Baby Furniture Rearrangments

Ever since Nat started sitting up and getting on his fours, we decided to shift around his furniture. As such, his playpen is now in our living room (-.-) while his playmat is now at my mom’s place. His crib is still in our room but soon…… we’re going to move it into his room. I’m prepared to move him this weekend but HJ would like him to snooze in our room for a while longer haha so maybe, we’ll experiment around 8-9 months?

So the main impetus for this is that Nat is rarely on his tummy nowadays, he’s always either sitting up or on his fours trying to crawl.

Moreover, since he’s over at my mom’s place 3 days a week, we decided to just leave his playmat there permanently. Then on the days he’s at home, he’ll be playing in his playpen or on our beds.

The perks to this arrangement is as such:

  1. Safety – The playpen is a much safer alternative compared to our beds or the playmat because if he loses balance and falls forward or backwards, he’s already on the playpen mattress. This was the mattress that Nat used to sleep on when he was between 1-5 months before we lowered it.
  2. Convenience – We can still see what he’s doing inside the playpen when we are at the dining area or kitchen. Then when our helper takes in the clothes to fold, she also does it on the sofa so someone is always looking out for him at any one time. Then when it’s time to read his books, we just lift him out of the playpen as the sofa and rattan chairs are all located next to it.
  3. Dog-friendly – Previously, with the playmat, we had to fold and keep it whenever Cookie came for fear that she may mistake it as her pee pad, which she conveniently picked her toilet to be smack infront of my living room display shelf. Now, with this playpen, Nat can still have his playtime while the dog is freely roaming about so both of them can do their own things concurrently.

The downside to this arrangement is…

  1. Clutter – Our living room floor space now has a playpen smack in the middle. Though it has wheels, there’s only so much place left to wheel it aside.
  2. Empty nursery – Nat’s crib being in our master bedroom while his playpen is now outside in the living room means that his diaper trolley is also occupying a corner of our room. Thankfully there’s ample room to walk from our bed to the toilet after fitting in his crib, diaper trolley and a stool. On the other hand, there is a blank space in his room, which is meant for his crib. Hopefully we can move him out soon (say at 9 months?)

 

Sigh… it’s like the balance between baby-related necessities and household decor is a tough one to maintain. Previously when deciding on any household items, it was always form vs function. Now, it’s form vs function vs baby haha!

Originally,  I was prepared to shift him out this Friday (always experiment when the next day isn’t a work day!) but HJ read some articles about how it is recommended for baby to sleep in the same room for the first year. So now, I guess 3 of us will be stuck in the same room for the next few months.

I mean the biggest perk of having his crib next to us is that if Nat were to suddenly wake up at 5/530am, soothing him back to sleep is much easier compared to if we had to walk out into the adjacent room. However, I think there is merit to having Nat sleep on his own. Who knows? Maybe after a few minutes of fussing on his own, he can fall back to sleep again. Currently, we have to fight the urge to sooth him the moment he cries because if left on his own for 1-2 minutes more, we notice that he actually just goes back to sleep.

To date, we are still trying to be consistent in upholding the following when it comes to nap/bedtime:

  1. Minimal assistance in helping him sleep i.e. let him fuss for 10 minutes or so, which further tires himself out so he’s really on the verge of sleeping
  2. If we have to intervene, keep patting to approx. 5 minutes such that he is drowsy but still awake so he can fall asleep on his own

It’s hard, because it’s so much easier and faster to just pat him until he’s 100% asleep but no, the ‘struggle’ for them to fall asleep without much help from us is a necessity.

– CK

Finding THE Playmat

I’ve put this on the back burner for weeks… whether we should get a rug, mattress or playmat. Then after hours of research coupled with a lucky find over the weekend, we found the perfect playmat for Nat (and our home) – the PE Parklon Folding Mat. It’s thin but firm enough and best of all, it can be folded and kept away!

So the discussion whether to get a playmat was reopened after Nat started flipping almost everywhere – on our bed, the sofa, his crib. The safest place for him to do all his antics was the floor but we only had a small quilt-like cushion for him to lie on.

We went back and forth with the options below but each had its own issues.

