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[Sharing] Infectious Diseases and YOUR RESPONSIBILITY

Last year, Baby Oppa (he decided to change his name as he claims that he is no longer a Monster but his Meimei’s Baby Oppa) caught Chicken Pox! There was an outbreak at his previous childcare centre, we kept him home the moment we found out about it as at that time, Meimei was barely a few months old and chicken pox can have devastating consequences for infants! Chicken pox is common, but it doesn’t mean we should be spreading it around!

It all started during breakfast, I noticed Baby Oppa was a little warmish during breakfast. I took his temperature with 3 different thermometers but he was not having a fever, he just felt warm to touch. As I was taking his temperature at his armpit (using the old school type for accuracy), I noticed a very small blister on his upper arm. It could have been overlooked as a small pimple or just an infected hair pore. But because his school had a chicken pox outbreak, alarm bells rang in my head.

Straightaway, I picked him up, placed him outside the house and instructed my maid:
Keep Meimei in my room (the only place Baby Oppa didn’t go to since he woke up). Use Dettol to wipe EVERYTHING he has touched. Wash his bedsheets & blankets in HOT WATER. Open up all the windows for ventilation & natural sunlight to come in. Sun his mattress & pillows. Switch on all air purifiers to HIGH.

I wrapped him up in a towel to minimize contact and sent him straight to the clinic at my mum’s place. After that, I sent him straight to my mum’s place to be separated away from Meimei. We couldn’t afford to let her catch it! I read online that babies can get some immunity from mummy if they are breastfeeding, so I was glad I was breastfeeding Meimei.

Many asked us why we didn’t vaccinate him. Actually, we intended to. But he was allergic to egg whites and his MMR(V) was delayed. Subsequently, we cleanly forgot about it!
And of course, my maid wasn’t vaccinated and didn’t have chicken pox before, so she was sent to the clinic near my place to be jabbed immediately too!

The doctor confirmed it was chicken pox. At that time, there were less than 5 small pimple-like spots. But his temperature was slowly rising. My parents quickly came back from work to attend to the sick Baby Oppa. My mum took leave and worked from home.

Within a few days, the peak of the chicken pox came despite oral medication from the doctor (supposedly to make the episode less serious). The medication was freaking expensive at $150 per bottle! And he needed 2 bottles of it? I almost fainted at the price!

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As commonly known, chicken pox will require a quarantine period of around 2 weeks. To be on the safe side, we kept him at my mum’s place for 3 weeks. No outdoors at all. Poor boy was bored stiff and tortured his Ah Ma till the end with his nonsense!

 

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Ah Ma spammed calamine lotion on him! Spent his days sleeping or playing the iPad as he was feeling lethargic and kept at home.

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Crying because he was in extreme discomfort. But as he got better, his mood improved too.

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The only thing he could eat without complaining – Bread!

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Plain food for Baby Oppa

Chicken Pox causes lethargy and due to blisters forming in the throat and mouth too, he had poor appetite.
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Check out the cold jelly my mum made for him! Preventing dehydration is most important!

Some have laughed at our ‘kiasu-ness’: Sterilising everything at home, keeping Baby Oppa away for so long, etc.
But hey! It’s bad enough that one of my kiddo has it, why would I want to spread it to my other kids?

 

How does chickenpox spread?
According to USA’s Centre for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC): “Chickenpox spreads easily through the air when a person who has chickenpox coughs or sneezes. It can also spread by touching an infected person’s blisters. Chickenpox can be spread 1 to 2 days before the infected person gets a rash until all the blisters have formed scabs.

 

You can also read more about Chicken Pox HERE.

 

What does this mean? It means PEOPLE WITH CHICKEN POX SHOULD STAY HOME! Yes! Until they’ve recovered and been seen by a doctor to confirm that all the blisters have formed scabs and they are no longer infectious.
(This logic applies to HFMD also!)

 

This is commonly referred to as SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY. It is everyone’s responsibility to keep our nation disease-free. It starts with ALL OF US. Keep yourself or your child at home if they are sick. Especially if they are running a fever as fever is usually the start of many infectious diseases!
Sadly many selfish people don’t understand this logic and prefer to spread diseases like chicken pox and HFMD around.

 

Only head out to the clinic and call the clinic in advance to get advise on their procedures. I called the clinic on our way over and they specially set aside an isolated area for Baby Oppa. Upon arrival, we got to see the doctor first too. The faster we were out of the clinic, the better it is for all the other sick patients who may catch chicken pox from him. I myself can’t live with the guilt if we spread it to someone and cause discomfort and harm to them!

 

And please do not tell others to stay at home if they are afraid to catch something. There are children with health problems and catching a ‘common’ chicken pox can mean death. There are elderly who have lower immune system who may catch HFMD too!

 

If you have young children in which HFMD is common, always do the following checks before you bring your children out:
(1) Take their temperature
(2) Check their palms and feet for spots or blisters
(3) Check their mouth/throat for ulcers

 

If you or your child is not well, stay home and rest. Drink plenty of water and see a doctor for medication.

 

When out, always wash your hands often. Or sanitize often. Same for the kids and everyone in the family.
Wipe down all high chairs/tables your kids will come in contact with. I normally use hand sanitizer and wet wipes to wipe the high chair and tables.
Recently we were told by a friend that they spotted a family with HFMD (they announced their HFMD status on Facebook) dining out at a popular shopping mall and we really freaked out. My husband now uses alcohol swabs to wipe everything when we head out! 

