Covered in this Article

Family

A. Lifestyle
– The Alarm
– Roles & Responsibilities
– Sleep
B. Hygiene
– Laundry
– Dust
C. Diet
– Food

Mummy

A. Lifestyle
– East, Sleep & Feed
– Got Milk?
– Factory
B. Hygiene
– Bubble Bath
C. Diet
– Hand in Hand

Baby

A. Lifestyle
– Baby Mine
– Routine
– Sleep
B. Hygiene
– Diaper-logy
– Wet-Wipes
– Bottle Cleanser
– Sterilizer
– Fungus
– Shit
C. Diet
– Choices
– Bottle Teats

#truestory

Where should I begin…

“Part 3 – It’s NOT Over!” Yay! (I hope you didn’t think it was, but for this article, it may seem to be for the trilogy). I really really hope the articles have been helpful to you (your partner, or someone you know) so far.

Comment and share if they did yea, so that as much as these articles have helped you, they could also help others you know as well.

If you somehow landed yourself here at Part 3 without Part 1 and 2, click on the links below to find out what you’ve missed:

LINK: Part 1 – Congratulations!
LINK: Part 2 – It’s Coming!!!

The Beginning to an End

If the both of you just got out of labour, and reached home not so long ago… I would encourage you to just pause for a minute, give yourselves a pat on the back, and tell your partner how much you appreciate one another. Well done, mommy and daddy!

Welcome home.

But if you find yourselves in a position looking forward to this, good for you cause… I assure you, this is not a burden too heavy to bear.

All you need is to prepare.

I will be sharing with you how life could be when your child is back at home from the hospital. Writing based on my own personal experiences, I’ll be also touching on some of the things that are bound to happen, or you can expect them to (differs across individuals ya), and perhaps how you can address them accordingly.

The Approach

I’ll be writing basically revolving around the topic of “Care”.

Care is very important. There are different things involved in different situations. Proper care given suggests as well comfort, relief and healing, to everyone who is involved in it.

I love things planned, and I would like (at best), to avoid (since you can’t really eliminate) any unnecessary surprises. Don’t fancy things catching me unprepared. Planning and preparations also come with experience. So, if the first few times you fumbled at it, or even messed it up, it’s okay! Really! Someone wise once said, “Failure is the best teacher in life”. Just muster up your courage, and go at it again.

You’ll get better over time.

There are just so much to write about care and I didn’t want to start writing when my thoughts are still scattered everywhere. Hence the delay.

So yes… “Care”, on three different areas: Family, Mummy and Baby, touching of three different aspects for each of them: Lifestyle, Hygiene and Diet.

May you find these helpful…

Disclaimer: Follow any of the suggested below at your own risk (The last time perhaps… me saying this).

Family

Things change. Everything changes.

1. Family

Family care is important. There is a certain amount of effort to put in to ensure that everything runs smoothly, especially with your everyday affairs.

Like it or not, your lives will never, ever, be the same again. For better or worse.

Things change. Everything changes. You will change, your partner will change, your smell will definitely change. Haha! Your lives, just when you thought it is all well and good, stable, comfortable, will take a sudden turn, or a detour, when the baby comes home. Somehow… no matter how hard you tried.

Your routine will be different. Your sleep will be shortened. Your eyes will be blackened (eye rings due to lack of sleep, I hope not). Suddenly the whole… whole… thing… just dawned upon you.

There are many things that you used to do, that you can’t really do anymore.

Like sleep.

I’m going to touch on three smaller areas, which I hope will help you plan and prepare.

Remember, it’s not too heavy a burden to bear. All you need is just prepare.

A. Lifestyle

EVERYTHING CHANGES

THE ALARM

I recall a “war-movie” scene where was this group of soldiers sleeping in a dormitory. Then the alarm rang, and each and every one of these soldiers sprung up from their beds, got dressed, and they were ready for the roll call that was about to happen.

