ABC Cards Games For Tots

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Today is the second day of Fun Ways of Playing with ABC’s hosted by Something 2 Offer.

Today we are sharing about storebrought items that we can utilise and my category is tots!

I will introduce a few games that can be played with tots with ABC cards. They are simple and engaging and help developing fine and gross motor skills and language. These games are also great when emphasising a minority or a second/ third language.

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Note: go very slow with tots. Use not more than 1 or 2 cards at a time.
Avoid baby language – tots need to hear to say words clearly. You can emphasize your articulation and repeat your requests and letters several times.

“Pick Up the Card”

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Place a card on the floor and ask your tot to pick it up. E.g. “Pick up R for me please!” Praise and repeat!

“Give Me the Card”

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Ask your tot to give the card to you: ” Please give me R!” Praise and repeat.

“Where Is the Card?”
Show the letter card to your tot and then hide it behind your back and ask: “Where is R?” Look around with your tot, flash the end of the card from behind your back – encourage him to look for it.
Note: tots might be reluctant to give the card back to you. Give them time to play with the card, don’t push it.

“Swat the Card”
Using a sweater or a soft stick, ask the tot to swat the card: “Swat R!” Encourage and praise.

These are very simple games that any tot at any stage would like. Once they are able to repeat them, encourage them to say the letter with you!

Please stop by the Landing Page for Storebought Ideas to see what other bloggers shared!

ABC Mobile

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Summer is almost over and in many countries children are starting going back to school. For us school starts on September 1st so we are spending the rest of the summer enjoying various activities.

I am happy to participate in 5 days series called Fun Ways to Play with ABC’s hosted by Something 2 Offer. In this series for the next 5 days we will introduce various ways to plays with ABC’s, each day for a different age group.

For the first day, I am introducing an ABC mobile I made for infants, in a category of Homemade Ideas. At the end of my post I will suggest easier ways of making this mobile.
Mobile toys are one of the first interactive toys babies may see. There are so many on the market: with or without music; wind up ones and battery operated ones; ones that move and once that don’t. You can also make your own mobiles and it is super easy.

For this ABC’s mobile I used the following materials:
Upcycle fabric (mine is leftovers from the fabric I used to make a dress for my daughter; you can use an old pillow case, sheet or dress)
Scissors
Craft ribbon
Double sided tape
Isolation tape
Wire hanger
Threads
Needles
Sewing machine
Old teddy bear (or pillow) for stuffing

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Method:
1. To make the base for the mobile:
– You can use an old hanger made from thinnest wire. Bend it into a circle, triangle or square.
– To secure and make it look better, tape over with an isolation tape. Mine is of a pretty red color! Set it aside.

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2. To make the letters:
– Decide on the size and trace the letter on a piece of folded fabric so you have 2 sides which you need to stitch together.
– Stitch the sides by hand or using sewing machine, leaving space to put the stuffing through.
– Stuff it and stitch the opening. Repeat with the rest of the letters

Easier version: use felt or thick carton to cut out your letters. In the case with carton you can use sticky craft paper to decorate over.
– Using craft ribbon, cut out stripes. In my case to make it thicker, I used double sided tape and folded the ribbon into 3 and secured it. Then stitched by hand to the letters.

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3. Assembling the mobile:
– Using double sided tape, stick a piece of it to the other end of the craft ribbon you just stitched to the letter.
– Fold the ribbon over the mobile, securing the edge with tape on it so it is tightly wrapped around the circle. Secure all the letters.
– Using a larger piece of craft ribbon, repeat the same process with double sided tape in order to make a “handle” which you will use to hang the mobile (see the very first picture at the beginning of the post for reference.)

I would suggest not to put more than 3-4 letters at a time. You can change them weekly and hang above the baby’s crib during his awake time. While talking to the baby you can also name the letters to him.

One great thing about the letters I made, once child is older they can be given to.him to play with – simply detach and cut off the ribbon.

Some ideas for stuffing: to make it much safer and completely allergy-free, use pieces of fabric for stuffing.
To ensure better sensory experience once the child is able to  hold the toy, you can add some beans inside with the stuffing.
Supervision is required, especially if you stuff beans inside.

Please visit our Landing Page for Homemade Ideas to read more posts from other participating blogs!

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Baby Cereal Snow Dough {12 Months of Sensory Dough}

CYMERA_20150112_200846Last year I watched fellow KBN bloggers post recipes of various play dough. This year I am happy to join in the fun!

We start off with Snow Dough to celebrate Winter!

Snow dough is basically any kind of dough that resembles snow. Here in the South of China we don’t have snow at all so my children never experienced it.

I looked through many recipes online and suddenly it dawned me: I recently bought baby rice cereal for our 6 months old and realized it had milk and sugar in it. So the open pack has been sitting on the shelf for a month as I feltit was too early to introduce such cereal to mini man.
The consistency of baby cereal is quite similar to snow, just much dryer.
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So, the ingredients of our Baby Cereal Snow Dough are simple:
– Baby Rice cereal (I used 250 -300 gr pack)
– Enough oil to make the cereal moist (1 used almost full paper cup of sunflower oil ).

Miss A had great time playing with it – she used some of her play dough cutters and play cutlery. I must note that it was quite a messy play, so since it was raining and we couldn’t use balcony, we played in the bathroom.


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Mini Man loved watching his sister play and kept trying to reach for the bowl! Since this snow dough is completely baby and toddler safe and if the child ingests it, it is quite safe. The texture is a bit rough and it can turn into an oily mess, but nevertheless it is a fun activity! You can store the dough in a ziplock bag or in airtight container for some days or even weeks. 

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Check more Snow Dough Recipes below:
Experimenting with Snow Dough | Lemon Lime Adventures
How to Make Snow Dough (Taste Safe) | Powerful Mothering
Book-Inspired Snow Dough Sensory Play | Stir the Wonder
Snow Dough Science | Raising Lifelong Learners
A Snowy Day Snow Dough Play | Natural Beach Living
Frozen Snow Dough | Sugar Aunts
Edible Snow Dough | Wildflower Ramblings
Vitamin E Snow Dough Recipe | FSPDT
Rubbery Marshmallow Play Dough | Therapy Fun Zone
Snow Dough & Outdoor Play | Peakle Pie
Music Inspired Snow Dough | Witty Hoots
Glittery Snow Dough | In The Playroom
Arctic Small World Snow Dough | Best Toys 4 Toddlers
Snow Dough Frozen Inspired Small World | Preschool Inspirations
Sparkly Taste Safe Snow Dough for Toddler & Preschool Sensory Play | Bare Feet on the Dashboard
Fizzy, Frozen Snow Dough | It’s A Long Story
Frozen Inspired Snow Dough | The Pleasantest Thing
Snow Fairy Small World with Snow Sensory Dough | Still Playing School
| The Life of Jennifer Dawn
Baby Cereal Snow Dough | Creative World of Varya
Arctic play snow dough & fizzing science | Glittering Muffins
Snow Dough Slime Recipe | Little Bins for Little Hands
Please join use in 2015 for 12 Months of Sensory Dough Play! 
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Follow Dayna | Lemon Lime Adventures’s board Sensory | Dough Recipes on Pinterest.

Baby Care Series: Baby Reflexology

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To commemorate the passing year I would like my last post of 2014 to be dedicated to helping your baby unwind and relax.
So here are few tips from reflexology area you can try on your baby, toddler, prwaxhooler, older child and on yourselves: mini- foot massage.

The following tips won’t affect yours or baby’s health negatively if you apply proper amount of pressure. That is for for an infant up to 6 years old the pressure should be as hard as you would press your eye ball before it starts hurting. For older children and adults you can adjust the pressure by asking them what they are confortavle with.

Stroke 1:
Foot rubs. Just as in picture above, place your baby’s foot in your hand and place the thumb in the middle of the sole. Start stroking from big toe down to the heel. For infants 5-6 strokes are stimulating enough. However with all my 3 children (6 y.o, 2.5 y.o and 6 months old) before bed time I continue stroking until they pull the foot away or fall asleep. This particular technique is very helpful for sore feet and in the times when your child is restless or unwell – the stroke helps unwinding and relaxing.

Stroke 2:
Toe “pinches”. Place the foot in the hand the same way as you would for Stroke 1. With another hand start gently but firmly pressing on the toes as you would when telling “This little piggy went to market” rhyme.
Variation: you can sit your child on your lap, back resting against you and reserve the foot hold. Some children unwind better this way.

Stroke 3:
Joint “squeeze”. Let the child lie down or sit as described above and then gently grab and squeeze his feet, ankles and all the way up to his knees. At the knee point cover the knee with your palm and squeeze several times gently but firmly and then move back down to the foot. Repeat 3-4 times or until the child gives you a sign or tells that it is enough.

What do these 3 strokes do? By stimulating the skin and pressure points you help the child to unwind and relax. These strokes, especially the first one, are very effective when helping the the child settle for a nap or the night. You can also do these strokes while nursing your child – they usually don’t bother them so much.

On this note I’m wishing you a very happy year ahead! May 2015 bring you and your families joy and health!

Baby Care Series: Mommy and Baby Blues – Coping Technique

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As Mini-man is moving from growth spurt to wonder week and growth spirt again,  he is changing his sleeping schedule which makes him unsettled.

I have mentioned in the previous post on surviving sleepless nights with a newborn that his sleeping pattern were not at all mommy-sleep-friendly. So I have been tired and sleepy, and have these sudden waves of exhaustion overwhelming me.

Naturally, I get frustrated when I have just rocked him to sleep just to put him down and him popping his eyes open and starting to whale. Sounds familiar?  Or my toddler running into the room screaming something at me or him: miss A -1; mommy – 0!

If you must know,  the pregnancy and postpartum hormones mess us up quite a bit. We feel like there is just no room to breath, there are no clothes that haven’t been stained with a spit up,  there isn’t a corner where a child can’t find you. I’m really not complaining,  I’m merely admitting: yes, I get overwhelmed and tired.

At the same time I realise how hard it is for a newborn baby to cope. And so after having 3 babies I suddenly understood something: postpartum blues are not only something that happens to moms – it happens to babies too.

Here is a technique I came up with  that is helping me to chase frustration away, help you and the crying baby to calm down and I would like to share them with you.

1. As you lean to pick up your baby,  exhale with your whole body through your mouth slowly, saying long “who”. As you grab the baby and pull towards yourself,  inhale with “is it?” Hug the baby tight in the middle of your chest, with one hand on the back of his head and one arm under his bottom. Baby’s legs should be bent in knee area and pulled up a bit – almost like sitting. Rock him in a slightly bouncy motion up and down,  gently patting his back.

2. After few pats add a continuous “sh” sounds. Do it the following way: one long “sh” on exhale, followed by several shorter “sh-sh-sh” on the next exhale.
Please check the file below to listen how it should sound.

Note: you don’t need to stand for it. You can assume most comfortable position, however try to keep the baby as upright as possible.

Usually the baby starts settling down within a few minutes. Sometimes it takes a while. However,  you will start settling too. There is something in the sound “sh” that calms you down and settles you. One of the reasons why (and you will notice it right away) – you need to make sure it is on exhales. So when you start controlling your breathing,  you get a boost of oxygen and your mind clears from other thoughts and concentrates on one thing.

I hope this technique is useful for you. I have used “shushing” in the past but never so purposely. It is not a big science that using “sh” sound calms the babies (white noise). But now as I discovered it calms me too, I use it when I have to deal with my older children.

If that didn’t help, you can always scream into the pillow!

What are your relaxation techniques?

China 101: Giving Birth in Zhuhai Part 3 {Things to Take to the Hospital}

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If you read my ABOUT page,  you will learn that I am not just an expat and a stay-home mom: I am a qualified professional and I try my best to form my opinions as neutrally as possible in order not to sugar-coat the life here nor to make it sound like China is a horrible place. It is really neither and like everywhere it is a special place with its own tradition, rules, regulations and culture.

When I first got pregnant I came across a lovely lady who was about to leave Beijing and who gave me several books on pregnancy, including Best Friends’ Guide to Pregnancy which I loved. She had also shared with me a list of things I would need to take with me to the hospital which I later modified and elaborated to suit hospitals in Zhuhai.

This list I shared with a few friends and they all agreed that it was quite helpful especially for first time moms and expat moms planning on having a baby in Zhuhai. I guess some of it would be appropriate for local moms, but as I said above – the cultural trends on whole childbearing are at times quite different. So if you are a local mom you will benefit from this post by learning what hospitals here have to offer. If you are an expat mom, besides the former,  you will also learn what will be useful to you in the hospital and what you shouldn’t bother preparing.

Note: make sure you have your passport with you and your hospital file!

Before I share the list with you, here’s what local hospitals don’t offer to new moms:

1. There is no well-estahlished breastfeeding support. You will find that while everyone is for breastfeeding,  formula industry is intertwined and pushed to hospitals here.  So if you plan on breastfeeding,  your best shot is BTDT moms, family members and YouTube. You are also welcome to engage my professional services as I am a breastfeeding consultant and a baby massage instructor;  and I can teach  you the basics of newborn care. For more information please contact me via my email address or via my other website – Zhuhai Family Connections

2. As I mentioned in Part 1 – you will not be allowed into the NICU ward for as long as the baby is there. There are some visitation hours but you are not allowed to hold your baby or feed him.

3. There is no food service at the hospitals. There are some canteens and restaurants around but usually the food is brought by family. I personally think it has to do with the fact that every family has traditions on what women should eat postpartum. But may be hospitals just don’t want to bother with it.

4. No one will teach you how to swaddle the baby. So you have to ask someone to show you or watch some videos online and practice on a doll.

5. No one will teach you how to bathe or massage your baby.  Well, they might show you how to bathe the baby but they won’t let you try under their supervision.

6. No one will bother with the car seat. So get your own if you feel like having one.

As I get more feedback from fellow expats I’ll be adding and editing.

Now, here’s that list you’ve been waiting to read.

Things for Mommy:

1. Hospital clothes. If you are of a small or medium size, you don’t need to bother with special clothes for hospital as they have pajamas they give you to wear. If you are of a large size and above, you might want to bring your own clothes to wear. Don’t bring anything fancy as it will get stained in all possible ways.

2. Hospitals provide with maternity sanitary pads and while some of them are super comfortable especially for women after c-section,  some are not and are incredibly hard to change or wear. So do your homework and bring your own. Plus you’ll save some money on that!

3. Hospital doesn’t offer any soap or other personal hygiene items.  Tooth paste,  tooth brush,  soap, body wash, sponges, shampoo,  towels – all should be yours. Note: it is not customary here to shower after having a baby for some days (just sponge baths), so you might be told you can’t do it. I personally wouldn’t recommend making your c-section scar wet for about a week so it has time to close over better.  But go with what is usually done back home!

4. Cooling/heating pad. You won’t get ice to put on your scars or sore areas.

5. Important: phone charger! You do want to be in touch with the rest of the world.

6. Painkillers. You are given a gelatinous IV that slowly melts for pain.  But it is not enough for some. So you can consult with a pharmacist back home and bring your own painkiller with you. Just to get something as simple as paracetamol requires doctor’s prescription there and you might end up waiting for a while as there are just too many people and few doctors!

7. Lanolin cream if you plan on breastfeeding. I found Medela has the best type and it can be purchased in Macau or Hong Kong in baby shops.

8. Nursing pillow is good but not a must. However it does help a lot if you had a surgery and plan on breastfeeding.

9. Slippers. Because you won’t get any at the hospital.

10. Cups and cutlery.

11. Toilet paper. Yes, don’t be surprised – they often run out or don’t even have any!

12. Nursing bras or comfortable cotton bras if you won’t breastfeed + nursing pads. Whether you breastfeed or not , milk will come in and it might start leaking, more for some than for others.

13. Comfortable old underwear that you can throw away or disposable underwear. I don’t need to tell you why. The type we call “grannie’s panties” will be your best friends for at least a month.

14. Load your phone/mp3 player/ iPad with  favorite music. It will help you relax when they baby is sleeping and you can’t no matter what everyone says about sleeping when the baby sleeps.

Things for  baby:

1. Unless you want to take fancy pictures of your baby there is no need to bring clothes to wear at the hospital – they will give clothes and blankets for the baby which you give back when discharged.

2. If you want to use your own clothes for the baby don’t bother with too many:  onsies and swaddling blankets will be enough. Plus baby hats and socks. You will probably need onsies 2-3 per day.

3. Going home outfit.

4. Diapers and wipes. They will give them to you at the hospital but they will also charge. Plus if you want to cloth diaper, you will definitely need your own. Here’s a little secret: babies “go” quite often. Some babies don’t. But majority do. So your big expense will be diapers – choose your brands and deals wisely!

5. Pacifier/binky if you plan on using one. Hospital will not give you one nor introduce it.

6. Burping towels/cloth. Bring many! I had at least 10. Regular small towels would do.

7. Diaper cream or just plain Vaseline (Petroleum Jelly). Plain Vaseline worked the best for us as it is truly hypo-allergenic and it prevents moisture and newborn’s poop from irritating very sensitive baby’s skin.

8. If you plan on formula feeding, I suggest bringing your own formula and gear. While hospital formula is fine, you will later give another type to your baby and he may not accept it. Plus, formula at the hospital is expensive and distributed by their own schedule. You can wash the bottles right there and have your own electric steriliser handy.

Few words for dads: bring yourself a pillow and a blanket, and changes of clothes plus whatever else you need. Even in Super VIP room there is only 1 pillow and 1 blanket for moms!

Well, that’s about it. If you have more suggestions based on your experiences – let me know!

Baby Care Series: Surviving Nights With A Newborn

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It’s been 3 months post-partum and while my son started pulling longer stretches, I don’t see sleeping through the night (further referred to as STTN) in the near future. Not that I am expecting him to: I am one of those moms who made peace with the baby not to STTN for as long as I breastfeed.
Here’s a bit of a sleep story from the past: my first one woke up every 1-2 hours to nurse. It got progressively “worse” around growth spurts, “wonder weeks”, teething, colds and whatever else you can think of. When she had her major vocabulary burst at 23 months, she literally stopped sleeping. I mean, normally once they “break through” they are supposed to sleep better, right? Wasn’t the case with miss T: she woke up every 15-30 minutes just to latch and unlatch and repeat several times, getting angry and depriving herself of sleep and me too. We both had dark circles under our eyes. I thought it was the time to wean and I did it as gently as possible in the course of about 5-6 weeks. I will be honest: first 3 months of my daughter’s life because she was waking up so often, I felt like a failure and reading all happy STTN stories and my mom telling me that she should STTN by 3 months were not helpful! I cried every single day – I was sleep deprived, I was grumpy, I was stressed and probably a little depressed. However, I had a great support team member with me – my husband – and thanks to him I pulled myself out of self pity, did more real research and understood once and for all that this is what most of the babies do. And the percentage of those who STTN or pull long stretches is very low compared to the above!
With my 2nd daughter, first three months were a bit of a disaster as well. But my mom was here in the first months and literally held her for 3 hours at a time swaddled and close to her body so I could sleep. Once she left, baby wearing was a saviour during the day – she had a bad reflux and while we didn’t resort to medicine, I wore her for all her naps and she was comfy in the carriers. By the time she was 3 months, she started pulling what is called STTN (5 hours stretch when she was down for the night, then 3 hours and then another 2-3 hours). During the day she napped for 3-4 hours at a time and I had plenty of time to do whatever I pleased. She was also breastfed and self-weaned at 18 months when I was pregnant with our baby #3. She started sleeping full night from 8pm to 6am before she weaned.
With this baby #3, the first month was tough: he is tongue-tied so he couldn’t latch nor nurse properly. He was getting tired, losing the breast and he was also jaundice until he was 10 weeks old. He woke up every hour. My mother was here and she did the same with him as with baby #2: she would swaddle him and hold him so I could rest or take care of other 2 children. Still he wouldn’t sleep long stretches. As he crossed over 1 month, he started sleeping a little longer but not until he found his 2 fingers. So while during the day he can go onto cluster feedings, he does pull 3-4 hour stretches for the night and he goes to bed earlier for the night than my girls, so it gives me time to prepare them for their night time and also spend some time with my husband or, like today, work on something (my blog, my translation gigs, doing household chores and more).
So… my own advice to all first time moms: you are having a baby. A being is coming into this world which is foreign to him/her. He/she is feeling insecure, every change make the baby disturbed. Please, prepare yourself mentally that you won’t sleep for at least a year or 2 (or 3?). What we think is abnormal – sleeping in 1-4 hours stretches – it is absolutely normal for the baby. Whether you formula feed or breastfeed, the baby has the same patterns: they wake up when hungry, when the diaper is dirty, when they didn’t finish burping, when the sudden noise scares them, when they feel insecure being away from you. There are many more reasons I can add.
So, what can you do when your baby’s sleeping patterns are not to your liking or go against your own? I won’t tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps – it NEVER worked for me. I could just as successfully count sheep and elephants all 1-2 hours and have no sleep in my body. But here are a few tips that will help you cope:
1. Plan your activities around your baby’s… sleeping place. If you have ironing to do – keep the laundry basket in the area, along with the ironing board and iron. Need to cook? I don’t know how your house is, but I would not do all the cutting and peeling in the kitchen – I would bring it into the dining/living room so I could still hear the baby and the distance between me and the baby would be shorter.
2. If you have other children: use those moments to do something with them – read a book, cuddle, check their homework. If it is a younger child, be prepared for noise which will possibly wake the baby up. It is ok to get frustrated: God knows, I still do get frustrated when my toddler runs into the bedroom when I JUST put Mini-man down, and yells out his name! Having some toy, book, stickers in your reach will distract your toddler from the baby. I still find stickers in my bed and in my clothes – I just let miss A go wild with those as they keep her occupied and quiet, and while she is busy with them I can stretch my body (oh, and my body and clothes get decorated too!).
3. Cook for a couple of days in advance or try freezing food for later. Only recently I started cooking almost every day. But it worked very well cooking for 2-3 days in advance and warming up small amounts.
4. Hydrate. Breastfeeding or not, we often forget to drink enough and being dehydrated makes us more tired.
5. Stock up on favorite shows, movies and books. When I have to hold my children for a long time on me so they get enough sleep while getting over whatever that is bothering them, I watch my favorite shows/movies or read something.
6. STOP Googling “Why my baby doesn’t sleep?”. Ok, perhaps if your baby REALLY doesn’t sleep you could Google. Or better – consult a pediatrician. But remember that a breastfed baby sleeps stretches anywhere from 40 minutes to few hours. So, unless your newborn is up for several hours, don’t be in a hurry to label him with some sleeping disorder. And if you are still concerned about sleeping patterns – consult pediatrician. We, moms, tend to exaggerate and brag about how well our children sleep. What you may not read is the methods that are at times used to make babies sleep longer (e.g. introducing “crying out” method before 6 months – basically making poor newborns whale themselves to sleep). Of course, there are plenty of no-cry sleep solutions, but read those carefully and check what age group is recommended for them before starting that sleep training.
I could go on and on, but I would also like to share some tips from fellow blogger moms of KBN and MKB on how they coped with sleepless nights! Feel free to click on the links next to the names and check out these awesome blogs!
Here’s what they replied when I asked how they coped with sleepless nights during newborn stage:
  • Katie of Playing With Words 365:  Co-sleeping and coffee. 
  • Jodi of Meaningful Mama: My husband encouraged me to sleep when I could. I had to let some things go and be more laid back with my expectations of myself. If the baby was sleeping, I was sleeping or resting too.
  • Kim of Life Over C’s After three straight years of sleep deprivation, I should have this down to a science…LOL! My best tip is to automate as many functions as you possibly can: If you have a child who regularly doesn’t sleep well, make sure you schedule all your bills for auto-pay, double up recipes and freeze them or do once a month cooking so that you have something to pull out of the freezer on the really bad days. If you homeschool pick an automated curriculum, something that you don’t need to do lots of prep with. Have someone clean your house once a week (even if it’s a friend that you barter with). These simple things will take a lot of stress off when you are sleep deprived. 
  • Jen of Mama.Papa.BubbaOn really hard, sleepless nights I’d sit and rock my baby and remind myself that one day {too soon} the nursing / rocking / shushing filled nights would be over with and I’d never get to go back to that stage of life with my little girl. Seems sort of silly, but it got me through.
  • Brittany of Love Play and LearnAdjust your expectations for yourself and family. When you are sleep deprived, just do the bare minimum for you to survive and thrive. Being in a survival mode while you have a new baby is perfectly okay so be forgiving to yourself! 
  • Nicola of Multicrafting MummyMake sure to have a good book on your kindle so you can nurse your baby in one arm and read in the other without turning on the lights. This helped pass the time for me until my littlest on eventually slept the night!
  • Cindy of Two Muses HomeschoolDon’t feel guilty if the only place you can get the baby to sleep is the swing. The baby won’t fit in it forever. Embrace it, and get the rest you need while baby swings away. 
  • Ute of Expat Since Birth: Co-sleeping helped us a lot, especially with twins who woke up at different times up to 8 times per night when in their own bed. And relaxing exercise for the mum: keep your eyes closed as much as possible, no lights on and practice mindfulness! Don’t think ‘but I must sleep’ or get irritated or upset (consumes way too much energy!), do focus on what you can do to have some rest (even if you don’t get a proper sleep). And keep everything you may need for the babies within reach so that you don’t need to get up all the time… This topic brings back memories and the feeling that once you survive this period, you feel like you’ve reached the top of Mt Everest.
  •  Rachel of Adventures in Wunderland:  Haha, COFFEE! And knowing that they won’t be newborns forever and eventually you will sleep again 
  • Anna of Russian Step By Step ChildrenWith my second we had a system: I pumped at some point during the day,and when the baby first went for the night I breastfed and then went to bed (BTW, 7 to 8 pm depending on the night), so my husband would take care of the other kid and the next feeding was my husband bottle feeding the baby ( it was around 10 – 11) and then he went to bed so even when the baby woke up around 1-2 pm again I got a decent stretch of sleep. By 11 month she finally started sleeping 10 hours in a row ( 8 pm to 6 am) Also,with the second I already knew that it is temporary, after 6 months it got easier. 
  • Ayesha of Words and NeedlesMy top tip is to feed the baby every two hours starting at 6am everyday from the first week onwards. It isn’t possible with some very sleepy babies but try as much you can. After two weeks they get into a pattern and quickly set their schedule to feeding often during the day. They will get up 2am for a few weeks more but once a night is tolerable! Through the day, drink as much water and eat protein rich foods because the lack of energy is what gets us down. Sleep when the baby sleeps. The chores can wait. I have a post that I wrote when I was feeling like a supermom… 
    Culturally, we are from India. We have a tradition, in our part of the country, that all new moms are given a protein and fat rich traditional mix made up of dried fruits of various kinds, some herbs and coconut that is fried in butter and mixed together. It is made in large quantities and the mum has to finish this within 40 days. Also, an iron piece (something like a horse shoe) is placed in the drinking water vessel that she drinks from. Everyday, the pitcher is filled with boiled water and when it cools she drinks from that. They say it gives iron in the water for the mother. It is ancient… not many people do it now but it is so striking and I remembered it. That dry fruit mix is called ‘panjeeri’ by the way. Pakistani people, North Indians and some south Indians make it.
  •  Angela of CreatifulkidsTry to feed as much as you can during the day, so that he takes most of his calories intake then…but with a new baby the nights are tough so just take it as it goes. Some babies are better sleepers than others. Remember that you do nothing wrong and that’s just a phase. Just sit it out and it will phase and you’ll get your rest again..slowly. Don’t stress- if you can .
  • Becky of Kid World CitizenThis is not what I recommend, but all of my in-laws in Mexico say to put rice cereal in the baby’s bottle right before bed so they won’t be hungry. I always nursed, so I didn’t follow the advice, but they swear by it! My advice (US) is to walk with the baby outside everyday- bundled up if necessary, but in the sunlight. I think the vitamin D and the light helps to set their circadian rhythms. I also would never pull the shades in the day when they were napping, and not be super quiet. They get used to the noise, but I think they start to realize that daytime is daytime, and nighttime is nighttime. Also I would wake my daughters in the day (by picking them up from their crib and carrying them around) if they were sleeping too long. There was a time that my oldest had her days and nights confused and it was soooooo difficult for us:).
  • Elisabeth of Spanish MamaWe co-slept and I think that was the reason I didn’t experience awful exhaustion. When baby stirred, we would cuddle up and nurse and neither of us fully woke up, so getting back to sleep was super-easy.

    I had to work part-time with my first baby and
    was gone from 7am-1pm every day from the time he was six weeks. I always thought I would be the strict scheduling type, but it simply didn’t work for us.  Co-sleeping helped make up for the hours we were apart and those were some of my favorite moments as a mother so far! It goes against the grain in the US, but like so many things here, families do what works best for them. My Peruvian husband was totally fine with it too and we loved bonding with baby so much those first months. Later we did train him to sleep on his own on a schedule.

    Also, it was really useful when we traveled to Peru for 6 weeks with a 5-month-old. Most of the houses we stayed in didn’t have a crib and it was no problem!

  • Ilze of Let The Journey Begin:  A wrote a post on this topic a few months ago. Speaking of my own sleep, I have never been able to follow the “sleep when the baby sleeps” mantra. Daytime naps make me feel like crap. And during the night there’s two things that bother me – having to get up to nurse and sleeping next to the baby (I feel like I get less deep sleep). Co-sleeping is a solution to the first, baby having her own bed is a solution to the second. Thus my method is a mix of both: baby sleeps the first stretch in her bed, and continues sleeping next to me after the first night meal. If me or my husband are awake enough at some point in the night we move her back to her bed.
    Here are few more links on the subject:
Canberra Mummy  – How I took on Sleep Deprivation and Won
Mama Smiles20 Ways to Cope with Sleep Deprivation
Trilingual MamaHelping Babies Sleep Through the Night
Toddler ApprovedSleep Tips for Serious Sleep
The European Mama4 Tips for Surviving Sleep Deprivation
How do you/did you cope with sleep deprivation and what are your tips for helping your baby to sleep?
 

Special Guest Thursday: When Good Friends Have Babies {Journeys of the Fabulist}

I am really enjoying these Special Guest Thursdays which will stop for the time being in a week or two.
Today I am happy to introduce Bronwyn from Journeys of the Fabulist. She is currently in Singapore which is in the same time zone as China making her one of very few bloggers I know in South East Asia.
Bronwyn is sharing her thoughts and ideas on postpartum “traditions” in this area and where she is from. It is quite near and dear to my heart as I had 3 babies in China and observes friends having babies here as well and what happens in the first month after birth.

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We have rituals for these things. Your neighbour has a baby, you turn up with a casserole. Your neighbour eats the casserole, because she is so desperate for prep-free food that she will even eat your casseroles. When you collect the dish, you stop to vacuum the hallway, entertain her toddler, or hold the baby so she can shower for once. Everyone wins. Everyone’s happy.

Then you move countries and you don’t know what to do any more.

One of the things that throws me off-kilter about Singapore is the change of new-baby rituals. There’s no need for casseroles, because a maid or confinement nanny does the shopping and the cooking. Or you’ll order from a confinement food service/the local hawker centre.

And between grandparents, nannies, maids, a typical schedule of children’s enrichment classes, and some controversy surrounding the necessity of showering, it sometimes feels as if there’s not much left to do.

And this is all great news for new parents, of course. I don’t want to make it sound like The Help is handling things while mum goes to lunch with the girls. Mum is concentrating on resting, breastfeeding and recovering – that should be enough for anybody. There’s no shame in hiring an extra pair of hands or having Grandma around – a newborn will keep everyone busy, especially when Dad works long hours and travels often.

I just do wonder where I can fit in sometimes.

Which is why I’m glad to be writing this post. In the first place, I love being able to deliver the online equivalent of a casserole, especially since my blog posts are better than my cooking, from which you can draw your own conclusions about my cooking. But also, I thought you might be able to give me some novel ideas on what to do, when everything seems to be taken care of.

What do people do for new parents where you live? As a new parent, is there anything you’d like people to do for you?

Special Guest Thursday: Giving Birth Abroad {The European Mama}

I am very happy to have Olga – the blogger behind The European Mama – visiting my Special Guest Thursday today!
Olga is a fellow Multicultural Kid Blogger and I love her style of writing, as well as her straight-forward ways of expressing her ideas and thoughts. Today Olga is sharing with me and you some tips and thoughts on Giving Birth Abroad!

 

Olga is a Polish woman, living in the Netherlands with her German husband and 3 trilingual children. She gives insights on her blog into her life in Netherlands, her activities, cooking, being an expat, multilingualism, and parenting and  more.
 
The European Mama was initially a trilingual blog, however it is now primary in English.
 
In the past, Olga lived in several countries (including Germany, Canada and the Netherlands), and learned to speak 5 languages. She studied German philology at the University of Warsaw, then followed by a MA in Media Cultures at the University of Bremen. You can join Olga on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.
 

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birth

Having a baby is no small undertaking. There are so many questions to ask yourself: Where to have the baby? Who will be present at birth? But above all, how will life with baby look like?
Now imagine that you are having this baby in a totally strange country. This situation raises many additional questions and can be problematic for many couples. As a mom who has had all of her three children abroad, I have learned a little about having children in a different culture. Here are some tips and advice for all of you who are expecting a baby abroad.
1)      Cultural differences
Many cultures approach birth differently. In some countries, birth is considered a normal part of a woman’s life and doesn’t need extensive care of a doctor. In others, birth is dangerous and you need all the testing you can get to make sure you and you baby are OK.  There are also many customs and traditions related to birth and the postpartum period. Pregnant women may be allowed some foods in certain countries and forbidden the same foods in others. This may be an additional reason for culture shock but also an opportunity to learn about other cultures.
2)      Differences in quality of healthcare
While a lot of the customs and traditions surrounding births are cultural, some countries are definitely better to give birth in than others. This is not necessarily a West/the rest type of thing as many countries all over the world have fabulous healthcare systems and do their best to support moms and babies. On the other side, some expats find themselves in countries where the healthcare system is of bad quality, and labouring women are treated badly.
3)      Your own expectations
I live in the Netherlands and have talked to many women about their experiences of giving birth here and what struck me is that they all had different expectations about what giving birth here will be like. In the Netherlands, women will have a midwife and will only be referred to a doctor when something goes wrong. Many women were very happy with this natural approach to birth while others were left worrying that the maternity system is of low quality and they felt that their access to pain relief was very limited. Depending on where you come from, your expectations may vary.
4)      Money can be a problem
Unfortunately, your birth experience could depend on the amount of money you have available. In some countries you need to pay out-of pocket for the birth, in others you have insurance that covers everything. In yet others, you may have to give bribes in exchange for a better treatment (a separate room, an epidural, etc.) and in yet others, you may be treated better because you are a foreigner. I know it’s sad but in many countries this is the reality.
5)      Your support network
If you are an expat mom, you may not have your family nearby. Likewise, your husband may not be welcome in the delivery room. Some countries offer a wonderful support network for expat women, consisting of doulas, birth educators, postpartum midwives and other birth professionals. If they are available, make use of them, they will make a huge difference in your birth experience. Think of your friends as well- they know what you’re going through, and will do their best to support you. And you can always consider asking your family to come.
6)      Place of birth
While hospital birth is becoming the norm all over the world, some countries support out-of hospital births and women can have their babies at home, or at a birth centre (that can be either free-standing or attached to a hospital). Some friends of mine made the decision to go back to their own countries for the birth because they feel they will be better supported there- and may also receive better quality of care, and also because they’d have families to help out after birth.
There are so many decisions to be made when you have a baby abroad. Some women have more choices and possibilities than others, but there are some things all women can do. Try to gather as much information as possible to get an idea of how the system works in the country you are in. Be aware of your expectations and see if they can they be met- or maybe change your mind and go local! Consider the amount of money you’re willing to spend- and if it’s going to be reimbursed by your insurance. If you’re afraid that in the country you live, the healthcare system is not of good quality, consider going home for the birth if possible, or ask around to have the safest, best birth possible.
And when you’re giving birth abroad, you have the unique experience to learn how other cultures approach birth, what the challenges are. Learn from these experiences and use them to help other women who are pregnant after you.
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Thank you for sharing, Olga!
As for the readers – have you given birth abroad before? What was your experience?
 
 

 

 

Virtue Wednesday: Gentleness

I am a little late posting for the Virtue Series – family is always a priority!

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Today I would like to talk about Gentleness. Here’s a very nice quotation by Abdu’l-Baha that says it all:

“Love and affinity are the fruits of a gentle disposition,

a pure nature and praiseworthy character”.

Since our younger daughter was born, we started emphasising gentleness even more in order to teach our older daughter to take better care of her sibling. It isn’t very easy for a young child not to get excited when playing with the baby, it is often overwhelming when babies grab things and don’t want to hand them back.

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