Category Archives: milestones

I did what I knew, and when I knew better, I did better

June was an exercise in child-led learning. Forget about class or mommy’s “lesson plans,” our theme was on B’s all time favourite things…

Theme:
(1) Things that go:  It started out with us reading Brian Biggs’ excellently illustrated vehicle series, esp.  Everything Goes: In The Air for days up till (and after) B’s first flight to Phuket.  Shortly after, his Chengzhu holiday program took the Playclub tots on the Duck Tour bus AND boat.  Then we ended up flying again (aka the unplanned haze-cation) to Penang. For a boy already crazy about wheels and diggers, it only seemed natural that this ended up as our special monthly theme

(2) Shapes: Learning shapes is fun and easier as B recognises his rainbow colours (he calls indigo “dark bool” 😉 Besides the hand-me-down shape sorters, blocks and a timely Gymnademics home package set, we reinforced shapes through bean bag games, geometric foam pictures and playdough

Routine:
We used lots of puzzles this month given B’s growing interest (and affinity) for this. Besides the wooden peg puzzles, we took out slightly harder board and magnetised ones.  It takes him some time to get the alignment right even if he knows where it should go. But he takes them out from the boxes himself to work at it almost every day.  For a boy that can’t stay at a task too long, this is quite a feat! We also used more representative learning to support what B would see in real life, i.e. block building a “duck bus/boat”, drawing the jet pilots and helicopters flying by for National Day rehearsal, browsing through books, transportation art and flashcards with photos and/or illustrated print, role playing with toys and sound effects, etc. We even tried threading with his Good Night construction site set. Speaking of which, B can thread in and occasionally flips it over to thread out but doesn’t quite know? have patience? to keep threading the next sequence.

Art and Craft:  So many this month given the special occasions, but no time to complete a big special project (that one’s already WIP for next month). Our faves were:

(1) Fathers’ Day card (done at one of our home playdates)
B made 3 this year, 1 for dad, 1 for each grandpa!

(2) Garden montage to reinforce shapes and colours

Using ziplocked paint, bubble wrap prints and cut-out shapes

(3) B’s first personalised photobook. To make reading (pages, prints, photos) more personal and fun, and also as an alternative to flicking through photos and videos on my smartphone. He seems to enjoy flipping through it and it grounds him esp. when we are away from home and as we have more periods of separation. Worth continuing and building on…

Includes pictures and a few sentences about our home, family, friends, places we frequent like parks, library and outings.

Outings:  June was children’s season and school holidays.  So… You guessed it!  We went back to the Singapore Art Museum (awesome Enchanted Garden kids exhibit) and Gardens By The Bay (Flight of Fancy’s hot air balloons). We also visited the Philatelic Museum to see geek!mom’s Star Wars exhibit.  With the Singapore Duck Tour, Phuket and Penang trips, B is slowly touring his way through Southeast Asia 😉

Personal:
– Mealtimes are back to normal, even better in fact since our Penang trip.  B feeds himself, has a robust appetite, is keen to try new things, and most importantly, happily eats fruits and veggies again! At his 18.5 month check in/jab, B weighed 12.5 kg.  He couldn’t stand still to measure the height, but based on his ex-pants shorts and pajamas, he’s definitely over 86 cm!

