SPA?
        2. Bottle feeding: I switched from exclusive breastfeeding to expressing breastmilk with the occasional formula supplement after six weeks.  It was a practical yet bittersweet decision as I was almost nursing non-stop by then.  B's taken really well to the bottle and has graduated to the "big bottle" as he drinks more than 150+ ml (~5 oz) now.  I take heart that he's getting what he needs to grow, other caregivers get to bond with him more and mama can give her aching boobs a break (and gradually transition back to work too).  With the bottle, B inadvertently swallows more air so we've all become burp masters - apply pressure to his tummy and rub his back while sitting him upright, tummy down on your lap, leaning against your shoulder/chest, setc.
        3. Social butterfly:  He's quite a talker now when you catch him at the right time and is fantastic with crowds, much to our surprise - be it family dinners, church services and of course, his first month celebration.  The only place where he's consistently fussy is unfortunately at the pediatrician's -- so I'm sure we're gaining quite a reputation as horrible parents there ;)