3 Ways to Increase Baby’s Neck Strength

This might not appear as anything too important to some mummies, whose babies love tummy time and develop a strong neck in no time. But my LO, despite us starting him on tummy time at 4 weeks, had a very slow development of his neck strength and still could not hold it up even at 3 months. So this post is for the mummies who experience the same as me. I did quite a bit of research and talked to a few PDs. I started doing the following, and my son had a huge improvement in neck strength – he could hold his head well at 4 months (huge improvement i would say!), and was already sitting and crawling at 6 months! All his muscles grow well after that 🙂

  1. Eat more protein. This didn’t seem like a very straight forward thing, but my hb and I saw such a stark difference in my boy’s progress, that I know for sure that my diet had a very direct impact on my son’s development. As I had undergone caesarean, I stayed away from chicken and eggs after giving birth, and did so for 4 straight months (chinese thinking that chicken is ‘poisonous’). I had fish everyday, and lean pork for the 1st month during confnement. But because I am in general not very much a meat person, I only made sure I had fish every day and not so much of pork or any other meats. Protein intake was further reduced after confinement when I had more control over my diet. My husband casually mentioned that protein is a building block of muscles and requested I try and eat more protein. I didn’t really think I was malnourished, but gave it a try anyway since it was simple. I consciously ate more meat, including eggs, and my boy started getting stronger! I guess I was always eating enough for myself, but I forgot that by breastfeeding my son, I should have been eating enough protein for 2. Protein was more important for a growing child who was developing a lot of muscle mass, and also boys are known to need more protein than girls. By the time I started chicken at 4 months, my boy’s growth was ahead of his peers! I now eat so much meat that I think I’m a carnivore. XD
  2. Let baby do tummy time on you. My baby hated tummy time. Probably because it was uncomfortable, and he had a weak neck muscle, which made it all the more uncomfortable. We alleviated that by letting him lie on us – tummy-to-tummy time, we called it. The warmth and comfort of being in contact with mom or dad definitely helped my son feel better. This type of tummy time also allowed us to do an incline so he wasn’t all flat on his tummy – so he needed less effort at the start to lift his head. Starting slow made it easier and more acceptable to him. (and inclining for a minute with a baby on your tummy builds your own abs!). Lastly, another parent can go right in front of the baby to chat and play, making tummy-to-tummy time extremely fun.
  3. Move the world to another dimension. From the time the baby is born, we place toys and mobiles right above them, where they can easily see. We also place their cots where we always walk past so they can see us. But when they do tummy time and face down, they see very different things – they can only see our legs, and their bedsheets. BORING. No wonder they hate tummy time. Change this by moving the cot mobiles or toys to their eye level when they do tummy time. Elevate the bed / playpen further during tummy time so that if you walk past, they can easily see your face and what you are doing. Or just go down to his/her level and start chatting. Make it interesting, show him a new toy or new activity every time he does tummy time, so he gets distracted by the other things and end up doing longer tummy time than he initially “planned”. 

What they don’t tell you about travelling in HK with a little one in tow

Prior to our trip to Hong Kong, I had read many articles about how un-child-friendly hongkong was, and how bad a decision it was to make hong kong the destination of my LO’s first overseas trip. I read about how strollers will not be friendly on uneven pavements and crowded MTRs with no lifts. I read about how difficult it is to find a decent diaper changing room, and how alienated I would be if I tried to nurse in public. However, contrary to what I was warned about, the trip went amazingly well!

Before I let everyone think that all the above statements are wrong, I must first emphasize that it is indeed not the most stroller friendly place in HK. But my LO has never really liked strollers, so I baby carried him the entire trip. That made squeezing in crowded streets and MTRs so very easy. And escalators and stairs were more common than lifts in most places, so I was assured I didn’t need to carry a heavy stroller AND baby up the stairs, nor risk his safety at that. But I need to note that there ARE stroller friendly places. The few malls that I stopped by – Elements, Olympian City, and a few others, were extremely stroller friendly. In fact, they were directly linked to the MTR station, had lifts in those stations, were sheltered all the way and with huge walk ways. So there are family-friendly places to go to, just depends on what you want to do in HK.

Following up on that, my LO had a poo explosion on the day we went to Tasty Congee for lunch at Elements mall. I believe my son is a clean freak because he has not poo-ed outside our home ever since he was 3-4 months old. So equipped with a hazy memory of how to change the diapers of a hyperactive baby in a public place, and the knowledge of how “child-unfriendly” HK is, I searched the mall map in trepidation for *fingers crossed* a diaper changing room. “There!” I pointed to a baby-care sign on the map, half relieved that there was at least an enclosed space where I could fight with my baby as we cleaned him up. The mall was large, but spacious and not crowded on a weekday lunch time. In no time, I found the diaper changing area – right behind a check-in area for ferries to Shengzhen. There were over twenty men sleeping on sofas, probably waiting for their ferry to arrive. I stepped into the diaper changing area (no door!), and got a shock. It was sparkling clean! Not like most malls I’ve been to even in Singapore, where I cringe at the thought of my son rolling around and touching all the germs. This place looked practically new! It was also relatively large, with 3 changing stations, and like-new changing mats. There was a chirping sound and slight fragrance, making it pleasant not just to the eyes, but also to the nose and ears. My son loved the chirping sound and was much less cranky than he usually is on changing mats. The final bonus was a dispenser – with disposable changing mats and loads of wipes!! This is the most important for clean freaks like my son and I – we didn’t have to let him lie on some dirty mat that many other babies with poo explosion had laid on, and we didn’t even need to worry if we had enough wet wipes with us for a poo explosion! This is not only a decent diaper changing room I found in a hong kong mall – it was the BEST diaper changing room I’ve ever seen in my life, including in Singapore! (apologies for the lack of photos as my hands were full with poo and stuff) When I was about to leave, another HK couple came in, and I overheard them say in cantonese “wow! they even provide wet wipes here!” So I wasn’t the only suaku one 🙂 Thanks to the management team of Elements mall, for the nice touch for families and making the trip there so pleasant 🙂

On eating in Hongkong. If you want to dine in restaurants (I went to Ding Tai Fung and Taste Congee for their Michelin Grade food), there will be no lack of high chairs for babies. If you want to dine in the more common cha chan tengs (tea houses) and hole-in-the-wall cafes, there is almost no chance you will find a high chair. Or even no space to bring in a stroller. So do take note! I did, however, still survive the trip going to over 10 such places. The fact is, even though there are no high chairs, there are some restaurants with bench-seats that are a little safer for semi-mobile babies. Of course, if your LO is ok with being tied to the chair using a modified baby carrier, good for you. My LO hates being strapped down, so bench-seats were our next best option. Those gave him enough space to crawl and stand, while providing a safe environment that required only minimal effort from me to prevent him from falling off. He could also stand and interact with the guests sitting behind us (if any). The best thing about all these places I dined at, was the staff. Every single time, the waiter would arrange for us a corner table with extra space that would allow my LO to move around with no risk of getting scalded by hot food being served in a small, crowded space. Often, when my LO was getting cranky and hubby and I were getting flustered, the waiters and waitresses would come round and entertain my LO for us! Just a smile or a clink of a cup would entertain him. Even if it only took them less than 5 seconds, it relieved us some time to enjoy our meal, and my LO was happy despite him not being able to eat the delicious food in hong kong. So there, food places were all good to go! (oh, except for one – Tim Ho Wan at Olympian City. They refused to give us a 3-seater table nor a large 2-seater table because my LO was not a paying customer, and they refused to let us sit at a corner table nor a bench-seater table even though those were safer for my LO. It was off-peak at 430pm, so they had ample choices of tables, but they were rigid in the sitting order. So inflexible, but fortunately they were the only non-child-friendly restaurant we faced in HK, so I let it go. Hubby commented that that was the fastest meal he had ever eaten in his life, and the most horrible one in HK. No wonder they don’t have a Michelin star)

Here’s a picture of my son playing peek-a-boo in Tasty Congee. He had a seat near the purple wall, which he LOVED playing with (and most other cafe walls with mirrors). He made friends with the waitresses there too.

In general, my LO attracted many friendly passers-by and made many friends in hong kong. He had more people smile to him in lifts and wave to him along the streets of hong kong in 4 days than in Singapore over a year. Even on the flights, we had a better experience with hong kong neighbors than a Singapore neighbor. On my flight over to HK, I had a priority seat with a bassinet. My husband was unable to book the seat next to me, so he requested a change during check-in. The airline (SIA) was nice enough to put in the request. At the gate, the staff spoke to the passenger who had booked the seat next to me, to ask for a change (to my husband’s aisle seat). She refused. The staff explained how difficult it would be for me to travel alone with my son, but she refused. No second word, just a no. So the flight to HK was horrible, with a cranky son who couldn’t stop moving. He didn’t manage to eat his meal, and neither did I. I didn’t know the story behind the refusal as I had boarded the flight first, otherwise I might have held my son less tightly and let him scramble all over that mean lady and spill all her food and drinks on her! On the contrary, on our return flight, we sat with a old hong kong couple next to us. They loved playing with my son – showing him pictures of tigers and elephants in magazines they found on board the flight, and even folding aeroplanes for him! At the end of the flight, they waved good bye to him, commenting that he was such a pleasure to travel with as they were so entertained. I must say that it was OUR pleasure to travel with THEM, because it was THEY who entertained my son and made him happy.

So there, hong kong is not child-unfriendly, and the people there love children! So if you plan to head to hong kong with your LO, go ahead and enjoy! 🙂

(On nursing in public, because I was daunted by all the blogs I read, I returned to the hotel every afternoon to breastfeed my son. It was also to let him have a nap and have some safe place to crawl around to expel all his cooped up energy. On my final day, I spotted someone nursing in the MTR station. Bingo! Air-con place, fewer people around and thus fewer judging eyes. Or any of the nice malls I’ve been to. I’ll do that next time if my son is still breastfeeding)

8 Ways to Start Building Baby’s Vocabulary From Young

We all want smart kids, don’t we? (Given that they are healthy and happy, that is) It is definitely a great desire of all mums and parents, as we can see from the hype and growing spending on DHA and Omega3. One of the first measurements at an early age, is how quickly Baby starts to understand us, and how large his or her repertoire of vocabulary is by a certain age. I’m not a pro in this area (i.e. language development), but I have engaged my own son in infant language studies (involve them in research from a young age!), and I think my son has done pretty well in that aspect. By that, I mean a top 15 percentile on a Bayley Scales of Infant Development at 1 year old, and top 1 percentile by the time he was 18 months old. He started understanding simple vocabulary by 6-7 months (e.g. pointing to the aeroplane or the fan when we mention it), and by 10 months, could follow detailed instructions (e.g. the magnet on the fridge can stick on any metal. Try the chair! Remember to stick the black part of the magnet there, as the front side with the picture will not stick). He also started saying “mama” by 5 months, other single words by 9 months, phrases by 15 months and fully conversational in 2 languages by 18 months. I wouldn’t say he is a genius, but he definitely is on the faster end of the scale in terms of perceiving language and using it.

So just my 2 cents worth of what I tried doing with my son (no scientific proof to say these are game changers, but they seem to make sense)

  1. Talk to them. Talking to them means face to face, with eye contact, and not looking at your phone when mumbling random sentences. I mean talking to them like you would politely with any adult, with full eye contact, expressions and perfect conversational grammar. This is important as research has also shown that a baby who listens to instructions from a person speaking to him will remember the instructions, while another baby who listens to instructions through a radio (audio only) or television (audio and visual but no eye contact) will not. 
  2. Articulate clearly. Which means no more mumbling. I have observed that my son spends a good portion of our conversations looking at my lips. He can hear perfectly well, but he lip reads probably to figure out how he can learn to make the same sounds as I do. So enunciate your words clearly for them to learn, and sometimes exaggerate and open your mouths wider just so they can observe easily. 
  3. Read to them. Don’t wait until they can hold or flip  the book before you read together. I started reading to my son the day we went home from the hospital. I sang to him as he nursed, but because he nursed for 40minutes each time, and 8 times a day, I ran out of songs that wouldn’t bore me. I ran out of new thoughts because I was exposed to nothing else besides him. So I read books. Since he couldn’t see yet, I read books that I myself would read. That included Reader’s Digest, novels, business books and even encyclopedias! Just keep reading and he will learn something. I had secretly hoped that he would even remember a thing or two from the encyclopedias that I read, but I will leave that for another post on “How to Raise a Genius”. LOL
  4. Think aloud. This allows you to talk to your child a lot more than normal. Your brain is always active and thinking about something, and if you verbalize your thoughts while having eye contact, it’s like having a permanent conversation with your child. So you can never say you have nothing else to talk about. Examples could be “what should I have for dinner tonight? I have 2 carrots that I bought last week, and a tomato left. I’m craving some hot soup, but I will need some potatoes to go along…” yada yada yada. Or “I haven’t been out shopping much lately, how about some online shopping later when you’re asleep? I should check out the latest sales on Amazon… or get that juicer that XXX mentioned on Facebook!”
  5. Use simple words. They are, after all, still babies learning a brand new language. Use simple words repeatedly so they can grasp the context which it is used it, and learn the meaning of the words. 
  6. Speak with perfect grammar. Babies learn language from a young age – this means not just vocabulary, but also grammar. If you use baby babble or broken English just to emphasize certain words, your baby might end up learning a bunch of nouns but have trouble piecing them together in a grammatically correct sentence. Language learning starts young!
  7. Vary your vocabulary. It is tricky to keep repeating the same words to help them learn a new word, and at the same time remember to vary your vocabulary so they learn more. But one very common phrase is “Good Boy!” Regardless of what the baby did, parents and grandparents always exclaim “Good Boy!” Sometimes, being more specific helps. For example, “That’s an obedient boy, thanks for putting the toys back into the box!” or “Well done, you finished your meal!” That gives more meaning to your praise, is more specific so your child knows what he is being praised for, and also helps broaden his vocabulary. 
  8. Be bilingual. This is a result of some studies performed by the Infant and Child Language Center, NUS, which shows that bilingual children learn faster than monolingual children. 

15 FREE Toy Ideas for Babies Under 1

I am a strong proponent that our little ones do not need expensive toys to be happy nor to become smart. In fact, nature has the best and most sophisticated things that our child can explore and learn from. Before our child grows old enough to run around and explore the world, here are some great ideas of how you can entertain them with things that you can easily find around you – for FREE!

  1. Metal biscuit tin with lid. Attach the lid on one end, and let loose another, Your child who can start flinging his hands with mildest amount of control can start hitting the lid to make sounds!
  2. Curtains and wind. The variation in wind strength and direction makes the curtain move differently every moment. It captures even an adult’s attention, let alone a baby!
  3. Bubble wrap. Any plastic wrap is fun to scrunch and make sounds with, but a bubble wrap with different textures embedded in them adds much more fun. When they’re older, bursting the bubbles adds a whole layer of fun to it too,
  4. A bunch of keys. These are the favourite toys a father usually shares with his son. 
  5. Balls. Mix all sorts of balls with different properties together – ping pong ball, tennis ball, soccer ball, balloon, paper ball etc. Let you child figure out how they behave differently!
  6. A light chair that is tall. Watch your child closely with this. But when they can sit and are strong enough, they would love to move huge pieces of furniture around the house. Their ability to move things that are much large than them makes them feel extremely strong. Be right next to them to make sure the furniture do not fall on them though.
  7. Ice. Babies are still learning about heat properties. So letting them touch ice is a huge exploration for them. Not only is it cold, it is slippery, and it gets smaller over time. If you’re afraid ice is too cold, substitute it with a can of soft drink or an apple from the fridge. Anything that is cold, small enough for them to handle, but not too small to become a choking hazard. 
  8. A container with trinkets in it. This could be marbles or wooden blocks or keys in a little plastic container. Basically anything that can be shaken and makes sounds when the baby does so. Try a variety of items to make different sounds. In my case, it even included diaper rash cream tubes in their respective paper boxes, and dental retainers in its plastic container!
  9. Thick plastic containers of toy boxes. By this I mean those plastic covers that come with a new toy, where the toy sits in a box with the front all cut out, but covered with a layer of plastic so shoppers can see the toy without touching nor damaging it. That thick plastic is less prone to breaking, and tends to have interesting curves to them. They are nice for grabbing and making loud sounds, or (when edges are safely taped up so they are not sharp) nice to look through to see the world all distorted. I don’t quite like giving my son this because it can be sharp and a hazard, but he LOVES looking at the world through this. Kaleidoscopes next time 🙂
  10. Any semi-hard surface. Good for drumming. Different surfaces give different sounds when hit upon. Hit with your palm to show your baby how to make sounds on the table or the chair or the overturned bowl. Soon, he’ll be smacking everything to make his own orchestra
  11. Netting. This can be found on most playpens, or cot bumpers. Teach your baby to look through the netting, or even press your face into it. Again, perception of the world changes, and see the funny faces that emerge from the other side of the netting! 😛
  12. Flour and water. Mix food flour and clean water to a nice, dough-ey consistency that keeps it in a piece but is not overly sticky. Add food coloring if you like. This rare texture will be fun for all babies and toddlers. And you don’t have to worry about them sticking it into their mouth. Babies will be more interested in the texture and the random flour powder falling out. Toddlers will like making different shapes and other things they do with regular playdoh. 
  13. Bubble bath and a ziplock bag. Squeeze a drop of bubble bath into a ziplock. Lather up the bubble by adding suitable amount of water. Zip it up and let your baby play with bubbles while keeping all dry and clean! Make it interesting by adding some food coloring to it. 
  14. A container full of water. Babies love splashing in water. Watch your child closely so they don’t risk dry drowning. 
  15. A piece of velcro. The different textures on the 2 sides of velcro, and how they stick together and tear apart with a unique sound, is bound to entertain for a long time. 

Please note that all of the above ideas will still require close parental supervision. Play with your child!

Baby’s First 30 Words!

One of the most exciting milestones of the bub has been talking. Right from the first day of conception, we always wondered if he will call mama first or papa first. And if he will walk first or talk first. The elderly will say that babies that talk first will have a good life, while babies that walk first are hardworking. My hubby talked first, and I walked first (SIGH!). Being a scientist, I am less skeptical that talking / walking first will define his entire life ahead of him. Not to mention that it is mainly hearsay and not much scientific evidence behind that comment. Nonetheless, it is fun to anticipate and bet on which happens first!

As the months built up, it became apparent that my son was more eager to process thoughts and talk rather than move his limbs. By the time he was 5 months (when he blurted his first MAMA albeit without meaning), both hb and I were convinced without a doubt that he will speak first. Sure enough, he was calling mama and papa by 9 months (deliberately, not just random mumbling); he could speak a few words by his first birthday; and by 15 months he is learning a few words a week while imitating random words we say, and at the same time connecting words into phrases. (see here on what I did to try and help him speak earlier / build his vocabulary from young)

Throughout the months, I always found myself anticipating the ‘next word’ he would learn. I googled for the most common baby’s first words – most did NOT make sense (e.g. dinosaur), while others were too straight forward (papa and mama). I tested some words and decided to teach my son a few words that we encountered daily and I thought were easy to learn (e.g. banana, lalala, mooo), but he decided to speak other words instead. I realized that every bub will choose their own first words differently, be it things they like, or sounds that they find fun, or words that they figured out the way to pronounce first. Whatever it is, don’t rush them, and have fun! And if you’re like me curious about what your baby will say first, here’s my very own list to share 🙂

  1. mama
  2. papa
  3. car
  4. ball
  5. moo (sound of cow)
  6. bus
  7. roar (lion / tiger)
  8. bird
  9. bear
  10. fish
  11. there
  12. bobobo (sound of motorbike)
  13. bom bom bom (sound of drum)
  14. chee chee chee (sound of monkey)
  15. yeye (grandfather)
  16. card
  17. banana
  18. baby
  19. star
  20. jiejie (older sister)
  21. chair
  22. book
  23. korkor (older brother)
  24. cut
  25. cheese
  26. touch
  27. hot
  28. cold
  29. hair
  30. hulk (yes, the fictional super hero)
  31. bao bei (precious darling – his pet name)
  32. cap
  33. poo poo

3 Certain Signs of Labour

This is the most common question for first time mummies. There are many MANY different possible signs of labor – loose stools, cramps, leakage, tummy ‘dropping’ etc… but none of these are certain. The most certain signs of labor are only the below 3, taught to me by my gynae:

  1. Bleeding. It can start off as spotting at first. But once it becomes a patch of blood (like the start of menses), it’s time to leave for the hospital. 
  2. Water bag bursting. This is the sign that has received the most ‘publicity’ (re: movies and dramas). What we see most on media is when the water bag has a big hole, and there is a gush of fluid. It is hard to miss that. However, it can also be that the defect on the water bag is small, and fluid slowly leaks or drips from the vagina. It will be continuous and cannot be controlled, unlike urine. If you experience either case, put on some pads like during a period, and start to leave for the hospital. 
  3. Contraction pains. Apparently this is the most confusing of the three, since pains can be observed throughout pregnancy (and also during our regular menses!). How to differentiate labor pains from baby’s kicking, from tummy upsets or pelvic pains from the heavy tummy?Firstly, these pains occur in the abdominal area (not stomach, so it’s not tummy ache or diarrhea or constipation). Secondly, they persist, their intervals shorten and intensity becomes greater as time passes. Thirdly, the contraction pains are regular. Meaning you experience them every 15 minutes consistently, or every 5 minutes consistently, not once at 9am and another at 915am and then a break before another at 12noon. In the event of experiencing any abdominal pain, rest for an hour first – that is how you will know if the pain is from anything else. If pain does not subside by instead gets more intense and regular, IT IS LABOUR! For 1st pregnancy, leave for the hospital when pain interval is 5 minutes. For subsequent deliveries, labor can progress much faster so leave for the hospital when the pain interval is at 10minutes. 

Note that not everyone will experience all 3 of the above labor signs. You may go into labor with only 1, or 2, or all 3 of them. If you still get confused when the time is near, just give your gynae a quick call (they usually have an emergency line), or if the hospital is not too far, stop by for an assessment. 

What to Bring in a Hospital Bag

This is always the big question for a increasingly-panicky mom-to-be, as the date of arrival for the little one looms around the corner. In Singapore, most hospitals provide basic necessities in the hotel room plus the goodie bags that come along with the hospital stay with the child’s birth. So most items to be brought along with the hospital bags are good-to-have for entertainment and other purposes.

What to bring:

  1. Going home clothes (do keep in mind that the body will still be similar to its pregnant stage, tummy and all; If planning a C-sect, one piece dress would also be more comfortable around the abdominal wound)
  2. Disposal underwear
  3. Handphone and charger 
  4. Abdominal binder (optional, recommended for c-sect, can also be purchased at hospital)
  5. Comfortable footwear
  6. Car seat for baby (if applicable)
  7. Breast pump, accessories and cleaning tools (if needed. Hospitals may also loan one if urgently needed)
  8. Money / Credit card
  9. Ob-Gyn receipts and other documents for claiming medisave, opening baby bonus account etc (all these can be done at the hospital for your convenience!)
  10. Marriage certificate (so you can register for the baby’s birth certificate immediately at the hospital)

7 Tips to Shed Pre-Pregnancy Weight – and More!

As vain ladies (c’mon, we are all vain in our ways! And we have our rights to be), we are always concerned about how that big pregnant belly will go away. We know it is cute, and what rests in there is even cuter. But when the baby is out, we no longer want people to ask “how many months along are you?” anymore. Shedding that weight is important to recollecting good self esteem, and I personally believe, important in minimizing risk of post partum depression. I was blessed with some good genetics, but I also did my fair share of work to shed the weight (read my other post on how to minimize excess weight gain in the first place to make this simpler). I lost a lot of weight in the first month, then it fluctuated with a big waist line not going down for the next 2 months. But before my son turned 3 months, I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight, and was wearing all my pre-pregnancy tight fitting clothes! 🙂 Never had I felt so good about my weight. Here’s what I did:

  1. Breastfeed. You’re transferring your fats to your baby, a win-win situation. Pregnancy weight gain, in the first place, is a natural way of the body to store fats to ensure sufficient food supply for your child when he is born. So breastfeeding is the natural way to transfer the fats to the ‘rightful’ receiver. They need lots of fats to grow the way they do, so be happy giving it. (I know breastfeeding also tends to make you hungrier and eat more, but I don’t think it leads to overeating)
  2. Take care of your own baby. That sounds like a given, but sometimes we leave the work to our helper, family, nanny, or infant care. Though we want all the help we can get, we should also engage with our baby and bond along the way. Change some diapers, feed, maybe bathe. Just getting on our feet a little will burn those extra calories. This is especially so when baby starts to become a little mobile – flipping, rolling, crawling. I crawled along with my son when he was first crawling and was very unstable. I developed lots of muscles then, and definitely burnt a lot of calories! You’ll enjoy this time with your baby too, so it’s a win-win again.
  3. Eat healthily. Think of your baby, and that what you eat is what he eats. That is a very strong motivation to reduce junk food intake. Because junk food makes us fat, eating zero amount of junk food prevents us from getting fat. 
  4. Hit the gym. Not just to lose the weight, but the burst of endorphines with even a short 15minute run on the threadmill will make you feel better. I strongly believe the moods and emotions do affect our weight as well, because feeling down and under can lead to comfort eating. 
  5. Take your time. Remember, your pregnancy weight took 9 months to accumulate. So do not expect to lose it all within 9 days. Your body needs to be loved and cared for. Also, if your weight loss is too rapid, there will be lose skin all over, which is even uglier than a small little tummy! So take your time, slow and steady wins the race!
  6. Choose good fats. Although the fat content in breastmilk remains relatively constant regardless of what you eat, the TYPE of fat matters. So in order to make sure your child gets the right fats for brain and eye development, make sure you eat the right fats in your diet. This means fats from fruits, vegetables and nuts. Think avocado, walnuts, almonds, soybean. Say no to pig’s trotters and deep fried nuggets. 
  7. Pack on the protein. Protein, as mentioned in my previous post, is very important to a growing child. Protein is also highly recommended in regular weight loss diets, as they contain a hunger fighting hormone that will fill you up more than carbohydrates. Fish and eggs are a good source of good protein. They’ll also increase your energy levels, which make you feel more like going for a run and losing even more weight. 

7 Tips to Control Weight Gain During Pregnancy

This is soooooo important if you don’t want to have an extra 30kg to lose after giving birth. Given that we have a healthy weight gain to support the growth of a healthy baby, we want to make sure we do not overload ourselves on unnecessary calories. If your starting weight is within the healthy range, your gynae will most probably recommend that you gain 1-2kg every month on average throughout your pregnancy. (note that this number can fluctuate, where some months you gain less and some you gain more. The gynae will have a better recommendation catered to you and your child’s medical needs) I gained a total of ~11-12kg throughout both my pregnancies, singleton and twins. With this weight gain, I didn’t have to do anything much post partum. All weight gain was lost after confinement, from all the loss of water retention and breastfeeding. Here’s what I did:

  1. Snack on nuts. These keep you fueled up consistently, and you can almost never eat too many nuts. Not only are you eating good fats, you know that these contribute to a healthy baby (they need lots of good fats to grow well, especially when developing the eye and brain in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters).
  2. Limit indulgence of unhealthy cravings. If you’re craving char kuay teow, or deep fried wantons, or german pork knuckles, think twice! It’s ok to indulge once in a while to ease that craving, but definitely not daily! Being pregnant doesn’t mean you get your way with eating unhealthily. And remember that everyone can have cravings, not only preggies, so don’t think that you are THAT special to be able to bend the rules. 
  3. Replace unhealthy cravings with healthy ones. If cravings keep coming and are very strong, try replacing them with some healthier options. Yoghurt? High in fat and calcium, just perfect for a preggers. Fruit salads and nuts are also very good as snacks, provided you do not have issues with gestational diabetes. When you feel that you need something more substantial, how about a baked sweet potato, a slide of bread with cheese, or an oven roasted chicken breast? These are all packed with goodness, taste delicious, and can fill you up.
  4. Keep walking. Walking is good to make sure you build your muscles to support the additional weight your body has to handle. It also prepares you for motherhood, which is physically demanding. If you have pelvic pains, getting your butt off that chair will also ease the pains. Start early, so you don’t feel the sudden pressure on your legs. Muscles don’t develop overnight. Walking is also said to lead to smooth labor. Do note that walking is not recommended for high risk pregnancies, and even healthy mothers should be limiting walking to stretches of not more than 30minutes. Stop if you feel pain in the tummy or start spotting. Any exercise should be done with caution and with advice from your gynae. I personally walk a lot throughout pregnancy. There happened to be a walking challenge, and I met the 180-240 minute targets almost every day, up until I was 8 months when I became too heavy to move that much. Plus, I didn’t want to go into early labor, so I stopped. 
  5. Go swimming. This has low impact on the knees if you’re feeling heavy. In fact, you’ll be happy to feel a lot lighter suddenly. A good break from heavy pregnancy. You’ll feel sooooo good in that cool water you won’t want to come up. Same warning applies as above. 
  6. Shop for baby items. And I mean shop at physical shops, not online shopping. This will be a lot of fun especially for first time mothers, and indirectly keeps you moving. There will be a lot to buy, so I bet you do not need much motivation or instruction for this. (you just need your husband’s credit card!)
  7. Involve your husband. Resisting cravings is never easy. So why not rely on your husband / partner, who is equally responsible for the pregnancy? Have him remind you not to submit to cravings all to time, or have him reject your pleas to buy you more food (moderately, that is, as you still need to take in sufficient nutrients for you and your baby!). You can also ask him to pass you the healthy snacks, or to go walking with you. Knowing it is for the health of the baby as well as to return him the hot wife he had as soon as possible, I’m sure he will be more than happy to help. 

5 Tricks to Encourage Baby to Drink More Milk

I must have done something wrong in my “previous life”, because I am gifted with 3 boys who all rejected milk significantly at some point of their baby life! (note that this can be as little as 10ml out of the usual 200ml bottle!). This problem was usually most evident during bottle feeding. I didn’t like to waste my breastmilk (i.e. liquid gold), but also because I wanted my son to get enough nutrients to grow well. The first time I experienced this, was when my first son was teething. I didn’t know he was going through that (being a first time mum, and he was teething from 5 months! too early to expect), and he ended up losing quite a few hundred grams of weight in a month. That sounds very little, but is actually rather significant, considering my son only weighs a few kilograms in total. From then on, regardless of his tantrums and his teething pains, I always tried my best to feed him as much milk as possible. It takes a truly resilient mum to do that with a screaming baby, but our love for them triumphs! Here are a few tricks I use with my children.

  1. Mix it into cereal. Cereal, being dry in powder form, requires a whole lot of liquid added to it before the baby can eat it. This is the perfect vehicle to feed milk through, because usually a solid feed of cereal will require as much milk as a regular milk feed. Perfect. As long as your LO has started solids, and loves to eat solids. (mixing into other foods work as well, but cereal is the most efficient)
  2. Use another vehicle to give milk. This could be a spoon (slow, but works even for newborns. That’s how they feed in some nicu), syringe, sippy cup, straw cup, and even open cup. Whatever the baby is willing to drink from. Or even a mixture of all! My son takes milk from a spoon on one day, then rejects it another. It could even take a combination of all to get him to finish half his usual milk feed too. 
  3. Sing songs. Or do whatever that distracts him. When babies are happy, they do (almost) anything you want them to. This works for feeding, changing diapers, showering, brushing teeth, etc. 
  4. Cuddle him as if breastfeeding. This worked mostly when he was a newborn or very young, when I could trick him to thinking that I was breastfeeding him. It seems that babies seldom reject breastfeeding, especially if they have been latching on well enough most of the time. They love it, and will not reject. So if you can trick them into believing they are breastfeeding (or at least feel as comfortable), they might drink some from the bottle. I know many people say that babies are smart enough to know whether it is the bottle or the breast, but at least the comfort of the cuddle is real. 
  5. Make a bread dip. I suggest this because my son loves bread. He will always take bread. So if he doesn’t take milk, I dip the bread into milk before giving it to him. Same for any solid foods he doesn’t want, I will just put them on top of the bread as spread, and he will eat them all the same. Find the one or two foods that your baby loves unconditionally, and use that as a vehicle to feed milk. I know some mummies recommend making things like pancakes and stuff from milk, but because I feed breastmilk, I do not want the milk to undergo high heat and lost part of its goodness. As a last resort, maybe, but I suggest searching for other non-heating recipes first.

Hopefully some of these work for you too!