– Sleeps well overnight (~11 hours straight) but his naps have gotten shorter (~1 hour average) even on days when he’s so tired and nodding off by 1130a!  He tends to wake up crying from his nap yet will only sleep longer if we rock and hold him.  Another regression? Separation anxiety again?  Just roll with it?
– Resumed potty training which I started / stopped earlier this year.  This time, we are going the distance  i.e. no diapers while at home and playdates.  Also bought another, lighter single piece “portette”
– At times, he shows a little stubborn and willful streak so I’ve been more firm with discipline, insisting he continues with the basic home “routine” (incl. helping out, cleaning up), and not giving in to his temper tantrums. So far, nothing unmanageable (yet! yet!)
– Steady progress language and cognition wise. He’s started to fill in missing words from familiar stories and songs, repeat new words that he’s able (willing?) to vocalise and put 2 simple words together like “eat/no more”, “back door.”  Oh, and he’s asking “WHY?” 😉 It helps that I’m reading more specific books with big fonts, few words like the Dr Seuss and Margaret Wise Brown classics, in addition to our usual dialogic, fun but variable stories. Besides English, he seems to find Malay/Bahasa easier to pick up but that could be b/c I’ve been quite negligent with Chinese since our holiday break! Of course, if I were honest, for a verbal mom like me who talks, sings and reads to him constantly, I do wish at times that he could say more earlier! But he’s developing at his own pace and all is well
– We STILL haven’t committed to 2014 nursery for B next year …. yet even with my sporadic homeschooling efforts, I think we’re doing ok!

Same same but different?

Time to reflect on what we’ve tried, what’s worked, what’s not – one month into our revised schedule. Basically, our weekday “homeschool” time has become a bit more intentional.  It’s been mostly fun, often stretching both our discipline and creativity, but I trust there’s positive returns from all this!

Weekdays:  “Homeschool” with mom, plus Chinese, music, swim, playdates
Saturday:  Daddy bonding @ Gymnademics, family time
Sunday: Sunday School @ Sunbeam, family time
As/when: Outings at Macritchie Reservoir, Botanic Gardens, theatres, museums, etc

Routine: Besides the usual bilingual words, math and puzzles, I added right brain activity books and printed worksheets this month.  IMO, these are still quite hard for his age, but I’m trying to introduce matching and memorising as a game and build his competence in tracing and controlled colouring.

Themes and special project(s) were around:
(1) Food – new.  Building on B’s fascination with our kitchen and groceries (he enjoys role playing cooking!) supplemented by Gymnademics home material
(2) Colours – reinforce. B correctly identifies primary colours, though he can’t say them all clearly yet.  Colours also translate into teaching other stuff like shapes, numbers, music et al.

Books: Courage of The Blue Boy by Robert Neubecker; and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (great excuse to dig B’s torn and tattered copy out!)

Learning thru play: Rather than buy new toys, we made colour sorters and counters using recycled caps and straws. He likes this though finishing them all in one go is the toughest task 😉 He enjoys it even more when we mix it up i.e. figuring out how smaller straws fit into the bigger ones, grouping the same colours, counting with sound effects as he puts them in…

Music:  Inspired by Schoenhut pianos, I added coloured stickers to  help draw attention to the actual keys on the electronic keyboard, as he would be drawn to the buttons and lights more (downside of not having just a piano). He’s learning to play specific notes based on colour prompts and maybe one day soon, I’ll colour code simple songs to help him play by sight!

Art and craft:  We do this almost every day (crayons, markers, stamps, pens, playdough, paint on paper/easel/canvas/etc).  But once in a while when mommy is motivated, we collaborate on something bigger. This month we made a food pyramid using pictures relating to the new words in his vocab, coloured different segments per food group, added dots to indicate number of servings, etc.  When we were done he said “Yum!” A few days later, while eating his pumpkin/carrot risotto, he even pointed to the pumpkin and said “dot dot dot dot” (i.e. there are 4 dots associated with the “green” segment).

Outing: Culture heaven for B!  We attended FOUR delightful toddler events @ Singapore Art MuseumEsplanade PLAYtimeCircus Minimus and the Gymnademics Big Day Out.