 

When all of us do our part, we can help make our public areas safer for all. And most importantly, can you live with the guilt of causing discomfort and inconvenience to other children and their families? I know I can’t so we chose to do strict quarantine. Even my mum refused to go to office as there are staff with young children in her office, just in case she brought the virus along with her. She arranged to work from home for 3 weeks. She was bored stiff. She called me daily with complaints about how naughty Baby Oppa was. She would send me pictures via WhatsApp throughout the day too. Thank you mummy for helping us every time we need help! 🙂

 

Be a Responsible Adult. Do the Right Thing.

 

Mummy Audrey
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Mummy Audrey is a mother of 3 and runs TLO.com.sg

[Sharing] It’s Quality Time. Not Quantity.

To me, the best thing to spend on my children is my time. Being a Stay-At-Home-Mum (SAHM), I have the privilege to spend as much time as I want with my daughter, but I didn’t. Other than playing with her, my television is forever on Disney channel to keep her occupied so I that I can do my own things.

After a few weeks (Luckily it’s only a few weeks), I finally realized that I am not spending enough time with her. She’s always playing alone and watching cartoons alone. What am I doing? I am with her 24/7 and yet I am not doing what I am supposed to do. She is not going to learn anything from watching cartoons and I am actually wasting all the precious time that we have together. She needs more, she need to learn and I need to do something. I approached my friends who are also SAHM on how and what they usually do with their little ones at home.

I then try my best to do whatever I can. I can’t say that what I did is perfect but at least I am now spending quality time together and she’s happier!

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I started with puzzles. She can fix a 16 piece puzzle in 5 minutes when she was 2.5 years old. She got sick and tired of it just after one week. HEY! At least she is not watching so much TV already J

Then I bought activity books and storybooks, I make it a point to do and read it together with her every day.

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Bought all these online at around SGD65 and she totally love it. Her motor skills improved tremendously and she can actually memorize and read the story books by herself after reading it together for a few times.

 

Sometimes when I am feeling lazy and do not feel like thinking, we will do some colouring and painting together.

This is her colouring her book and me colouring “Secret Garden”

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She painted the left and I painted the right and this is the end result.

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She did these by herself! Not very nice but not bad lah! HAHA!

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Somedays, we have our playdoh time after dinner.

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Oh I went to learn balloon twisting from CC and Youtube too and she will watch me twist the balloons excitedly and nowadays she will sometimes request for a balloon and start twisting herself!

Below are some of the balloons and we did some of it together!

Look at this bear balloon, it’s tail “migrated” to the front after a few days. HAHAHAHAA!

 

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Did these lantern balloons together with her during the Mid- Autumn Festival and she was delighted! Safe and fun!!

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We also do bubbles or sand play at the nearby park when the weather allows.

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My friend gave her a bag of books recently and I will definitely read it together with her!

I don’t spend alot of money, I usually try to do DIY stuffs (Although I’m not really good at it) and this is how I spend quality time with my child instead of letting them watch TV, iPad, Phone which is not very healthy for them. Hoping to get better and do more stuffs with her!

Mummy Eliza
(Mummy Eliza is part of the new team at Mummies’ Voices! If you have great products for her to review, do contact us through our Facebook Page!)

[A Yang mother’s Journey] I had a C-section, So What?

There are basically 2 ways a mother can choose to deliver, natural birth or cesarean. This post is not about any medical terms or the disadvantages or advantages of a cesarean. But just me, another fellow mummy who had 2 cesareans sharing my experience and how its time that cesarean mothers are given credit for all the hard work we go through too.

I have a medical condition. When my Urologist found out I was unexpectedly pregnant with my first born, he told me that I can only deliver via cesarean and my Urologist had to be present at the delivery. Natural birth was totally not an option for me cause I had some corrective surgeries done internally and they did not want me to push vaginally if not I may push things out of place. And I had to be under General Anesthesia (GA; totally knocked out during the surgery). But to be honest, I had too many surgeries under GA that the thought of another surgery was not scary at all. But to push a baby vaginally, well that was daunting to think about! So for me I did not have to make a choice. There wasn’t a choice to be made regarding how I would deliver. And that was fine by me.

I was the mother who had to be wheeled in alone to the operating theatre. I did not have physical support from my husband cause my procedure was a special one and he could not be in with me. But he gave me a kiss before he left me to give me strength and support. I knew he would be waiting for me outside anxiously.

I laid on the table about to be cut open; scared and all alone with foreign people staring at me. A mask was put over my face, a steel apparatus was shoved down my throat, the anesthesiologist injected something through my IV drip and I was knocked out. I was that mother who did not get to hear my baby’s first cries, I was not the first to hold my baby fresh from the womb, I was not able to do skin-to-skin with my vulnerable newborn. But I was still a mother who delivered my child through an opening on my stomach.

My babies could not room with me as they were delivered at 29 weeks (first born) and 35 weeks (second born) and they needed to be in the NICU for a while. So despite having done a major operation, I had to find every ounce of my strength and courage to pry myself out of the bed to see my newborn. I remember feeling pulls from my fresh stitches when I got up from the bed the very first time. But my newborn needed me and that gave me the strength to keep pulling myself out of the bed.

I was that mother who carried a pillow and clenched my tummy real hard whenever I needed to sneeze, cough or laugh. It took about 3 to 4 months till I could do all that like a normal human being again without feeling any pain.

I was that mother who could not stand straight and walk for a while. I started to waddle around like a duck. But that was how it was for a while till I gained confidence and courage to straighten my back and walk properly without having to fear about hurting my scar.

