KIDS GUIDE 2019
A HANDBOOK FOR PARENTS
TIPS FROM MUMS & DADS GETTING BABY-READY TOYS & DÉCOR FAMILY HEALTH INFO SCHOOLS & PLAYGROUPS ART, DRAMA, DANCE & SPORTS
I’d like to think I’m a good dad, but I’m also a slightly clueless one. Eleven years ago, when my wife silently held up a pregnancy test strip with its two vertical lines, I thought she was showing me one of those twist ties from a loaf of bread, and that I was in trouble for letting the sourdough go stale. So, any help I can get along the way is gold. And that means help with dads’ stuff and with mums’ stuff – because the more I know about the latter, the more I can try (in my own bumbling way) to support my wife in the colossal task of motherhood. Our Kids’ Guide offers plenty of help and support. We’ve asked a panel of volunteer mums to answer questions on every topic under the sun (a big thanks to them!), from birth options and breastfeeding to strollers and devices. Throughout the guide, you’ll hear their voices, and you can dip into their ideas for useful tips. A couple of dads have chimed in too (legends!) – see what they have to say from page 216. Elsewhere, you’ll find stories on a huge range of products, services, activities and institutions across Singapore, from the fun and the useful to the serious and essential. Whether you’re choosing a school, decking out a kid’s bedroom, or booking a holiday – or you’re just completely over the humidity and need to find a water-play area stat – there’s something for you on these pages. If you need more, get in touch on Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, enjoy the ride, and the new, unexpected and occasionally startling places the parenting journey takes you.
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106 Fun for young football fans
BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS 41
18 Meet The Panel! 22 Doctors to Doulas: BUMPS & BEYOND 17 26 Morning Sickness: Facts, Tips & Advice 28 Sleep: The Holy Grail 32 Breastfeeding Insights 36 Formula & Bottles 38 Starting Solids
42 Preschools, Kindergartens & Learning Centres
Finding the Right Support
ACTIVE & INSPIRED 65
66 Favourite Free Activities 69 Awesome Arts 79 Next-level Learning 86 Managing Screen Time 89 Places of Play 99 Singapore’s Sporty Spectrum
HAPPY & HEALTHY 119
Games and discovery at preschool
120 Family-friendly Cuisine 134 Tooth Talk 138 Skin Care 140 Fight the Flu 142 Dry Drowning: The Facts 144 Losing the Baby Weight
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Lunch ideas for the little ones
RETAIL THERAPY 147
148 Essential Items to Shop Now 152 Kids’ Toys & Rooms 154 Shopping Mall Play Areas 156 The Scooting Craze! 158 Tips on Getting Around 160 Family Photographers
GETTING AWAY 203
IN THE CLASSROOM 165
204 Rise of the Babymoon 206 Tips on Family Travel 210 Fabulous Regional Resorts 214 Singapore Day-trips
166 International Schools &
Specialist Education Services
Family- friendly destinations
WORDS FROM DADS 216 Two Fathers on
Birth, Babies & More
222 Important Numbers 223 Advertiser List 224 Parting Shot: Being an Expat Mum
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Pregnancy , breastfeeding and advice for mums
BUMPS & BEYOND
Maternal instincts might kick in naturally, but it’s still great to get handy tips and advice right from the source. That’s why we’ve gathered a panel of eight readers to provide savvy, helpful content for you throughout this guide, on everything from morning sickness (sigh!) to travelling with little ones. Find out more about each of them below.
Originally from France, Claire Chabrieres h a s lived in Asia for 20 years. She and her husbandmoved to Singapore from China almost eight years ago; their three children – Martin (6), and Paul and Céleste (both 2) – were
Originally from London, Harriet Jakeman has lived in Singapore for three years. She worked as a primary school teacher before relocating to Singapore, and now has one child, Imogen, who was born in June 2017.
all born here. She started ShiokFarm three years ago, a social company that brings weekly bags of affordable organic fruit and vegetables, mostly grown in Southeast Asia, to families in Singapore.
Hailing from Cornwall in the UK, Katherine Myles was previously an expat in Dubai for three years beforemoving to Singapore in 2016. She has one daughter, Cecilia Joyce (2), and a baby on the way. She and her husband set up Pliteq’s offices here (head office is in Canada); the company recycles used car tyres intomaterials used for building construction.
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Originally from the UK, Lucie Powell mo v e d t o Singapore from Hong Kong nearly four years ago. She has four children, Freddie (3), Poppy and Daisy (2), and Lily (7 months), and dogs Champ and Skippy. Although originally a portfolio manager for a hedge fund, she later followed her passion and became a strength coach and nutritionist.