Character: B is unofficially in his terrible twos, and it’s time to actively focus on character building.  As his personality and preferences emerge, we need to also model and enforce the right behaviours.
– He now says more words each day (finally!). No surprise, a popular phrase is “no no no” even if he means “yes.”  How do we constructively encourage him otherwise?  Also should we consciously avoid using “NO!” in our own speech, esp. with him?
– His sleep has also regressed slightly. From consistent 11+ hours overnight and ~2 hours mid-day to occasionally waking up in the wee hours and/or crashing earlier for his nap. His 18-month brain must be on overdrive!  How can I be sensitive to this, adjusting and accommodating as needed?
– Mealtimes have also become more challenging.  Our eat-anything-yum boy could self feed with a fork and spoon at 16-17 months BUT now struggles to complete meals on his own and even rejects foods he used to like (e.g. tomatoes!).  How to keep trying though it’s frustrating, messy and sooo inefficient?

Faith: This past Sunday School gave us some food for thought. They taught that gentleness is touching others gently, moderating your strength, helping others, obeying your parents.  This is part of the series for 18-29 month olds based on Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”  Which brings me to the final lesson this month: No matter how much I plan, accomplish or wish I did more or less of, ultimately I need to lean on Him and trust that all will be well. God is the BOSS!  Not B.  Definitely not me.

The only constant in life is change

We made plans to drop B off at half-day childcare sometime this year, thus freeing my mornings for personal and work time while pregnant. Since the start of the year though, too much has changed and the original Plan C didn’t make sense as I now work flexi time but am no longer pregnant 😦

Also, the childcare center we had registered B in – when I was still working full time – was going through many changes too. After visiting again to refresh my memory of the place and meet the new staff, I had more doubts and was feeling so uneasy 😦 I knew it wasn’t just a normal mom-thing about to leave your kid for the first time, so I read Elizabeth Pantley’s No-Cry Solution for Separation Anxiety, spoke to others in similar situations, even checked out and trialed a few other options.

I soon realised two things after the miscarriage: I desire to treasure B’s remaining toddler-hood (18 months now) and I want to be more intentional with our days together. So I’m tweaking Plan C to do “more with less” i.e. to better integrate what he learns externally in (Chinese, music and gym) with our own homeschool plan, weekly playdates and outings.  All this should keep us engaged through year end!

Kindermusik: Feathers … and a busy B

Vocal play was the “call” of most of this term’s Kindermusik lessons. Nice timing as B is also acquiring language – a gradual development process that includes listening, facial interaction, symbolic play, means-to-an-end behaviour, object permanence, imitation and vocal chord development.  Vocal play engages the vocal muscles intensely and is great preparation for expressive speech.  Exploration with sound also increases spatial reasoning, which is the ability to understand how things relate in space and time, to visualise the world accurately, to form mental images of physical objects, and to recognise variations of objects.

We were encouraged to keep up vocal play by exaggerating the shape of the mouth, using animated facial expressions and eye contact via mirrors and/or positioning yourself within his view.  In addition, we should sing often and invite him to accompany on instruments.  Kids actually start singing early by babbling, repeated words and fragments, and finally adding rhythmic features and pitch components.  Singing is enjoyable AND beneficial in both cognitive development (abstract conceptual thinking, verbal abilities, originality) and motor development, esp. coordination. Besides sounds, we did some symbolic play too with feathers, toy birds and paper “leaves” to teach that one thing can represent another, starting with familiar items.  This correlates to language acquisition in that a word represents an object. The first stage of symbolic play usually manifests from 6-8 months and becomes more sophisticated as they grow with imaginary and role play.  This time there were new syncopated swing and jazz song-and-dances!  “Sing a Song of Sixpence” (dig that groovy intermission!), “Gee, But It’s Great to Meet a Friend” and “Once I Saw a Little Bird”, “Hop To It” and “Duck Dance” which explored the tribal calls of the muskogean people and combines vocal play with singing in a fun way.  😀

Home library:

  1. Feathers for lunch.  Lois Ehlert, Harcourt Brace and Jovanovich Co.
  2. Baby Steps. Claire Kopp, WH Freeman and CO.
  3. Singing Bee! A Collection of Favourite Children’s Songs.  Compiled by Jane Hart with pictures by Anita Lobel, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books.
  4. Trees, a poem. Harry Behn, illustrated by James Endicott, Henry Holt & Co.
  5. CD. Brahms at Bedtime:  A Sleepy Serenade.