Am I Not a mother who sacrificed my body to have a scar permanently for life? Am I Not a mother who went through grueling post recovery pains for the sake of birthing my child? I’ve heard so many negative comments about c-section mothers; that because we did not birth our child vaginally, we are not considered mothers. The day I found out I was pregnant was the day I became a mother. I just want to put it out there especially to those mothers who came up with a perfect birth plan wanting to give birth naturally but things go wrong and an emergency c-section needs to be done, they started stressing and get all upset.

To bring a healthy living child out into this world is a blessing itself be it naturally or having to do a cesarean. The method of birthing does not determine whether you will be a better mother. At the end of day, we are all mothers who take on a new role, with new responsibilities and new challenges everyday. Giving birth is just the start of our motherhood journey.

Mummy Sharmaine…
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{Mummy Sharmaine is part of the new team at Mummies’ Voices! Her beautiful children will love to test out your products for you! If you are looking for a product reviewer, do contact us through our Facebook Page!}

[Sharing] Bringing Expressed Breast Milk back from Maldives!

I was alerted to a mummy sharing her experience bringing her frozen stash of breastmilk back from her holiday and I thought it will be a great idea to share REAL EXPERIENCES so mummies who are wondering what to do can learn and be prepared.

This is what Mummy Shuet Ling posted:

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Mummy Shuet Ling: Want to share my success story of pumping during on my holiday (without my almost 7mo baby) and bringing back the precious liquid gold.

Before the trip, I did lots of reading on travel while bf. Thanks to all the mummies here that shared their advice and experience. If not, I will never have succeeded.
Things involved:
1) white styrofoam box
2) lots of gel pack from daiso ( i bought variation of sizes, some big some small)
3) 2 lock and lock ( 1 big, 1 small)
4) plastic bag/ziplock to hold the ice cubes
5) cling wrap (from skp) those used to wrap big items like furniture, left over from my house shifting)
6) scotch tape
I had my holiday in maldives, before the trip i emailed the resort to let them know of my intention to store ebm in their freezer and would require lots of icecube on my departure.
When i left singapore for Maldives, i packed all the items in the white styrofoam and cling wrap it up. I printed my name, contact details and “fragile” to paste on the box.
I pump on SQ with no issues, both trip the steward and stewardess are very nice and helpful to chill my breastmilk and later provide dryice/ice cubes to keep my breastmilk cool for me to commute to the resort. I sat at the window seat and my hubby at the aisle seat. We were lucky the row is empty (middle seat left empty for more space). I pump with my nursing cover and then pass the bottles and pumpset for them to chill.
Once at the resort i kept the ebm in the chiller. I pass the resort my bm to freeze after every 2 pump sessions (stored in lock and lock, I even use a clear plastic bag to further tape up the milk bags to prevent tapering). My husband and I requested to see how they store the breastmilk to avoid misunderstanding.
During the days at the resort, i would pump when time and store in the chiller, after 2 pump session I would either call the staff to pick it up or ask my hubby ( to also spot check) to deliver to the freezer. The big lock and lock is permanently in the freezer while we use the small lock and lock to transport the chilled bm to the freezer. We also pass them our gel packs to be frozen.
I brought mama lemon in a small container to wash the pump parts then boil hot water to sterilise the parts. I did not soak the parts, just keep using hot water to rinse through.. After each use put the parts in the chiller in a ziplock bag. Wash once a day only, back in sg i also only wash once a day.
Night before the departure, we told the staff what we require on departure to pack the bm.
After packing the fbm in the lock and lock, (the last day’s milk is stored with the fbm to keep it chilled), we put icecubes in the plasticbag/ziplock, then in the styrofoam box along with the gel packs and cling wrap the box up. Off to check in! When un pack the ice cubes are mostly not melted and ice pack still frozen (about 5 hours flight and 9hrs journey in all). Success!

Special thanks to my hubby who have been very supportive and help me throughout the trip..

 

Based on my own research (we wanted to bring back my EBM when we were in Korea but decided to bring Meimei along instead)…

(1) Always check with the accommodation on freezing of breast milk. In some countries, breast milk is considered ‘bodily fluids’ and cannot be stored in their freezer! In this case, you might want to try booking apartments with full fridge (with freezer compartment) instead.

(2) Allocate baggage (weight) allowance for your EBM, ice packs and box. You don’t want to get a shocker at the airport. It is very expensive to have to pay for excess baggage!

(3) Check out possible sources of buying ice near your accommodation. I know that I can order ice online in Korea and it will be delivered to our apartment.

(4) Wrapping with towel helps! I’ve tried this before, bringing a frozen bottle of water wrapped in a towel out in the hot sun and you will be surprised what a simple towel can do!

(5) Get a doctor’s letter just in case. To certify that you are a lactating mother. I’ve read about mummies who were forced to throw their precious EBM!

(6) Be mentally prepared on delays & possible lost/delayed baggage. I would prefer the mentality of ‘if it comes back, yay! if not, it’s alright!’.

Now who says nursing mamas can’t travel?

 

Additional points to note…

STERILISING
How to sterilise? You can choose to get a portable UV steriliser like Hygenie. Or you can simply soak the pump parts and bottles in hot drinking water.

PUMPING WHILE TOURING
I’ve been using Freemie Collection Cups with Spectra 9+ which are portable and have rechargeable batteries when I need to pump on the go. Use a large sweater or jacket to cover and the large Freemies won’t be too obvious! Some mummies use a hands free bra and slot their funnels in and pump as usual under a nursing cover.

STORAGE
I’ve been using Baby One Breast Milk Storage Bags for years (since 2011!). It has been reliable and economical. I normally store 150ml if I’m freezing them flat (to be able to pack them nicely). After freezing them, you can arrange them neatly in a large Lock & Lock container like how Mummy Shuet Ling did. Then you can wrap up the container to prevent tampering.

