KIDS GUIDE 2018
MUMS’ TIPS BABY ESSENTIALS AWESOME ACTIVITIES CHOOSING SCHOOLS FAMILY GETAWAYS SHOPPING GUIDES HEALTH ADVICE & MORE
A HANDBOOK FOR PARENTS
So, you’re a mum or a dad (or a mum- or dad-to- be …). Who are you going to call? If you’re an expat, there may be a limited supply of grandmothers, aunties, old friends and that family GP who’s been around for generations to ask for help when you start panicking. But, never fear, we are here! If you’ve got a new baby and you’re struggling with sleep, or you’re working out when and how to start weaning, our volunteer panellists have put their thoughts and advice down on paper for you, on these issues and many others. A big thank you to them from us! If your children are a bit older, there’s plenty of choice of activities, preschools and adventures further afield, and our guide covers these things too. Singapore has come a long way since my kids were small, so do make the most of it. No point in “sitting alone in your room” when there’s a whole cabaret out there! Please get in touch if you need any help or information; just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check our Facebook page. If you’re not already on our regular newsletter list, sign up and we’ll keep you in the loop on plenty more things to do for the whole family. EDITOR’SNOTE
REBECCA BISSET Editor-in-Chief
Rebecca Bisset Shamus Sillar Amy Brook-Partridge Anthia Chng Susannah Jaffer Katie Roberts Lindsay Yap Leanda Rathmell Liana Talib Nur Hanani Kamal Luddin Michael Bernabe Beatrice Ng Jeanne Wong Siti Shahirah Khirudeen Susan Knudsen-Pickles Veena Gill Karin Galley Danielle Rossetti Jacqui Young Lara Sage Anna Tserlingas Grace Bantaran
Editor-in-Chief Group Editor Kids’ Guide Editors
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Chief Operations Officer
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MUMS’ TIPS BABY ESSENTIALS AWESOMEACTIVITIES CHOOSING SCHOOLS FAMILYGETAWAYS SHOPPINGGUIDES HEALTHADVICE &MORE
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Published by Expat Living Publications Pte Ltd 37 Jalan Pemimpin, #07-06 Mapex Building Singapore 577177
Cover, Shutterstock (shutterstock.com, Look Studio)
16 Meet our panel
Bright Young Things
Bumps & Beyond
48 Preschools, Kindergartens & Learning Centres
Introducing The Panel
Finding the Right Obstetrician
20 Doula: Do or Don’t? 22 Morning Sickness: How to Cope 24 Sleep: The Holy Grail 28 Breastfeeding Insights
Active & Inspired
74 Getting Creative 79 Fun Camps for Kids 85 Making Learning Fun 91 Dancing & Acting 96 Singapore’s Sporty Spectrum 101 Managing Screen Time
34 When to Wean? 40 Expat Parenting: Pros & Cons
Happy & Healthy
113 Doctor, Doctor! 115 Tooth Talk 117 Family Chiropractors 120 Skin Woes 125 Losing the Baby Weight 126 Family-friendly Cuisine
All about international schools
In The Classroom
Fancy a family escape?
158 International Schools &
Specialist Education Services
183 Outdoor Fun 184 Essential Items to Shop Now 187 Tips on Getting Around
188 Great Family Photos 192 Wet & Wild Spots
199 Fabulous Regional Resorts 202 Bali for Kids 204 Top Babymoon Destinations 208 Singapore Day Trips 214 Important Numbers 215 Advertiser List 216 Subscribe to Expat Living
148 Find the right fit
10 KIDS’ GUIDE2018
expatliving.sg For all things kid-related, visit our website – we’re your number-one parenting resource! Readmore on...
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Bumps& Beyond Pregnancy,
Breastfeeding and Advice for Mums
Dubova | Shutterstock.com
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Lorraine is Scottish and has lived in Singapore for six months. Prior to
that, she lived in Hong Kong for nearly nine years. She works in talent acquisition and plans to return to work in the next few months. She has two children, Laila (4.5) and Rory (18 months).
#1 Friends #2 Phone #3 Wine
If you’re a mum, or soon to be one, it can be reassuring to get advice and opinions from fellowmothers – especially if you’re an expat away fromhome. That’s why we’ve asked a handful of
our readers to give us their recommendations on everything frommorning sickness to weaning to playgrounds. You’ll see our panel members popping up at various places throughout the guide. Here, we introduce all seven of them, and ask them to name three things they couldn’t live without as mothers.
