KIDS GUIDE 2021
WEEKEND FUN SCHOOL OPTIONS PARENTS’ PERSPECTIVES GREAT STAYCATIONS HEALTH HELP BABY PRODUCTS CAMPS & CLINICS IDEAS FOR EXPLORING FOODIE FINDS
Singapore can be a brilliant place to raise children: the healthcare system and hospitals are top-notch; there’s great home help available and a wealth of facilities, activities and services for families; and there are plenty of world-class schools. For some new expat parents, though, there is a downside: the geographical distance from family and friends back home. This sense of isolation has only increased with the events of 2020. Many new mums and mums-to-be, in particular, will have felt the absence of people they would otherwise have relied on for help and advice. Our aim with this Kids’ Guide is to go some way to filling the void. We’ve stuffed the pages as best we can with info, tips and opinions to cover every stage of familyhood. Whether you’re about to be first-time parents or you’ve already got a toddler or two – even a clutch of tweens and teens – you’ll find some fresh ideas and answers here. And keep an eye out for the honest feedback from our panel of expat and local mums dotted throughout this year’s Guide. They shed light on everything from choosing a doctor, breastfeeding, preferred prams and postnatal workouts, to things to do around the island for little ones and more. We also hear from a dad of older kids about his experiences raising a family in Singapore. Whichever stage of the parenting journey you’re at – from ultrasound “bean” to boisterous teen – we wish you plenty of happiness along the way!
Rebecca Bisset Shamus Sillar Anthia Chng Amy Greenburg Lindsay Yap Jo Upcraft Leanda Rathmell Nur Hanani Kamal Luddin Michael Bernabe Jeanne Wong Anna Tserlingas Siti Shahirah Khirudeen Veena Gill Susan Knudsen-Pickles Karin Galley Danielle Rossetti Jacqui Young Lara Sage Colin Purchase
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BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS 51
56 Preschools, Kindergartens & Learning Centres
BUMPS & BEYOND 17
18 Try Our Baby Trivia 20 Tips on Finding the Right Doctor 22 Managing Morning Sickness 26 Breastfeeding Insights 32 Sleep: The Holy Grail 36 Capturing Special Moments 38 Add to Cart: Buying Toys & Essentials 44 Expat Parenthood: Pros & Cons 46 Meeting Mums: Play & Support Groups 47 Neighbourhoods & Getting Around
PLAY DAYS 69
Singapore’s Sporty Spectrum
76 Favourite Free Activities 79 Brainy Bunch: Acting, Creating, Coding & More
87 Cool Camps & Clubs 94 Managing Screen Time
IN THE CLASSROOM 129
160 International Schools & Specialist Education Services
HAPPY & HEALTHY 99
OUT & ABOUT 171
101 102 104
Keeping Kids Well A&E or Paediatrician? Teeth Talk: Tips for Little Ones Mental Health: Keeping the Family Fit in Mind Osteopathy for Babies
173 Panel Picks: Which Stroller? 174 Popular Playgrounds 178 Animal Encounters: Feathered & Furry Friends 182 Top Teen Hangouts 184 Fun Family Staycations 190 Travel Talk: What’s On Your Bucket List? 193 Tips on Travelling with Kids
DADS’ CORNER 194
194 An Expat Dad on Family Life in Singapore 198 Important Numbers 199 Advertiser List 200 Fun for Kids: Spot the Difference!
112 114 118 125 126
Kids & Cuisines
Ideas for Fussy Eaters Losing the BabyWeight
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BUMPS & BEYOND
B e i n g a n ew mum in a new e n v i r o n m e n t can be a rea l chal lenge, and that’s why we’re here to help! Hear from seven expat and local mums who make up this year’s Panel. Flick through the pages and you’ll find their tips and opinions on awide range of topics.
Local mum Evelyn Ng has a three- month-old princess Maeve with her Thai husband, who moved over in 2018 to kick-start his career in Singapore as a Muay Thai instructor.
Melissa Montgomery has a little three-year-old (Matilda) and five-year-old twins (Carter and Cleo). She and husband Scotty, who has a health technology company here, are an Aussie-Kiwi couple. Melissa has a real estate background, and has recently transitioned to PropTech in Singapore.
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Originally from the UK, Dee Khanduja moved to Singapore in 2007 to launch an employment agency, whi ch she ran for 13 years. She now works as a career coach , wr i t e r and trainer. She manages the “Wildly Ambitious Mama Entrepreneur” Facebook group, and has a nine-year-old daughter, Neeve, and seven-year-old son, Jai.
A born-and-bred Singaporean, Grace Chan works as in- house counsel in a financial ins t i tut ion. She and her husband Zacharoy have a 10-month-old baby girl, Jayna Joy Dass.
