How not to be a perfect parent. Feeding style.

I tried to fight it. For a long time, I tried to adhere to the “perfect parenting” ideal, where my child eats his meals like all perfect children do. He’ll have some snacks every once in a while. But not enough to ruin his meals, or to become a norm.

HOW WRONG WAS IT?

Firstly, J does NOT eat well. He’s fussy, only eats a few things (rice, noodles, steam eggs being amongst the few) and hates his veges. He doesn’t always sit well in his high chair, particularly if he’s cranky, tired, ill or when he knows there are people around who might carry him out. And last, but most importantly, he loves biscuits. He loves to snack. And who can blame him. We all love to snack. I sometimes substitute my meals for snacks. I am not a perfect parent and I definitely do not have the perfect child. What I’ve learnt in the last year or so, is to let go. Sometimes yes you need to be strict, but there needs to be flexibility. For everyone’s sanity. There are more important things (like keeping him, and yourself alive) to worry about.

So what is our routine now you ask? Well he has breakfast with me every morning before heading out to school and work. He normally gets a baby cereal mixed with fruit puree. I don’t make my own fruit puree anymore because he’s no longer a wee baby and I simply don’t have the time or energy sometimes.

NurturMe, Organic Yogurt Alternative, Purple Carrot + Banana + Berry, 4 Pouches, 3.5 oz (99 g) Each

This organic yogurt alternative from Nurturme is his currently obsession, and we normally just bulk buy these things off iherb.com.

He normally eats his breakfast with me, in front of the TV (although its not always on, and if it is, its normally to the Ellen Show, because I want to catch a bit of it before we leave the house). Occasionally, I’ll buy a muffin or a scone or some form of breakfast food the day before and try and get him to eat some. More often than not, I fail.

He eats lunch and tea in school, they have a nice rotating menu, packed their required veges and protein, and he would usually have half a bowl of lunch, followed by some fruit and bread/similar for tea. I would say he eats better at school than he does at home.

He comes home for dinner, and depending on where we go, either to my parents or my in-laws, he’ll normally have rice, with some form of protein (usually in egg form) and fruit in his highchair together with us.

The one good thing about J’s eating habits? He loves fruit. He LOVES most fruit. Mangos, bananas, peaches, dragon fruit, watermelon. You name it, he loves it. I’m hoping that makes up for his hatred of veges.

In between all this? He gets snacks. Again, we bulk buy snacks from iherb.com. And he demands for them. He knows where we hide them. he knows which are his favourites. He knows how to make enough noise till he gets what he wants. Its horrid, but after meals, I normally give in. Sometimes, a screaming baby is more than I can deal with. But you know what? I’ve realised that its okay. Its not going to kill him, or give him diabetes, or ruin his love for normal food (debatable at this moment though) or cause his teeth to fall all.

I’ve learnt that being perfect is way overrated, not to mention difficult. Keeping the kid alive, now thats an achievement.

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Tantrums.

Sometimes. He just has to cry.

Anyone with a toddler can tell you about tantrums. The terrible twos and everything that comes with. J has been going through that full force right now. He knows what he wants (and doesn’t want) at any given time, and is about to articulate himself well enough to be understood. The problem arises when either 1. We simply can’t understand him 2. We can’t / don’t want to give in to him. This can be exacerbated by fatigue, hunger and being ill.

Then all hell breaks loose. Kicking legs. Flying arms. Tears. Screams. The works. To the random outsider, it might look like he’s been tortured. Or the world is ending.

Well. Maybe to him, the world is ending. He can’t see past the immediate consequence of what he’s not able to get. Hence sometimes, much to the unease of grandparents, we just let him cry. 5 maybe 10 mins later, he’ll be better. He’ll forget the screams. Forget the anger. Back to his normal happy self.

But sometimes, sometimes I lose it at him too. When I’m tired. Or have had a bad day, I’m as prone to screaming at him as he is at screaming at me. Does that make me a terrible mother ? Maybe. Some might think so. I refuse to think about it that way anymore. Because I’m only human. I’m a human juggling work and a child and a household. I’m not perfect. But Jared doesn’t expect perfection. He knows when he’s been bad. He knows how to apologise. How to make me feel better when I’m not in a good mood.

Grandparents might say that we’re being bad for letting him cry. But if you can’t cry, even as a child, how do you expect him to learn how to regulate his emotions?

So the tl:dr of this is. It’s okay to let them cry. It’s okay for you to cry. Everyone will be fine.

18 Month Sleep Regression.

J has always been a really good sleeper. He’ll fall asleep at about 830 at night. Either in the car on the way home, or after milk in his room. He sleeps in his own room and wake up maybe once a night to fuss. And again at 0630 for milk. I used to just pat him back to sleep when he fussed. And bring him over to our bed for milk and more sleep. He’ll normally sleep till about 0930 if we don’t wake him up hahaha.

But recently, sleep has not been so fun. Putting him to sleep is usually still quite easy, with him falling asleep in the car. However. He has decided that he does not want to sleep past 1230 if both daddy and mommy are not with him in the same bed. He’ll get up. And scream. And scream and scream and scream till my husband comes by and picks him up (cos I refuse to carry him) and will refuse to settle unless we’re both lying with him. Since I don’t like him sleeping with us on our bed for too long (bad habit that I don’t want to establish) we lie with him in his room till he falls asleep. Which has resulted in me sleeping g with him till like 5am this morning.

I just need to know that this will end. And if there is any better way to do this. My sense is it’s an attachment thing. And the great big internet has assured me that this is normal. But how do we deal with it so much so that his good routine isn’t broken, and we all eventually go back to having enough sleep?

Portable car seats.

So. I travel probably 2-3 times a week alone in a grab (private home vehicle) with J who is now 17 months old. I don’t bring along a car seat. We never bought a travel system and clearly a car seat is too much for me to lug around when I’m alone with him. I’ll be carrying him, my work bag, and his school bag.

I’ve recently resorted to taking grabfamily (what was formerly uberfamily) 1-3 years old that comes equipped with an immi-go. It’s for kids aged between 1-3. It’s immensely useful because at least I’m more comfortable that he’s in some form of a restraint. However. The service costs $5 extra per trip. And that adds up. And more importantly, it’s crazy difficult to get a grabfamily car. What I’ve been told was that since Uber left the market, many drivers (including uberfamily drivers) quit. And grab isn’t actually rolling out more grabfamily cars. It’s a problem. The wait time is an average of 10 mins, with the occasional total lack of cars. This means I end up booking a cab, holding onto J and hoping nothing happens.

Guys. A baby carrier isn’t safe for car use. I know. It’s disappointing. I used to use one for all my grab trips with J. But really. It’s not good. Go Google it.

So. My question is, what am I supposed to do with a 18 month old who is too small for a ridesafer vest (which I will probably purchase when he’s bigger) and too big for even a Doona if I had considered getting on.

I spent 4 hours online yesterday googling and the only good answer I found was the Urban Kanga. Even then, it was 3Kg and folded up into probably another bag sized object. Objectively speaking, it isn’t exactly easy for a lone parent. Trust me I’ve seen the pitying looks I get already.

To add into the conundrum, we’re travelling a fair bit at the end of this year and beginning of next year. We already have plans for 3 trips. We were considering getting something for our carrides abroad. But any parent can tell you the amount of stuff we already have to lug along. Do we want to lug along another minimally 3kg car seat.

I understand that people say that safety is Paramount and I agree. I won’t even be talking about this if I didn’t think so. J has an amazing permanent car seat in our family car. And another in my parents for the odd trip in the grandparents car. But at what point does it become impratical ?

Does anyone have any magical suggestions that I might have overlooked ? I know websites like taxibaby.com recommend a backward facing Cosco Seneca. And while it might make a lot of sense for some people, without belabouring the point, it’s simply not practical for us. How now brown cow ?

How We Handle Two Careers and a Toddler

I have been a Full Time Working Mom (FTWM) since J was about 4 months old, immediately after my 4 month maternity leave. It was difficult initially because for 2 months I was working from home full time while watching Baby J by myself, or usually with my mom’s help in the afternoons. This was because the infant that we had registered Baby J for did not have an opening until he was about 6 months old.

For those unfamiliar with how Infant cares work in Singapore:

`Infants can be enrolled from 2 – 18 months;

`FTWM and Part time working moms are entitled to subsidies of either 600/300 SGD, with low income families getting more subsidies;

`School Fees can be paid with the Child Development Account;

`Demand for most Infant Cares seem to be super high. Make sure to register months in advance if not you might not get your desired one;

`Quality of infant cares differ as does cost. I’ve heard it range anywhere from 1000 – 2200 SGD before subsidy.

What I’ve learnt about Infant care centres, after talking to other FTWM who send their kids in as well, is that standard of care and facilities can differ greatly. Make sure to check out the school before hand. And the Infant Care Teachers usually encourage parents to stay at least for some time on the first few days till the babies become more used to the unfamiliar environment.

I think we were very lucky to find an Infant Care Centre very near my work (less than 5 mins walk) that we felt suitable and with a manageable wait list. For the first 2 months or so, we would leave Baby J in for the afternoon half of the day while either H or I worked from home in the morning. Once he became more used to the place, we placed him in full time.

While it is definitely difficult to place your baby in someone elses care for the best part of the day, I think we were very assured by the teachers in J’s Infant Care Centre because they seemed to genuinely like what they do, and the children under their care. Also the facility while not big is well cartered to the needs of the little ones.

Another important lesson is that while it is important to communicate with the teachers and clearly indicate if you prefer things to be done in a certain (and they will try their best to cater to each child), the teachers are not infallible. They look after close to 3 or 4 babies per adult. Just imagine the crying and mess sometimes. They will make mistakes. It is inevitable, just like you and I. Its about learning, communicating and accepting when mistakes happen and move on. For example, Baby J was bitten not once but twice in school. While it is not the teachers fault for this, I do wish they were paying closer attention and stopped it from happening the second time. At the same time I acknowledge that babies bite, its just what they do, and sometimes it happens without you being able to stop it. Its not totally the teacher’s fault. Let go and move on.

Also. They are going to fall sick. 12 babies in close proximity, what did you think was going to happen. He’s suffered everything from a mild cough/flu to HFMD. Its no ones fault, and its going to happen. Just think of it as immunity building.

I hope that people especially the older generation will become more accepting of Infant Care in general. I’ve encountered many a case where people would ask “huh, so young so poor thing.” They question the decision and recommend either a helper (which comes with its own set of challenges) or grandparents, or a combination, which was what my MIL initially wanted.

As parents, we made the ultimate decision that and Infant Care near my office would be the best option for us as a family, and our families will just have to learn to accept it, esp my MIL. I think in time she has, particularly because he clearly enjoys school. He’s happy, loves to dance and sing (because they do all these things in school) and is fairly independent.

At the end of the day there is no one size fits all for parents. Each situation is different and I just wish people will accept that before judging.

Its been a while.

Hi. So baby J is now almost 16 months old. A true blue toddler. Toddling around. He can walk, correction, he can run. He’s been on the move since about 11 months. And nothing in the house has been safe since. He can babble and enjoys babbling. Has learnt to how to demand things. Throw tantrums. All things standard for a toddler I guess.

How has life been? Hectic. Between family tragedies and a growing toddler, its been tough. On the bright side we took another holiday to Hong Kong recently. It was quite chill. We really just travel around Baby J’s schedule. We eat breakfast once he’s up, get back before he needs to sleep at nights.

It was an interesting experience travelling with a toddler. He basically doesn’t want to sit still and will only do so on planes and cars only when he has entertainment ie a video playing. And while I usually don’t approve of him watching too much. It was really the only way to keep him entertained (and quiet). It was quite an adjustment for him coming back when he couldn’t demand for the phone or the ipad whenever he wished. But its been about a month and I think he’s finally adjusted again. He likes books and will randomly go choose books from his stash to be read. Loves music and will dance along to anything being played.

We’ve also been through several bouts of teething. I’ve come to recognise the signs. The incessant drooling. Sticking his fingers in his mouth. Waking up and screaming in the middle of the night. I’ve found that there really isn’t much that can be done about it aside from riding it out. He doesn’t take to teethers. Does use a paci but doesn’t like it if his gums hurt. So, we grin, cry, scream and everything in between till it’s over.

This was really just a quick update for myself really. Just to be reminded of the milestones Baby J is flying past.

The dreaded HFMD.

So. Baby J got suspected Hand Foot Mouth disease. Why suspected ? He has what the doctor said was herpangina. Which is a strain of the coronovirus which leads to HFMD. But he only has ulcers in his mouth. None on his hands and feets. Which means it is not full blown HFMD. The doctor also said that once his fever breaks, the blisters on his hands and feet will either come out. Or no. If it doesn’t, it means that his body fought of the virus, and it didn’t become full blown HFMD. In baby J’s case, it has been 4 days or so, and there still aren’t any blisters. And his fever has broken. So, I THINK we should be safe. Fingers crossed.

So how did this happen? Well, last week he had a classmate who was sent home from school for HFMD. with little kids who basically all eat their toys. You know that this is going to spread like crazy. Which it did. I think the final count for his infant care class was 7 students who got it. Which is about half his class. I know many people blame the infant care and go on and on about how they are so young etc etc. But honestly, he could have got it anywhere. And at any age. I still feel that the teachers reacted very well, they sent patient zero back and quarantined him the moment they saw ulcers in his mouth. But the incubation period for HFMD is like 3-5 days. Which means that it could have already spread by the time they caught it. I did notice that they sanitised all the toys and the play area.

Anyways. So he got a mild fever on Saturday. Was very cranky and needy. So we immediately started paracetamol and ibruprofen to keep the fever down. Honestly, the fever was very mild. No higher than 38 degrees. But he was very lethargic and needy. It all came to pass on Sunday. He refused all food. Milk. Water. Solids. Everything. I was beginning to worry that it was HFMD, but there was nothing on his hands and feet. However, when I finally got a chance to open his mouth (when he was sleeping because he really didn’t want anyone touching his mouth) you could immediately see A LOT of ulcers. So we brought him to see our family doctor (they are great. If you’re staying in the East and need a good, not too pricey doctors who run night clinics!, Drop me a comment) who confirmed our suspicions. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about it except treat the fever and painrelief. So more paracetamol and ibruprofen.

Baby J was in so much pain. He refused to open his mouth. Refused every food/drink (and we tried everything. Ice cream, cold drinks, anything he could possibly want but normally not get). It is a challenge getting him to take his medicine. Honestly, it’s been like 5 days and he still is refusing milk. But I think we might finally be on the mend because he is at least eating biscuits and other nonsense. He’s also voluntarily drinking water. We were forcing him to have some hydralite the past 2 days just to make sure he didn’t get too dehydrated.

It has all been a big challenge. Honestly, it’s something I hope never happens again. But the thing is, kids fall sick, and it’s not all bad. But baby J is just a terrible patient (according to my mom, just like me, so. Karma). It’s been 3 days off work. But it has been so tiring, getting almost no sleep the first few days. But we’re getting better. We’ll be fine. So to anyone who might be suffering the same thing. Or suspect something, it’ll get worse before it gets better. But it will get better.

Portable car seats?

So. I’m having a problem. I sometimes bring baby J on private hire cars if I have to bring him into infant care by myself. Or if I sometimes have to bring him home myself. I can’t really take public transport because there isn’t any near my place and it isn’t convenient.

Unlike taxis, by law, any child below 1.35m have to be in car seats, this includes in private hire cars. I like using private hire cars because they tend to be cheaper and easier to book. Generally will cost me about 20-30% savings. And honestly I don’t think taxis are any safer without a car seat.

We do not have a capsule car seat for baby J. And honestly. It’s too heavy for me to carry around and install on my own and with baby J. Anyway he’s getting a bit big for it.

Problem is, he’s also too small for traditional portable boosters like the mifold.

The only option I can find only now seems to be the urban kanga. Which is a portable car seat. About 3kg extra to lug around. But the thought of having to carry this. And the baby. And all our stuff around on my own is quite scary.

Any ideas?

Separation Anxiety.

We’re now parents of a lovely, cheeky, naughty, whiny, annoying almost 13 months old.

And what are we experience recently? Crazy separation anxiety coupled with extremely neediness. To me. It’s insane. He refuses to go to sleep if it isn’t me. Refuses to eat if I’m not right there. Constantly needs to be near me.

Fathers out there who might be experiencing the same kind of rejection/feeling of being left out. Don’t worry. You’re not really missing out. And I mean. They are supposed to grow out of it right? RIGHT!??!?!

Having 10mins alone in the toilet has never felt so amazing.

The strange yet awesome thing is that he doesnt actually get much anxiety when we drop him off at daycare. I attribute it to him actually being quite happy there and that it’s a familiar routine for him now. Thank goodness. It makes going to work so much easier.

Okay sorry for a super random post. My brain is a bit jumbled from work and stuff.

Okay bye.

Experiences of traveling in the snow. Part 1.

So. We brought our handy dandy travel stroller (the Joie Pact Lite which is a cabin sized stroller) along with us to Japan. Thinking it’ll be a great way to show baby J the world without breaking my back.

Well. Thankfully we had brought along our carrier as well. Because strollers do not mix with snow/slush and icy conditions. Basically. Living in sunny (or rainy) Singapore, we have no experience with pushing strollers in cold weather.

But now I know. It’s pretty damn impossible to push a stroller through slush. We ended up using the stroller once. In Sapporo city itself where much of the walking was below ground. And pretty much didn’t use it again. We relying almost entirely on the carrier.

Moral of the story. Find out more about the weather conditions before decoded how to move around with a baby.