Kathryn and her husband moved to Singapore from London six years ago as newlyweds looking for adventure. She initially came to Singapore on an international assignment with an MNC, but since having Isabella (2)
and Henry (6 months), she has set up a marketing consultancy and does freelancing and consulting. #1 Emy, my amazing helper #2 Wine! #3 The playground
Bumps & Beyond
Katy hails from England; she spent a year teaching and travelling in Australia, then moved to Singapore. She’s been here for six years with her husband Ross, two sons Archie
Laura comes from Northamptonshire, England and is mum
to a son (9) and daughter (18 months). Her family moved to Singapore in May 2016, following a two-and-a-half-year stint in Sydney. Before that, they lived in Hong Kong for four years. #1 PacaPod baby bag; it has removable pods for food and baby- changing paraphernalia #2 Portable fans; I never leave the house without one #3 Ergobaby All Position 360 Cool Air Mesh Baby Carrier
(2) and Jago (2 months), and her helper Yolly. Both of them teach Physical Education at the Overseas Family School. #1 iPhone #2 Skip Hop changing pack #3 Muslins
Abigail is originally from the UK; she moved to Melbourne in 2007 and is now an Australian citizen. Her family has been in Singapore for just over a year and they’re enjoying life here. She and her husband Darrin have a daughter Alice (3), a newborn son Ewan, and a Cavoodle named Charlie. Abigail works in the recruitment industry as a director for a global firm and was transferred by the company to Singapore. She’s currently on maternity leave and enjoying time with the family. #1 Some free time just to be me again – it’s important to look after yourself! #2 A good nappy bag – best way to get organised #3 Online shopping! Slightly addictive, but great when you don’t have time to get to the shops Mariel and her family are fromMelbourne, Australia and have been in Singapore for five years. They have two girls, Elise (5) and Amelie (seven months). She currently works as an Associate Director at KPMG in Management Consulting. #1 Massages #2 School #3 My helper
Tanya and her h u s b a n d a r e British and have been living in Singapore for six
years. Their expat journey has taken them to Hong Kong, Dubai and Sydney and they’ve not lived in the UK for over 12 years. They have two children, Jago (3) and Mia (2), as well as two dogs, Nelly and Louis, also known as Mr Lou Lou. Tanya works part-time with the Singapore Yacht Show. #1 My helper of four years, Rima #2 Exercise classes (pilates, yoga and barre) #3 Chocolate
Our Panel volunteers have come through Stork’s Nest Singapore (SNS), a non-profit support group that launched on Facebook in 2012 and has grown to a network of over 15,000 parents, who rely on the community’s support when facing life with children away from immediate family. The network has a range of groups, including for single mums, working mothers, and parents with premature babies. The SNS admin team, Stork Angels, holds annual events including a pre-loved sale in May to raise money for StarPALS, which provides much-needed paediatric palliative care. To join the Facebook group, visit fb.com/groups/StorksNestSingapore.
Bumps & Beyond
WHO TO CHOOSE? FINDING THE RIGHT OBSTETRICIAN Every woman has different preferences for childbirth, so you shoulddo plenty of research and visit a number of obstetricians if possible. It’s important that you feel comfortable, because you will be sharing intimate and personal details with them. There’s a lot to think about, but to make the most of the short nine months of pregnancy and have a positive experience of labour, you need to feel confident that you are in the right hands.
Did you give birth here?
Our first child was born in Melbourne, but we had our new addition in Singapore at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital. Our obstetrician was Paul Tseng who we chose for his pro-natural approach; he seems to be well known here.
I gave birth at Gleneagles Hospital with Dr LC Foong. It’s true what they say – that guy is a miracle worker!
Archie was born at the National University Hospital with Professor Chong. Jago was born at home and delivered by my husband after a very quick labour. (A home birth wasn’t the plan!)
I gave birth to my second child in Singapore. My doctor was Professor Biswas and I delivered at NUH.
Bumps & Beyond
Sweet 16 A list of useful questions you may want to ask before choosing your obstetrician:
10. What is your caesarean section rate, and in what situations will you recommend a caesarean section? 11. What is your episiotomy rate, and in what situations would you perform one? 12. How often do you use forceps or vacuum extraction to deliver a baby? 13. Will I be able to have skin-to-skin
1. Which hospitals do you attend? 2. Are you available aroundmy estimated due date? 3. What are your philosophies and beliefs about birth? Is it a medical process that needs to be monitored continuously and controlled, or a natural process where nature should take its course before intervening? 4. How informed and involved will I be in the decision-making process during pregnancy and labour? 5. What are your thoughts on pain relief
contact with my baby and start breastfeeding shortly after the birth? 14. Are you willing to let me have a vaginal birth for my second baby even though I had my first via caesarean? 15. How do you feel about vaginal breech birth? If you support it, what conditions do you have? 16. How do you manage the third stage
during labour? Do you assume that everyone will have medical pain relief, or do you support and encourage natural pain relief methods? 6. Will you and the hospital staff respect my birth plan but provide guidance if and when it needs to be changed? 7. What are your thoughts on electronic foetal monitoring during labour, and when do you think it should be used? 8. What is your induction rate, and at what point do you feel induction of labour should be considered? 9. What do you think about time limits for labouring?
of labour, the birth of the placenta? Do you allow it to happen naturally, or do you intervene and give an injection to expel the placenta?