  1. Old school mattress: This was the surface that HJ and I learnt how to crawl. In those days, there weren’t all these fancy playmats. It was either the good old mattress or the floor.
  2. Comforter/quilt: My mom has a spare quilt that we could let Nat lie on or do tummy time. However, while it is fluffy, it’s not firm enough to cushion any impact should his head hit the floor.
  3. ‘Permanent’ Playmats: These range from those puzzle pieces to one-piece mats. I was looking at Parklon Bumper Mats from small small world’s estore. However, my main gripe with these mats is that they tend to become quite ‘permanent’ in the living room. If one is okay with that or intends for that to happen, then no issue there but… I really don’t want to have Nat’s playmat left permanently in our living room. No doubt the Parklon Bumper Mat can be folded and kept in a carrier bag but I rather not keep doing that because it may end up having crease lines after repeated folding. I also don’t think it’s meant to be folded too frequently. Cost-wise, I was really reluctant to spend $120++ on a playmat.

So we were stuck until I found the foldable version of the bumper mat – sold on smallsmallworld and Agapebabies. At less than $90 (before discount), it is more affordable vis-a-vis its bumper mat cousin. We were also very lucky because there was a 15% promotion of all Parklon mats last weekend so that was when I decided it was the right purchase. Material wise, the foldable one differs from its bumper mat cousin as it is made out of PE vs. PVC, but both of which are safe and non-toxic for babies/toddlers so PE or PVC didn’t really bother me.

From Agape Babies

 

The mat comes with a bag and can be kept neatly (above pic) when folded. Actually, I didn’t think we had much choice because it was the only playmat that met all my criteria:

  1. It’s thin yet firm enough to cushion any impact even though it’s only 8mm in thickness. The other bumper playmats range from 10mm to 15mm but a difference of 2-5mm didn’t really bother us because it’s mm and not cm.
  2. It is not meant for heavy usage (the description of the mat also states this) and is supposed to be folded. This sealed the deal for me! Nat is usually having his reading/tummy/play time 2-3x a day at most so it doesn’t need to be open at night after we wash him up and put him down to sleep. I also bring my mom’s dog over on weekday afternoons so even if she’s toilet trained to do her business on her pee pad, there’s no way I want to risk having a carpet/rug/playmat permanently laid out in the living room for fear of pee/poop accidents.
  3. The top surface is strangely flat/smooth and not embossed, unlike its bumber mat cousin so cleaning is very straightforward. Note: the design of the foldable mat is one-sided whereas the bumper mat has two-sides. It being one-sided was fine with us because if the under-side is going to come into frequent contact with the floor, we won’t want to flip it so often either.
  4. I love the design – okay, this has nothing to do with its functionality or price but really just my personal preference. It’s subtle, not too ‘kiddy’ and doesn’t clash with my living room decor/furniture. Coincidentally, Nat also has quite a few ‘twinkle star’ items such as his carrier and onesies so now he has a ‘twinkle star’ mat 🙂

Now, we can literally see how our decision to not have 1) a coffee table and 2) a TV are the two best decor-decisions we’ve made with regard to our home. The lack of a coffee table allows us to have the whole living room space for Nat’s mat amongst other things without having to shift anything away. It also provides ample space at night to do our circuit workouts/stretches. As for the TV, I think we’re quite happy as Netflix junkies and do not want Nat getting distracted with screen time.

So this finally concludes the playmat issue!

– CK

But first, let’s float

So this weekend, we decided to introduce Nat to the big cold pool during our staycation at Amara. The water doesn’t have such an overwhelming chemical smell so I figured it would be quite safe. Timing-wise, we went at 5pm yesterday and 11am this morning so it wasn’t too cold. Our main purpose was to get him comfortable beyond his inflatable pool. He also seems to kick more without his neck float so we’ll probably ditch that soon. 

“Swimming” with a baby is very different from without one! 

  1. I can’t dip in the pool longer than 30 minutes as babies lose heat faster than adults so 30 minutes is the maximum time for now. When Nat was younger, the recommended time was 15 minutes. 
  2. There’s no actual swimming being done unless one of us tends to the baby so the other can do laps. 
  3. There’s also not much sun-tanning while having an ice cold beer, until after dipping with baby is done. 
  4. Most importantly, one needs to plan and pick the right time to go to the pool.
  • Baby must have been fed, but not too recent as the last thing you want is for baby to vomit. 
  • Ideally, baby should have already pooped or not going to poop anything soon. Nat strangely poops slightly before 2pm everyday so bringing him at 11am and 5pm was safe. Nonetheless, always wear swim diapers as insurance! 
  • Baby also needs to be well-rested i.e. not just before nap time if not you’ll be dealing with a potentially cranky and overtired baby. Yesterday we brought him after his PM nap and today we went down at 1115am, 1hr after his 1015am feed and 1hr to go before his post-bath cat nap.
  • If the baby is unwell, or just recovered, swimming is definitely not possible. 
  • Lastly, the weather needs to be on your side. Swimming before 10am and after 6pm is too cold. The noon-day sun is also another no-no. 