I hope you’ve gained more confidence and will be booking yourself a trip soon!
Every mama needs a good break and some leisure time!

Mummy Audrey
Mother of 3 & Owner of TLO.com.sg
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[Review] Play Mats – Must Haves in Every Home!

9 years ago when I had my first child, we were staying in a rented place waiting for our new house. Due to proximity to work and also caregiver arrangements, we stayed with my parents on weekdays in their HDB 5 room flat and weekends at our HDB 3 room rented flat.

As my son grew from a newborn into an active infant who could crawl really quickly, we realised that we needed to give him ample space to explore and build his motor skills. However, at that time, play mats were almost unheard of and had to be specially ordered in from Korea. They were also, at that time, beyond our budget.

In the end, we settled for 2 sets of Haenim Play Yard (8 panels) and 2 single size Seahorse foldable mattresses. The mattresses were firm yet soft BUT the bedsheet were slippery. Well, budget limited, so we made do with what we had.
Those ABC foam mats were out of our consideration as they had a weird smell and we were worried.

Then move forward to son #2 in 2011, we had a little more to spend & now we had our own space. We looked into getting proper play mats this time and got a few to try out. It was really trial & error for us.

Let me share about our trial & error experience to save you the money & time going around getting something that is worth it.

  1. Simple basic one-sided foam mat – $59.90 at baby fairs
  2. Textured foam mat – $50 for 2 sets at baby fairs
  3. Parklon – Prize varies depending on size, thickness & print chosen – $200 – 300++
  4. Thick foam mat – $69.90 at baby fairs
  5. Yelly Mat – The Intelligent Talking (IN SIX LANGUAGES) Mat – $329 at baby fairs

 

The Simple Basic One-Sided Foam Mat

This was a gift from Ahjussi’s friend. While it was in the packing, it looked promising. However, when we opened it up, we were extremely disappointed. It was THIN, hard like cardboard and is super slippery. My mum almost slipped on the mat several times. There was zero protection from bumps or knocks as there was hardly any cushion.
This is probably more like a picnic mat than a play mat.

Total fail. Don’t waste your time and money on this.

 

Foam Block Mats

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These are similar to the regular ABC foam mats, but they have been ‘upgraded’ to make it seem more educational and less ‘cheapskate’.

Surprisingly, there isn’t any weird smell like the cheaper ABC foam mats we know. This quality is better (maybe the price also reflects that since the normal ABC foam mats are only $10/set). Foam3

I liked that there’s a small corner build up with foam shapes for Meimei to play. As you can see, she is attracted to the foam shapes.

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Bad point will probably be that the animals on the mat are made of smaller foam pieces. Some are dangerously small in my opinion and we were worried Meimei will learn to peel them out to chew on them soon. (And we were right.)

It doesn’t help that the design has small holes which will trap dirt easily too. Can’t imagine if I’m the one cleaning this daily. (This set is left at my mum’s place and my mum’s maid cleans it weekly since we only visit on weekends.)

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But I do like the different textures on different pieces of the foam mat. Meimei was curiously feeling them. BUT, it leaves a nice imprint on their faces if they sleep face down on it too.
Would you like honeycomb cheeks or zigzag cheeks, Meimei?

Overall it is good for occasional play and learning textures, but to be used daily really won’t make practical sense on the cleaning side. And I really wonder how much saliva and stuff are stuck between the pieces (the grooves) too.

 

Parklon

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Parklon is a well known brand from Korea. Another well known brand is LG. They have mats of varying sizes and thickness.

Ours is 12mm thick and I’ll be honest. It does cushion a bit but not as good as 15mm. 20mm is too thick (feet sinks in and may trip easily over the edge of the mat). 15mm is the perfect thickness in our opinion, but it was pricey when we bought the mats in 2012, so we got 12mm.

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The mat is a great play area for our kids. We don’t have to worry about them throwing toys and causing neighbours to run up to complain.

They play safely within the confines of the mat & the play yard while we are busy with housework or cooking.

My maid and I wipe the mats daily but we noticed due to the special embossing, dirt gets trapped easily. We have to rub very hard to get the dirt out.

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This is a close up look of saliva + dirt trapped in the embossing. It is really not easy to rub it to clean between the grooves.

Overall, good investment. Our set is already 4 years old. However, it is tedious to maintain and 12mm isn’t thick enough for us.

 

Another foam mat

This newer mat is like a hybrid of Parklon and the cheap cardboard mat earlier in this post.

It’s thick and nonslip but the edge finishing makes me shudder. We have battled bedbugs before and one look at the mat screams “BED BUGS HIDEOUT” to me. The binding at the edges are hotspots for bed bugs to breed. Not every family has bed bugs hanging around, but it is so common now to bring bed bug home unsuspectingly!

Also, if the edges are dirtied, they can’t be washed.

Overall, this is a pocket-friendly option if you don’t have OCD on cleanliness.

 

Yelly Mat – The Intelligent Talking Mat (in 6 Languages)

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As parents, we always want the best for our kids right?

And so we traveled to Korea to search for anything that can possibly be better than the mats we can find in Singapore.

And we chanced on Yelly.

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The first thing that attracted us to Yelly was the surface of the mat. It was smooth and no deep embossing which makes dirt get trapped easily!

And the Korean staff was holding a little egg with a duck perched on top. What was it? Hmmm… We stopped to pay attention to the staff promoting Yelly.

IT WAS SINGING!