Bumps & Beyond
Help at Hand You can find many qualified doulas in Singapore offering f an t a s t i c suppo r t and guidance for expectant couples. It can be a great option, especially if you’re a first-time parent! About doulas The word doula derives from the Greek word for “female slave”! From around 50 years ago, it gained a new definition, referring to an independent caregiver who helps make an expectant mum feel safe and comfortable before, during and after childbirth. The role of doulas differs frommidwives in that they offer non-medical support to mothers. That being said, most doulas will have a lot of experience and knowledge about labour and delivery. Doulas can help expectant mums follow a birth plan, and assist with advice on pregnancy issues, particularly when it comes to pain management. There are quite a few multilingual doulas around, should you need one – this can help if there’s a language barrier between mother and doctor.
Did you (or would you) use a doula?
For both births, we had Tania Grose-Hodge as our doula. She was a fantastic and amazing support throughout both pregnancies and invaluable during the births – especially for Jago, as she calmly instructed us what to do over the speaker phone while she was on the way. She made it just in time to tell my husband what to do as Jago was born. Tania was also a brilliant support after both boys were born and we will be forever grateful for her guidance and help.
I didn’t use a doula as I ended up opting for an elective C-section as I had a caesarean with my first. But, if I was going natural, I would absolutely use a doula.
Honestly, a doula was not for me. My husband is my rock and I had the utmost trust in my OB-GYN so I didn’t see the need.
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Bumps & Beyond
NoMore Nausea! No one likes morning sickness, but it’s one of the most common side effects of early pregnancy. Here are some helpful facts, tips and advice on getting through it in one piece. Five facts #1 Medically, the exact cause of morning sickness isn’t known, and the reason why some women suffer horribly from it and a lucky few escape its curse, no one knows. The growth hormone hCG is a suspected culprit, as is a surge in oestrogen. #2 There’s no one-size-fits-all cure, but certain remedies have better results than others, and finding out what works for you is really a trial- and-error process. #3 Eating little and often is said to help, as nausea is often aggravated by a drop in blood sugar levels; eating five or six small meals that combine complex carbohydrates, proteins and good fats can be effective. #4 Many women have specific trigger foods (often fatty or spicy foods) or smells, which can change throughout the pregnancy. #5 A handful of women are affected by nausea so severely that without proper management it can lead to chronic dehydration, weight loss and hospitalisation – a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum .
Crazy Cravings While nobody wants to eat when they’re nauseous, pregnancy is famous for evoking some weird and wonderful food cravings, too; here are just a few we’ve heard among our colleagues and friends: 1. Anchovies straight from the tin 2. Mountains of iceberg lettuce 3. Sweet things, but no later than 3.30pm every day (“I could set my clock by it”) 4. Red grapes 5. Mr Bean Plain Soya Milk 6. Chicken nuggets 7. Sardine O’s from Old Chang Kee (“I normally can’t stand sardines!”) 8. Milo 9. Vinegary things (pickled beetroots, red cabbage, onions, Balsamic) 10. Ice cream, cheese and yoghurt (“An intense and constant craving for dairy”)
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Bumps & Beyond
Did you have morning sickness? If so, do you have any tips for easing the symptoms? “I’m surprised no one at work suspected I was pregnant as I went from eating anything and everything to dry crackers only!”
Laura I had more of an afternoon sickness when I was pregnant! The only thing I could do to help was to nibble on salty foods to make me feel less nauseous. I never actually vomited, but feeling sick for several hours a day could actually be worse than vomiting, which just gets it all over with! I had morning sickness with my second child, particularly in the first trimester; I lost weight due to that. I found that smells triggered my sickness the most. I used a Vicks inhaler stick or Tiger Balm to block out the smell to prevent the sickness.
Yes, I did. Eating dry crackers
I suffered terrible morning sickness with my daughter and I was tired and nauseous in the first trimester with my son. The most difficult thing is keeping it under wraps when no one is supposed to know you’re pregnant! I’m surprised no one at work suspected as I positioned myself right by the door at every meeting and went from eating anything and everything to dry crackers.
Try these! • Ginger: a great natural remedy, found crystallised, powdered, in sweets and biscuits, or try fresh ginger tea. • Mint: drinking mint tea or chewing mint gum can help; you can buy the latter here for medicinal purposes at pharmacies. • Vitamin B6: this is thought to reduce nausea and vomiting. • Acupressure band: a soft wristband that acts on your pressure points to ease nausea.
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Bumps & Beyond
Sleepless in Singapore Regular sleep becomes a thing of the past for most parents during their babies’ first fewmonths. Luckily, your body produces hormones to help you get through it. Your precious bundle will generally become a better sleeper as they get older, needing fewer night feeds, but if you’re finding the opposite is true and you’re feeling stuck in a rut, the following information and insights might help!