Having the baby around, is almost… like… that.

Naturally and instinctively, both of you, just like the soldiers, would just sprung up from bed when the “alarm” goes off, attending to the baby.

Alarm = baby.

Not all alarm raises a red flag. Is true. You’ve gotta learn how to recognize them and recognition is only possible with knowledge and observation. After all, if this is your first, it is a whole new learning experience that you’re going through, and it’s hands-on.

I’ll touch more about the alarms when we talk about the baby later on in this article.

But one thing to take note of is, don’t spring up yourself too sudden, or you might lose your balance due to the sudden shock in your head introduced as you were getting up.

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

So… Pregnancy is done, the baby has come, and when the 1 month’s worth of healing and rest is up, it’s time to get back to work!

What?

Exactly.

Who goes to work? Daddy obviously has to go to work. What about mummy? Did mummy work before all these unfolded? And if mummy, you, worked, will you still? If you are, what about the baby? Who will take care of baby? Your parents? Or your in-laws? Your maid? Daycare? Can you trust them? They reliable with all the abuse-news on the media? Experienced?

I would also advice both you and your partner to spend some time to iron out your roles and responsibilities respectively, seriously. Discuss among yourselves who looks into which area of the family; especially things like “what” and “how much” he or she would want, expected of or need to do. I believe this is crucial so that the both of you enter into parenthood prepared and more importantly, on the same page.

Remember, you two are a team, and teams work towards a common goal. At best, there should be little, to no room pointing fingers at each other (on days when things are heated up) saying things like “I didn’t sign up for this!” or “What?! Me again?” This will save you from unnecessary arguments which drains you mentally, emotionally and physically on top of what you already have on your plate.

You can’t do everything.

And if you both don’t do anything, no one does nothing.

I know, I’ve tried.

Some times you just need “some” external help. There are things regarding the family that you do not necessarily be micro-managing (just like I did). If the both of you are comfortable with someone else to help look into your meals, laundry, or even house chore, perhaps hiring a maid could help ease your burden at home.

We didn’t though. I do the laundry and house chores. Christine’s mother took care of our meals. It is times like these you’ll also realize how blessed you are having your family walking alongside you in this journey.

But both of us played our parts in taking care of the baby, and the family.

We fumbled at first. But as time went on, we started to get a hang of it.

SLEEP

Sleep is a luxury.

If it’s not, it will be. Babies feed every two to three hours on average. Depending on the lifestyle that you’ve been living, your baby might just wake up once in the middle of the night to feed, just like ours. Slowly but surely, the both of you will get used to this new routine, just like us too.

At first it would be a drag. For some, it might even be chaotic because, you both might still be new at it and you might not know exactly what to do when the alarm goes off. To make it worse, you were asleep, and you might need some time to get into the situation.

Get some sleep, whenever you can. Even if it’s only thirty minutes, it is better than none.

Another thing about sleep is, where will your baby sleep? Do you plan to place your baby in the baby cot, or will the baby be placed in the next room? For Asians, I believe it is quite normal the baby sleeps in the same room as the parents. But in some cultures, it is encouraged to sleep the baby in the room next door. It is believed that the baby will grow to be more independent this way. Your call.

Pushing this further, would you even consider sleeping the baby on the same bed as yours? Some couples believe that there should be nothing coming in between them in bed, not their babies, not even their kids. They believe that the bed should be kept “sacred” between them.

What do you think?

As for Christine and I, we started sleeping our baby in the cot, in our room. It seemed perfect and ideal at first until we got to get up at three in the morning, to feed the baby.

We got up from bed, walked to the cot, lowered our bodies down to carry the baby up, carried the baby up, went back to bed with the baby, started feeding the baby, done feeding the baby, got up from bed, lowered down our bodies again, put the baby down, tucked the baby in nicely, bent up again, went back to bed, entered bed, lied down and… baby started crying again.

