Dear Josh at 8 months

Dear Joshie,

I blinked and you’re now a roaring 8-month-old.

A couple of months back, I thought you were the quiet one, the thinker, the contemplative one. You were content to sit (in the rocker) for brief periods by yourself and play with whatever colourful, noisy or movable object you can get your hands on.

Today, you’ve suddenly found good use for your voice. When you’re on the high chair, you yell and make such a racket if I so much as pause for a moment in between feeding you. I started off with baby-led weaning, and you’ve had fun learning to feed yourself carrots, sweet potato, blueberries and steamed apples. But we’ve broadened your food repetoire, and now I also make porridge for you, and that means spoon-feeding. You find that slow and boring because you don’t get to grab food with your itchy fingers, and you don’t hesitate to show your impatience.

When you’re in the pram and you start to feel a little lonely / bored / just wanna disturb mummy, you turn in your seat and try to climb up the pram to reach me. Of course, you can’t really get out since you’re belted down, but you can get yourself in a precarious position, and I usually have to pick you up for a bit.

Okay, granted the world looks more interesting when you’re in my arms…But I also have to get errands done you know. Thankfully, I’ve found some secret weapons in the form of food. Yup, blueberries, the occasional bread – once I pop something into your mouth, you are happy to munch on whatever it is, and keep still (and seated) long enough for me to finish doing my thing.

You’ve recently started to crawl and cruise. This means that wherever you go, you leave behind a path of destruction. Big brother’s puzzles are torn apart and chomped on. Big sister’s lego creations has had to be moved to a safer “home” so that it’s out of reach. The “baby” toys keep you busy for a while but then you seem to tire of them and want to get your hands on the more exciting untouchable items. I can’t keep track of the number of times I’ve had to use my fingers to dig out all manner of paper and other unmentionables from your little mouth!

Your favourite game is peek-a-boo. Whenever big sister jumps out and scares you, you reward her with lots of chuckles. You also enjoy prying the rubber bumpers off the cabinet that sits beside our bed, and I think part of the fun is that you always get a reaction from me. You must find this game funny, since I keep sticking them back, and you keep pulling them off.

You mean I shouldn't be eating veggies?

Of course, you always welcome the company of your noisy siblings. You greet them with a look of curiosity and wonder, and turn your head excitedly when you head them coming. I can almost see you running along with them and wanting to do all the cheeky /fun /mischievous acts that they get up to.

These days, when you’re excited, you start waving your little butt up and down, like you’re doing a jig. Cuteness overload.

I’ve always secretly wondered why you’re different from your brother and sister (you’re generally quieter and don’t tend to cry except for when you’re hungry or when you need attention or help), and why God finally decided to give us a kid who’s more like mummy. But I guess no matter how you turn out to be, boisterous or contemplative, whacky or serious, thunderous guffaws or dry wit sort, it won’t take away from the fact that you’ll always be my little boy.

May you always have that sweet, peaceable disposition. May you always reserve your special, happy, gummy smile for mummy.

Ahh…Joshie boy, you’re such a joy to behold.

10 ways to play with your baby!

Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood, for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul. – Friedrich Froebel

No child is ever too young to play. All kids were born with an innate ability to play. Play is intrinsically motivated, and is something that comes naturally and doesn’t require any teaching (or nagging, thank God).

Adults on the other hand often forget to play, due to our everyday responsibilities, stress levels, and lack of time.

But it’s important to play and interact with your young baby, as it’s one of the key ways to promote bonding and help the child feel loved and secure.

It also encourages cognitive development and language capabilities. Stanley Greenspan, author of Building Healthy Minds, wrote this:

“Your joyful interactions with your baby may spur brain growth in those areas that involve emotional expression and signaling, which in turn facilitates her ability to fall in love and build an increasingly complex relationship with you. Over time, your loving, nurturing relationship will foster your child’s verbal abilities and problem-solving and reasoning skills, and the development of parts of the brain that support language.”

Here are 10 simple ways you can play with your baby that makes use of all her different senses. And by the way, they cost absolutely free because the main toy is Y-O-U! (Haha, plus whatever odd tools you can find around the house.) These are good to go for babies from as young as three to four weeks old.

a quote about children's play

1) Copy-coo
As your baby coos and babbles, repeat what she voices back to her. Watch and see how she reacts. Stick your tongue out, and see if she copies you. Babies are known to be naturals at mimicking expressions and certain sounds. Reverse the roles. Watch and observe baby when he’s ready for play. Then copy his cooing or babbling sounds.