The Wide-awake Child Nine sleeping issues that babies and toddlers can experience: #1 Not falling asleep unless rocked, patted, bounced, pushed in a pushchair or driven in a car #2 Not falling asleep for up to an hour or more #3 Waking at the same time every night and not going back to sleep again for an hour or more #4 Waking several times during the night #5 Only sleeping if co-sleeping with a parent #6 Waking at the crack of dawn or earlier #7 Still waking for a night feed when older than nine months #8 Continually getting out of bed #9 Only napping in a pushchair or baby sling, not in the cot Some parents prefer not to subject their babies and toddlers to sleep training, especially if they think it involves leaving them to “cry it out”. However, sleep training has been shown to improve the lives of many parents and little ones within a very short time. Plus, not all sleep training involves leaving them to wail the night away, which can tug at the heartstrings! There’s a range of books out there too, which outline various sleep-training methods. Here are a handful of the more popular ones:
Gina Ford, The Contented Little Baby Book Harvey Karp, The Happiest Baby on the Block Sheyne Rowley, Dream Baby Guide Richard Ferber, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems Robin Barker, Baby Love Tracey Hogg, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer
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Bumps & Beyond
How have you managed sleep deprivation? “Listen to advice, but make your own decisions and trust your gut. Sleep when baby sleeps – and have some Netflix series lined up!”
My husband says that, unlike him, I’m the kind of person who can function on very little sleep (but I think that’s just his excuse for napping during the day!). I’ve been lucky to have good sleepers – thanks to the Sleepyhead Deluxe bed. I’ve also never nursed during the night, only in the early newborn days when we were still trying to instil a habit of sleeping through the night. I moved them to their own rooms at five months and it has done wonders for my sleep!
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Bumps & Beyond
It took my husband and I a very long time to conceive our second child. While I often daydreamed about finally having another baby in the house, I would also have the occasional fear about sleep deprivation! I struggled a lot with it when I had my first child. This time, however, I think I’d set myself up for thinking it was going to be so awful that, in the end, it didn’t seem so bad. I’m terrible with very little sleep though, and I find it very hard to motivate myself to do anything when I’m tired. When I have a particularly bad day, I remind myself that this stage doesn’t last that long and that I can get through it because I’ve done it before! My son is a good sleeper and slept through the night from the moment we got him home. However, he is now waking at about 3am and coming into our bed to sleep. I have friends who tell me to be firm and walk him back, which I initially tried, but it means I sleep less and it’s not a pleasant experience. When Jago crawls into our bed, he does go straight to sleep 90 percent of the time so I don’t see it as a major issue, especially as he goes to bed in his own bed. I will also admit I do quite like to snuggle with him, so I’m not firm on this! My daughter Mia started completely differently. She was unwell when we got her home and she spent the first six months screaming; nothing would comfort her. I don’t think it’s possible to explain to anyone how stressful that is. No sleep, followed by a child that cannot be comforted! Sleep deprivation is not my friend; I need at least seven hours a night! Tanya
I try to squeeze in some little cat
naps during the day.
I think that when you have your second child it’s easier in some ways as you know what to expect. You’re more relaxed and go with the flow. This time, though, we have a toddler as well so there’s a little more to manage! Remember that the first few months will be tough, so get some rest and don’t push yourself. Loads of people will offer their opinions and advice along the way. You can listen to the advice, but make your own decisions and trust your gut. Sleep when baby sleeps and have some good TV series lined up on Netflix!
The keys for me have been co-
sleeping and going to bed early.
I started off co-sleeping with both of my children. But with my second child, I decided to sleep train her. She now sleeps through the night in her own cot in her room.
Zzzz … It’s estimated that having a new baby
results in around 400 to 750 hours lost sleep for parents in the first year!
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Bumps & Beyond
Mother’s Milk S ome new mums take to breastfeeding easily, while others experience a range of irritating issues such as cracked or sore nipples, blocked milk ducts, inverted nipples, mastitis, thrush, a baby who won’t latch on properly, low milk supply, a baby who feeds continually, a baby who falls asleep at the breast or a sleepy baby who doesn’t wake to feed – the list goes on!
However, it’s worth persevering with breastfeeding because, once you and baby get the hang of it, it can make life so much easier. For one, you can feed your baby anywhere and don’t have to worry about sterilising bottles, trying to find hot water and carrying around enough formula for the day. Also, there’s a good body of research that suggests that breastfeeding has many benefits for mum and bub alike. Potential benefits for mother: increased chance of postnatal weight loss better bond with the baby reduced risk of breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer a degree of natural contraception
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Bumps & Beyond
Potential benefits for baby: an improved immune health and fewer infections a reduced risk of diabetes a reduced likelihood of childhood obesity a reduced risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) If you’re having trouble with feeding, most hospitals hold classes every morning for newmums, and many run free breastfeeding clinics for former patients. Alternatively, you can seek help from one of the following organisations: Breastfeeding Mothers’ Support Group: Breastfeeding workshops for mums-to-be, new mums and mums returning to work. 6337 0508 | breastfeeding.org.sg Mother & Child: Lactation consultations in the hospital or at your home, and a Baby Café drop- in centre on Monday afternoons with a support network for mothers in a relaxed setting. 6836 0063 | motherandchild.com.sg
Ice, Ice, Baby! If you’ve mastered the knack of pumping breast milk and you have some extra time, you can actually freeze milk for up to three or four months in a regular freezer, so long as it’s in a freezer-safe container. Avoid thawing it in the microwave, though, since the milk can heat unevenly and be too hot in one area.