#repeat

We decided since to sleep the baby in between us. Things got better, easier, and definitely more convenient.

B. Hygiene

HOW CLEAN IS CLEAN

LAUNDRY

We used to do laundry two to three times a week. There were only two of us, and we didn’t need to change as much. What I meant here is, taking me myself as an example, I used to wear the same pair of jeans for two to three days in a row before putting it to wash.

It is different now.

We do laundry every day… without fail… even if you don’t feel like it.

What motivated it?

It wasn’t because our wardrobe is small. It wasn’t because baby didn’t have enough change of clothes either. But… with baby around, for me, personally, I wouldn’t carry my child if I’m in a pair of jeans that I’ve worn for two days. I wouldn’t carry my baby without first washing my hands. I wouldn’t even enter my bedroom without first taking a shower coming home from work (even though it was killing me inside, dying to see my baby).

That’s just me.

So I changed more often.

Baby changed quite often too, especially if the diapers leaked, and there is somehow pee or poo on the clothing.

DUST

Yeap… it’s everywhere.

I guess this is just us. We don’t like the powdery feeling on our feet when we’re walking about in the house.

I believe that kinda unintentionally help to introduce and spread dust at home, from the very moment we remove our shoes or slippers… and the air circulation at home makes it worse even though some may head straight to the washroom to wash their feet, or even dusting their feet on the floor mat.

There will still be dust.

It is said that dust is primarily made up from the dead skin that we shed from our bodies.

C. Diet

THE MENU

HUNTING

I remember before the baby came, Christine and I used to go around town, on the lookout for new cafes or eateries, hoping that we could visit one day, and would also try to eat out two to three times a week, especially on Sundays (city boy still has the craving for tasty food). We enjoyed trying new food together, constantly searching for the best (if not better), example, chicken chop in town, and at the same time priced reasonably.

Those days are gone.

Now with the baby around, I’d suggest that the family to be a wee bit more careful on what food you take, at least for the first one or two months, especially on the mother (should mummy want to go complete breast feeding). Reason to this is, whatever mummy eats, it’ll affect the milk you’re going to produce which will also affect the baby as well.

On the other hand, if you’re going on formula for the baby, eat all you want, whatever you want!

Not true as well.

Mummy will be on the path to recovery. It is better to see mummy, or yourself, completely healed first, before you start satisfying your craving. So… perhaps for the first month, the very least, home-cooked food if possible.

Christine and I have been having home-cooked food on a more regular basis now. We believe it is much healthier as you have total control over your diet. We are also able to monitor how our food intake affects the baby as well.

Mummy

Thank God for mummies, whoever you are, wherever you may be…

2. Mummy

Didn’t know what mummies have to go through (in general), without first witnessing myself.

Thank God for mummies, whoever you are, wherever you may be – an appreciation to all mothers in the world.

Go give your mother a hug. Or at least say “I love you” (ewww? Asians don’t do that!). Well at least a “Thank you?”

Felt awkward at first when I said “I love you” to my parents, but those three words changed us. In a good way. And it’s worth it.

The “family equation” doesn’t work without you (or a mummy, may it be your mother, your in-law, your aunt, you get the idea).

You’re like the front line of defense before catastrophe dawns upon the entire family. Actually come to think of it, you’re the only defense the family got.

So, whenever you feel down, discouraged, alone, unappreciated… Fret not!

No one else does it better than you do.

Gonna talk about what you’ll be going through. Bear in mind though, this may or may not be applicable to you cause it entirely depends on the individual, the family background, and your setup too.

Enjoy, while you’re at it.

A. Lifestyle

THE QUEEN

EAT, SLEEP AND FEED

That is basically how your lifestyle would be in a nutshell, for the first month or two. Well it entirely, like I said earlier, depends on the individual as well. How convicted you are to getting back to your normal routine, or even getting back to work.

