Nasal Congestion (again)

The Nat is standing now…

I guess one good thing about my part-time arrangement is that when both the father and son are not well, I am available to bring them to the Doctor. This AM, my mom brought Nat and I to his PD while HJ slept in then in the PM, I brought HJ to the Doctor. This time round, Nat started having nose irritation over the weekend but we don’t know where he caught it from as none of us had any symptoms. Thereafter, he probably passed it to HJ. Anyhow, it doesn’t matter – those two are always passing germs around.

It’s quite strange actually because I observed that whenever HJ gets sick, Nat will sure catch something a few days later but not when I get sick? The last time I was unwell in May, I passed the germs to HJ first then after that, Nat started coughing (2 weeks after I first came down with the flu). Likewise, Nat has been having runny nose and nasal congestion for the past 3-4 days but I feel fine… can’t say the same for HJ though who succumbed to the flu quite fast.

As today was a walk-in appointment, we still have to go back to the PD next Monday for Nat’s 8 month routine vaccination.

Anyhow, since we went down today, we got new instructions from the PD with regard to food testing.

  • She isn’t worried that his daily milk intake isn’t consistently above 500ml – some random days when he really doesn’t feel like drinking much, he takes about 400ml+ of formula.
  • I guess there’s nothing to worry about because he’s gaining weight normally (9.1kg) and eats 4x semi-solid/solid meals a day!?
  • She also told us that we can start testing the following new foods:
  1. Beef
  2. Egg
  3. Cheese (?!)
  4. Yogurt
  • On top of the above list, I checked with the nurse and am going to add blueberries and plums.

Looks like we are in for quite an exciting month ahead with new foods and more milestones. I can already imagine one recipe that we can try in the next 2 weeks – beef potato hash (imagine it with cheese!) … so yummy.

– CK

Menu Planning

A glimpse into what happens on some Friday nights – intense/messy menu editing for Nat… just because we’re still testing new food items while also trying to give him some variety within a routine. This practice only became a bit more complicated after he started having 4x meals a day (with milk inbetween). Now as he is approaching 8 months, the rate of trying new food items have also somewhat slowed down. That’s not much of an issue really since his list of foods is quite extensive already so now it’s mostly about tweaking his menu based on what foods go well with each other.

So here’s some tried and tested porridge recipes that seems to be tasty for Nat between 6-8 months.

  • FISH 
  1. Salmon belly + seaweed (wakame) + tofu
  2. Salmon belly + spinach + winter melon
  3. Threadfin/cod + butternut squash + carrots
  4. Threadfin/cod + spinach + sweet potato
  5. Any of the above fish + broccoli + butternut squash
  • MEAT
  1. Minced chicken/pork + butternut squash + carrots
  2. Minced chicken/pork + butternut squash + peas
  3. Minced chicken/pork + sweet potato + spinach
  4. Minced chicken/pork + broccoli + carrots/winter melon

* Those underlined have been known to cause some wind if given too much so each time, only one such ingredient is added into the porridge and not in large amounts.

Usually, any ‘heavy’ flavours are balanced out with 1-2 vegetables. Butternut squash features quite a lot in Nat’s meals because it’s his favourite so whenever there is a stronger and not so nice-smelling flavour such as peas or cauliflower, butternut squash is featured in the meal.

For non-porridge recipes involving meat, I found these to be quite delicious but we stopped after 2 weeks and switched his dinners to porridge after discovering that he is still not full whenever he has a non-porridge meal in the evenings.

  • Non-porridge MEAT combinations
  1. Chicken/pork + butternut squash or carrots + peas + peach or apricot or apples –> the perk of a non-porridge meat meal is that it can be combined with a fruit for added taste/sweetness and balance vis-a-vis the vegetables.

Actually, most of the time, I plan his meals according to what I think I would feel like eating if I were him haha and I guess I’m the kind of person who likes some variety within a standard menu. 

As such, one meal combination for lunch/dinner is repeated over 2 days before I mix up the fish/vegetable combinations for variety.