Parentlink: Breastfeeding counselling at your home. 6536 4626 | parentlink.com.sg
Out & About in Singapore Singapore is more breastfeeding-friendly than you might expect, and much more so than many European and Australian cities. Most shopping malls here have at least one nursing room where you can breastfeed, bottle feed and change nappies. Some even have sterilisers and hot water dispensers for making formula, as well as high chairs for feeding solids. These areas can really help when you’re on the go!
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Bumps & Beyond
Did you breastfeed? If so, did you seek help from the experts?
“My advice is to get help as quickly as you can and visit your GP if you think you have mastitis!”
Both my kids had dairy and soy allergies, which means they couldn’t take formula, so I exclusively breastfed both of them. Like most mums, it wasn’t an easy journey – with latching issues and slower than average weight gain. I saw lactation consultants at Mother & Child and Thomson Medical, as well as an osteopath for my son’s tight jaw – all of whom were very helpful. But ultimately I found my own way of managing (I express most of my son’s milk) as I found the frequent visits and conflicting advice added to my stress. My paediatrician Dr Epton is amazing and has been incredibly supportive of breastfeeding and giving allergy advice.
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Bumps & Beyond
I breastfed both my babies – my son for three months and my daughter for eight months. I breastfed my daughter for longer as my son developed allergies soon after I stopped feeding him. I was hoping it would help my daughter if I fed her for a longer period. It didn’t though; both my children have several allergies. I realised my daughter had allergies when I fed her some baby cereal mixed with my breast milk at six months of age. She really enjoyed it, as she’d only previously had some rusk and my milk. But she started to cough and hives developed all over her face and where any of the cereal had touched her skin. Her eyes also started to swell. While I organised doctors’ appointments and allergy tests in the weeks after, I continued to breastfeed. Tests at NUH came back revealing that my daughter was allergic to cow’s milk, beef and nuts! There had been a small amount of milk powder in the baby cereal. We saw Dr Lynette Shek at NUH, who I highly recommend. When I stopped feeding my daughter, I gave her Isomil Soy Milk (approximately $53 per tin). She loved it right away and still drinks it now. The public hospitals in Hong Kong didn’t have a very good care and support system for breastfeeding. I looked for lactation consultants and, in the end, I found a midwife who came to my house and helped me through the early stages of breastfeeding. Lorraine
Yes, I’m breastfeeding again this time. It’s one of the most challenging things but so worthwhile. I had a tough time the first time with mastitis and latching issues, so my advice is to seek help as quickly as you can and visit your GP if you think you have mastitis. I’ve even managed to get it while pregnant, so it’s important to get help so it doesn’t escalate. I’ve not seen anyone here yet as far as lactation consultants go, but I heard Uma at Mother & Child is excellent so I’ve got her number on speed dial! I’m currently breastfeeding my second son; I also breastfed my first son. I found the midwives and lactation consultants at Mother & Child to be extremely helpful. I regularly went to their Baby Cafe and Well Baby Clinics for advice. It was also a great way to meet other parents. Also, Facebook groups such as Stork’s Nest Singapore and Breastfeeding Support by Stork’s Nest Singapore are really helpful places to ask questions, share ideas and get advice. Katy
My baby had a slight tongue tie which was picked up by the ladies at Mother & Child. As it was only slight, I decided not to have the surgery; I just expressed. I tookMore Milk Plus by MotherLove. It really increased the amount of milk I could express. I used a Spectra S2 breast pump.
Bumps & Beyond
If you supplemented with formula, which did you use, and which bottles worked best?
Formula Facts The first rubber nipple for baby bottles was patented by Elijah Pratt in New York in 1845. Most infant formula is made from cow’s milk, though soy- based varieties are also common, along with those made from broken-down (hydrolysed) proteins. The protein level in cow’s milk is too high for babies, so formula is modified to reduce this, and vitamins, minerals and fats are added so that the final product more closely resembles breast milk.
We went through so many different formulas with my first child as she had an issue with lactose. We ended up using Aptamil Comfort with reduced lactose. For my second, we’re using Aptamil.
Mia had terrible colic and I used Dr Brown’s, which was brilliant. Jago was on Avent. The formula I used for both of my children was Bellamy’s.
I didn’t use formula; I regularly expressed when I returned to work and used the Medela Freestyle breast pump and Dr Brown’s bottles.
I used Pigeon wide-neck bottles and Dr Brown’s for reflux.
I supplemented with Nestlé NAN Optipro. I used the same
Spectra bottles that I used to pump.
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Bumps & Beyond
WEAN? WHEN TO
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Bumps & Beyond
Thinking of introducing so l i d food to you r baby? It’s interesting to note that the current recommendations of the WorldHealthOrganisation are that infants should be breastfed exclusively for the first six months (180 days). From then onwards, solids should be introduced in small amounts, and the quantity and frequency of meals should be increased gradually as the baby gets older. Easy, right? Hardly! Many parents find that their babies want to experiment with food a little earlier – at around five months, sometimes even four months – so it’s common for weaning to begin before the six- month mark.