For some mothers, they might not have thought of being a full time  home-maker. It may not be a privilege for some due to the family’s financial position but for the rest… It is just not them, being constrained by the four walls at home. They need to work. They need to get back out there.

We’ve heard of different stories by different generations of mothers how their lifestyles were after given birth. Some of these mothers they took a month’s confinement. Some took three months, while some just two weeks and they’re back at work. The thing is this, how long you decide your confinement period is, it’s entirely in your hands. But, it is also solely you yourself bearing those consequences as well of your decision. Christine took six weeks before getting back to work.

The whole idea of this “Confinement” thing is so that the mother gets ample rest, and is fully (if not truly) recovered. Among the kind of rest that mothers would be looking at during this period of time partly would be sleep, and just, not moving around so much at home so that the stitches hold, the wounds heal, and the womb contracts and is secured back at its rightful place.

Whether you gave birth naturally, or c-sec, you’ll find yourself not being able to move that much because of… pain. In addition to this, if you find it painful at the suture area down there, there’s this float thing that you can buy from your pharmacy (or most). This float serves as a cushion for you when you sit up to do what you have to do.

Mundane as some might find it be, really, at least for the first month, be lazy, be still, be obedient, behave (trying to rhyme all the be).

GOT MILK?

Hold your horses!

Breastfeeding is a privilege. If you’re able to, please do. If you’re not, keep trying. If you just can’t, give yourself a pat on your back.

You tried.

Breastfeeding not only gives the right stuffs (fine… nutrients and antibodies) to your baby, but it also promotes bonding between the mother and the child. The body to body contact, baby listening to your heartbeat when he or she lies on your chest, your smell too, they’re all important.

You might want to take note that, breast-fed babies are prone to have jaundice. So, don’t get too alarmed should your baby looks yellow the first few days after birth (I know it’s easier said than done. Christine and I literally went through hell). Ours had jaundice too, in fact prolonged jaundice even though baby was said to be low-risk. *shrugs*

It is also important to know that the nutrients and antibodies found in your breast milk changes over time to cater for your baby’s needs and growth. Of course what you eat as mummy affects it too.

One issue that I had a problem with (not that I’m able to, but from observation), is the constant assumption that when the baby latches on and starts sucking, the baby would 1) have milk to drink (availability), 2) having enough milk to drink (quantity), 3) drinking enough for his or her current needs (dietary).

Availability – It doesn’t come instantly, or automatically. Though you can be quite certain that it comes naturally, or eventually. Some people would say you gotta be in the right frame of mind, the determination, the conviction that “I’m going to breastfeed my baby”, and the milk comes.

Some people would even say, you gotta start massaging the nipple as the duct might be blocked due to the initial production of milk, and it got solidified there. A good indicator if this is happening to you, is that your breast(s) will start to swell, engorged, stiffer, and there will be a slow increase in pain. Should this happen, some would recommend using “heat pads” which you’ve to heat them up with warm water and place them on your breast(s) to “melt” the solidified milk in the ducts.

Some would advice you to massage the nipple so it’ll help to push the solidified milk through. Some would even tell you to start using a breast pump, to help to suck the solidified milk out. Heat pads didn’t work for Christine cause it wasn’t blocked ducts she was dealing with. The breast pump and massaging helped though so do what you need to, as long as it works for you.

The production of milk needs time to start. It’ll start slowly before you’ll get a constant supply of milk for your baby. You might even have friends who have showcased their “breast milk collection” in their refrigerators. Don’t envy them. It takes time, as much as it takes effort too. Don’t give up.

It is interesting to know, how much milk you are able to produce, is also dependent on how much liquid you put into your body. Liquid like red dates water, soup… your 1st 4-6 weeks no plain water… yet… confinement, remember? That is if you’re going through it.

Another interesting find is, the breast to your dominant arm, will produce more milk, and eventually will be bigger in size, than the other. Proven! (not with pictures but from testimonies). Which means, if you’re right-handed, your right breast will produce more milk than the other. So if you’re just starting out on this adventure, start with the breast that produces more milk first (follow your dominant arm).