Talking mats are not new to us but what caught my ears was the pronunciation of the words in English. The recording was done by native speakers of English and they do not have weird accents!

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So we asked for the Magic Sound Pen and tried it out ourselves.
Tapped around the different alphabets and pictures and we were sold. My first question: How heavy is this?

And I was wondering if we had enough check in luggage weight for the mat. (Sadly, we bought many other things during our trip too, so we shipped Yelly back.)

The animals had either sound effects or short facts about them. While I was still amazed by the product, the staff said: The reverse side has different songs & facts!

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So we quickly checked out the reverse side: WORLD MAP!
Music unique to different countries, quick facts and so much fun!

9 year old Big Boy loves this side of the mat.
It’s great for children of varying ages!

And the best part: SIX LANGUAGES!
The main language of the set is English. You can select other languages like Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Spanish and Vietnamese (World).

Children do pick up languages fast with early exposure, so Yelly is a great educational tool to start off at home!

My favourite is that my maid can use Yelly to teach my children the correct pronunciation without any weird accents.

And guess what? My maid picked up some Chinese and Korean in the process too!

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Looking closely, the edges are all neatly sealed and easy to clean. No potential bed bug hot spot! We actually change her diapers on the mat now as she loves wriggling and crawling away. Diaper changing anywhere else is too dangerous (fall off, hit her head, etc).

And since the mat is waterproof and extremely easy to clean, any ‘accidents’ during diaper change doesn’t make us frustrated at all!

And this is 15mm thick, which was the perfect thickness we were looking for all along!

We are in love with Yelly and it is the best investment so far for Meimei’s learning and development. She loves the songs and is always eager to hold the Magic Sound Pen even though she doesn’t really know how to play with it yet.

 

There’s so much more I can go on & on about Yelly because we are really so in love with it, but I think it is best to let you explore it for yourself and feel the difference. Price wise I will be honest, it is a little more pricey compared to other Korean Play Mats. But if you compare carefully based on same size & thickness, Yelly is only around $30-50 more than the other brands. Just top up a bit more and you get the educational component on top of just having a regular mat!

And there are posters which also work with the Magic Sound Pen!

 

If you are wondering what’s the big deal about having a play mat, here is a quick summary:
(1) Allows a safe space for your child to develop motor skills at their pace
(2) Encourages your child to be physically active


(3) Together with play yard, allows caregiver a safe spot to leave baby for quick toilet breaks
(4) Establish a play area with the mat to keep your house neat & tidy

I’m very convinced that Meimei’s motor skills are faster than her peers because she had ample opportunity to explore her surroundings without us being ‘helicoptors’.

From the time we got home, Meimei’s day hours are spent mostly in the living room on the play mat. She naps there, we do diaper changes there too.

Check out what Mummy Ellie has to say about Yelly too!

Hope you will love Yelly as much as we do!
Get your Yelly Mat + Magic Sound Pen now: www.TLO.com.sg

 

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Mummy Audrey
Mother of 3 & Owner of TLO.com.sg

 

 

[Review + Giveaway] Best Memories: Family Photography with PhotoKraft

Growing up watching fashion shows and attending photoshoots, I’ve always loved the studio environment. At 17yo, I did a brief stint as a hair and fashion model and totally loved it. On a daily basis, I don’t wear make up or bother to tidy up my hair. However, it’s always amazing how make up and the right photographer can work wonders to anyone.

This is why we decided to do as many professional photoshoots as we can ever since our first son was born in 2007.
Why must be professional photographer? Because I’m not a selfie person. Neither do I like to take photos. Paying for the shoot forces us to take photos with our kids and I feel more confident (with full make up done by professional make-up artist). Otherwise, my kids will just have zero photos of us when we grow old and die. Serious.

We’ve tried many studios over the years and what we always noticed is how drastic the price increases once each photographer has built their own portfolios. I recently contacted a studio we used in 2008 and I was shocked that the family package went from $200+ in 2008 to $1500++ now in 2016! Too scary for my pocket! However, the charges probably reflect the experience of the photographer and his team.

BUT, don’t worry! After my crazy scouting, I finally found a studio which is friendly on the pocket. They seem new because they just launched their new brand & logo in 2016, but I found out that they are veterans! They’ve done photoshoot for magazines, events, weddings, and many other families too!

They are… PhotoKraft (previously Max Clyne at Work)

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Kelly is the main contact person who replies my queries and confirmed the booking for the shoot. Max is the photographer, handsome dude. Smiling at him behind the camera was easy. :p

This is what they quoted me:
Family Studio Photography Package @$238/-
– Up to 60 minutes studio photoshoot
– Max 5 pax (additional pax @$10/pax)
– All softcopies returned (up to 8R resolution) + basic editing
– 5x 5R photo print (with defined touch up)
– 1x S8R (8×12 inches) high quality German canvas print with frame (with defined touch up)

Remarks :
– Weekend/PH surcharge $30
– 50% deposit required as confirmation (non-refundable)

Make-up by their make-up artist is $100. Initially, I planned to head to my usual salon for a hair wash followed by a make-up session and hair styling, which costs $65. However, the mere thought of having to drag 3 kids along to the salon (though they can actually walk to my mum’s place to rest) was s.c.a.r.y.
So, I opted for convenience and asked Kelly to arrange for their make-up artist for me.

They have other various top ups available which were clearly stated upfront with no hidden costs.