5 signs that babies could be ready to start on solids #1 They no longer seem satisfied by a full milk feed #2 They demand frequent milk feeds #3 They wake in the night for a feed despite having previously slept through the night #4 They’re interested in watching others eat #5 They’re able to support their head and neck well when seated Weaning is an important time in babies’ lives, and it’s best to introduce them to the widest variety of food possible in their first year. Whichever route you choose, the goal is to have a contented baby who is not a fussy eater. The traditional method of weaning is to start by feeding babies puréed vegetables and fruit such as sweet potato, potato, carrot, pumpkin, apple and pear. Eggs, meat, fish and food with more texture are introduced here and there; babies tend to start wanting finger food at around nine months. Another increasingly popular method of weaning is baby-led weaning (BLW), which involves babies feeding themselves from six months when they can sit upright. This requires no purées or spoon-feeding, and babies sit with the rest of the family at mealtimes. Food is offered in sizes and shapes that babies can handle with their fingers and feed themselves. Some like to use this method simply because it’s easier and less time-consuming for the whole family to sit and eat similar food.
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Bumps & Beyond
When did you decide to wean your child? Did you follow baby- led weaning? Any tips?
“We did a combination of baby-led weaning and feeding. (Sometimes I can’t deal with the mess!)”
I weaned at six months through baby-led weaning. These books were great: Baby-led Weaning and The Baby-led Weaning Cookbook by Gill Rapley, and River Cottage Baby & Toddler Cookbook by Nikki Duffy. I also did a course on Introduction to Solids with Miranda from BumpWise, who unfortunately no longer lives in Singapore. I recommend doing an infant and child first-aid course so you know what to do if your child chokes, and also to know the difference between choking and gagging. I did a course with Red Cross and my helper did a course with Mother & Child.
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Bumps & Beyond
Abigail I weaned at six months as per Australian guidelines. I set out to do baby-led weaning, but I mixed it with pureed food as well. My daughter was also in day-care then, so we worked with the centre to ensure she was trying new foods; it worked well for us. A t s i x mon t h s , we introduced solids to both of our kids. We did a combination of baby-led weaning and feeding. (Sometimes I’m in too much of a hurry to get food in them and can’t deal with the mess!)
I started them on solids at about six months; mainly pureed fruit and vegetables.
I weaned both just before six months, mainly with purees.
Weaning our daughter has been difficult, not only because of her allergies, but also because of her sensitive gag reflex and weakened muscles at the entrance of her stomach. We have to think very carefully about textures and know when to stop feeding her before she’s too full. We have to feed her every two hours throughout the day for this reason as she has been underweight her whole life. I’m happy to say that she is gaining weight and we are seeing the first signs of the adorable baby rolls on her legs now!
I did it at six months as she was happy with breastmilk and formula. She also couldn’t sit well unassisted.
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Bumps & Beyond
BUYING PRODUCTS BABY
It can give a new parent real peace of mind to findmother and baby care products that are safe, high quality, easy to use and comfortable. One well-known name is Pigeon ; we asked a reader to describe her experience with the brand. I was introduced by a friend who uses the products when Matt didn’t respond well to other milk bottle brands. He finished the whole milk bottle from the moment we switched, so we changed all his bottles to Pigeon PPSU bottles. I’ve used Pigeon Baby Wipes since his birth, too; I tried other brands but I still prefer the softness and wetness of the wipes. I like Pigeon products because they’re high quality, and it’s a trusted brand with many years of research. I would 100 percent recommend them to other families and to new mums. Serena, Singaporean, and Matthias, 7 months
Pigeon products that Serena has used for baby Matthias or herself:
SofTouch Wide-Neck Feeding Bottle (PPSU) SofTouch Wide-Neck Nipple (SS to current L) Sponge Cleansing Brush Baby Foam Soap (Japan Vernix)
Baby Wipes 99% Pure Water Wet Tissues Hand and Mouth Wet Tissues Anti-Bacterial Infant Nail Scissors
Cotton Swabs Feeding Dish Cooling Plaster
Breastpad Honeycomb Breastmilk Storage Bags
Pigeon products are available inmanymajor department stores, baby specialty stores, hypermarkets and supermarkets. To find out more, visit pigeon.com.sg.
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Easier Laundry Babies seem to produce endless amounts of washing, and for a new parent this can just add to the exhaustion. If you’re tired of hanging clothes outside and not keen on tumble-drying, Kruger Asia’s Secomat might be the interior drying solution for you. Here’s the lowdown.
What does it do? The Secomat is a very strong dehumidifier that removes excess moisture from the air and improves humidity levels in your home. Place it in a bathroom, large cupboard or an unused bomb shelter (ideally not a bedroom as it can be noisy), and it will dry anything in the same room. So, not just clothes but cushions, mattresses, stuffed toys, sneakers – even leather goods. High humidity can affect your health because it allows micro-organisms such as mould, mildew, dust mites and silverfish to thrive. The Secomat helps put a stop to these problems. Also, you can use any time of day, even if it’s hazy or raining outside. How does it work? The unit can be delivered and fitted either into a drainage outlet or with a draining canister underneath, which needs emptying when full. The switches vary from dry to drier, and very dry, and a digital counter measures room temperature and relative humidity (RH); for a healthy home, RH should be between 40 to 60 percent.