2) Beat the drums
Sing a drum-beat “bum bum bum-bum-badum” and clap your baby’s hands or feet along to the rhythm. Or better yet, grab a saucepan and a wooden spoon, and get into the groove.

3) Peek-a-boo
This must be a perennial favourite among parents with little kids. Try variations such as hiding baby’s favourite toy behind a cushion, and then bringing it out again. (We often do this with his Babybuds plush buddy zebra made from organic cotton and free from harmful chemicals.)

One of his favourites - soft organic toy horse

4) Faces
Make different faces at baby, such as opening your eyes wide in surprise and making a gasping sound, or rounding your mouth and making an “ooh” sound. Watch how she reacts.

5) Where is the sound coming from?
Take a baby rattle and shake it at the left side of baby’s face. Wait till baby turns his head towards the sound, then say “Ahh, you found me!” Shift the rattle to a different position, and try again.

6) What’s that smell?
Grab an orange or lemon from the fridge, cut a small piece and wave it before your baby’s nose. See if she opens her eyes wide in surprise and wonder. Try a different fruit or herb the next day.

7) Touch and feel
Collate different textures for your baby, such as cotton wool, paper, a feather, and so on, and take turns to place these on her face or arm. Use words to describe the texture like, “Oh, isn’t this soft?”

8) Nursery rhymes
There are many nursery rhymes out there that are great for finger or body-play.

This Little Piggy – Play or wriggle her little toes as you recite this.

One, Two, Three, Four, Five. Once I Caught a Fish Alive 
- Tap on her fingers as you recite this rhyme.

Itsy Bitsy Spider
 – Pretend your fingers are the spider’s legs. Go up and down her body according to the lyrics. Great for tickly moments too.

Wheels On The Bus – Use her hands to make circular motions similar to the wheels on the bus.

9) Mirror mirror on the wall
When baby is able to hold his head relatively well (around three months), you can try this. Make sure that he is well supported against your chest. Stand close enough in front of the mirror so that baby can see himself and you. Recite: “Mirror mirror on the wall. Who’s the cutest of them all?” Then, using baby’s hand to tap on his reflection in the mirror, say, “I am!”

10) Human swing
Cradle baby securely in your arms and pretend you are a swing. Then say, “Ready, get set, off we go! Swing up and down, up and down. Round and round and round and round. Whee!”

What’s your favourite way to play with your baby? 🙂

This post was first published in Singapore Motherhood blog.

The little swimmer boy

swim baby swim

So I brought little Josh out for his first dip in the pool.

A-splish and a-splash.

He was curious and calm, kicking a little here and there.

I couldn’t stop laughing because he was almost bursting out of his baby warmer suit meant for 3-6 months (at 3.5 months).

I also thought he looked quite a bit like Superman.

(Okay, more like Superbaby.)

I plan to do this with him every week or so, so hopefully he’ll be well-acquainted with the water and not afraid to try new things. I’ve also been splashing water on him every time I bathe him, and at his first dip, I dipped him under water (up until his nose) after giving him a cue: “Ready, set, go.” I was surprised to see that he automatically blew bubbles out when his mouth touched the water. Now, don’t get too worried…I don’t think I will be teaching him how to swim all by myself but I did google and find some cool videos on babies learning water survival skills. (And now I know what rubber duckies are really used for.)

On a side note, big sister has also started swim lessons. Her coach is quite cool, and the lessons are focused on getting her comfortable in the water and equipped with survival skills. And hopefully she’ll be swimming like a little mermaid soon. 😉

Linking up with Sakura Haruka and My Little Drummer Boys.

Joshua @ two months

Joshua has been growing well, and has started to interact more with us since when he was about 6 weeks old.

Every morning, and sometimes after his feeds, he will flash me a gummy grin, signalling to me he’s ready to play and “chit-chat.” This is when I’ll drop everything, and just gaze and coo at him, and wait for him to make his signature “ahh-grrr” sounds and/or grin in return.

When I change his diaper, he’d sometimes coo as he admires big sister’s works of art. It’s a cute sight and I try not to disturb him when he’s at it, just allowing him time to babble to the pictures. Curious, this little boy is.

big sister's artworks

He enjoys company, especially that of his siblings. Whenever they fawn over him or make a ruckus nearby, you can see his eyes widen and legs kick in excitement. (Of course, if he’s trying to sleep and they’re making noise like there’s no tomorrow, he will wail in anger.)

He naps in his rocker most of the time, as he likes the rocking motion and the cool breeze that usually passes through the living room. Since we hope that he’d get used to sleeping amidst noise, we think this is a good arrangement for now.