On a side note, I renewed B for one last term at Chengzhu Playnest and Kindermusik Village to supplement mama’s morning “right brain class” (plus books, numbers, phonics, music and outdoor activities where possible). He also had his MMRV booster shot yesterday. Thankfully there’s only 2 more jabs till the next series at 10 years old. Pheew!  He’s now 11.3 kg, 81 cm at 15.5 months, understands lots of words, vocalises some, learning to self feed (patience and mess are a challenge for me!), naps ~2 hours once a day, sleeps from 830p to 730a with occasional waking (argh), and works on his gross and fine motor skills every chance he gets.  What a busy boy!

Secrets of the toddler whisperer

Tracy Hogg’s book was full of gentle yet sound parenting advice. I liked her approach, fun acronyms and practical examples on how to manage those tricky toddler years. She’s not an advocate of spanking – I’m not sure where I stand on this yet as it’s quite a change for those who were raised with Asian parents/homes.

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers
Secrets of the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers

Everyday H.E.L.P with tots:
Hold Back.  For the purposes of observation, which is not the same as being detached, rejecting or ignoring your toddler
Encourage to Explore.  Ensure there are many opportunities a day for exploration, including let him play quietly with another child, try to solve puzzles or stack blocks on his own.  Don’t constantly direct, monitor and instruct.
Live with Limits. Too much of anything is usually not good. Don’t give too many choices, allow too much stimulation or participation in non-age appropriate activities.  Don’t wait too long before reining in tantrums, aggressiveness or other high emotions.  Curtail activities that aren’t good in big doses e.g. sweets, TV.
Praise Appropriately. Praise to reinforce specific acts of cooperation, kindness or behaviour

Routines and Rituals (R&R) continue to be important, perhaps even more so at this age. It provides security, cuts down on struggles, helps tots deal with separation, supports all kinds of learning – physical, emotional control, social behaviour, avoids problems by helping parents set clear consistent boundaries, allows everyone to slow down and connect.  Tailor R&R to your family — starting with waking, eating, bathing, exits and entrances, clean up, nap and bedtimes.  Everytime you repeat and reinforce an act, you are doing R&R — for better or worse!

H.E.L.P also applies to potty training which should begin between 18 mos – 2 years.
Hold back until you see signs he’s ready. E.g. Some stop dead in their tracks, stand still, focus and suddenly move on.
Encourage him to connect bodily function with words and actions. Narrate what’s going on when you change the diaper, invest in a freestanding potty and his fave toy “go to the bathroom”
Limit his time on the potty. No more than 2-3 minutes
Praise widely when something is deposited!

4Ps aren’t limited to Marketing either 😉  They’re also critical to potty training success:
Potty – one that fits his size and pants/panties once they go on the potty at least 3x/ day
Patience – never rush the process or look disappointed when he doesn’t pee or poop or causes an accident. All kids progress at their own speed
Practice – as much as he can
Presence – sit with him and cheer him own

The rate of language development is determined by exposure to language and interaction with talkers (constant conversation, eye contact), gender (girls tend to talk earlier), other developmental gains taking precedence (esp. walking, manual/social growth, etc.), birth order (younger tends to talk later) and genetic disposition. Also setbacks may occur if there’s a sudden change in the home (new baby, mom goes back to work, relocation, etc.). A different sort of TLC also applies during these critical years: Talk, Listen, Clarify. Pay attention to non-verbal and verbal signals. Look him in the eye when you talk/listen. Talk in short, simple sentences. Ask simple, direct questions to allow him to express himself.  Play word games to foster interaction, practice and learning. Exercise restrain and patience.

Common speech milestones and red flags by age below.
8-12 mos: Can speak and associate mama and dada.  Respond to 1-step commands (“Please give the car to mama”).  Watch if: child doesn’t respond to her name, babble (long/short groups of sounds), doesn’t look when people talk to her, doesn’t point or makes sounds to get what he wants

12-18 mos: Says first words: simple nouns (“dog,” “baby”), names of special people, action words/phrases (“up,” “go”). May follow 1 or 2-step commands (“Go into your room and get the towel”). Watch if: child doesn’t say a word or two, even unclearly

18-24 mos: Says up to 10 different words, understands 30 or more. Speaks lots of gibberish 🙂 Watch if: Child can’t say more than a few words clearly, follow simple requests (“come here”) or respond to simple questions with a “yes” or “no”

2-3 years: Has a word for everything! Combines words into sentences to express thoughts and feelings. Extensive vocab even though grammar isn’t perfect. Can converse with adult. Watch if: Child uses fewer than 50 words and has no word combinations. Can’t understand opposities/different meanings (“up/down”) or follow 2-step commands. Doesn’t notice or overacts to environmental sounds, e.g. horn

Last but not least, it’s important to teach your tot self control. I thought Hogg’s approach here was a little wishful thinking so one possible application would be to first try Karp’s prehistoric parenting where parents speak (not act) like the little Neanderthal to get their attention and show empathy, and THEN try Hogg’s suggestion of conscious discipline and offering choices through statements and questions. Rather than resort to demands/threats which (admit it!) come immediately to our minds, do/say if he’s:
– Overstimulated and/or running inappropriately/too much.  Stop/restrain him, pick him up and remove from the activity if needed. “I see…. Let’s take a walk outside. You can’t keep running here. We’ll leave once you’ve put your socks/shoes on.”
– Throwing a tantrum in public for something he wants but can’t/shouldn’t have. Ignore it. “Wow, that’s impressive. But you still can’t have it.  Do you want to come over here by yourself or shall I get you?”
If that doesn’t work, remove him. “You can’t behave like this here.”
– Refuses to cooperate while dressing or diaper changing. Stop, wait a while/calm him down, try again. “When you’re ready, we’ll dress up. Shall we change your diaper now or after you finish this snack?”
– Shouts, lower your own voice. “Let’s use our quiet voice”
– Whines, look him in the eye and imitate a best (non-whiny) noise. “I can’t hear you unless you use your best voice”
– Kicks/hits when you pick him up, put him down immediately.  “Do not hit/kick. It hurts.”
– Grabs another toy from a kid. Stand up, go near and encourage him to give it back. “If you can’t let go of M’s toy, I can help you… M was playing with that. You should give it back to him. Thank you — what good cooperation. Now would you like to hold/play with this?”
– Throws food.  Take him down from the chair.  “We don’t throw food at the table.” If he doesn’t want to finish/wants to go out.  “When you’ve finished eating, then we can go to the playground.”
– Pulls another child’s hair/hits another child. Put your hand on his hand, stroke gently. Restrain him or take him outside if agitated.  “Be gentle. No pulling, no hitting. That hurts!” Worse case: Go home.

Are all babies water babies?

“How to teach your baby to swim” was the most informative Doman book I’ve read so far. It actually encouraged me to swim more with B. Some tips below – do read the book for more insight of course!
How To Teach Your Baby To Swim
Swimming helps to stimulate brain growth and development at a critical time in early childhood, especially when babies’ physical mobility is still limited.  Virtually all muscles are used when swimming, providing for an excellent aerobic workout!  Children who are competent and confident swimmers are also more likely to be participants, not just spectators in life.  As your baby swims more, his heart and lungs will develop, breath will be held longer, muscles and chest will grow, overall mobility, immune system, language and manual competence will improve. Swim as often as possible, ideally 3-5x a week, using some of these activities and goals as a guide.