  • $150 – Return all softcopy with basic editing in CD (Resolution up to 8R) + 5 x 5R Photo Prints
  • $200 – Outdoor location shoot for 1 hour (Location of your choice)
  • $100 – Make-up + Hairdo per head per session (Appointment only)
  • $30 – Accelerated Editing (Process photos by 7 working days)
  • $30 – Weekend/Public Holiday Surcharge for Studio Shoot
  • $10 – Additional Pax

And if you prefer them to print additional photos, they have a list too! You can email them for more information as the list is a little too long to be posted here. 🙂

Let’s go into more details about our shoot…

TIP #1: Choose a timing in which you know your children will not be cranky!
We opted for a 2.30pm shoot as this is usually just after Meimei’s first afternoon nap (12 – 2pm). This means that she will be fresh and less chances of her being cranky.

And of course, because she just woke up, high likely she will want to latch. So Kelly is super thoughtful as a fellow mummy herself and prepped a comfy armchair with privacy from curtains as a breastfeeding area!

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Please pardon our messy clothes lying around when I took this photo!

TIP #2: KEEP YOUR KIDS OCCUPIED WHILE YOU GET MAKE-UP DONE
As mentioned earlier, the thought of dragging the kids and making them wait for me for around 45 min to an hour to get make-up and hair done was scary!

Again, Kelly is super thoughtful and prepped a play yard to contain my super active Meimei! And there are many colourful balls which the boys loved.

So while I got my make-up done, Kelly & Max were looking through the selection of clothes we brought along. Ahjussi and my helper got the kids changed first.

And while waiting, Monster chanced on the props and fell in love with the vintage looking car!

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He kept playing with it and Max decided on some quick test shoots of him on it. And end up, the boys started their shoot while I was still getting ready!

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TIP #3: Prepare outfits in advance
Upon arrival, I got Ahjussi to hang up our outfits for Max and Kelly to take a look so they had an idea on background colour/theme for us. They have thoughtfully prepared a rack, so we simply hung them up! We brought them in their hangers as they have been nicely ironed at home.

I didn’t send photos of the outfits I prepared before the session but it is good to do so as the photographer can take some time to plan and conceptualise your shoot before your session. This will mean a more personalised session too.

Choose something your kids have worn before so that they will not be distracted by the new clothing.

TIP #4: Think about what you want out of the session & communicate it to the photographer
If you have a particular pose or group shot that you must have, let the photographer know beforehand so that once the right opportunity arises (when kids are warmed up and not cranky), the photographer will direct you to get it captured!

TIP #5: Aim to reach early if your kids are slow to warm
Only you as the parent will know how your child will react to strangers. If your child takes a while to warm up to strangers, reaching early and allowing your child some time to mingle will be good.

TIP #6: Talk to your child a few days before the shoot
Let them know what is going on and what to expect. Children are a lot more cooperative when they know what to expect!

TIP #7: Bring your child’s fave toy along!
We forgot to bring Meimei’s fave toy and had a hard time getting her to look at the cam and smile. Check out a short video on the process!

And this is the result!

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And after this… She got somewhat hungry so I had to latch her. And since we were already there…

I thought: Why not do a quick breastfeeding shot for memory sake?

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Not many mummies are comfortable with letting a male photographer do a breastfeeding shoot of them, but let me share, it is really not as bad as you think! Breastfeeding is NORMAL! I’m just feeding my child! My breasts are not sex objects!

Max is super professional. Kelly stepped in to help with the pose and positioning while Max stayed far (behind the camera). It was purely him shooting a mother feeding her child. Simple.

And Meimei was covering the other nipple with her cute little hands. Nothing much exposed. Don’t worry!

TIP #8: Prep snacks & drinks
It can get tiring for the little ones, so their face snack will lift their spirits! Otherwise, you will get a semi-grumpy boy like the following:

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TIP #9: Plan early!
If you intend to use the photos for their birthday invite or any special occasion, do plan early!
The typical lead time for photos to be ready is around 4 weeks, so we are still patiently waiting for more photos to be sent to us. Kelly has graciously sent us a few photos for the purpose of this blog post within a week from the shoot. (BIG THANK YOU!)

Although PhotoKraft’s studio is located in an industrial area, it is quite easy to find and once you step into their beautiful studio, you will forget that you are even in an industrial area!

And no worries about the loo. They have one right in their studio!
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I hope you will enjoy your photography session with PhotoKraft like we did!

With Love,
Audrey
Mother of 3 & Owner of TLO.com.sg
Audrey Wong Profile

Contact Details:

PhotoKraft FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/photokraft.sg
Email: photokraft.sg@gmail.com

Location : Blk 3005 Ubi Avenue 3 #03-56 (S)408861 (Beside Traffic Police Headquarters)

Direction by MRT/Bus : From Tai Seng MRT Station
Walk towards Bus Stop @Upper Paya Lebar Road (opposite Tai Seng MRT Station)
Take Bus 58, 2 stops later alight at Ubi Ave 3 (opposite Traffic Police Headquarters)

 

GIVEAWAY TIME!!!

Prize: 60 minutes family studio photoshoot with PHOTOKRAFT!
Includes: 1x edited soft copy returned (up to 5R resolution) + 1x 8R photo print with default frame (same image as soft copy) to 3 lucky winners

How to Join:
1. Like Photokraft Facebook page.
2. Like Mummies Voices Facebook page.
3. Like & share this post on your Facebook wall (*remember to set as Public*).
4. Comment at Mummies Voices Facebook Post and tag 10 friends or as many as you like!
5. Fill in this form (we will pick the winner list from this form): http://goo.gl/forms/JIVRSR5pKx

Giveaway ends 17th Jan 2016. Winners will be picked on 18th Jan 2016.