So when all the above is met, then yes, perfect time to go dip baby in the pool. 

I also say “swimming” because I personally think that one needs to be of a certain age before they can listen, understand and perform the skills related to actual swimming strokes. Previously, I came across a video where babies were taught how to roll and float as a safety measure in the event that they fall into a swimming pool. The context for this is that in the US, quite a lot of private houses have pools in the backward. Nevertheless, this isn’t to say there are no perks associated with baby swim classes or bringing babies to the pool at a young age. I also believe it’s entirely possible for them to blow bubbles and swim underwater. Just that for now, we’re focusing on building water confidence such that Nat will eventually be comfortable enough when it’s time to learn the actual swimming skills. Like this article summed up, it’s more fun than form at this point. 

If I have to pick something to teach, the first one won’t be kicking per say, but floating. That was what my Grandfather did with me and I plan to do the same with Nat. 

He called it the “telephone”position because baby is lying horizontal like a telephone. I was told since young that babies or toddlers need to be comfortable lying in the water, with their heads partially submerged (eyes and mouth above the water). Their back are supported initially until they get the hang of it, then the extent of support can gradually decrease. 

 

In the left pic, I supported Nat with both hands under his back but I loosened my grip and didn’t support his lower back anymore in the right pic. Hopefully, floating will come naturally in due time. 
Blowing bubbles, going underwater etc. all can happen later on because now, loving the water is no.1 🙂 

– CK 

Playtime 

For some time now, we’ve noticed that Nat does not really want to touch/play with his toys. Now that he can roll over, he loves tummy time but no matter what is in front of him, he does not really reach out for it, except his favorite ‘ring’ toy which ends up straight in his mouth.


However, he does seem more willing to use his hands to touch/explore his books. Guess that isn’t too bad! Whatever floats his boat, we’ll go with it. 


So back to toys, last Sunday while we were having lunch at a cafe, we noticed that Nat was very intrigued by a mineral water bottle. We brought it back to the car and he was starring and touching it. 


So that gave me an idea — sensory bottles! However, in the meantime while I am collecting the bottles, I did some sensory ‘mini pots’ first. 


These are breastmilk containers but since my pumping journey is almost at its end, I filled them with rice, pasta, red beans and black beans for different sound effects. However, Nat is just mostly listening to the sounds but not really shaking anything!  

Can’t wait for the time Nat starts playing and exploring everything. Then I can do more DIY-sensory toys such as the examples found HERE. Just need to find a way to neatly store away his toys because the last thing I want is to have the whole living room filled with Nat’s things. 

For now, all of Nat’s current playtime items are in these containers. The one in front is actually a plant stand that I turned upside down to become a basket of sorts haha. It’s like the best value buy ever!


So yes, it may sound idealistic now but am hoping to still keep things tidy even as his things multiply. 

– CK 

Water Baby 

For two Saturdays now, Nat has been floating and kicking around in his inflatable pool. This would be a regular thing until he’s 5-6 months then we’ll bring him to the cold, cholrinated adult pool. This started after we observed how he loves bathtime and is always kicking in his tub so why wait ;p 


Getting it together was easier than expected and took less than a week. I found a ring pool from Q100.sg and it came with a free electrical pump. Total damage was <$35. Then my sister bought the neckfloat during a BHG sale for around $10. Overall, still cheaper than one session at a baby spa? 


After he’s done with this, everything can be repacked into the box and sold (I hope) because there really isn’t a lot of storage space left in the house. As it is, if the weather is too chilly, we fill the pool in our master toilet and not the balcony. Thankfully, the water is then used to wash our two toilets and the balcony so not all of it is wasted. 

Gradually the plan is to lower the water temperature over the next few weeks. Currently it’s still a bit warm because I read that the usual swimming pool water may be too cold for babies under 6 months

The next challenge would be how to get him to be confident under water? Yikes or maybe we’ll just find a baby swim class haha. Being able to swim does not directly translate to being an effective swim teacher! So I guess let’s just stick to floating around and basic things like water confidence for now. 

– CK 

Oohs and Aahs – Nat’s Quirks

At 715am, just after his wake up feed and just before he went back to sleep, we had an impromptu ‘convo’ with our son, basically gimmerish sounds and I thought it would be funny to have a record of some of Nat’s quirks at 15 weeks/3.5 months. 