For newborns (birth to 6 months):
Babies have been “swimming” in utero since birth. Once born, swimming provides an opportunity to move in an environment where he will be buoyant and baby fat advantageous. In these early months, the goal is to help baby to love being in water and learn to hold their breath in . Be consistent week to week, “swimming” daily in the warm bath tub. Activities include: Balancing and floating with baby’s chin on parent’s shoulder, floating on baby’s back, blowing bubbles, passing under a gentle shower (try till you can do this 10x nonstop, and then go underwater), gentle jumping into the bath with support of the side of the tub or parent’s thumbs/hands.  Before swimming: Ensure newborn is fed and rested, with hugs and kisses, cuddling throughout and at the end!

For 6-12 months:
Gradually transition to a pool or open water, preferably heated.  Note: Children can tolerate the cooler temps of an outdoor pool only at around 18-24 months. Extend the length of time baby goes underwater, holds his breath and keep up the newborn activities while adding new ones: Swimming from one parent to another, climbing out with assistance, bobbing up and down to breathe and submerge (at a “1-2-3-under” cue). Goal: For the child to be able to sit by the side of the pool, jump in, swim a few feet and resurface to breathe with limited assistance.

For 1-2 years:
Focus now on independent activities, e.g. climbing out of the pool, swimming the width of a pool (underwater-resurface to breathe-underwater), safely diving into the pool. Exposure your child to the beach (lake/seafront) and encourage him to eventually walk into the water and swim with you.  Activities: Bobbing up and down holding the side of the pool, swimming to and from the edge/steps to parent, floating on the back and flipping over to continue swimming, jumping and diving from a sitting, kneeling, then standing position to a parent, pushing off (from a ladder) and swimming to a parent, climbing out of the pool using steps and a ladder with a little boost as needed from parent.  Goal: Child to happily and easily jump into the pool, swim across ~6 yards/meters, and climb out independently. If in a natural body of water, the child to swim out a short distance, turn around, swim back and walk out onto the beach.

For 2-4 years:
Children in this age group are extremely active physically, in constant motion, and MUST be well fed before swimming.  Time to introduce goggles as they will start to pick up proper strokes. Activities: Flutter kicking as the child holds one side of the pool or as you hold the child on the side of your body, diving and streamlining to you from the side of the pool, diving from a standing position and streamlining, diving in the water to the bottom to retrieve an object. Goal: Streamlining, breathing and pulling with arms, swimming the length of the pool with a crawl stroke taught via:

  • A: Breathing and head turning while holding side of pool, rotate chin towards the shoulder and inhale, straighten the head as it enters the water and exhale
  • B: Same as A but with parent holding child in the middle of pool
  • C: Using arms for the crawl.  Hold child on parent’s side and progress to independent swimming

For 4-6 years:
Focus on helping the child swim easier, safer and faster, improving the quality of streamlining, endurance, the crawl stroke (outside the pool) and diving.  Goals: 4 years – 100 meters crawl, 5 years – 200 meters crawl, 6 years – 400 meters crawl. Once your child loves to swim and is doing well with the crawl, move on to other strokes/flip turns and continue to teach in a loving way!  Activities: Streamlining with independent breathing, further nonstop crawl strokes (inhale left and then right), diving in the sitting, kneeling and standing position. Introduce face down bench activities: Rotate chin to shoulder and inhale, straighten head and exhale, flutter kicking (knees over the end of the bench and movement from hips, not knees), rotate and pull with both arms (moving over and below the sides of the bench), combine pulling with arms, flutter kicking and breathing

Besides the frequent reassurance, include water play i.e. ways to make it fun for toddlers and up: Retrieve toys such as rings/brightly coloured objects, swim between parents’ legs, ride on your back like a dolphin, race/chase/”tag”, throw kid into “deep” water while standing, push off the bottom and rocket to the surface, see how far you can swim underwater, swim in deep water, play soccer/water polo/basketball with a floating net, go underwater and somersault forwards/backwards, stand on your hands on the bottom of the pool, try a “Marco Polo” (kid holds themselves in a tuck position – knees held tightly against chess, parent throws them into the air, they splash in water and swim back)

Remember: Overall success in physical excellence requires an ideal environment and maximum opportunity. So keep the structure of each swim session the same, with frequent and brief activities, and plenty of love, reassurance and laughter.