 

NOTE: Mummy Audrey has arranged with PhotoKraft for free sessions for all mummies who shop with thelittleonesinmylife (TLO.com.sg) at the upcoming baby fair!
It is Baby World at Expo Hall 5 from 15th to 17th January 2016. Check them out at Booth A03/05!
Vouchers will be given out to customers who purchase min $20 in single purchase. Limited to 1 voucher per customer. Only 1000 vouchers available daily!

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[Review] Solids Introduction – Online Organic Produce + BebeLock from Korea

 

WHO 
Babies around 4 to 6 months can start on solids.
There are a few schools of thoughts regarding the ‘perfect’ age to start baby on solids.
I’ll be honest, it is really up to individual parents to read up and decide on what they think is best for their baby.
I subscribe to starting before 6 months, AS LONG AS BABY IS READY. My purpose in starting once baby is ready is to expose baby to larger variety of of foods before meal replacement starts.

How do I know if baby is ready?
– Able to hold head steady (no bobbing of head)
– Able to sit with minimum support (may lean slightly, but not flopping all over)
– Shows interest in your food (stares intently or shows excitement when seeing others eat)
– Plays with tongue
– Show chewing/gnawing motion
– May have a sudden disinterest in milk

WHAT
Again, there are a few schools of thought on what should be baby’s first food.
Traditional weaning means giving cereals or rice gruel.
There’s modern puree weaning, avoiding cereals which are empty calories and preferring to dive straight to nutrient rich pureed fruits & vegetables.
Baby Led Weaning (as the name tells: baby leads the weaning process by taking what they are ready) focuses on offering variety in small pieces, allowing baby to self feed. There are perks to this: Fine motor skills are better developed when they have to pick up their food using their bare hands. They also gain from textural stimulation.

I prefer a mixture of all.
Cereals give the convenience when you are busy.
Purees give the nutrients and ensure they get to really eat, plus they get to taste individual food flavours.
Baby Led Weaning trains up their find motor skills.

WHEN
It is highly recommended to feed them in the mornings. Although serious allergies are not common, they can still happen and become life threatening. Or maybe not that serious, but you would still want a PD to take a look.

This means feeding in the morning, and allowing some time for digestion and reaction. Most reactions are immediate or within a few hours when the PD clinic is still open.

Feeding in the the morning for a start also allows baby to be in a better mood. You have to ensure baby is in a good mood to avoid baby disliking solids just because they got off on a wrong start.

WHERE
A comfortable yet sturdy high chair is highly recommended.
A popular choice is Ikea’s plastic high chair as it is cheap and easy to clean. I agree on cheap & easy to clean, but Ahjussi and I can’t get past ‘safety’. It is too flimsy and based on our experience with our monkey boys, they will most likely topple over.
We ended up getting an Ikea wooden high chair and we have been using it for all 3 kids since 2007. Good investment if you are intending to have more. The size is also big so Monster sat in there till recently (4 years old) that he had to give it up for Meimei.

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Popular High Chair from Ikea – $29.90

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Common Ikea High Chair – At Old Town White Coffee KL (Bukit Bintang) in 2012

WHY
What is the purpose of introducing solids? Can I replace meals?
For a start, the purpose is to teach them to SWALLOW. It is NORMAL if they spit or push their tongue out because they are still learning to control their tongue and mouth.
Don’t give up. Just keep trying! Praises and encouragement works too. It is even better if they are fed at the dining table while the family is eating. They do learn by imitation and will watch your actions.

Meal replacement should only start around 7-8 months old. Start replacing 1 milk feed and gradually increase food portions or number of meals. They should be on 3 solid meals a day by 1 year old.

HOW
Preparation:
(1) Buy your materials
(2) Buy your ingredients
(3) Prep
(4) Feed!

Materials
I used Uinlui‘s Twin Bowl. Uinlui is Made in Korea and made from SUGARCANE! Yes! Natural ingredients beat artificial plastics! Best of all, it can tahan steam/hot water sterilising and UV sterilising! Other natural utensils (made from corn) in the market now cannot be subjected to high heat or long moisture exposure.

For spoons, please use SOFT spoons as they may hurt their gums on hard spoons. I’m using Bebelock Silicone Spoon with case (great for keeping the spoon clean when heading out).

For bibs, I’m using Bebelock Soft Bib at home and thelittleonesimylife Disposable Bib when out.

For blending purees, we decided not to get any fancy machine because it is expensive and you will only be giving purees for a while (probably 1-2 months only). Worst of all, my niece who owns a steamer-blender combo machine complained that it was hard to wash and there was yellowish stuff stuck under the blades which she can’t get out.
All we have is a simple electric steamer which we redeemed many years back using our credit card points, and a simple handheld blender from Giant Hypermart. I’ve also use the blender for other purposes in our general daily cooking and I love it. Easy to wash too!

For storage of purees, I use Bebelock Ice Tok Tok from Korea and Bebelock Airtight Container (comes in 4 sizes!). They are awesome to have and check out pictures later on in this post.

Ingredients
Buying ORGANIC is purely a personal choice. You can choose not to purchase organic produce.
I chose organic (till at least 1 year old) as baby’s organs are still immature and it takes longer for them to process any chemicals ingested (pesticides, artificial fertilisers, etc).

I live in Punggol and with Compasspoint now CLOSED for a year, it is pretty hard for us to get organic produce. I used to get nice organic produce from Cold Storage (Compasspoint).
Now, I’ve resorted to ordering from REDMART.
It was my first order, so $30 and there’ll be free delivery! Click HERE and register, you will get $10 credit if you are a new customer! Subsequent orders, spend $49 and get free delivery.