Then I realize it’s pretty much like adult meals i.e. pork goes well with apple, sweet potato or pumpkin/squash while chicken goes well with peach and nectarines. So I figured that if it would taste pleasant for me, the same may apply to Nat.

Some useful guiding questions I found myself thinking about include:

a. Are there too many days that a ‘gassy’ food item is being given? i.e. sweet potato, broccoli. It can then be given on alternate days or at most, two days in a row. 

b. Are strong flavours balanced out with a lighter flavour? Like fish generally has a strong smell so the vegetables chosen should not clash with it but instead, compliment it.

c. Is the ingredient more suited for breakfast/lunch or dinner? i.e. bananas also cause wind so it is advisable to feed in the AM, before 3pm to prevent any indigestion issues. Nat’s PD also advised against giving sweet potatoes + broccoli + yam (typically ‘gassy’ foods for dinner. 

Can’t wait for the next stage of 8-10 month foods that he can try. It just gets more exciting as they grow older.

– CK

It has happened…

In view of Nat being a hazard to himself… I wish this day came a little later – he hoisted himself up using his crib bar and just ‘stood’ there while both of us were sitting in bed. All I remember was that he was originally lying down, then when I turned my head to check on him, I got a shock because I saw his head peeping over the crib staring at me! All I could think of was my worst fear, which is him knocking his teeth out against the wooden bar of the crib -.- 

So the above happened around 8pm, when it was supposed to be bedtime. 

It is also evident that cot bumpers are useless against the Nat. He just steps on them in a bid to hoist himself further up so the bumpers don’t really serve their function of cushioning any hits. This is already the higher bumper set with strings on the top and bottom. He has another set which is a bit lower with strings on only one side so he just kept tugging it out of place. 

P.S his crib platform has already been lowered to the lowest, the moment he could sit up 

Then I came across this interesting Q&A article about baby standing in the crib at night, which disrupts sleep because the baby has not mastered how to sit/lie back down. This is because babies master the art of standing before they know how to sit back down from a standing position. 

Note to self: to be prepared that once Nat can hoist himself up more, it may disrupt his night sleep since he won’t just be sitting up in his crib during the occasional early awakenings :/ 

At times like this, I look back to the 3-5 month phase fondly, when Nat was fairly immobile. 

It’s funny how when they were so tiny, you can’t wait for them to grow bigger and attain the various milestones but once that happens, you recall how life was a bit easier when they were just a tiny bundle. The grass always seems greener. 

– CK 

Mouth Injuries 

Yup… besides rolling off the bed once, Nat recently also knocked his mouth/gum against a table top (ouch!) when we were out. Thankfully, it was nothing serious and he recovered after like a minute. Then I went to google and realized there’s quite a number of things to look out for when it comes to baby safety – especially now that Nat can sit, crawl and hoist himself up. This absolutely charming boy is also very mischievous and dangerous!

So related to mouth injuries in babies, besides keeping them away from sharp/hard edges, ensuring they don’t crawl or run with a toy in the mouth is another thing. As it is, I ensure that only soft items are inside Nat’s playpen when he’s sitting inside and playing alone.

If the inevitable happens, which is a knock/fall and there’s some blood, the same first aid rules apply -> use a cold wet towel or if not available, a wet-one and put pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding. Should bleeding persist after 5-10min, it would warrant a trip to the Doc and especially so if cut is a big one. As much as we would want to pry open their mouths to examine the inside, doing so may spilt open the wound and cause bleeding to continue so that’s another thing to take note.

Cot-wise: We have lowered the platform to the lowest so that he doesn’t hoist himself up and over. He probably doesn’t have the strength yet but we also don’t want to take any risks. As it is, his cot bumpers are quite useless because he will pull them down and keep knocking his head. It doesn’t hurt at all and we always joke that it’s because he has his father’s skull – big, hard and relatively numb to pain.