Originally from Calgary in Alberta, Canada, April Rice has been in Singapore for five years and had her second daughter, Jaiden (2), here. Prior to that, she and husband Todd lived in Hong Kong, where they had their first daughter, Calia (5). Golden retriever Addy joined the family in Hong Kong from Australia. April works as a fitness instructor for F45 Holland Village and Bloom’n Fit, a mums’ bootcamp in the Botanical Gardens.
Kim Seacombe is a half- Dutch, half-English, third- generation expat who grew up across three continents. She’s lived in Singapore with husband Chris for six years, and is mother to Amelia (2) and Sienna (5 months). Having designed for Tommy Hilfiger inAmsterdam, she has set up private womenswear labels at Zalora since moving here, and was head of design for Laura Ashley Asia before and during her first pregnancy. I r i s h Sarah Lloyd a n d husband James have lived in Singapore for four years. Initially moving for James’s job, she took up a position as human resources business partner for AAM Advisory, a company offering financial planning and other services. She has three children, Sophia (7), Ava (6) and Freya (6 months). Her two eldest girls go to Dover Court International School and love it.
British Katie Marsden has lived in Singapore for 11 years. She’s currently on maternity leave from her role as vice president of marketing communications for Base Entertainment Asia (a promotion company that manages and produces the shows at the Sands Theatre at MBS). She has two children, Madeleine (2) and Joseph (4months), and lives with husband Steve and their children in the Watten Estate area of Bukit Timah, along with their two dogs, Molly and Wilma.
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What are the essentials in your daily life – those things you can’t live without? THREE THINGS
Coffee, coffee, coffee – oh wait, that’s only one thing! Probably coffee, exercise and, sadly, my phone. I get all my admin done on it when I’m on the run (plus social media, of course)! April Coffee in the morning, my iPhone as it allows me to work wherever I need to, and our nanny Gemma, who makes it possible for me to run ShiokFarm. Claire Dairy Milk Fruit & Nut or mini Magnums, an insulated water bottle for necessary refreshment, and a VPN for streaming BBC dramas. Harriet I hate to say it, but my phone. It is the keeper of my diary, camera and to-do lists. Second is decaf PG Tips tea; it’s the first drink of the day before I hit the coffee. Finally, lip balm. There’s nothing worse in my book than being without it – I have pots of it everywhere! Katie My iPhone, particularly for filming and photos, as the children change so much in the beginning; my City Select double pushchair; and a S’well water bottle, which keeps my water cold for up to 24 hours – essential with breastfeeding in this heat! Kim
Family (including my dogs), chocolate and weightlifting. Lucie Amazon Prime, my Pockit buggy and my wonderful husband. Katherine Firstly, my car! After four years of relying on taxis and public transport with two small children, my nerves were shot. The car is a very expensive luxury but makes life so much easier. Then, F45 Holland Village – I got into this two years ago and am completely hooked. Finally, coffee – I’m increasingly relying on it to get me through the days. Sarah
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Since 1994, Mother and Child’s team of nurses, midwives and instructors have provided prenatal and postnatal services and courses to mothers, mums-to-be and couples. We asked an EL reader about her experiences at the centre at Tanglin Mall.
Erin Taylor, Australian, Macy (2 years), Ari (7 months) 8 years in Singapore
When I was pregnant with Macy, I attended a prenatal class at Mother and Child with my husband. It was very informative and helped us understand the basics of childbirth, pain relief options and generally what to expect when giving birth in Singapore. The team also went through breastfeeding and how to care for a newborn. The class made me feel more prepared in the lead-up to the birth and more comfortable in the hospital once the day arrived. After Macy was born, I arranged a home visit with a midwife. She came a week after the birth and helped to ensure Macy was latching properly, checked her growth and answered our questions. I found this early support invaluable, and, after Ari was born, I also arranged a home visit to make sure everything was off to a positive start. I had some breastfeeding difficulties with both children, so I sought further support through Mother and Child’s lactation consultations. The consultants are knowledgeable and supportive, and played a huge part in me being able to breastfeed Macy for over a year and to continue breastfeeding Ari now. I’ve also received support through attending the Baby Café, a great place to meet other nursing mums and get advice from a midwife. For both children, I joined the New Mother’s Get Together, another excellent way to meet other mums. After initially meeting weekly at Mother and Child, we went on to arrange our own playdates; we’re still in touch two years later. Mother and Child has been an excellent resource. It’s great to have a place to go and seek advice and support, and socialise with other mums.