Eating habits: 

From day 1, he takes everything and anything – breast, bottle etc. Am excited to see how he takes to semi-solids and solids eventually. We have quite a greedy boy! 

Play habits: 

  1. Loves to ‘talk’ (since 2mths+) – time to eat, talk… time to sleep, still talking. Our new nickname for him is gigglypuff for obvious reasons haha 
  2. Can be very focused when starring at his cards, books etc. 
  3. Prefers reading to exercising i.e. tummytime and finger-gripping toys but we still incorporate time for both in his daily routine 
  4. Likes soaking/chillaxing in his bath tub, very strong kicks too
  5. He’s quite a vainpot – always smiling/laughing when we dress him up 

Sleep habits:

He LOVES sleeping on his side during naps and in his car seat… 

And… this is his weirdest yet…

In an event of a sudden awakening or if he’s overstimulated, he falls back to sleep best only when we ‘smack’ and ‘shake’ his butt. It’s now a household catch phrase – smack & shake. 

Yup, Nat has some very strange habits and we love him so. 

– CK

Tummy Time? Oops 

Yeah it slipped our minds. Somehow we didn’t get the memo that tummy time is supposed to start after birth (Whut?) and only became more mindful of it ard 2mths+. Then at the PD yesterday for Nat’s 3 month vaccination, we got instructions to have at least 15min of tummy time everyday to strengthen his neck muscles.

Sorry Nat, guess we have to add this into your daily routine that already consists of ‘studying’ and ‘exercise’.

Seems quite stressful being a baby these days with developmental milestones and all. If we didn’t have the health booklet or the PD tell us, we’ll be none the wiser.

So what exactly does ‘studying’ and ‘exercise’ entail for Nat?

The former refers to his flashcard routines and reading activities while the latter refers to us trying to get him to practice grabbing things with his hands and sitting up. Then there’s also music therapy – where I let him listen to nursery rhymes in the day and Disney songs prior to a nap. However, I did this more often when he was between 1-2 months whereas now there’s so many activities to do during his limited 1hour+ waketime.

So to add on to his daily list of activities, we now have to explicitly incorporate more tummy time – on the bed and on Daddy’s tummy of course.


– CK

Stroller vs. Babycarrier

So the day came where we had to decide whether to stick with just having a stroller/infant carseat combo or was it time to invest in a babycarrier? Actually the catalyst was also Nat weighing in at 6.5kg @ 10wks!

Featured below is part of our Combi, that our friend gave us (helping us to save a good deal of $$). The part not featured is an infant carseat that we leave in our car as carrying that together with Nat in it has become too heavy.

Our Combi has been working great thus far and there’s still plenty of room for Nat to grow into the stroller so we are currently using it with the insert. Part of the reason why we don’t find it so much of a hassle is because of the car and boot space – otherwise, I imagine it being quite a handful managing a stroller + infant + all the other bags and belongings.

Moreover, while there are carriers and wraps available for newborns, HJ and I are the more paranoid sort so we think about things like potential blockage of airways, overheating, fragile neck and head… etc. yup you get the idea so the above constituted the main deterrents why we did not get a carrier earlier.

Then came the point where Nat was no longer as tiny as he was when just a newborn and it felt more convenient to have the option of a carrier.

It also made my current ‘stay-home’ arrangement more flexible – when HJ takes the car to work, the pram goes with him in the boot. This would render me quite stuck if I wanted to go out with Nat. My Dad also lets me use his car when he’s overseas so instead of transferring the pram from one car to another, having the option of a carrier solves things.

So after doing all my research, I bought the Ergobaby (original) carrier in black because I’ll destroy any other lighter shade.

Technically, babies from 0-4 months are required to wear an infant insert because they cannot support their necks on their own yet but…. we tried putting Nat in the insert and he simply could not fit! That’s because he is above the 5.5kg weight limit for the infant insert ! What this means is that for now, I have to use one hand to support his neck when I wear him until he is around 3-4 months. Alternatively, the lady also said that I can also roll a small muslin towel and stuff it between his neck and the carrier for additional support.

There’s this website – Babywearing Internationalthat has very useful pictorial illustration in terms of what safety measures to look out for when carrying newborns, infants and toddlers.

So Nat currently falls under this category (below) as he is not 3 months yet.