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My Order from Redmart.com

The items all came VERY FRESH. The pumpkin was already cut, thus I had to quickly cook that. The other items could be kept for another 5-7 days without any issues.

If you wish to not buy organic or only go partially organic, check this out article on which ones you should buy organic: The Dirty Dozen – Foods You Should Always Buy Organic
Summary: Apples, Strawberries, Grapes, Celery, Peaches, Spinach, Bell Peppers, Nectarines, Cucumber, Melons, Peas, Blueberries, Tomatoes and Potatoes.

PREP
For experience cooks, prepping baby food will be a breeze. However, for those not familiar in the kitchen, it can be a real challenge.

I started off with avocado as I was too lazy to take the blender out. Just something that I can mash easily and mix with expressed breast milk to create a smooth puree for Meimei will be good.

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Mashing Up Avocado

So all I did was to cut a small portion which I wanted to feed her. Cling wrap the balance (ensure that the clingwrap is touching the avocado flesh to avoid oxidation).

Avocado doesn’t do very well when kept in the fridge once the flesh is exposed. It oxidises and turns brown fairly quickly.

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How to Store Avocado

So I cut up the balance into small pieces so that they can fit into the Bebelock Ice Tok Tok. The beauty of this Ice Tok Tok is that it comes with a lid to keep your baby’s puree AWAY from other raw food items in your freezer. Also, it is specially designed to be able to POP OUT ONE AT A TIME! Yes! No more messy many-cubes-come-out-together situations! The bottom is soft, so just push up that particular cube that you want!

And don’t worry about wastage of these trays after baby is done with purees. Use it to freeze lemon juice for your drinks or store home made seasonings!

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Using Frozen Avocado

We were heading out to church, so I popped out 2 cubes of frozen avocado and placed them in the Bebelock Airtight Container (120ml). Squirt in some breast milk (I have the habit of lifting my shirt up right in the kitchen and hand express directly into the bowl or container). Close it tight (won’t leak!).

By the time we had to feed her (around an hour later), the avocado was defrosted to room temp and I just had to mash it up a little more before feeding her.

So avocado is really easy to conquer even if you do not know how to operate the stove!

Meimei totally enjoyed it!

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Meimei enjoying her first meal

Ok… But baby can’t be eating avocado only… So here’s pumpkin.
Again, I was too lazy to dig the steamer out from the cupboard so I just boiled it. It is better to steam it (retains more nutrients) but cooking time is longer when steaming.

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Preparing Pumpkin

Remove the skin of the pumpkin.
Cut into smaller pieces so it will cook faster.
Boil till soft (took me around 8 min).
Scoop out the pumpkin into a clean bowl.
Mash with fork (lazy to take out blender again).
Add a little of the cooking liquid if you find it hard to mash, but pumpkin is generally quite wet so very minimal additional cooking liquid is required.

Due to the LARGE pumpkin, I was pretty sure I won’t have enough Ice Tok Toks so I decided to put some of them into Bebelock airtight containers (120ml) since we are also using it as a bowl to heat up her food.

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Quick Tip on Filling Up those Ice Tok Tok

It is pretty tiring to scoop the puree into ice trays, so I went to my lazy method again. Get a large plastic bag, fill it up, tie it off, cut a small corner and pipe away!
Easy and mess free!

 

What else can I give?

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List of recommended food items to start on

*** Warning: Sweet potato & banana can cause constipation, do give more liquids when feeding these foods. 

It is pretty hard to plan and keep track, especially if you have other kids to manage (like me).

This is an Excel file I use to keep track. You can simply download it from here, upload a copy into your Google Sheets and update daily! You can even share the file on your Google Sheets with your hubby so he is kept updated too!

How much do I give?
I start off with around 1-2 tsp a day, then gradually increase her portion every week. This is to avoid stuffing her tummy too full and getting indigestion. Remember, they are learning to taste, swallow and digest all these new stuff. So don’t overload their system. Give them some time.

Can we freeze baby’s puree?
I personally did it 8 years ago when I was teaching in school and I couldn’t trust the maid to cook daily. I preferred to be in control and made the purees on weekends, and simply took out whatever is needed for the day for the maid to heat up and feed.
And for my Monster, he was super active and we really couldn’t cope with having to cook fresh daily with him climbing all over the house. Freezing his food saved a lot of time and it was better than having to give commercial puree in pouches or bottles.

It is SAFE and common to freeze baby food, as long as you prepped the food hygienically, kept it in covered containers/trays and reheat it properly.

I do not recommend reheating in microwave. You just need to defrost it by placing in the fridge a few hours before you need it, then steam or use a bottle warmer to heat up.
This is why the Bebelock airtight containers come in very useful. You can place it into an electric bottle warmer or a cup of hot water to heat up the food like you would to expressed breast milk.
Korean mummies prefer to simmer the food and they use Bebelock airtight containers + Bebelock Silicon Suction Pads.

Picture12.jpgRead more about freezing baby food here: http://www.annabelkarmel.com/food-parenting/weaning/freezing-baby-food

 

I hope this has been a useful start for you!
If you wish to know more, you can check out my weaning blog: www.weaningyourlittleones.blogspot.com

My favourite book on weaning: Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron
They now have apps and loads of information online if you do not like books. I still prefer hardcopy books. 🙂

Audrey Wong Profile
Mummy Audrey
Mother of 3 & Owner of TLO.com.sg

Note: Mummy Audrey has a Diploma in Food Science and Nutrition. She is a trained Home Economics Teacher, previously teaching in MOE schools.