Erin ( right ) and Ari with Mother and Child’s Judith Ballueder
#03-11 Tanglin Mall, 163 Tanglin Road 6836 0063 | motherandchild.com.sg
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FINDING DOCTOR RIGHT
You’re going to have a baby – congratulations! The first thing to do is to embrace the excitement surrounding the big moment. Then you’ll need to start thinking about your preferences for pregnancy care.
and have a positive experience of labour, you need to feel confident that you are in the right hands. What doulas do... A doula is 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 many qualified doulas in Singapore – including quite a few multilingual ones around, which can help if there’s a language barrier between mother and doctor.
Which obstetrician? Choosing the right obstetrician to guide you through one of life’s most important events can be challenging. Expats in Singapore whose maternity costs are covered by health insurance (corporate or personal) give birth in private hospitals and see obstetricians for our prenatal checkups. Obstetricians usually only work at one hospital, occasionally two (one private, one public), so if your insurance doesn’t cover all hospitals, then your choice of obstetrician will be limited to those who work with a particular hospital. Every woman has different preferences for childbirth, so you
should do plenty of research and visit a number of obstetricians if possible. It’s important that you feel comfortable, because you will have to share intimate and personal details with them without feeling too embarrassed. With this in mind, don’t be afraid to ask questions: everything from birth plans and foetal monitoring to a doctor’s rates of caesarean sections, inductions and episiotomies is fair game; you could even enquire about their personal philosophies and beliefs about birth. There’s a lot to think about, but to make the most of the short nine months of pregnancy
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Giving Birth Did you have your baby here? If so, name your doctor and the hospital.
Yes, I had all four children here with Professor Mahesh Choolani at NUH and Mount Elizabeth. Lucie I gave birth to Cecilia in Dubai, but for this baby I’m with Dr Lai at A Company for Women. Katherine I gave birth to Freya in Singapore at NUH, and my doctor was Professor Chong. Sarah Both children were born at Gleneagles. For Madeleine, my doctor was Dr L C Foong. Madeleine was a breech baby and despite every effort to turn her she remained breech as I approached the final few weeks of pregnancy so I had an elective c-section. For Joseph, I had a VBAC with Dr Lai. Katie Dr Sivahami Saraswathi Sivananthan (Dr Siva) at Raffles Hospital. Kim Yes, my three children were born at Gleneagles, with Doctor Yeong. Claire I had a planned c-section due to breech baby with Dr Tan Yew Ghee at Raffles Hospital. Harriet I did! My doctor was Dr Paul Tseng and I gave birth at Mount Elizabeth Novena. April
Did you use a doula for any part of the process? Would you recommend the experience?
Yes, I had a lady come to our place for ten massages after the twins’ birth. She “wrapped” me for five sessions, then I took a couple of weeks’ break and had another five sessions. Just having someone take care of you for one hour, when you have two newborn babies at home, is an amazing experience. Claire No, but my doctor and themidwives at Raffles Hospital were very good at coaching, and I used a mantra: “Breathe in the strength, breathe out the pain!” My husband has a complete lack of rhythm and in a panic he turned it into “Breathe out the strength, breath in the pain!” – after which, he was not allowed to talk, just offer his hand for me to pulverise instead! Kim
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BUMPS & BEYOND
Ease theQuease! 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. WHAT is it?
Morning sickness is nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. It can actually strike at any time of the day – for some it’s all day! Morning sickness affects people to varying degrees: some waltz through pregnancy without the slightest whiff of nausea; others are only affected in the first trimester; some are set off by certain triggers (raw chicken, the smell of fish). 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. WHY do we get it? The exact reason why some women get morning sickness and others don’t is unknown, as is the exact cause. The hormone hCG is a suspected culprit, or a surge in oestrogen. HOW is it cured? While there’s no definitive cure for morning sickness, certain remedies have better results than others. Try to eat little and often, as nausea is often aggravated by a drop in blood sugar levels. Some find having a cracker before they get out of bed helps. Eat five or six small meals that combine complex carbohydrates, proteins and good fats. Avoid your specific trigger foods (often fatty or spicy foods) or smells.
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Luckily, I was never physically sick and the nausea only lasted for the first trimester – a fairly textbook case. I don’t think you can avoid it, if that’s what nature intends for you – I managed it by eating what my body was telling me it needed, which tended to be sugary snacks. Katie Not with my first, but definitely with my second. I would recommend dry crackers first thing in the morning and ginger tea or lozenges. Always carry snacks with you! April Yes, I experienced hyperemesis gravidarum with my first three kids – and nothing except hospitalisation helped – but for my fourth child I was luckily only vomiting once a day. I would recommend a fluid IV to help with dehydration and Zofran injections to stop the vomiting. For my fourth child, I found keeping a rice cracker covered in almond butter by the bed, which I ate upon waking up, really helped. I also ate little and often, and invested in good-quality vitamins too. Lucie I drank quite a bit of Bickford’s ginger cordial and ginger tea, and ate snacks regularly to ward off the sickness as I mostly got it when I was hungry. Kim Morning SICKNESS Did you feel ill when you were pregnant? If so, do you have any tips on what helps and what to avoid?