Though he loves his sleep, when it comes to those witching hours between 7-9pm, he still needs some help. Even breastfeeding won’t keep him down all of the time, and of late I’ve had to resort to the ergo to knock him out.

He sleeps like a starfish, hands and legs strewn wide open. To help him stay asleep, I usually wrap a diaper cloth around his legs (almost like a half swaddle) so he doesn’t wake up due to his startle reflex. Recently, I’ve started to sleep him on his tummy, making sure his head is turned to the side. He seems to sleep better this way, so I’ll continue to try this.

sleeping on the tummy

He enjoys going out in his pram, for walks in the park or for a trip to the mall.

Josh says Hi!

Being the third child, we’ve had to be a lot more flexible with his routine and timings. Generally he’s down for night-time sleep by 8.30pm, which works well for us as we can spend time with the older two before their bedtime.

He’s overall quite calm and contented as long as he gets his feeds and sleep. I’m grateful for this as it makes caring for him so much more enjoyable and stress-free.

Sometimes I worry if he’ll learn to sleep on his own (since I have been using the ergo on him once a night on most nights). But I guess we’ll take it as it comes. I think the biggest change in myself since number three came into the picture is that I’ve learnt not to sweat the small stuff. I’m a lot more relaxed now, and am able to let go of things like timings and schedules. (I confess, I used to be nazi when it came to such things…But I’ve mellowed.)

Our days with Josh have thus far been marked by grace, joy and peace. And I choose to be grateful today with what we have / how far we’ve come.

What are you thankful for this week?

 

Tools for surviving the painful first weeks of breastfeeding

The first few days of breastfeeding are usually the most nerve-wrecking. It’s when we experience anxiety (When is the milk coming? Is baby getting enough?), pain and soreness (from all the latching and trying to get a good latch), engorgement issues (when the milk finally kicks in), and also tiredness (after the laborious task of giving birth).

Thankfully, Joshie and I have gotten past that phase and are now pretty much in auto-pilot mode. For the first two days in hospital, I just focused on latching him well, rousing him to be awake enough to feed properly, and drinking as much fluid and soups as I could get into my body. This being number 3, I find that it gets easier with each time…a bit like the body already knows how to do its thing. 😉

Here are my favourite tools to help get through the initial weeks of breastfeeding.

Medela breast shields – I’ve used this since Vera days. It not only helps to save milk from those sudden letdowns that occur in the first few months when your breasts are full. You can wear them when your nipples are sore as they allow your nipples to breathe, which helps to alleviate soreness.

Medela purelan – I’ve always used this sticky gel substance to help me get through the painful (sore) first week of breastfeeding. It helps to lock in moisture and soothe nipples and the small tube is sufficient because once you get through to the second or third week you’re fine.

This time round, I also started using Mustela’s nursing comfort balm and I find it soothing too, with a cooling sensation upon application and a nice fruity scent.

Cold cabbage – This is the best remedy for engorgement which generally happens when milk kicks in on the third or fourth day. Once you feel the hardening don’t wait, grab some chilled white cabbage, pluck the largest leaves and wrap it on yourself. (Most hospitals keep cabbage in stock for new mums who experience engorgement during their hospital stay.) “Wear” them for two hours or until no longer cool to touch, and change new leaves. Do this until you feel your breasts soften.

Fennel tea – this non-caffeinated herbal tea is said to stimulate milk supply. Since I can’t drink milk (baby is lactose intolerant) I’ve given up my usual teh-si and am taking to the taste of fennel quite well. You can get this at most Cold Storage supermarkets in Singapore.

Papaya fish soup – supposed to stimulate milk supply as well.

Tips:

  • After every feed in the first week, squeeze some milk and dab gently on nipples. This acts like a natural balm as well.
  • You’ll usually experience soreness on one side first. So when it gets too sore to bear, let that side rest and have baby feed more /longer on the other side. But remember to still feed normally on that side once you can, as you don’t want to let it rest for too long. If you really can’t feed from one side, you can tandem pump from that side while feeding baby on the other. This helps to save time and still stimulate supply from the sore breast.
  • To help ease soreness, you can try changing positions for instance from cradle hold to football or side-sleeping position. This is because different positions provide different points of pressure from your baby’s suckle.
  • If it’s too painful, try pumping instead of latching directly for a couple of feeds. Then feed the milk to baby using a small deep spoon.
  • If you’re not pumping much milk (especially if it’s your first few tries and your body is not used to the pump), try to be in a relaxed position and think loving thoughts about baby. This helps to stimulate letdown. You can also hold a hot water bottle to your chest. Always remember to massage well as this helps to get the milk flowing and preventing blockage.

What other tools / tips have worked for you? Please share it here!

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