Month 10 Week 2: Little man cometh!

These past few weeks, B seems to become more and more like a little man 😀  


– Got his first haircut!  Quite stylish, and actually complements his big head that’s slightly flat on the back, hehe
– Drinks his own sippy cup, self feeds cookies/biscuits/fruits, eats slightly mashed foods (no more purees) 
– Verbal diarrhea and cognitive milestones!  Responds to cues by looking, pointing, signing and occasionally doing the right actions.  He can “show me the cars/wheels/balls/etc”, turn on the light switch, aircon and fan buttons, goes to and picks up books/bottle when he wants to read/drink, shakes his head, waves his hands, raises his arms…. Also coos, gurgles, babbles all the time!
– Stands upright, letting go briefly. Cruises more confidently, holds onto and pushes objects while on the go
– Loves music and movement so I’ve started him on Monday bounce & rhyme sessions in the park, including circle time in our Wednesday playdates and signed him up for Friday Kindermusik Village classes in early October (each term lasts 8 weeks)
– Going for his first Chinese immersion class at Julia Gabriel’s Chengzhu Mandarin holiday programme.  This should be quite an experience as my Chinese is terrible, and he’s mainly been exposed to English (and Malay/Bahasa) at home.  If he takes well to it, I may consider signing up for regular classes there
– Finally met his maternal uncle on a surprise visit from San Francisco (via Seoul) — hooray!  
– Got his Singapore passport (along with mommy!) in time for his first overseas trip this weekend.  Wish us luck!  I suspect we’ll have to bring more stuff for him than all of our own combined 😉

Month 6 Week 4: Halfway there

This time last year, we were chillaxing in Langkawi for our babymoon/anniversary and I was anticipating my new life with a baby. Not once though did I imagine I’d be a full time mom, let alone enjoy it, most of the time.  This year, we took a staycation at Sentosa – what a strange feeling to be babyfree for 24 hours!  We slept in, ate well and talked about our hopes and dreams for the future including the possibilities ahead of us now that both my parents have long term passes and I’ve received my in-principle Singapore citizenship, as well as when to start work and/or try for #2! 🙂   My dad and mom kindly babysat for us — and sent me regular SMS updates, heh.

B unfortunately caught his first bug which laid the entire household out sick for 2 weeks.  Just when he was sleeping through the night without too much hassle or training, it all went to shambles.  May need to tweak his daily routine to support later morning wake ups (he’s up 5/6a and ready to go, argh), him lasting longer in the afternoons and most importantly, learning to sleep on his own again.  At the moment, he still needs 3 naps in the day and sadly, rocking to drift to sleep, else, he’ll get quite cranky.  Besides this relapse, there’s much to be thankful for.  Feels like he’s growing by leaps and bounds every day:

– Proud owner of 2 bottom front teeth! 😀  Ironically, his first tooth came the day after his 6 month celeb
– Sitting steadily upright, rocking back and forth on his tummy, scoots backwards, moves in a circle with his legs and arms, basically can’t stay still. Crawling soon?
– Fascinated with his fingers, loves to touch, enjoys finger rhymes/games, being tickled esp on his feet and tummy.  Also continuing to learn basic baby sign language
– Loves swimming but our condo pool isn’t the best for infants. May sign him up for Aquaducks instead
– Goes to weekly playgroups now with similar aged infants from my condo complex and our local meet up groups. We take turns to host at our homes.  I’m looking forward to other parent and child activities for us too, including Reggio Emilia discovery at the Blue House.  Quite keen to expose him to this environment
– Saying consonant combo strings now:  babababa, googaa … still no mama though 😦
– Food purees tried so far: avocado, chicken, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, onions, potatoes, spinach, sweet beans, radish, apple, pear, blueberry, plum, mango, papaya, chickpeas, beetroot (not such a fan on the last two tho!)
– Started weaning.  50% mommy, 50% formula milk now. Ahhh… it’s really quite manageable now, though I will still try to gradually decrease (vs cold turkey!)

For more info, follow me at Finally Mama.

Month 5 Week 3: Routine matters

In a week’s time, B will be half a year old. Motherhood hasn’t necessarily gotten easier but perhaps I’m learning to adapt to (and to some extent, accept) this new “lifestyle.” I started a regular newsletter of highlights, tips and photos with B’s caregivers and closest family members, got to know more moms with similar aged babies in my condo complex, church and also through the local Meet Up groups.

Mommy lessons:

1. Mutual weaning: There are many days when I struggle to find my equilibrium. It’s almost like I need to wean myself from B just as he starts to wean from breastmilk to solids. How to ensure I have time for other stuff including self and couple care? First things first. After a quick breakfast, I go into his room to watch him and join in a short cat nap, check mail and do my QT.

2. Elusive sleep – Just when you think you’ve cracked the “schedule,” it changes 😦 – B used to sleep through the night from 9p to 5a but now wakes up intermittently, usually crying out loud and needing help to settle back down just like his first few months. It could be that he’s subconsciously processing all the stimuli. Some babies have difficulty sleeping when they’re facing major developmental milestones like rolling, sitting, crawling, walking, talking and new people or environments. Meanwhile, I’m re-tweaking his daily routine to hopefully help: 6a wake up, 7a brekkie, 8a bath, 9a nap #1, 11a lunch, 1p nap #2, 3p milk, 5p nap #3, 6p outdoor time (weather/baby permitting), 630p dinner, 7p sponge bath/quiet down, 8p bed time – with one late night/early morning milk feed as needed … and mommy pumping and getting her own stuff done in between. Wish us luck!

3. Mosquito magnet: The weather has been insufferably hot. Even though we live on a high floor, there was an outbreak of mozzies (and roaches), and B got 4 nasty bites on his left leg, right elbow and chubby cheek (!) despite all our best attempts. He hasn’t recovered as quickly vs previous bites/cuts, and sadly, these have left quite a scar too. We’ve tried turning on the aircon, using spray, lotion, patches, those-things-you-put-below. Maybe we’ll get a baby-safe fan next…. Help?

B milestones:

1. Check up: At 5.5 months, B weighed 8.5 kg (18.7 lbs), 69 cm long (27″) with a 42.5 cm (16.7″) head circumference — over 90 percentile now!

2. Eating 3 “meals” a day with milk and water to supplement: So far, so good. Has tried cereal (rice, corn, buckwheat, quinoa), carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, green beans. Next: Fruit purees

3. Physical: He stands with support, in fact, B tends to always push up when/wherever he can; sits tripod style – propped up on arms and/or rests on his elbows, lifts head 90 degrees and scans 180 degrees; rolls tummy-to-side (though it’s still one sided for now); wiggles forward; uses a two-handed embracing reach; significantly improved dexterity with his fingers and legs (reaches, grasps, transfers from hand to hand/mouth), cranes neck forward to see or eat. Next: Block play, sorting, crawling?

4. Language/social: Shapes mouth to change sounds; mimics sounds, inflection, gestures; blows bubbles; laughs hilariously when tickled, makes motions for attention (flapping arms to be picked up, babbles, coughs, even shrieks; develops better depth perception; gazes intently; tracks accurately

5. Cognitive: Interested in colours. In the mornings, I read his Scholastic baby colourbook and then point out all the items that match the colours around us. Forms mental images of what to expect when given a cue (baby signing will pay off soon I hope); Becomes aware that people and things have labels (who’s your mommy, B?); learns which sounds and gestures get a response; shows decision-making expressions with mouth and hand; figures out objects; Changes hand position to touch objects.

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