Also try... Vitamin B6 is thought to reduce nausea and vomiting, while some pregnant women use an acupressure band – a soft wristband that acts on your pressure points to ease nausea. Ginger is considered a great natural remedy, whether it’s in crystallised or powdered form in sweets or tea. Mint tea andmint gum are also commonly used – the latter can be bought in Singapore for medicinal purposes at pharmacies. My recent pregnancy was very different tomy others and it literally knockedme for six! The only thing that worked for me was carbs, carbs and more carbs; then, when I thought I couldn’t eat any more carbs, I went ahead and ate some more. I think just listen to your body and try to get as much rest as possible. It can be very difficult though, especially when you haven’t passed the 12-week mark and not many people know. Sarah I didn’t have a day of morning sickness with my daughter, but with this baby I was very sick the whole first trimester. Nothing really helped me, although being hungry definitely made it worse! Katherine Try to avoid weird smells! I once opened the door to the staffroom fridge and projectile vomited immediately. I had to ask a friend to check for weird food in there before I would retrieve my lunch for weeks after that! Also, drink fresh ginger tea – it’s magic. Harriet
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LET’S TALK ABOUT SLEEP For many mums, sleep is the holy grail of the first few months of parenting. Thankfully, our bodies produce hormones to help us get through the hours of lost sleep – plus, babies generally become better sleepers as they get older, needing fewer night feeds. If you’re finding the opposite is true and you need toothpicks to prop your eyes open, here’s some info and insights that might help! The scenarios... Babies and toddlers can experience a range of sleep issues; among the common ones are: not falling asleep unless rocked, patted, bounced, pushed in a pushchair or driven in a car; not falling asleep for up to an hour or more; waking at the same time every night and not going back to sleep again for an hour or more; waking several times during the night; only sleeping if co-sleeping with a parent; waking at the crack of dawn or earlier; still waking for a night feed when older than nine months; continually getting out of bed; only napping in a pushchair or baby sling, not in the cot. The options...
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! The books... 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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Sleep deprivation is the worst part of the newborn phase. I start to find it tough at around week three, once I’ve powered through the adrenaline and excitement. I’ve made a point of getting my babies into a routine as soon as possible – as a twin mum you have no choice really, unless you want to go absolutely potty! Keeping a routine and slowly tweaking the amount of milk in feeds really helped to sync my twins and get my children sleeping through the night quickly. For feeds after the dream feed at 10pm until the first feed of the morning at about 7am, I never let them exceed 100ml. This meant my children got used to not drinking large amounts at night. I would also use a dummy or gentle patting to try and get my children used to not feeding at night. I think knowing that the sleep deprivation is only temporary really helped my sanity. I’ve also been very fortunate to have employed an amazing confinement nanny called Jennie Yuen; she was able to handle the night feeds with my twins singlehandedly, while I woke up to pump. Lucie MANAGING How have you tackled the issue of sleep deprivation? THE ZZZ’s
All my children were very different, but I have to say the third has been by far the easiest baby. I think it’s definitely something to do with how much more relaxed you are as a parent. The baby is so chilled out! For your first child, you’re at their constant beck and call and you just can’t do that with three children. Know that the first couple of months will be difficult as you try to train the baby to sleep. Some babies just naturally want to sleep more. Freya is amazing and has been sleeping from 8pm to 6am since she was nine weeks old. My second daughter, Ava, had reflux so would scream constantly for hours! That was very, very difficult. Do whatever works for you, be it a soother, co-sleeping, Gina Ford – whatever it takes to get as much sleep as possible. Sarah
I nursed to sleep lying down with the baby in one of those next-to-me cribs; they’re great as it didn’t matter when I also fell asleep. I also got good at naps. Harriet
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It’s a struggle! The best thing I’ve ever done since having kids is going to bed earlier. When it comes to dealing with broken sleep or getting them to sleep through the night, I did do some sleep training and CIO (Cry It Out). I would recommend The Sleep Sense Program by Dana Obelman; it worked for both my girls. April Nap when possible in the day and try to get up early so that the baby gets to see daylight early in the day. Luckily, our youngest daughter Sienna (now four months) has been forced into a routine earlier as the house comes to life at 6.45am whether we like it or not with Amelia, and she knows when nighttime is as a result too. Kim We co-slept and nursed to sleep so that we could survive those first few months. Then, when we wanted to sleep train, I read so many books, but Dr Ferber’s Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems helped the most. Katherine
I haven’t managed it! I used the Gina Ford books for my eldest and tried to apply it for the twins, but they are a different story: they wake each other up, which is not great at 3am. The twins are two and a half now, and I’m still being woken up about three times a night, by one or more of the children. Claire I make a rule of always getting out of the house in the morning with a small baby and at least walking to the nearest coffee shop, which in my case is Baker & Cook on Greenwood Avenue. Although the advice you get is to sleep when your baby sleeps in the day, I think that’s near impossible when you have more than one child. As for nights, I co-slept with Joseph until he was 12 weeks old; he would wake five to six times a night so I nursed throughout the night to get him back to sleep. I then started successfully sleep-training him with the help of Louise Duncan from Petite Dreamers. Katie My first baby was a magical sleeper from six weeks and I wish I knew how as I would be replicating it with my second right now! I manage sleep deprivation with a large coffee or two in the morning and a get- up-and-go attitude, which does wear out by mid afternoon when the tiredness takes over.
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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Breast, Babies, Bottles
There’s no end to the number of irritating or painful issues that new mums can face during the breastfeeding phase of a baby’s early life. Here are 10 for starters: 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 a sleepy baby who doesn’t wake to feed
&Beyond For some mums, breastfeeding comes easy; for others, it’s a battle.
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For many mums, however, it’s worth persevering – after all, if you and baby are able to get the hang of it, it can make life so much easier. For one thing, you can feed your baby anywhere and don’t have to worry about sterilising bottles, trying to find hot water or carrying around enough formula for the day. There’s also a good body of research that suggests that breastfeeding has many benefits for mothers and babies alike. For mums, there’s a reduced risk of breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer, and an increased chance of postnatal weight loss. Breastfeeding mums also tend to develop a better bond with baby, and the process also provides a degree of natural contraception. Babies, meanwhile, can benefit from improved immune health, a reduced risk of diabetes, a reduced likelihood of childhood obesity, and a reduced risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) Where to turn If you’re having trouble with feeding, most hospitals hold classes every morning for new mums, and many run free breastfeeding clinics for former patients. Alternatively, you can seek help from one of the following organisations: Mother and 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 Breastfeeding Mothers’ Support Group: Breastfeeding workshops for mums-to-be, new mums and mums returning to work. 6337 0508 | breastfeeding.org.sg Parentlink: Breastfeeding counselling at your home. 6536 4626 | parentlink.com.sg
Did you know? Most shopping malls in Singapore have at least one nursing roomwhere you can breastfeed, bottle feed and change nappies, which can really help when you’re on the go. Some even have sterilisers, hot water dispensers for making formula and high chairs for feeding solids. 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 of 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.
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Did you breastfeed? If so, did you seek help from an expert? Any advice you can share? MOTHER’S MILK
The lactation consultant at the hospital was lovely and really helped me to latch my daughter; I found this a bit difficult to replicate at home so we went back after a few days for further help, which she very kindly did free of charge on her lunch break! However, unfortunately Immi had a lip and tongue tie, which was only later realised by the lactation consultants at Mother and Child in Tanglin Mall, when Immi was around three months. We had them released via laser at DP Dental, which was an absolute live saver. After that, latching was so much more comfortable and less effortful for Immi. We continued to be monitored by Uma at Mother and Child within the tongue-tie support group for about a month afterwards. Harriet I did breastfeed and I had great support and advice from Uma and Judith at Mother and Child. I also had support from Arline Tok, who is the rainmaker for your milk supply! I tried every trick in the book to boost my milk supply and follow a galactagogue-rich diet – brewers’ yeast, oats, fennel, almonds, barley and Australian Milo all featured heavily during the first few months. Katie
I’m currently breastfeeding Sienna, and I breastfed Amelia until she was 13 months. It was the easiest way for me, particularly with travelling around Asia. I just found it convenient not needing to worry about sterilising bottles and keeping them cool in this temperature! Nurse Helen is the lactation consultant at Raffles Hospital and she’s very helpful. I visited her once or twice after the births too, which was all part of the package. Other tips would be lots of Lansinoh cream to begin with, plus homemade lactation cookies – we used a recipe from our prenatal classes at Mother and Child in Tanglin Mall. And I love my Bebe au Lait feeding cover, which I can even throw over Sienna when she’s in the baby carrier if she needs an emergency top-up when we’re on the go! Kim