Can I try one out? Kruger Asia offers a two-week free trial, and will deliver and fit the unit, as well as pass on any relevant user information. If you then decide to buy it, the cost is from $1,700, including a three-year warranty on parts and labour.
To trial a Secomat, contact 6266 1886 or go to kruger.sg.
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Interview with an Expat Dad
We chat with PAUL SIMPSON to get a father’s perspective on bringing up kids in Singapore.
Are you a stay-at-home dad or do you work? I quit my digital media job in London to project-manage the move to Singapore and help the family settle in. At first I hated being a SAHD but I’ve learned to embrace it. It was a personal journey of reconciling my lack of financial contribution and the loss of identity through work. I’ve had to learn to recognise that the value I deliver to our family isn’t simply a dollar sign. Currently, I’m undertaking a part-time Master’s degree at Hyper Island, volunteering at TalentTrust (a non-profit t h a t imp r o v e s t h e l i v e s of disadvantaged people in Singapore by uniting business people with ambitious charities that want help), learning Mandarin and, most importantly, spending time with the children every day.
Tell us about yourself and your family. I’m English. Angelina is Chinese Swiss; she was born in Malta, grew up in Hong Kong, lived in the US and moved to the UK at 14 years of age to study. I didn’t board a plane until I was 10! We each lived in South London for the best part of 20 years, married in 2010 and moved to Singapore in 2016. We have two children: Miller (4) and Estelle (2). They both attend EtonHouse International Pre-School. We live in a landed house just off Mountbatten Road, around 10 minutes’ walk to the school.
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Tell us a bit about your “role” during the birth of your children. Birth is as incredible as it is daunting. Just remember that it’s all about making Mum comfortable. Angelina had close female support through the delivery (breathing, cranial, essential oils and so on) that helped her remain in the zone. If I were there clumsily stroking her brow and nervously asking “Are you ok, my love?” a thousand times it really wouldn’t have helped. I was with Angelina throughout but my role also included pushing medical staff for answers, getting everything into place for our return home and, for Estelle’s birth, making things seem perfectly normal for Miller. Absolutely. This is probably the worst part of being a new parent. If the child is being breastfed and is waking hungry there’s not a lot the father can do. So, try and balance things out by taking a bigger role around the house to take the stress away. If, or when, the baby is taking a bottle then share the responsibility. I used to be “on duty” Friday and Saturday nights, giving Angelina a much-needed full night’s sleep. That sucks from a social point of view but get used to it: you’re in this together. One way or another, get the baby into a routine as quickly as possible. It wasn’t cheap but one of the best investments we made was hiring a sleep trainer. She stayed with us for four nights, took full responsibility of night-time duties (bringing the child to Angelina in bed for feeding and Was sleep deprivation an issue for either of you?
giving her much needed extra rest) and established a strict routine that proved to be very successful. Both our kids were sleeping through within four months. How do you try to give your children a good attitude towards food? I tell Miller he needs fish and vegetables to growmuscles as big as He-Man’s. He also loves human body books so I try to reinforce why food matters during our reading time. Our best food hack? Give the kids a smoothie as part of breakfast every morning. We throw spinach (comes frozen in cubes), papaya, banana, apple juice and water into the NutriBullet. They love that it’s green and, as it’s a little sweet, lap up a cup most mornings. This means we don’t stress about their fruit and veg intake. With Angelina being from Hong Kong we’re not strangers to Asian food. The kids will still turn their noses up at a lot, which is quite normal. They typically stick to fried rice, chicken rice or buns. That said, Miller has been known to pick up and start gnawing on a chicken’s foot; he definitely takes after his mother on that one. What local dishes do your kids enjoy at hawker centres?
Bumps & Beyond
What’s your approach towards your children and screen time? Parenting is hard, so we don’t carry a heavy conscience about sticking them in front of Netflix if we need a quiet hour at home or 15 minutes to eat our food in a restaurant; just try to make it the exception rather than the rule. My other tip is to end screen time at least 30 minutes before bedtime to give their brains a chance to stop fizzing. I’ve found this can help reduce bad behaviour and aid better sleep. Any advice for readers who are about to become fathers for the first time? No one is born with knowledge of what to do as a parent. There is no “right” way. Babies sleep, eat, poop and cry (a lot!) for a variety of reasons. It will often be frustrating but you’ll figure it out. Try not to compare yourself with other fathers or other families. Just trust your instincts, dig deep with your patience and be the best father that you can. You will argue with your partner a lot – often about the silliest thing – so remember to keep talking and keep laughing. On more practical terms, try and get a little fitter before the baby comes as you won’t have as much time or energy afterwards. Make sure that you write stuff down that will be useful or interesting to recall in the future such as routines or those funny first words. Finally, remember that no good ever came from a toddler sitting naked on the sofa!