I know what you’re thinking. Can you somehow balance them? Unfortunately, No.

Christine also found out that Milo and durian helped increase the production of milk. Somehow it was just… more… than the usual. Of course, if you are gonna start taking durians, your milk will smell (nah, incredibly it doesn’t), but rather tastes sweeter.

So, the first thing you gotta know in breastfeeding is whether or not, there is milk.

Quantity – I like to be sure, of things, in general. Likewise, I like to be sure my baby, is getting enough. Thing is this, yes even though the baby latches, and is sucking, but, there’s always this uncertainty how much the baby is taking in. Cause there are times, in fact quite frequent, the baby somehow dozed off during feeds.

Dozing off might also give you the misinterpretation that the baby had enough, therefore dozed off. But I realized that the baby is just, tired. So, baby didn’t have enough, and dozed off. You will realize when the baby didn’t have enough, the “alarm” goes off at irregular hours, pee is lesser (for newborns averages 5-6 times a day, for ours now, 2 months, 10-12 times a day). You will also realize that the baby might not be increasing in weight as well. Another indicator would be the area above baby’s forehead would be slightly sunken.

Ours was dehydrated. Baby’s weight dropped from 2.6 kg to 2.4 kg.

Our hearts dropped too.

Lesson learnt, and I did something about it.

I had Christine pump-stored her milk into storage bottles. Didn’t like the idea of storage bags because it introduces more plastic wastage for one, and eventually you will need to empty the pumped milk into a bottle to feed (even though storage bags take up lesser space in your refrigerator). In the event that the breast milk isn’t enough, we topped it up with formula.

Then I made a chart to monitor the baby’s feed (amount taken, slot, time), also taking note on baby’s pee and poo. At 2.6 kg, baby needs around 320 ml of milk daily, feeds 8 times (looking at 2-3 hourly), so it’ll be around 40-45 ml per feed. Pee: 5-6 times. Poo: 2-3 times. It’s easier to monitor according to time blocks/slots… 12mn, 3am, 6am, 9am, 12nn, 3pm, 6pm and 9pm (can’t go wrong with this).

Baby is now 5 kg. Thank God.

Dietary – Is your baby drinking enough? Two factors: 1) Baby’s weight and 2) No. of feeds in a day.

A rather safe guide, every 1 kg = 150-200 ml daily. The calculation goes like this: (weight x amount) / no. of feeds.

So in our scenario, 2.6 kg; (2.6 x 150) / 8 = 48.75 ml per feed.

We did 30 ml formula + an approximate 20 ml from breastfeed.

NOTE: This part is primarily for mothers who breast-feed.

FACTORY

On top looking into the needs of your baby, most of your time will be spent on pumping. There are two kinds of breast pumps out there, the manual kind, and the automatic. Both have their own use, and they shine in their own ways in different given scenarios.

Automatic – Not as tiring as the manual pumps where by you might need to introduce effort on your part to pump the milk. However, should you have done your homework on Google, you will realize that there are so many brands out there. The question is not “Which is the best automatic breast pump” (I Googled that, really!). The real question rather, should be “Which automatic breast pump is best suited for you”.

If you were to Google the second phrase, chances are you will still be undecided on which automatic breast pump to buy.

Christine and I went around town searching, walked into baby stores and actually asked them what would they recommend. Most of the time we found ourselves being recommended stuffs we don’t need. Advises from friends were basically quite general as well and may not be suitable for you because remember, we’re dealing with people, so what works or worked for them, may or may not necessarily work for you too.

So bear this in mind that I’m not trying to push a particular brand to you, nor were we sponsored by any of these brands listed. We trial-and-error-ed before we came to these conclusion.

“Which automatic breast pump is best suited for you?”

Five factors to help you decide.

  1. