5 things my 3 year old says that suggest she might be 8.

1. It’s okay mummy, it’s only a bug. (As I scream the house down at the sight of a Christmas Beetle)
2. Don’t worry mumma, I’ll be careful.. I won’t hurt myself. See? (As she climbs upside down on a hanging bridge at the playground)
3. Don’t cry Willy, it will be fine. (As she calms her baby brother)
4. No mum, no no no, it’s not a crow, it’s a magpie.
5. When we go home, I will go to potty, clean up, have a drink, read a book & go to bed. Does that sound good?

LoveS Continue reading

Bye Bye Pacifier (be brave!)

After months of deliberating about whether to use or not, we decided to give the paci a go. At around two months old, our daughter, like most, needed that little extra comforting at night. As we discovered.. WOW! The pacifier did live up to its name! The results were unbelievable, daughter slept well and woke up happy. It wasn’t long before we were addicted to the paci, using it at every nap time.

I have read and re-read the pros and cons of using a paci and was aware of the possible consequences such as delayed speech, buck tooth, depends on who you consult really. But I figured if we controlled its use (for sleep times only), we should be okay. As a mother, we do anything in our power to comfort our baby. Some of us offer the breast, others rock and sway, some brave mums cuddle their little ones until they fall asleep. The paci was just another method of comfort.

Throughout the last few months the thought of weaning our toddler off the paci has crossed my mind several times. Not that her speech is delayed, or her teeth are getting ruined, it’s just the fact that she is growing up and we felt it was time to move on. The paci played a large part of her sleeping routine, and naturally I procrastinated whether or not this may affect that.

The light bulb moment was when I discovered her favorite dummy had cracked. At this stage, I said to myself “Well, I can either replace it and continue to encourage the paci, or I can wean her off now.” I decided to wean her off. I hid all the pacifiers in the house and opened the cupboard doors to show her that there are none left. I had expected her to give a little wail but.. nothing! So far so good.

Coincidentally, the day we started was right after a morning when little miss had gotten into trouble. She had not been listening and mom’s boundaries went up loud and clear. By nap time, she was tired and knew that another tantrum would put her back onto mommy’s stern side. So.. we continued our usual day nap routine – we read, we got her blankie (another comforter she can’t live without), tucked her in and I explained to her that there would be no more dummy. She looked at me and repeated “no dum dum”. And fell straight asleep!

That night was also a breeze, she went to sleep without protest AND without waking us up in the middle of the night to retrieve it when it fell out. WOW WOW! Husband and I just could not believe it.

On the second day, although she was just as compliant for the day nap, she protested for 20 minutes at bedtime. After we repeated in a soothing voice that there is no dummy, as we had given it to the baby next door, it did not seem to be working. So I told her in a slightly stern voice that meant ‘there is no point in arguing because there is no dummy”. We gave her a big hug and said “you can do it, big girl”.. Low and behold, she slept through the night again!

The third day nap was at grandma’s – probably not the best idea to do this so soon as she protested for 45 minutes. Well, I did not pack a paci so there was no way grandma would have one. She ended up sleeping her usual 2 hours and bedtime that night was smooth sailing.

I guess one of the biggest hurdles about change is action. It’s easy to say “just do it” but it’s often not that simple. If your toddler is happy, why change anything? Admittedly I felt a twinge of losing my baby to a big girl but it is our job as parents to decide what’s best for him/her and the results can astound even yourself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – our toddler is capable of so much more than we think.

Moving forward, there is no way we will give her the paci again. I am standing firm, so is hubby. Out of sight, out of mind. As the days and nights go by, the request will dwindle and she will continue to sleep like a big girl! Next challenge – moving to a new room and a new bed!

LoveS

A Calm Mum’s Guide to Traveling with a Toddler – Part Two

Whoever said traveling is not about the destination, but the journey, must not have traveled with a child. As mentioned in my previous post, traveling with a child is about plenty of planning and preparation. There will be a myriad of things going through your mind relating to what to pack, which toys she would love best without bringing the whole toy box, what foods are allowed in the country, etc.. Eek! I wish someone would have advised me.. Nevertheless I learnt and I’m sharing!

The Destination

We arrived in Singapore early in the evening. After having only a short nap, Ava was too exhausted to protest about the hour long immigration line. Luckily we had met the older couple queuing behind us, earlier on the plane and they helped me keep Ava entertained.

By the time we checked in and got our luggage, we were both ready for bed! But we kept to our routine as we would at home – I gave her a bath, dinner and read a book for story time. I had packed for Ava some organic jar foods, which she blatantly refused (she is a fresh-food bub!) but happily drank her sachet of powder formula. 30 minutes later, after a bit of unease about her surrounds, she dozed to sleep with her comforters. Now it was my turn to tune out! Ahh.. room service.

As I had packed light, I visited the supermarket the next day to stock up on supplies for the week. Nappies, fresh milk, cereal, fruit, yoghurt, and I bought familiar brands where possible. A friend had also dropped off the umbrella pram I pre-purchased on eBay for $40. This pram would be my lifesaver for the week, as the city is a walk-everywhere kind of place and carrying a 13kg bub did not appeal!

The days passed and we stuck to our routine where possible (naps back at the hotel every midday-2pm and always a bath before bed). At first Ava’s eating was a little less than ideal – she would mostly stick to eating the foods I purchased from the supermarket. Luckily she found a love for dumpling noodle soups and sushi.

As for a bit of shopping and sightseeing.. that wasn’t entirely impossible, just a bit of hard work. An underslept toddler in a new city resulted in an overtired and hyper-active toddler. Ava was mostly interested in hiding under the clothes racks at the shops and going up and down stairs at the Aquarium and Gardens. Which meant I was constantly playing chase and grab. At least I saved money on barely doing any shopping!

All in all it went pretty well. I’m not sure if I would do it all alone again for such a long period, but we got the hang of it. Kids are full of surprises though, as we came home and got straight back to our routine (home time zone), it was like we never went anywhere.

The Destination in a nutshell

– If you are traveling solo or thinking twice about taking your space shuttle of a pram, why not hire/borrow/buy a pram at your destination –  this means you can travel light. Ask the hire companies if they can deliver to your hotel. If buying a pram, consider what to do with it afterwards. Give it to friends? Donate to goodwill? We were lucky enough to have had a very helpful porter who just had a grand daughter, and we gave our pram to them. Also invest in one of those backpacks for your child that has a child “leash” to keep your bub with you at all times. Better leashed than lost!
– Pack foods that your toddler will eat, but check with the country’s food restrictions first. Dry foods such as cereal is usually okay to bring from home and saves you from paying double the price at the supermarket. Pack sachets of formula, in case the milk is not pasteurised/you have no time to get milk.
– Try to get bub used to jar foods, this is a convenient and cost effective meal on the go.
– Ensure bub stays well hydrated and is eating fibrous foods. The last thing you need a sick child in a foreign country!
– Pack his usual comforters and let him have a dummy when he wants it – he is probably slightly insecure about what’s happening, and this will comfort him. If you usually control dummy use at home, he won’t want it as much anyway.
– Keep to a routine where possible. Yes, you are visiting friends/family but they will understand that bub’s needs come first.
– Don’t expect things to go smoothly, if it does, great but don’t get upset when it doesn’t.
– If you want to go shopping or sightseeing – go! Bub will enjoy seeing new things, but try to keep it short and have coffee breaks.
– Greet the porters/concierge at the hotel in friendly manner – they will help you load your things into and out of a taxi quickly, and some may help you, the friendly hotel guest with the cute baby, jump the queue. All the little things that make it easy for you and bub!
– It’s easy to neglect ourselves when we’re so busy keeping an eye on bub. But it is so important to look after yourself. At the end of the each day, practice a bit of yoga or do some stretching and breathing excercise. This will help relieve any tension and gets you to sleep better, resulting in an easier morning.
– Give your bub the benefit of a doubt – they may be more intuitive than you may think. Once home they revert to their routine as you’d expect. And no doubt is as glad to be home as you and your husband are.

The eBay pram doubled as a new toy!

The eBay pram doubled as a new toy!

LoveS

A Calm Mum’s Guide to Traveling with a Toddler – Part One

Ahh.. HOLIDAY! We all love a holiday but some of us often come home feeling like we need a holiday from the holiday that we just had. Probably because the whole family tagged along.. A holiday used to be about shopping, partying and lazy sightseeing. Now as a mother, a holiday with bub means being an extra busy mum in a foreign country. This automatically translates to getting out of routine, constantly worrying about what food bub will eat and searching for the parents’ room in an alien language. As for shopping and lazy sightseeing? Let’s do that again in 18 years! What about the holiday after the holiday? Yes.. that would be skulling down a hot cup of tea on the kitchen island whilst catching up on mail/sleep/washing/younameit.

The first time I planned an overseas trip with Ava, I was naturally anxious. I was nervous about the journey, about her meals, and of course the impact the travel would have on our strict routine. Plus I was traveling sans husband (he was already pre-booked for a conference). Ava had been great on short flights and road trips before, but this one was an 8 hour journey! How to keep an 18 month old toddler occupied for so long?? Since we were flower girl and bridesmaid to a friend’s wedding, we had to go and I needed a plan.

I’ve heard stories of parents struggling with the whole flying experience and conducing to medicate their toddlers for various reasons. Although I took their advice in stride, I was adamant not to medicate Ava..

On the Plane

I purposely booked the daytime flight as an overnighter would have us leave close to midnight, which means broken sleep for bub, not to mention the re-settling on the plane. Caring for a sleep deprived toddler (and self) would not have been a good way to start the trip. Ava is a 7am-7pm bub so the 9am flight was much better. I boarded the plane armed and ready and had allowed Ava to run around the terminal a little bit. The plan was to tire her on land, then keep her occupied on-board without getting hyper. So, I stocked my one carry-on (a huge LV Neverfull is the best mummy/nappy/travel bag) with fiddly foods such as Rice Wheels and sultanas (recommended ear poppers), water, colouring and her fave reading books, and my old iPhone for games.
On the plane, as we discussed where we were going, my worries started to dissipate. Here is my toddler seemingly calmer than myself, pretending to be an airplane and singing “whee whee whee”. On take off, I was pleasantly surprised that the air hostess encouraged Ava to sit in her own seat, rather than be strapped to me. Wow did she feel like a big girl!
For the first few hours, she kept herself busy with food, books and the in-flight entertainment. Upon nap time however, she was too distracted to sleep! Mind you the bassinet provided wasn’t long enough for her and other toddlers around us were crying (they probably didn’t have sultanas!) so I couldn’t blame her. She did end up napping on my chest for a good 40 minutes thankfully.
I saved the trump card – the iPhone for the last leg of the flight, and it worked wonderfully. She shared it with the toddler next to us (which quietened him down too) and I didn’t have to worry about it running out of battery. Phew.. what nerves? This has become a journey more enjoyable than I expected!

So, flying long distance in a nutshell:

– Travel lightly on board by having only one easy access carry-on bag.
– Pack fiddly foods that are low in sugar.
– You don’t have to be the first on board if you are traveling light. Do you really need an extra 30 minutes of toddler distraction? Let him run around a bit longer!
– Introduce toys or activities one at a time.
– Let them watch as much in-flight entertainment as they want!
– Run up and down the aisles a few times and try to say hello to a couple of flight attendants or other passengers. Your toddler will love saying hi to them when he sees another familiar face on board.
– Stay calm. Anxiety is contagious.
– Shower bub with praise when he’s good and speak to him in a distractingly happy voice.
– Be warned – using the lavatory can be a challenge with the two of you in there. So will changing a nappy!
– During lunch, have a sip of wine. You will need it.
– At the end of the journey, reflect on the positives and apply that to the return flight home.
– Once home, reward yourself with a trip to the day spa and some shopping!

Hope that helps all you wonderful parents out there! Traveling with a toddler is a memorable experience and good bonding time. I am hoping to post Part Two of my Guide to Traveling with a Toddler in the next few days. It will cover what happens at the destination!

Checking in!

Checking in!

LoveS

A Calm Mum’s Must-Try Toddler Recipes

You may own myriads of recipes already, passed down through family members, or archived from multiple different sources. There are so many out there, and if I could, I’d try them all! However, not only can making toddler meals be time consuming, it can be disappointing when bub doesn’t like it after all the trouble you’ve gone through!

As referred to in my last post, mealtimes can be smooth sailing when you know how (probably more important than what bub likes) your toddler likes his food.  In most cases, bub will enjoy his food better when mushy or saucy. The following recipes are helpful for the transition from toddler meals to adult meals. You know.. that period when you’re short on time and wish bub can eat chicken tikka masala with the rest of the family!

I try to buy organic where I can but if not, these meals are still be jam-packed with nutrition… and are pretty much one-pot-freeze-able-wonders. But best of all, bub will love them!

Risoni in Veggie Broth

3/4 cup risoni
1/2 zucchini, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
50g sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
500ml water
1tsp good quality stock (Vegetable or Chicken)
Sprinkle of parsley

Method

Cook risoni in a pot of boiling water for 10-11 minutes

In another pot, cover zucchini and sweet potato with water and bring to boil. Cook until tender – cubes should fall apart with the press of a fork. Lower heat. Do not drain – the water is part of the nutrition!

Drain risoni and add to the cooked pot of veggies. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine and gently smash the vegetables (watch out for spatter!)

Stir in stock, parsley and a splash of water if required. The consistency should be soft, chunky with a bit of broth. Cool thoroughly prior to serving.

Easy Tuna Tomato Risotto

1 cup arborio rice
90g canned tuna in spring water, drained
1/2 onion
1 clove crushed garlic
200g chopped tomatoes (canned or fresh)
50g frozen corn kernels
50g frozen peas or fresh broccoli
500ml vegetable stock (or water), heated
1tsp olive oil
1/2tsp butter
Sprinkle of oregano
Parmesan for sprinkling

Method

Heat olive oil and butter in a saucepan. Cook onions and garlic until soft. Add rice and stir to coat each grain. Add stock and cover. Cook for 12 minutes, but check after 10. Stir well and add more stock if required.

Once cooked, stir in the chopped tomatoes, corn and peas. Cook for a further 2-4 minutes, until veggies are soft. Stir in tuna and oregano and heat through.

You may wish to mash up the risotto if bub is a young toddler.

Serve with parmesan.

There you go – a couple of easy, nutritious meals for bub that’s yummy enough for the whole family and easy enough to whip up! Hope you enjoy them.

LoveS

A Calm Mum’s Guide to Toddler’s Eating

Food fussiness amongst toddlers is a common issue. I’ve heard many mums complain about their toddlers not eating fruit, veg, or not eating full stop. It can be frustrating not knowing what to do or why they won’t eat. There are unbelievable amounts of information and tips out there for getting your little ones to eat. But is it too much information? If we could change our method of feeding, what would we do differently? Surely even the kids know what we’re up to by now.. hidden veggies in bolognaise? C’mon we’re on to you! Why can’t we just put a bowl of carrots and peas on the plate and have our children eat it happily? Well.. would we eat it?

There could be a myriad of reasons as to why kids are fussy eaters. One reason, according to many experts, is too much cow’s milk could suppress a child’s appetite which can lead to some nutrient deficiencies such as iron. They also recommend that children aged 12-24 months should drink no more than 500-600ml of dairy milk per day. I’ve seen for myself the affects of kids who drink too much milk – they crave a lot of red meat, some even prefer them under done!

Whilst I’m no expert in children’s diets or eating and the following tips are merely my opinion plus a bit of research, I can say that my 22 month old Ava does eat everything I put in front of her. She even says “Mmm… Yum” before gobbling up her meal.

Samie’s Toddler Tips on Eating

1. Have a routine.

2. I started feeding Ava homemade pear puree at 4 months and introduced her to new flavours every week for a couple of months. Ava’s foods are always homemade – no additives and usually organic.

3.  She would always have her solids first, before drinking her milk.

4. I introduced the same food in different textures, half mashing/half puree-ing, before completely graduating her to mashed foods at around 6-7 months.

5. By 12 months, there is an obvious pattern in her eating – she liked things soft, chunky is fine, as long as it is soft. She also likes her food to be coated in liquid of some sort. So if she didn’t like broccoli, I would make them softer, if she didn’t like potato mash, I would add more milk. And I started making risottos for her – it’s soft, creamy, easy one-pot wonders and freezes well!

I think it is important to learn from your toddler and to listen to her needs. Rather than give up because she’s not eating her veggies, knowing her better will help you understand the meaning of the issue. I know this may be harder for working mums, but get a report from the daycare teacher, or babysitter to get a better idea of bub’s eating habits.

6. In addition to listening, speak to your toddler. I tell Ava what she’s eating and get her involved in the cooking process, “Ava, should we add some yummy corn to this?” “Wow.. look at the colours of the carrots, peas and tomatoes in here!” “Would you like to smell the basil/garlic/onion?”

I strongly believe that early eating habits sets the standard for future eating habits. Having said that, I have never made a big deal of how carrots, for example, are good for her. Of course it’s good, that’s why I give it to her. We are the role models and toddlers will respond to what we say is good.

7. No matter how well a toddler eats, there will be moments where they will simply refused to eat. To this I would say to Ava in a CALM tone of voice that unfortunately she will have to remain in her chair until she eats. And that I will not respond to her whinging until this happens. Guess what? With a bit of persistence, it worked! I couldn’t believe she understood me!

8. Another important eating habit – save the lollies, ice cream, chocolate! Dessert for Ava is 3 parts Greek yoghurt to 1 part flavoured yoghurt. Naughty treats once in a very rare while is okay, but they should never be used as a bribe!

9. These steps may not work for every mum and all toddlers are different. The key is to be consistent, patient and forever nurturing. I once read an empowering thought that I have used as my mantra – “You are the best person for your child”. Let’s aim for that!

Sample menu of Ava’s daily meals at 22 months –

Breakfast: Oatmeal with sliced banana and dollop of honey; a small drink of (enriched) soy milk
Morning tea: One pear; drink of diluted apple juice
Lunch: Tuna risotto with onion, mushroom and tomato; drink of water
Afternoon tea: Cheese and rice crackers with a drink of soy milk
Dinner: Spaghetti bolognaise, banana and yoghurt; drink of water
Pre-bedtime: Warm cup of cow’s milk

Throughout the day snacks if hungry: sultanas, fruit, cheese, rice crackers

Watermelon YUM

Mmm.. Apple!

Mmm.. Apple!

Making food fun!

Making food fun!

iToddler

Technology. Love it or hate it? If you’re reading this from your phone or tablet, you probably love it. I certainly do, so does everyone else in the house – hubby and toddler.

There is some controversy surrounding the exposure of technology for toddlers. Some are against it, some embrace it. In my opinion, educational apps encourage brain development and early learning. Our toddler Ava has been exposed to technology – the iPad since I started downloading educational apps for her at 6 or 7 months old. Is it the bright colours that she is attracted to? Or is it the interaction she receives? Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as though we allow her to be on the iPad 24/7 tapping at Angry Birds. She is allowed 1.5-2 hours max for educational apps only.

The iPad serves to challenge Ava’s mental development and so far it has done just that. At 20 months she can complete a 12 piece puzzle and recognize letters, numbers and animals. She has also shown me one or two shortcut skills!

Not bad for a toddler who doesn’t go to daycare. It occurred to me that she is more techno at her age than I was at 25!

Some may argue that similarities exist between sitting a child in front of a tablet and sitting a child in front of the TV. Yes, both can serve as babysitters when you need to cook dinner – I’ve been guilty of that. Who hasn’t!

So.. Is iPad the future of learning? Research has shown significant development in autistic kids from using iPad; many classrooms around the world are equipped with iPad; grandparents everywhere now have access to the world right at their fingertips. Clearly the evolution of learning has advanced enormously in just a few years.

Who knows what a classroom would look like by the time Ava goes to high school but any high tech curriculum will undoubtedly stem from the iPad.

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