“If the child is being breastfed and is waking hungry there’s not a lot the father can do. So, try and balance things out by taking a bigger role around the house to take the stress away.”
Follow Paul’s family life in Singapore on Instagram @ thirdkulturekids.
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What are the best and worst things about being an expat mum?
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Tanya The best things are the ability to do everything you want, focus on your children and enjoy them, work and have time for yourself. However, I feel the lack of family presence at the moment – having grandparents and cousins around to influence my kids. Expat life is also transient; I’ve lost five good girlfriends and the best support network over the past 12 months. The best things would be seeing the world in a different light and experiencing new cultures, warmer weather, meeting people from all walks of life and giving our children the opportunity to be more culturally sensitive. The worst thing would be not having our support network around us to rely on. Also, the friends you make tend to come and go frequently and it can be hard to find people you can truly be yourself around. Our quality of life and the environment we live in are among the best things about living an expat life. The worst thing is the price of education! Also, we have a saying in the UK, “It takes a village to raise a family”. We don’t have that “village” while living away from home. Laura
It’s easy to socialise with other families. But I still miss my family back in England!
Travelling to exotic locations and having experiences that people at home can only dream of is the best part. The worst part? Having to make new friends all the time.
The best thing is how easy it is to meet new mums – through Facebook groups, for example – and they’re always happy and open to include you in events and meeting new people. The worst part is people leaving Singapore, which is hard for us as adults. Our toddler also had to handle the emotion of losing friends. It’s also difficult not having family and friends spend time with your children and watch them grow up.
I don’t like not having my own mum nearby. But I feel that my kids are growing up with a sense of exploration, adventure and cultural diversity that is so enriching and will be valuable to them in the future.
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BrightYoung Things Preschools, kindergartens and learning centres
Anastasiia Markus | Shutterstock.com
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Bright Young Things
Arts Kidz International Pre-School WHAT IT OFFERS
Arts Kidz International Pre-School combines the Singapore and International Primary Curriculum (IPC) with an extensive specialist arts and language programme to provide a well- rounded, inquiry-driven education for children aged 18 months to six years. WHAT PARENTS SAY Joanna Ip and Jeremy Lee, American/ Australian; Isabella (5), Kinder 2, and Connor (2), Nursery 1
We chose this school because we love the idea of learning through arts; it promotes creativity and makes learning fun. The school provides a holistic curriculum, from languages, music, positive
School hours: 9/9.30am to 3.30/3.45pm
School year dates: January to December (Raeburn Park and Pearl’s Hills), August to June (Bukit Timah) Years taught: Pre-Nursery to Kindergarten 2 Application procedure: Open for enrolments year round Enrolment: Each campus enrols between 100 and 120 students Year established: 2008
focus, drama and outdoor play, to numeracy and literacy. Both my kids have blossomed in this environment. My daughter enjoys the monthly trips to the nature reserve, Chinese speech and drama, and all the daily arts and crafts. My son loves outdoor play and playing his violin. We receive weekly updates from the class teacher, and there is a communication book that is sent home daily. The teachers also respond to emails very quickly. The annual art show is an impressive showcase of the children’s creative work for the
year. We’re always amazed by the works presented; they show a different aspect of what the children have learned.
Multiple locations islandwide, including a new campus opening at Raeburn Park in January 2018. 6456 8003 | artskidz.com.sg
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WHAT PARENTS SAY Miki Sakuragi, Japanese; Thomas (2), Japanese/French
WHAT IT OFFERS
Arts Haus aims to nurture “Bright Thinkers” to prosper academically, socially, and emotionally in today’s world of constant change, global interconnectedness and technological advancement. This goal is reached through a holistic learning approach, an engaging environment, research-based teaching methods, and state-of-the-art technologies. Centrally located at Pearl’s Hill on a spacious campus, Arts Haus provides children with a safe and green learning environment and a wide range of facilities including specially designed areas for outdoor play, visual arts, environmental education, technological tinkering, music and dance.
I made the decision to enrol Thomas at Arts Haus International because of the quality of the institution. I appreciate that the educators are united in their teaching and I’m pleased to see that the students embody so much diversity and multiculturalism. Most of all, I appreciate
that the school provides a multilingual environment. Arts Haus offers many activities; my son loves outdoor play and water play and has a good time playing his violin. Another positive is the curriculum, which is based on music, arts and developing children’s awareness. I appreciate the school and parent partnership, and how both parties work together towards meeting the students’ needs. It’s very nice to receive weekly newsletter and updates. Overall, it’s a fun and supportive school with a very nice environment within an old, large colonial-style house. We really love it.
School hours: 9am to 3.30pm School year dates: January to December Years taught: Pre-Nursery to Kindergarten 2 Application procedure: Open for enrolments year round Student population: Up to 120 students Year established: 2017 A member of Arts Kidz International Education Group
18 Pearl’s Hill Terrace 6532 2837 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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