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I sure did, with both my girls. The lactation consultants at the hospital were quite good, so use them while you’re there. I really struggled with my first and had undiagnosed mastitis for months. If something doesn’t feel right or you find it really hard or really painful, it’s best to seek out a specialist early. So many mums feel like “this should be easy and I should know what I’m doing”, but it’s not. Plus, as an expat you are away from family support, so reach out for help and don’t feel any shame about it. April I have breastfed all three of my children. It really can be a difficult process and more support is needed to get women through the initial stages. With Freya, I got mastitis for the first time and I was very sick, but I persevered because I knew it would get easier. If the same happened with my first, I can’t say I would have continued! The first two weeks are the hardest. If you can get through those then it’s so much easier. No washing bottles and sterilising and so much easier to get out about; but it doesn’t work out for everyone. Sarah
I was very lucky to not have any supply issues, apart from one time, a couple of weeks after giving birth, most likely due to my lack of sleep. Breastfeeding the twins took me 18 hours a day and my sleep deprivation had reached crazy levels; I actually couldn’t even read any more! That’s when I decided to start pumping, which took me four hours a day, and allowed me to get a (little) bit of sleep. Claire
I pumped – unfortunately, my expert lady has just left Singapore. My advice is invest in a hospital-grade pump, preferably a Medela Symphony, as they are worth every penny! Lucie
I exclusively breastfed for the first year, then did baby-led weaning but continued to breastfeed a little until my daughter was 26 months old. Katherine
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If you supplemented with formula, which did you use, and which bottles worked best? FORMULA & BOTTLES I did supplement and used Holle for my first child and Aptamil plus Holle for my second. I like Holle as it’s organic and also seems to keep them full for longer, but I found it hard to get in the UK when I was back there on holidays. Aptamil is the brand many of my friends in the UK recommended and it is now stocked here in FairPrice – though it’s pricey! I opted for Mam bottles and both babies took to them without any issues. They are anti-colic and you can self- sterilise them in the microwave, which I thought would be useful, particularly when travelling. Katie We tried Bellamy’s but Amelia was never a fan, probably because we didn’t start early enough. Kim
I didn’t use formula but I have used donor breastmilk for my firstborn. I had serious complications, which led to me stopping breastfeeding early. There is a Facebook page called humanmilk4humanbabies Singapore, and it’s full of incredible women donating their liquid gold for free. My favourite bottles were Pigeon Peristaltic, available from RedMart. They’re cheap, BPA-free and the teats are the perfect size for tiny mouths and super soft. I only discovered these when I had my fourth child. If breastfeeding isn’t working for you and it’s taking away your enjoyment of having a baby, just switch to formula or donor milk. Our babies are only little once and we are all doing our best. Stressing over breastfeeding, in my opinion, is not worth the mental headspace. Lucie I did bottle feed, but with breast milk not formula, and I used Medela and Avent bottles. April I used Tommy Tippee bottles, because the teats are great. We started with Holle organic infant milk and then moved to soy milk. Claire What is formula? 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.
Immi only took a bottle with expressed milk on a handful of occasions, and she would only take the Minbie bottle. Harriet
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STARTING SOLIDS Five signs that your baby could be ready for more than just milk ... #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 While the World Health Organisation recommends that solids should be introduced in small amounts from the six-month mark, many parents find that their babies want to experiment with food a little earlier – at around five months, sometimes even four months. 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. 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.
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WEANING When did you decide to wean your child? Did you follow baby-led weaning? Any tips? I’ve waited until six months withmy children, and I like to offer purees alongside finger food. I tend to offer chunks of food first then finish the meal with a puree. Broccoli, large strawberries and sweet potato mash are my favourite baby-led weaning foods. I like my kids to get super messy and feel the different textures of food. I buy the all-in-one long- sleeved bibs from IKEA and let them get absolutely covered. I think it’s so important that kids get very messy. Lucie We began weaning at one year. My daughter had a strong gag reflex so we waited for a bit longer than most for that to ease up, otherwise she just kept choking on everything! Katherine I weaned both my girls from breastfeeding at exactly one year. In the months leading up, I slowly did fewer feeds every day as I introduced solids, and we gave them more bottles of breast milk, somy husband could help. With my first, I made homemade purées but my second enjoyed a lot of baby led-weaning as shewanted to try everything her sister was having. I was certainly more relaxed with my second and let her try more things earlier. She seemed easier to wean so perhaps it helped. April
It was at around five months that I started giving small amounts of Ella’s Kitchen pouches – they’re so easy and the texture is lovely and smooth. I would also give bigger pieces of food to experiment with, like chunks of steamed broccoli and sweet potato. This eventually graduated into chunkier purees, then purees plus rice, pasta or quinoa for example. At around ten months, when she was eating most of what we ate, I cut the breastfeeding to twice per day. At 12 months, it went to once per day with a beaker of milk in place of the morning wake-up feed. At fifteen months, I finally cut out the night-time feeding-to-sleep. Harriet I weaned at six months old, starting with baby porridge and then loosely following Annabel Karmel’s weaning program. Katie Amelia was a good size from early on and showed an interest in food, so she had her first taste of banana at nearly five months. She was a bit startled by it so we waited a fewmore weeks and tried rice cereal and then followed the Ella’s Kitchen Purple Book weaning program, which was very helpful and varied. Kim For the twins, it started slowly at three months old and I stopped pumping when they were five and a half months. I stopped breastfeeding my first child when he was six months old; he had started having formula milk at five months. The first bottles were an issue as none of them wanted it. I actually realised that it was much easier for them to take it if I left the house. If they saw me, it was just cries of misunderstanding. Claire With my two oldest children, it was baby-led weaning. You’ll know when your baby is showing an interest in food. Sarah
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BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS
BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS
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Preschools , kindergartens and learning centres
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What parents say Rachael and Kevin Gibbens, British and South African; Georgia and Hugo (3.5)
We enrolled our twins into Alphabet Playhouse (the Dublin Road campus) when they were 18 months old. Of all the schools we visited, we chose this one not only because of the proximity to home, but also because everyone looked really friendly and warm. The centre is spacious, and I love that the children have a lot of hands-on playtime, including sand play, water play and other traditional activities that reminded me of my own childhood. They also have fun lessons like Music, Dance, and Sportsball. I’m also very happy with the multicultural environment, where my children get to interact with their classmates of many different nationalities. Georgia and Hugo absolutely love their teachers, their classmates, and Sportsball activities the allow them to engage in friendly games of rugby, football and even hockey. As parents, we are proud to see our children’s growth at the school. A favourite highlight of family involvement has to be the annual concert. It was so adorable to see our children and their classmates on the stage, all dressed up and doing little performances. Overall, it has been two years since Georgia and Hugo first joined and we are reminded every time we see their happy faces that we made the right choice by enrolling them in Alphabet Playhouse.
FOUNDED: 1995 DATES: January to December
HOURS: 7am to 7pm (varies from centre to centre; half-day and flexi options available) AGES: 18 months to 6 years POPULATION: Over 300 students across all centres CURRICULUM: Play-based exploration
• 16 Dublin Road, Somerset • 440A Upper East Coast Road alphabetplayhouse.com.sg
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ArtsKidz International Preschool
What parents say Clair Deevy and Chris Kerin, Australian; Neo (6), Bodhi (3) and Kit (1)
Arts Haus International
We l o v e how a t A r t s K i d z t h e children explore so many different topics t h rough c r e a t i v e mediums. I remember our first child Neo
What parents say Takashi and Amika Sakakibara, Japanese; Koma (4)
At Arts Haus, my son is not only able to learn Japanese language, but also about traditional culture and seasonal events – it’s great for Japanese families like us living overseas. I also like the artworks the kids make and the way the teachers guide them. Koma enjoys Japanese language classes the best. He’s happy to see and play with his friends and teachers every day, and is excited to learn new things. One highlight was the Annual Arts Show; we had a wonderful time appreciating the children’s artworks and listening to the stories about how they made them.
creating a Picasso-style self-portrait in Nursery when they were learning about feelings. We love getting the art folders at the end of term and seeing everything they have learnt. We also appreciate the care the teachers have shown for each of our children and how they’ve gone out of their way to cater to each of their strengths; the teachers and assistants have such a close bond with each child and are very hands-on. All the facilities in the world wouldn’t matter if you didn’t have great teaching staff.
I love school so much, especially the trampoline, cars and messy play with friends!
I love singing songs!
FOUNDED: 2008 DATES: January to December (Raeburn Park) and August to June (Bukit Timah) HOURS: 9/9.30am to 3.30/3.45pm AGES: Pre-Nursery to Kindergarten 2 POPULATION: Up to 120 students in each campus CURRICULUM: Combination of Singapore and International Primary Curriculum (IPC)
FOUNDED: 2017 DATES: January to December HOURS: 9am to 3.30pm AGES: Pre-Nursery to Kindergarten 2 POPULATION: Up to 120 students CURRICULUM: Enrichment-based, drawn from various approaches including STEAM and MOE
• Raeburn Park: 10 Raeburn Park, Block C #02-33 • Bukit Timah: 262 Upper Bukit Timah Road, #01-03/04 Old Fire Station artskidz.com.sg
18 Pearl’s Hill Terrace 6532 2837 | artshaus.sg
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& International Preschool BLUE HOUSE Nursery
What parents say Tom and Jeanette Wheeler, Swedish/ British; Freja (5) and Oscar (3)
Hear from Freja
I love playing with my friends
in the bunny hut!
We’ve been part of Blue House since 2015 when our daughter Freja joined the Nursery class.
She is now attending Senior Kindergarten and our son Oscar is enjoying his time in the Preschool class. Blue House offers a wonderful opportunity for children in the early years to explore the environment and to be creative through simple processes of interacting and engaging with their peers and educators. The school has a nurturing environment where children are part of the learning process. We also really like the beautiful green environment with sandpits and outdoor play areas, daily exposure to art and music, and the sense of community. All of these appealed to us when we were chose Blue House for our children. Both Freja and Oscar enjoy the close collaboration with their teachers and friends. At the moment, they enjoy constructing things, whether it’s building rockets with recycled materials or making pizza with homemade playdough. The sandpit is an all- time favourite for Oscar, and Freja is also exploring the art atelier for inspiration and ideas for her art projects. As Blue House is a smaller school, we’ve been able to build close relationships with the teachers and to participate in various projects that either relate to the learning process of our children or the school community.
I like digging in the sandpit
FOUNDED: 2008 DATES: August to June
HOURS: 8.30am to 3pm (full day) and 8.30am to 12pm (half day) AGES: 18 months to 6 years POPULATION: 150 children CURRICULUM: Reggio Emilia- inspired
2 Turf Club Road, Bukit Timah 6738 0824 bluehouseinternational.com
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BLUEHOUSE Infant & Toddler Atelier
What parents say Laura and Ray Dias, Australian; Louis (2)
Hear from Louis
I love playing outside, singing songs and playing with bubbles!
Louis has been visiting the atelier since he was six months old. We visited the one at UE Square until he was 16 months old, and when his need to explore a new environment was evident, we chose to visit
FOUNDED: 2008 DATES: Open 12 months a year HOURS: Varies according to programme (playgroups, specialist classes and drop-in sessions) AGES: 6months to 36 months POPULATION: Varies as it is a parent-child programme CURRICULUM: Reggio Emilia- inspired
the Turf Club location for its larger space. When he was 21 months, Louis joined the outdoor playgroup – he enjoys the opportunity to play and experiment outside. We chose Blue House International School as it’s inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach. Having a philosophy that is based around seeing a child as curious, capable and full of potential and as someone who learns and grows through relationships with others – this is how we want our child to be viewed. Blue House has a warm and nurturing environment. Louis enjoys many things about his weekly visits. He especially likes the circle time where he can sing and dance to his favourite songs. He enjoys the freedom to play, touch, smell and look at different things. We both look forward to coming back the next week. We love the school’s approach and the opportunity to discover new things and have new experiences. It’s also been a great place to meet other mums with children of around the same age.
• Turf Club Road, Bukit Timah • 83 Clemenceau Avenue, #01- 35/36 UE Square, Office Tower bluehouseatelier.com
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What parents say Margery and Daniel Lynn, American, Georgia Grace (5) and Leila (3)
Both Georgia Grace and Leila have attended Brighton Montessori for PN and N1. Leila currently still attends the school. The preschool was the best choice for our children primarily because of the education philosophy to which it adheres. We appreciate the multi-age groupings to foster peer learning, the self-directed learning time and the focus on sensory-motor activities. The girls’ experiences at Brighton Montessori have laid the foundation for them to be independent and eager lifelong learners! The teachers at Brighton have made a huge impact on our children. They make the school a welcoming, nurturing and fun environment – evident by the no-tears drop-offs! The highlight of our family’s involvement has undoubtedly been the cultural immersion we’ve experienced through the Brighton holiday programmes. From pot lucks to art activities and music, we’ve enjoyed how Brighton celebrates local culture. Leila has loved the field trips, particularly the visit to the ArtScience Museum.
FOUNDED: 2008 DATES: From January HOURS: 7am-7pm (full day), 7am-1pm or 1-7pm (half day), 7am-3pm (three-quarter day) AGES: 18 months to 6 years POPULATION: 800 CURRICULUM: Montessori
7 locations island-wide brightonmontessori.com.sg
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