Newborn-85x11-01.jpg

So after a few days of using the Ergobaby, here’s my take of it…

Comfort:8.5/10 (very good support for the back*** but reaching behind to fasten the strap takes some getting used to)

Price: 8/10 (slightly cheaper than the Tula and I enjoyed a further 10% thanks to our Mothercare membership)

Some cons:

  • Might get a bit stuffy for the kiddo so I’ll try not to use it on super hot days. That being said, I’ll be the main one using the carrier as HJ sweats easily – like father, like son 
  • I figured someone else needs to be with me when I’m using this so that I can pass Nat to them if I need to use the washroom – thankfully the one time I had to use the washroom when we were out having dinner coincided with his feeding time so while my mom fed him his milk, I took that opportunity to go to the bathroom 
  • Not easy to carry a baby inside when he is hungry or too full just after feeding (I know that breastfeeding in a carrier may be a breeze to some but whenever we go out, Nat’s usually bottle-fed so yeah)

The pros:

  • A flexible and comfortable option vis-a-vis the stroller… does not take up boot space and no need to wait for elevators anymore in shopping malls :))
  • Guards against overstimulation as it allows baby to nap when we are out – with the stroller, Nat just gets too stimulated by the surroundings.
  • Personally, I find it a great mechanism against anyone who just want to stimulate him when it’s the wrong time and/or reach out to touch his face. I don’t think that can happen so readily now that he’s nestled against my chest.

It seems this will come in handy and just in time for Chinese New Year visiting!

– CK

Rough Mornings

Don’t we all have them… 

We were off to a rough start this AM as both of us only slept at 230am after Nat’s night feed and my night pump session. Missing our usual 11pm-2am slumber is not something we shld repeat again. 

Thereafter there was a chain of not-so-fun events.

  • 630am: Nat didn’t really burp after his feed and so projectile puked out some milk during his diaper change
  • 10am: I decided to try and bathe him earlier as opposed to 12pm in a bid to shift his wake and bath time (because he’s a late sleeper and rider) but it backfired as Nat was cranky throughout his bath vs. it being a very calm and pleasant experience for the past two days  

Lessons learnt – 

  1. In order to start Nat’s bedtime routine earlier, we got to also wind things up early. This is very challenging as most things get done between 8pm-12am 😦 It was this way before and throughout my pregnancy but now our routines too, need to be adjusted.
  2. Any experimentation with changing any aspect of Nat’s daily routine should be done on the weekends when I’m not alone (am really dreading the more challenging phases of sleep training) :/ 

As a result of feeling all stressed out at how the morning turned out, I had to squeeze in some relaxation stretching. I’m surprised myself that one needs is the living room floor, shelf, an iPad and spa music on my Hp. 

Things then got better after lunch and we got back to our post-lunch stimulation routine 🙂

I just hope rough mornings happen less often moving forward -.- 
– CK 

Swings and Balcony Decor

Ever since we moved in (July ’16), I was contemplating how to do up our balcony. Not being a fan of eating outdoors, I wasn’t going to “extend” my living/dining area outdoors. I also knew that if I bought any outdoor set, it would be a white elephant.

So after my 3rd trimester came and gone, I finally had some time while on maternity leave and decided on getting a swing to accompany the two sad pots of outdoor plants that we had.

Swings have a special meaning for us.

Our special swing is at Sembawang Hills Awfully Chocolate where we go back every year to take a picture to commemorate our anniversary on 18th September. This was HJ’s idea… and yes he’s the more sentimental and romantic one between the two of us.

We can’t fit such a swing on our balcony and neither do we have space for a two -seater outdoor swing so… we got a one-seater with a maximum weight of 120kg so at least we can sit on it with Nat 🙂

Here’s HJ and Nat trying it out after it was installed…

So besides using it to escape household chores and diaper changes in the evening for some “me time”… I started a “swing time” routine in the evenings with Nat yesterday while waiting for HJ to come home from the office.

Some considerations: The plan is to have such “swing time” in the evening at 6pm, when the sun is just beginning to set so it isn’t too glaring for Nat and the wind isn’t too chilly neither. Nat is also wrapped in his swaddle cloth so he’s kept warm.

For 2 days in a row, it has been a fantastic routine because

  1. I get to enjoy my swing and the breeze
  2. Nat dozes off* after a while and begins his evening nap after his tea time and before his dinner feed

*It probably has to do with the slow swinging motion that gently rocks him to sleep. I’m also cautious not to spend so much time on it else there is a chance he will only nap/sleep when experiencing such repetitive movements. 

This was yesterday… where he relocated from swing to bed after he started snoozing (allowing us to have a peaceful dinner!)


And today’s outcome…


I guess we can safely conclude that the swing was indeed a very good buy!

– CK