Nisha Goklaney has been living in Singapore for the past five years. She moved here fromNewYorkwith her husband to experience life andwork in Asia. They arrived with a one- year-old son, and have since had another baby boy. She previously worked at American Express and is currently the Marketing Director at Sage, a UK-based SaaS company.
Originally from London, certified l i f e coach and mum-o f - two Nicola Burke has been living in Asia for the past 18 years – first in Tokyo, then in Hong Kong, and now in Singapore. Her two children are aged 9 and 11. She also runs a family travel blog, jetlagandmayhem.com.
Australian Lucy Milan Davis works full-time running Lucy Sparkles & Friends, a company that provides drama, music and dance classes and parties for young children in Singapore, London and Canberra. Originally from Sydney, she spent 12 years in London before moving here three years ago. Lucy has two children, Isabel (4) and Rafferty (18 months).
Gorlov-KV | Shutterstock.com
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AmazingBabes 25 stats & facts about our bundles of joy Use them in a Baby Shower quiz!
206 Bones in an adult body 300 Bones in a baby (they fuse together as the baby grows!) 0 Kneecaps in a baby (bony patellas only form around preschool age) 150
8,760 Hours in an infant’s first year 5,400 Hours
an infant spends sleeping in its first year (around 62 percent of each day, compared to 33 percent for adults) 40 Days of sleep a new mother loses on average in the first year of a baby’s life 33 Approximate percentage of babies with a birthmark, according to some reports (other figures suggest it’s as high as 80 percent) Babies in the womb can detect differences between dark and light. At birth, they’re very short-sighted, but they can make out shapes. The first colour they recognise, however, is the primary colour red. After a week, they canmake out yellow, orange and green, too. Blues and purples take longer.
A normal heart rate for a baby in the womb (almost double a normal adult heart rate)
Babies get hairy bodies in the womb. Lanugo is soft downy hair that appears from around the fourth month of gestation, produced by foetal hair follicles. It usually falls off in the
month or so before a baby’s birth but can still be present when they’re born. It’s replaced by a different, thinner kind of hair called vellus hair.
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Percentage of babies born in the two weeks after their “due date” 40
Percentage of babies that are born on their calculated “due date”
3.3 Average weight, in kilograms, of a newborn (with boys being slightly larger on average than girls) 51 Average length, in centimetres, of a newborn 300 Approximate amount of blood, in millilitres, in a newborn (compared to 5 litres in an adult) 42 Current age, in years, of the English woman who was the first person ever born from IVF conception
Approximate age, in months, of a baby when it first begins to laugh
Approximate time in months that it takes a newborn to double its weight
“Fetomaternal microchimerism” is the term given to the way a baby in the womb transfers stem cells into its mother’s organs if she has suffered some damage. While research into this is ongoing, it appears possible that a foetus can help repair mum’s body in some way. Amazing!
7,000 Number of nappies a baby might use between birth and toilet training 3 Approximate number of times a newborn urinates every hour 260 Number of new babies born every minute around the world, according to UN statistics 10,000 Number of pregnancies for every one instance of triplets
The word “ inf ant ” comes from the Latin word infans , meaning “speechless” or “unable to speak”. Fair enough, too: most babies are a year old before they can start using simple words, thoughmany can understand basic words (“no” and “bye-bye”, to give two English- language examples) by nine months.
The first baby born in Antarctica arrived on 7 January, 1978. Emilio Marcos Palma was born to Argentinian parents at the Esperanza Base near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Since then, around ten more births have been recorded in the world’s coldest continent.
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Decisions, Decisions How to find Dr Right!
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’ll 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’re in the right hands.
I gave birth in Singapore at a local hospital, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital Evelyn
Yes, we had Matilda here at NUH and it was a great experience. We didn’t have maternity insurance, so it was the most affordable option. It’s also a training hospital, but it has the same high standards as our top private hospital in Australia where we had the twins. Not that we are having a fourth baby, but I wouldn’t hesitate to go back there. Melissa
DID YOU GIVE BIRTH HERE? Yes. My first son was born in New York, but my second son was born in Singapore. We gave birth at Gleneagles Hospital; my doctor was Dr Brenda Low. Nisha
ThomsonMedical Centre – Dr WK Tan. Grace
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Ask Your Doc! Fifteen useful questions – from basic to complex – that you may want to get answers to before choosing your obstetrician.
#10 “What do you think about time limits for labouring?” #11 “How often do you use forceps or vacuum extraction to deliver a baby?” #12 “Will I be able to have skin-to-skin contact with my baby and start breastfeeding shortly after the birth?” #13 “Are you willing to let me have a vaginal birth for my second baby even though I had my first via caesarean?” #14 “How do you feel about vaginal breech birth? If you support it, what conditions do you have?” #15 “How do you manage the third stage 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?”
#1 “Which hospitals do you attend?” #2 “Are you available around my estimated due date?” #3 “If you’re unexpectedly not around at the time I give birth, who would be your backup doctor?” #4 “How involved can I be in the decision-making process during pregnancy and labour?” #5 “What are your thoughts on pain relief in labour? Do you assume that everyone will rely on some kind of 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 “Are you open tome having a doula at the birth?” #8 “What are your thoughts on electronic foetal monitoring during labour, and when do you think it should be used?” #9 “What are your rates for induction, caesarean section and episiotomy? In what situations do you consider or recommend these?”
Helping Hand For doulas, lactation consultants and others who help in the pregnancy-to-parenting stage, 2020 was a tricky year; coronavirus restrictions meant much of the advice and comfort for new mums had to be delivered virtually. From November 2020, though, restrictions started to ease; for example, NUH allowed a total of four doulas to begin providing services. The word doula derives from the Greek word for “female slave”, but today refers to an independent caregiver who helps make an expectant mum feel safe and comfortable before, during and after childbirth. A doula is different from a midwife in that they offer non-medical support to mothers – though most will also have plenty of knowledge of labour and delivery. There are qualifiedmultilingual doulas in Singapore, too, should you need help with a language barrier. Visit doulasofsingapore.com for more information.
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NoMore Nausea! “How can I have morning sickness when I don’t get up till noon?” goes the old saying. Unfortunately, sleeping until afternoon may not save you from this unwanted side effect of pregnancy! Here are some helpful facts, tips and advice on getting through it in one piece. affected in the first trimester; some are set off by certain triggers (for example, raw chicken, the smell of fish, or – in the case of one of our panellists – onions!). 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. Among the high-profile sufferers of this condition are the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, and comedian Amy Schumer (who once joked, “I throw up an Exorcist amount every day”…). Why do we get it?
What is it? Morning sickness is nausea and vomiting during pregnancy (which is why it’s sometimes referred to as NVP by doctors). It can actually strike at any time of the day – and 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
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.
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What’s the cure? While there is 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.
Crazy Cravings Pregnancy can bring on a desire to eat particular foods – and sometimes it can be foods that an expecting mum wouldn’t normally want anywhere near their plate! These strange cravings could be caused by hormones, or they may relate to having an elevated sense of smell and taste, or the body sensing particular nutritional deficiencies. Here’s a list of some interesting morsels that our Kids’ Guide panellists over the past few years have been keen to indulge in while expecting. • Vinegary things (pickled beetroots, red cabbage, onions, balsamic vinegar) • Milo • “Beige” foods only: bread, crackers, pasta • Sweet things, but no later than 3.30pm every day (“I could set my clock by it”) • Red grapes • Sardine O’s from Old Chang Kee (“I normally can’t stand sardines!”) • Mountains of iceberg lettuce • Chicken nuggets • Rice crackers with almond butter • Ice cream, cheese and yoghurt (“An intense, constant craving for dairy”)
Try these! • Ginger: This great natural remedy can be found crystallised, powdered, and in sweets and biscuits – or try fresh ginger tea. • Mint: Drinking mint tea or chewing mint gum can help, and you can actually buy the gum for medicinal purposes in pharmacies in Singapore. • Vitamin B6: This is thought to reduce nausea and vomiting. • Acupressure band: A soft wristband that acts on your pressure points can ease nausea.
• Anchovies straight from the tin • Only carbs. Carbs, carbs, carbs! • Mr Bean Plain Soya Milk
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BUMPS & BEYOND Panel Tips
Yes, I did – in the first trimester; I was very nauseous but it passes quickly. I would try to avoid face-to-face work meetings and be aware of where the closest bathroom was. Melissa
DID YOU HAVE MORNING SICKNESS? IF SO, DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS ON COPINGWITH IT?
I had it for the first trimester. A friend taught me to have a lemon at hand and sniff it when you feel sick. It actually works! Nicola
I was really lucky and did not have much morning sickness for either of my pregnancies. To be honest, I think the best way for me to keep morning sickness at bay was just to focus on work. Distracting yourself with something that absorbs you is probably the strategy I used here. Nisha My morning sickness wasn’t serious as I only experienced nausea a few days throughout my pregnancy, but I did lose my morning appetite when I was pregnant. When I didn’t want to eat anything in the morning, I would sip some ginger tea to help me to feel better and boost my appetite. Evelyn
Mine was pretty severe in my first trimester and especially bad during or after bumpy car rides. As much as possible, have your hubby drive you as he’s most sensitive to your needs. When I had to take Grab rides, I would tell the driver upon entering their vehicle that I was expecting and would appreciate it if they could drive gently. I avoided oily and spicy food that would aggravate my nausea. I was also especially sensitive to onions, so my husband made it a point to “aggressively” check with the servers at all restaurants to make sure there were no onions in each dish – and, if there were, to have them removed! Grace
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THE BREASTFEEDING JOURNEY
“Mother’s milk” is the very definition of comfort and enjoyment, yet for many mums, providing milk for a newborn can be a trial. The list of potential ailments that can come with breastfeeding is a long one: from cracked or sore nipples, to blocked milk ducts, inverted nipples, thrush, mastitis and more. For every mother who struggles to get their baby to latch, another has trouble getting them off at the end because they’ve fallen asleep. So, is it worth the effort? We take a look at some of the fascinating facts around breastfeeding, and find out how our panel of mums managed to negotiate this totally tricky aspect of parenthood.
Benefits of breastfeeding There are plenty of reasons why it’s at least worth persevering with breastfeeding. For one thing, once you and baby get the hang of it, it can make life so much easier. You can feed your baby anywhere, without having to worry about sterilising bottles, trying to find hot water and carrying around enough formula for the day. (It’s also cheaper!) Plus, there’s a good body of research that suggests that breastfeeding has many benefits; these range from reducing the risk of diseases in mum and baby alike, to creating a better bond between the two, increasing mum’s chance of postnatal weight loss, and reducing the likelihood of childhood obesity. While rates of breastfeeding are low in Singapore, it’s still a more breastfeeding-friendly city than you’d expect. Most shopping malls here have at least one nursing room where you can breastfeed, bottle feed and change nappies. Some even have sterilisers, hot water dispensers for making formula and high chairs for feeding solids. These areas can really help when you’re out and about!
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Quotes on nursing, nipples and more …
Human milk is like ice cream, penicillin and the drug ecstasy all wrapped up in two pretty packages. – Florence Williams
As a breastfeeding mother, you are basically just meals on heels. – Kathy Lette
A newborn baby has only three demands. They are warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three. – Grantly Dick-Read
Need some support? 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: Breastfeeding Mothers’ Support Group Breastfeeding workshops for mums-to-be, new 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 Parentlink Breastfeeding counselling at your home. 6536 4626 | parentlink.com.sg mums and mums returning to work. 6337 0508 | breastfeeding.org.sg Mother and Child
We all have nipples. I don’t care who I offend; my baby wants to eat. – Selma Blair
If we wear our nursing covers backwards like capes, then everyone can see we’re breastfeeding
superheroes. – Cassi Clark
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BUMPS & BEYOND Panel Tips
DID YOU BREASTFEED? HOWDID YOU FIND IT? ANY TIPS YOU CAN SHARE?
I breastfed my first son for about eight months and my second for around six months. I learned how to breastfeed from the lactation consultant and nurses at the hospital both times around. I would say to leverage this support system as much as you can while you are at the hospital. They really know what they’re doing and are happy to help. The main issues I had around breastfeeding were the constant chapped nipples, for which I would highly recommend Lanolin! I also had a few instances of mastitis, where my breast would turn rock hard, swell up and really hurt. At first I didn’t know what it was, or what to do about it. Google searches came to the rescue, and then what helped were warm showers and a hot compress, which I would put on my breasts before I breastfed or pumped. Finally, I was always concerned with being able to produce enough milk, especially since my goal was to pump when I went back to work. So I used to drink Mothers’ Milk tea and consume Milkmakers Lactation Cookies between breastfeeding to help increase my milk supply. Nisha
I breastfed my daughter for around 18 months and my son for just over 12 months. I didn’t get any help from an expert, though I did consult Uncle Google for tips when the kids started biting (ouch), and when my daughter went on a “breast-strike”. I ended up navigating these experiences through trial, error and tears. Dee
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In pre-natal classes I was told “everyone can breastfeed, you just have to learn how to do it properly”. Then I saw a lactation consultant who told me it would be dangerous for me to attempt to breastfeed exclusively due to breast hypoplasia. So it turns out not everyone can breastfeed, for a variety of reasons. So I mix fed for about 11 weeks with my first child until she refused to continue with the breastfeeding. It was a very stressful and upsetting time for me and for my baby, and on hindsight I would probably have gone straight to formula. I spent a lot of time seeing various medical professionals, pumping in between feeds, feeding formula through a tiny tube taped to my breast (to stimulate milk production and to prevent my baby from getting used to a fast-flowing bottle). I was basically forcing my baby who was clearly not interested in the little milk I could offer. She hated it as much as I did. There’s a lot of pressure on women to breastfeed and I think in some instances it can be unhelpful. I look back and think of all the wasted hours I could have been bonding with my newborn instead of jumping through hoops to breastfeed. My plan for my second was to express colostrum at the end of my pregnancy, feed the baby a mix of expressed colostrum and colostrum from breastfeeding in the first few days, and then go straight to formula as soon my milk came in. But, unexpectedly, he didn’t mind the mix feeding and my low milk supply. It wasn’t stressful because my baby wasn’t stressed so I decided to continue longer. But, of course, turns out he was lactose immature and my milk gave him chronic diarrhoea. So the doctor advised me to go straight to formula after four weeks. Oh, the irony. Lucy
Yes, I breastfeed my little princess. I didn’t seek help from an expert but I sought some advice from experienced mums. I had breast engorgement on the third day after the baby was born and had to look for a traditional Malay post-natal masseuse to help unclog my milk ducts. My cousin who has a one-year-old had also recommended me to take lecithin to help thin the milk and promote milk flow. Evelyn
I breastfed for six months with my first baby and six weeks with my second. I got mastitis the first time around so I went to an amazing lady who essentially milked me! Nicola
Yes, and I’m still on that journey! I would strongly recommend seeking help from a lactation consultant early in the breastfeeding journey. I think doing so earlier would have saved me a lot of misery that came with feeling in the dark. Grace
Yes, I breastfed, I couldn’t believe how hard it was to learn. Both of my sisters are midwives and they would make me latch in front of them and gave me tons of tips. I would recommend seeing a lactation consultant early on as it’s so convenient. Once you have the hang of it, there’s no need to sterilise and wash bottles. Melissa
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TrySome If you’re sitting on the couch, looking for a way to pass a fewminutes while Junior has a feed, have a go at our ten quiz questions!
What colour is breast milk?
Walking at a moderate pace for an hour a day can burn around 200 calories. Can you burn more or less than that per day by breastfeeding? Do bigger breasts mean more milk? Most mums produce more milk in which breast, left or right? Howmuch water is in breast milk: 77, 87 or 97 percent? When you or your baby are sick, the cell count in your milk increases: true or false? If one teaspoon is approximately 5 millilitres, what’s the capacity of a newborn baby’s stomach in millilitres? What’s the name given to the milk made by the body in the first few days after giving birth? Can breast milk be stored in the freezer and thawed as needed? #10 On a global scale, what percentage of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed: 40, 65 or 80 percent? #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9
The Answers #1 White(ish). Well, usually. It’s commonly white with a yellowish tinge. But it can also come in many shades: blue, green, pink, orange and more! It just depends what you’ve eaten or drunk. #2 More! Between 300 and 600. #3 The volume of breast milk you produce is not related to your breast size. In short, the more milk your baby drinks, the more your breasts produce, whether they’re small or large. #4 Around three quarters of mums produce more milk in their right breast than their left. #5 87 percent is water; the rest is fat (nearly 4 percent), protein (1 percent) and lactose (7 percent). #6 True! Breast milk contains stem cells that can repair internal organs, bacterial cells to help with baby’s immune system, and white blood cells to fight bad bacteria and viruses. These increase when either mother or baby is unwell. #7 Around 5 to 7 millilitres; so, a teaspoon and a bit. #8 Colostrum. The first time a baby latches acts as a trigger for your milk-producing cells to supply your first breast milk, known as colostrum. Colostrum has special proteins that line baby’s intestinal tract to protect it from harmful bacteria. #9 Absolutely! If you’ve mastered pumping breast milk, you can freeze milk in a freezer-safe container for up to three of four months. Avoid thawing it in the microwave – milk can heat unevenly and be too hot in one area. #10 Approximately 40 percent.
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IF YOU SUPPLEMENTEDWITH FORMULA, WHICH DID YOU USE, ANDWHICH BOTTLES WORKED BEST FOR YOU?
Yes, I started supplementing with formula for both my kids at around fourmonths andused Similac Advance formula. Dr Brown’s bottles and sterilisers worked best for my kids. Nisha
I use NAN Optipro 1 to supplement in case I don’t have sufficient breast milk for Maeve. A Hegen bottle and teat work best for her! Evelyn
With the twins, I supplemented with formula as it was quite exhausting and they were so hungry. We used only Australian formula and a local bottle brand. Melissa
We use Pigeon PPSU bottles. My baby girl took well to them so we didn’t have to try different brands. Grace
Aptamil and Avent. Nicola
I’m a big fan of Tommee Tippie bottles and Aptamil formula, although the lactose-free Aptamil tends to get clumps in it. You can’t buy Aptamil here (and formula here is so expensive) so we got visitors to bring it and stocked up during holidays when I was pregnant. Lucy
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Losing Snooze Along with the great joys of motherhood come a few fairly trying situations, one of them being sleep deprivation.
SCENARIOS Babies and toddlers can experience a range of sleep issues – which, in turn, end up making parents lose lots of sleep. Here are some common ones: • 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
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!
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RESOURCES There are some great tools and sources of information to help you in your quest for the holy grail of sleep – both for you and baby alike. #1 Apps Literally thousands of apps are available on the topic of baby care – and the number grows daily – but here’s a small handful that can help with sleep (either tracking it, or as a physical aid for your little one to nod off to). Try these for starters! • Cloud Baby Monitor: Live-streaming app so you keep an eye on your sleeping baby without a monitor (needs two devices to work) • Sound Sleeper : Plays white noise to help baby nod off, with the option of tracking your baby’s sleep so you can find out more about their patterns. • Baby Night Light: Offers a range of light and peaceful sounds to soothe baby. • Baby Sleep Sounds: Emits a variety of rhythmic “shushing” sounds to help baby fall asleep. • Sleepy Sounds: Has a night-light function, plus you can record your own sounds.
Parenting books have been around for ages – the first to hit the “big time” was The Common Sense Book of Baby and Childcare by Dr Benjamin Spock, released in 1946. In the US, it outsold every non- fiction book except the Bible for over 50 years. Since then, new baby books have emerged at a steady rate, and there’s now a huge range of titles, many with a focus on the subject of sleep. Here’s a list of a few popular ones: • Alexis Dubief, Precious Little Sleep • Gina Ford, The Contented Little Baby Book
• Kaz Cooke, Babies & Toddlers • Marc Weissbluth, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child • Harvey Karp, The Happiest Baby on the Block
• Sheyne Rowley, Dream Baby Guide • Sarah Ockwell-Smith, The Gentle Sleep Book • Richard Ferber, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems • Robin Barker, Baby Love • TraceyHogg, Secrets of the BabyWhisperer
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#3 Gadgets • SNOO Bassinet: It’s not cheap, but plenty of parents swear by the SNOO, a “smart” bassinet that lulls infants to sleep with a rocking motion that you control by an app. • Riff Raff Sleep Toy: A soft toy that promotes falling asleep and resettling through the use of sound, comfort and routine. • Snuza Hero: This baby monitor is a lightweight device that keeps a constant check on breathing motions while they sleep, and sends an alarm if required. • iBaby Air: Along with detecting harmful VOC elements (carbon monoxide and others), this gadget is an audio monitor, a colourful night light, a temperature gauge and more. • Owley Smart Sock: Wearable socks with sensors that track heart rate and oxygen. levels and send notifications to an app and base station.
When you have a baby, sleep is not an option. – Jimmy Fallon
First thing in the morning, we’re really tired, and we look at each other and we wonder, ‘Are we ever going to get sleep?’ And yet, it doesn’t matter if you don’t get sleep. It’s an honour to take care of them. – Angelina Jolie
People who say they sleep like a baby don’t have one. – Leo J. Burke
Our baby in particular is, we think, allergic to sleep. We think that she thinks that she’s protecting us from the sleep monsters. She’s like, ‘Oh, I gotta keep them up or the sleep monsters will get them.’ – Ryan Reynolds
Sleep is like the unicorn – it’s rumoured to exist, but I doubt I’ll see any. – Dr Seuss
Everyone should have kids. They are the greatest joy in the world. But they are also terrorists. You’ll realise this as soon as they are born and they start using sleep deprivation to break you. – Ray Romano
A sleeping baby is the new happy hour. – Anonymous
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HOWDID YOUMANAGE SLEEPDEPRIVATION? I suffer from intermittent bouts of insomnia, though they have nothing to do with my kids. The most effective solutions for me are taking a hot bath before bed, drinking peppermint tea, reading a fiction novel, taking melatonin and, most importantly, not worrying about it. It’s amazing what one can achieve off the back of very little sleep. Obviously, it’s not sustainable in the long term, but I do think accepting it stops the cycle from lasting too long. Lucy
Sleep deprivation is a killer! Oh gosh – this is a big one, as I am someone who definitely needs her sleep to rest and recharge. A big tip is to get the support of your partner or spouse. My husband always helped me manage the night shifts. He would change the diapers and bring the baby to me to nurse. My next tip is to sleep in the day. When the baby sleeps, you sleep. That was my rule! I had thick blackout curtains that would enable me to forget what time of day it was, and I would just sleep. Once my baby turned three months old, I also started pumping at a rapid pace. I then got my mum, helper or husband’s support to feed the baby the first feed for the night, which helped me get an uninterrupted five to six hours of sleep! Nisha
For the first year, I largely co-slept with my bubs, which really helped us both get as much sleep as possible – I didn’t have to physically get out of bed to breastfeed. When the kids moved to their own room, I would also use Michael Sealy sleep hypnosis videos on YouTube to help lull me into a deep sleep whenever I was struggling. Dee
I would take a power nap of 30 minutes to an hour in the morning or afternoon when the baby was sleeping. Evelyn
The best tip was from my mother-in-law, who advised against having the baby sleep in your
Have an afternoon nap while your baby
I used coffee, chocolate and sweets to stay awake. Very naughty, but I nursed Matilda in my bed at night as there was no time during the day to rest. Melissa
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A great family photographer can capture the best memories, not only of your loved ones, but of your time in Singapore. Capturing Memories
Founded by siblings Dan and Elaine, White Room Studio spec i a l i ses in portraiture photography for families and pets, as well as special occasions like your baby’s first-year cake-smash celebration.
The multi-award-winning boutique photography studio, which celebrates its 12th anniversary this year, is tucked inside a beautiful Peranakan shophouse along River Valley. The recently renovated studio has added a new wall fitted with Peranakan tiles, providing a charming nostalgic ambience for photoshoots. There’s also a lush red wall for a plush feel, an elegant European classic room, and a balcony looking onto greenery for nature lovers. The studio’s tall windows let in plenty of natural light, adding warmth and depth to your photos. White Room Studio’s photographers are friendly and professional with a wide range of experience. The team is dedicated to capturing one-of-a-kind shots for adults and children alike, and the studio is equipped with well-designed sets and props for a memorable photoshoot experience.
219 River Valley Road, Level 2 6235 7037 | 8769 6003 (WhatsApp) whiteroomstudio.com.sg
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WHAT THREE THINGS COULD YOU NOT LIVE WITHOUT AS A MOTHER?
The Science of Parenting book; Ergo baby carrier; Medela breast pump. Dee
Definitely my Medela freestyle breast pump! Plus my swaddle and my daily cup of tea. Evelyn
Sleep and coffee, of course. And play dates that kept me sane. Melissa
Coffee, friends and wine. Nicola
A caring, understanding and patient husband. Aso my Spectra S1 breast pump, and my baby schedule app, which I use to record her milk, sleep and dirty diapers. Grace
My kids, obviously… My double pram, husband, wet wipes and health insurance! Oops, that’s five! Lucy
My diaper bag, stroller and baby carrier. I also used a travel nursing pillow, which I took everywhere with me. To be honest, I could never really nurse comfortably w i t hou t on e , s o I researched and found a portable travel pillow! Nisha
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Safe &Sound For kid-safe and baby-friendly essentials, check out these two local brands!
Raph&Remy Whether you’re shopping for your new bub or searching for the perfect baby shower gift, you’ll find something from online store Raph&Remy’s beautiful range of baby clothes and newborn accessories. Owner and mum-of-two Tiffany Okumu designs the products from scratch, working with leading eco-friendly textile manufacturers in Asia and overseeing the entire manufacturing process to ensure quality is maintained. The products are OEKO-TEX certified, which means they’re tested to be free from over 100 chemicals known to be harmful to human health. Newly launched is the premium waterproof feeding bib ($35), available in gorgeous shades of pink, purple, mint and grey. The phthalate- and BPA-free bib has a wide fit to cover more area than most bibs, a built-in pocket to catch spills, and a clip closure for longer-lasting use. It’s also super light and flexible, so you can take it wherever you go!
Ollie This Singapore-based, woman-owned brand offers pure, natural and sustainable essential oils and oil-based natural products that are aesthetically pleasing – perfect for gifts!
A best-seller is the mosquito repellent ($11), which is safe for both adults and children to use. An effective blend of 10 essential oils including peppermint, citronella and lemongrass, this all-natural bug deterrent is free of deet, a harsh chemical commonly found in off-the-shelf repellents. The first ingredient in Ollie’s mosquito repellent is lemon eucalyptus oil, known for its cleansing and anti-insect properties. The brand also offers a popular hand sanitiser spray ($7), a gentle yet effective formula of tea tree, peppermint, aloe vera juice and 70 percent alcohol toward off germs and viruses. The combo of essential oils and plant extracts moisturises and cleanses the hands, while leaving a pleasant scent.
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Toy Time! It’s happy days when you find the right toys for your little ones – products that stimulate their growth and development while giving them a great time, too. For toys that are a step above their off-the-shelf counterparts, try this online store.
The Better Toy Store carefully selects award-winning toys based on four stringent factors: play value, design, quality and impact on environment. As toys are tools that help children learn about themselves and the world, the company believes in selecting top products that will withstand the test of time. To this end, the toys aim to teach and inspire with captivating colours and shapes, as well as creative design. Every item is chosen for durability and safety, and natural materials like wood and cotton are preferred. For baby toys, the textiles usedareOEKO- TEX certified, which means they’re free of potential toxins including heavy metals. Non-renewable and non-biodegradable plastic is avoided, too; sustainable wood is used instead. Packaging is kept to a minimum, and most of the stocked brands use recycled paper in their boxes. From teething toys for toddlers to crafts and games that aid in growing little minds, the online store’s premium toy selection will suit a wide range of ages. Definitely something for everyone!
email@example.com | thebettertoystore.com
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WHAT ARE THE BEST ANDWORST THINGS ABOUT BEING AN EXPAT MUM IN SINGAPORE?
The hands down best thing for me is our amazing helper, Imelda. She allows me to be the mother and business owner I want to be. On weekends and in the afternoon and evenings during the week I can dedicate 100 percent of my attention to my kids because I don’t have to worry about household chores. The second best part is the eternal summer. It makes getting out of the house so quick – a far cry from the five layers, gloves, hat and snowsuit we had to put on my firstborn who was born in the middle of winter in London! The worst thing is not being able to see family and old friends. Pre- COVID this wasn’t an issue for me, as Singapore was a travel hub so we had a lot of visitors and could fly home at the drop of a hat if we needed to. Lucy
The best thing is the affordable access to help. My amazing helper Ligaya has been with me for over 10 years and she is the heart of our family. The worst thing is missing family and friends at home – and that’s even more magnified with the pandemic. Nicola
One of the big attractions of Singapore is that life here is easy and friendly. Help is affordable, which means you get to have extra time for yourself. This allows us as mothers to progress our careers quicker than at home where childcare is not always feasible and where one parent has to put their career on hold to raise their little ones. I think the worst part is our children not growing up with all their cousins and creating those childhood memories, and generally missing our family – particularly in recent times with the travel restrictions. Melissa
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The best thing is having an extra pair of hands at home with support from my wonderful helper. The worst is being so far from home, which means the children are growing up without having grandparents around. Dee
There are so many great things about being a mum here! Singapore is hands down the best place for a working expat mother who’s looking to have a life, career and kids all at once. Our helper Vanessa has been my backbone and support system for the past five years. She’s been with us the entire time and is my right hand, helping memanage the house, the kids’ schedule, their meals and everything else. Another amazing thing here is the community! People are extremely friendly, and it’s super easy to make friends. Our condo is an amazing oasis for our family as we get access to pools, barbecue facilities, the playground and amazing weather all at our doorstep. The convenience is another plus. Everything is within a five-minute walk. We are very fortunate to live right by the river on Robertson Quay, so we’re able to easily get to restaurants, bars, shopping malls, supermarkets and anything you can imagine. In the US we would need to drive at least 30 minutes to get to a playdate or a pool. Honest ly, there’s not much to complain about Singapore. It’s a safe haven for kids and a brilliant place to raise young ones! Nisha
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If you’re looking for someone to share your parenting experiences with, or just a place for not old enough for preschool, here’s a roundup of some of the active play and support groups in Singapore. baby or toddler to play if they’re
#1 Stork’s Nest
#4 St George’s Mums and Tots
This Facebook support group offers help with everything from speech therapy and lactation to medical advice for your child. fb.com/groups/StorksNestSingapore #2 East Coast Mums’ Support Group A Facebook group for new mums on the East Coast to connect with each other and discuss issues around babies, businesses, products, services and more. fb.com/groups/EastCoastMumsSupportGroup #3 New Mothers Support Group The NewMothers Support Group is a voluntary circle for expectant mothers, new parents or parents new to Singapore with children up to age five. They have been supporting and advising for over 20 years. nmsg-singapore.com
For newborns to four-year-old toddlers that love indoor and outdoor play, head over to St George’s Church for some fun. fb.com/stgeorgesmumsandtots #5 The Singapore East Coast Baby and Toddler Playgroup For East Coast babies and toddlers, from newborns to age three, and their parents. meetup.com/The-Singapore-East- Coast-Baby-Toddler-Playgroup
Also, see our list of breastfeeding support groups on page 27.
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I’m a big fan of Grab because it’s easy, convenient and affordable! My eldest uses a RideSafer vest and my youngest the Cosco Scenera Next car seat. The Taxi Baby website (sg.taxibaby.com) has everything you need to know about getting about with the kids in taxis. We’ve also just purchased a car. It does make life easier but it certainly isn’t a necessity in Singapore. Lucy We used to drive in our first three years when we came to Singapore. We then gave up our car and now use taxis to go to most places! We find this a lot easier. Pre-COVID, I also used to walk to my workplace in the CBD each morning while listening to my favourite podcast – a nice way to start the day! Nisha WHAT ARE SOME TIPS FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORT OR TAXIS WITH CHILDREN? HOWDO YOU GET AROUND SINGAPORE?
If we’re bringing our baby pram along, we’ll usually travel by train. When we’re bringing our baby around in our baby carrier, bus or train works fine. Singapore’s public transport system (especially the MRT) is baby-friendly, so we do enjoy using it as it’s more economical. Evelyn
We use Grab a lot. I used to carry a Mifold with me but now my kids are old enough to take a taxi without a car seat. Nicola
I used to drive when the kids were younger. Then I ditched the car for public transport. I love Singapore buses. The kids and I try and nab the front seats at the top if we can. When lugging kids, prams and bags onto buses, my top tip is to keep all your bus cards or money in an easy-to-reach pocket. It’s a simple tip, but it saves tons of frantic stress trying to dig it out of the depths of your handbag. Dee
Our children love the bus and train. Taxis are also very affordable and convenient. We use the Mifold car seats for the twins and the RideSafer vest for our three-year- old as it’s easy to carry around. Melissa
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