Having his playpen out in the living room is the best arrangement we have thus far because every part of it is so soft so whatever monkey antics Nat gets up to doesn’t result in any physical injuries.

Anyhow, like HJ said, some accidents are bound to happen and we can’t protect him from everything. He has to learn certain painful consequences of his actions but I guess I’ll still try to reduce the likelihood of such things happening.

– CK

Let them…

The part that resonated the most was the 2nd last line – let them sleep in the middle. Some nights, like yday, Nat would wake up crying ard 515am. As it’s the fastest to soothe him back to sleep in our bed, that’s just what HJ did. Babies are also very quick to see a pattern because once Nat was inbetween our pillows, he went silent and went back to sleep. He also naps the longest when he’s snoozing in adult beds -_-

So that short episode this AM got me thinking… as much as I wish I wasn’t so groggy at 515am such that I could get up to soothe him back to sleep in his crib, I also don’t mind having him in our bed for they are only going to be this way for a while.

I think the first year’s the best.

Am not looking forward to the toddler stage and beyond.

– CK

Long Weekends

This pretty much sums up how our weekend went 🙂 As we don’t plan to travel with Nat anytime soon, one form of pseudo-vacations with him are staycations (only when there’s good deals of course). It also gives me a chance to escape, which is what I find myself doing quite often these days. Escape from what? I can’t exactly pinpoint. Maybe just the usual weekend routines that aren’t relaxing most of the time.

How shall I make sense of this…

Weekends with a baby are not really different from weekdays. Most of it is because of the choices we make but for valid and good reasons.

1. There are essentially no more late sleep-in weekends.

  • Nat would be hungry by 7am (if we’re lucky). On normal days, he would wake up around 630am.
  • We choose to keep to the same routine on weekends as per weekdays because our work requires us to be out of the house by 710am.
  • It is also much easier to just begin his day ard 7am and then schedule his breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner from there.

2. Weekends are also now characterised by bits of negotiation and lots of planning.

  • We try to bring Nat to visit his paternal and maternal grandparents and occasionally, his Great-Grandfather.
  • I’ve learnt that there can never be absolute parity so we just try to let everyone spend pockets of time with Nat.
  • More often than not, it happens at our own physical expense because it can be very tiring. It is the right thing to do but still, really tiring.
  • Strangely, the most relaxing Sunday we had thus far was when we left Nat to finish his afternoon nap at my mom’s place after lunch and both of us just went home. We didn’t plan for such an arrangement, it just happened naturally since it was time for his nap after lunch. It was relaxing because we simply rotted at home doing our usual brainless stuff, and the best part was that we could do nothing!

I guess these are some reasons why I look forward to the times where I can just get away and be alone i.e. at work, on vacation with HJ and/or during staycations with the kiddo. Sometimes it feels good to just be detached and in my own bubble.

Some days, all I’d really like to do is to chill on my balcony with a bottle of beer. Then I think about the calories and I get a bit more depressed.

But heck, the pull of the baileys irish cream is too strong. I’ll deal with the calories another day.

– CK

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

Porridge Recipes

Yesterday was Nat’s 7 month vaccination appointment – he received 2 jabs. One for flu and another one I can’t recall. Anyhow, in typical Nat-fashion, there was no fever so yay. The more facepalm thing was that we now have to give him 3-4 meals a day, with fish/pork/chicken porridge for lunch and dinner respectively and still drink 500ml+ milk a day (between meals). So yes I spent last night planning his daily menu for the rest of June :0 

So basically in a day his food routine is now as such: 

7am: wake up milk feed (70 to 90ml)

8am: breakfast rice cereal with a fruit (30ml milk mixed inside) 

<NAP> approx. 1 hour 

1045/11am: fish/pork/chicken porridge with 1-2 vegetable combos i.e. sweet potatoes, spinach, peas, carrots 

12pm: pre-nap milk top-up (30ml) 

<NAP> approx 1.5 hours unless we go out then it’s a cat nap 

230pm: afternoon milk feed (90-120ml) 

3pm: fruit purée teatime snack 

<NAP> usually the shortest one around 30-45min

530/545pm: fish/pork/chicken porridge with 1-2 vegetable combos (just no sweet potato or broccoli in the evening as they cause wind) 

730pm: pre-sleep milk feed (approx 90ml) 

10/1030pm: last milk feed (approx 90ml) 

Then while reading up, I realize that baby food recipes are very similar to our adult food ones. For example, pork goes well with sweet potato, carrots, pumpkin and apple. Fish goes well with spinach, wakame (seaweed), broccoli, sweet potato. 

So to add to Nat’s list of foods (below), we’ll be trying mainly chicken and pork for the next 2 weeks. 

Carbohydrates: 

  1. Rice cereal
  2. Oatmeal cereal (best mixed with fruit)
  3. Porridge
  4. Brown rice (trying next week) 

Proteins:

  1. Fish – cod, salmon, threadfin 
  2. Minced chicken (trying next week)
  3. Minced pork (trying next week) 

Vegetables: 

  1. Sweet potato
  2. White potato 
  3. Yam 
  4. Spinach
  5. Broccoli
  6. Cauliflower 
  7. Butternut squash (his no.1 pick)
  8. Carrots 
  9. Peas (his strange favorite?!)
  10. Beetroot (trying next week) 
  11. Wakame seaweed (trying next week) 

Fruits:

  1. Apple
  2. Pear
  3. Banana
  4. Avocado
  5. Peach
  6. Papaya 
  7. Grapes 

Exciting and yummy times 🙂 

– CK 

Traveling Without Baby

After the success of our ‘pilot’ trip to Hanoi, we’re definitely tempted (and more confident) to take more trips in the future where it’s just the two of us. Of course the biggest and most difficult decision i.e. whether you are okay traveling without baby has to be made way in advance but once that decision has been made, everything else comes pretty easy. HJ is very easygoing – he is okay traveling with or without the baby though he is aware that the latter would entail adjusting our itinerary. I, on the other hand, took a longer time to make up my mind but in my gut, I knew that I would prefer to travel without having to think about “baby logistics” and that was how our first couple trip since March 2016 came to be.

So here’s a sneak peek into the whole operation – yes, operation because a lot of planning and ‘rehearsing’ was involved.
1. Find a caretaker arrangement that puts your heart and mind at ease

I will be honest about this. There is no other person in this world that I would trust more to take care of Nat than my mom, with our helper to assist. So having her be the main caretaker while we were overseas made the decision to just go a very straightforward one.

2. Have caretaker(s) understand and experience baby’s daily routine

Knowing is one thing but nothing beats them experiencing the baby’s routine itself. So for us, we gave my mom and helper a rough schedule for Nat based on his daily eat/wake/sleep patterns. Nat is also over at my mom’s place on the days when I go to office so she gets to experience how his morning to evening routines are like. Then on some Sundays when we go to the movies, she gets to experience his bedtime routine until 10pm.

So if family member(s) are looking after baby when you travel, having them actually experience the routine helps prepare them for the days/nights that you are away.

3. Condition baby to sleep in various locations

This is more applicable if baby is going to be bunking over at the caretaker’s home as opposed to having the caretaker sleep over in your house.

For my mom, she is more comfortable in her own place so Nat and my helper slept over at my mom’s place while we were overseas. This meant that we had to start getting Nat used to the idea of taking naps at various locations, other than our own home. Even then, it took some trial and error experiments to figure out which room he prefers to nap in.

  • For instance, my mom’s room gets the morning sun so Nat could not nap very long in there whereas my sister’s room doesn’t get the morning or afternoon sun so it’s a darker and better environment for his naps. Verdict: my sister’s room is the best place for Nat to snooze.

4. Prepare for all scenarios especially if baby were to fall sick

Other than packing the usual baby clothes and accessories e.g. food, toys, bath items, we also packed his medicine for fever, nasal congestion and cough with instructions on how to administer each of them should he fall sick. The only thing we forgot to pass my mom was his health booklet, should they need to bring him to the PD!

Thankfully, everyone was prepared because Nat did come down with a slight cough 1-2 days before our trip because HJ and I took turns to fall sick so Nat also got some of our germs. We had also prepared for another more morbid scenario in the event that anything should happen to both of us.

I guess with that, we managed to travel with peace in our hearts and minds.

– CK

 

7 month matters 

So Nat turned 7 months just as we went for a 4 day holiday in Hanoi, leaving him with my mom and helper. Thank God all went very smoothly – his daily routines were pretty much the same with some bonuses like going along for park visits with the dog. The only exception was – Nat started drinking much less milk for his morning and last night feed. So now Nat is on a 4-meal plan with milk inbetween, in line with a Heath Promotion Board (HPB) article that we came across. 


While we were away, pics of Nat at mealtimes, sent to us by my mom was something we looked forward to. That lump of orange in his bowl is actually threadfin porridge with grated carrots. 

So anyway, back to the question – why is Nat not interested in his milk as much as before? 

We know that babies who have started solids still need at least 500ml of milk daily (formula and/or breastmilk). 

Nat usually takes 550-600ml in a day but last week, he just didn’t want to take more than 80ml for his last feed at 10pm. Normally, he would drink between 120-150ml in order to last till the morning. 

Then I wonder… 

Maybe it’s time to change to stage 2 milk? 

We have not switched him yet as Nat’s PD asked us to let him continue on stage 1 for 1-2 more months (we forgot to ask why) so at his next vaccination appt, we’re going to enquire if he can move on to stage 2. 

Maybe purée/solids twice a day isn’t enough? 

So after he refused to drink milk for his 7am feed, my mom mixed his milk with some rice cereal, and he had no issues with that. Then she came across an article in the newspaper about how much babies above 6 months should eat. We basically have to help him structure his meals such that he has breakfast, lunch, teatime and dinner!?


We then incorporated the guidelines in the table above into Nat’s schedule so for the past two days, he’s been having 4 meals with milk top-ups given before his naps and after his solid meals. 

7am: 60ml-90ml milk + rice cereal 

  • Previously he would take 90-120ml of milk but this has not been the case since last week.
  • Initially, I thought maybe his last night feed is too much so he isn’t really hungry in the morning but he has also dropped his demand for milk at 10/1030pm. 
  • However, with the rice cereal, he doesn’t reject the food so I’ll have to check with his PD why this may be the case?

1030/11am: Porridge (with fish/vegetable) for weekdays, and oatmeal (with a fruit/vegetable) for weekends 

  • His favorite is fish porridge with either grated pumpkin or carrots 
  • We’re going to mix with grated sweet potato next week 
  • Oatmeal cereal is best taken with a fruit mixed inside for taste 

12pm: pre-nap milk top-up 

230/3pm: afternoon milk feed followed by fruit purée for tea time 

  • This was and still is his biggest milk feed via bottle between 120-160ml depending on his extent of hunger 

530pm: evening purée (1 main vegetable base mixed with either a fruit or another vegetable) + 1 teaspoon rice cereal & 2 scoops milk powder 

  • When Nat first started on solids, we offered 1 main vegetable but we have been giving him combinations of vegetables and fruits for the last few weeks.
  • His evening meal is quite standard as the recommended vegetables that don’t give gas problems are butternut squash, carrots and peas. 

730pm: pre-bedtime milk top-up

10pm: last milk feed 

  • This is the puzzling one that seems to be dropping on its own. 
  • Last week, a mere 90-120ml could last him until the next morning. However, if he takes anything less than that, he will be peckish at 4/5am. 

In summary, this adjustment to his feeding schedule was an interesting development that took place while we were overseas. It also just proves that nothing is too big that free wifi and whatsapp cannot solve. 

Till our next couple getaway 🙂 

– CK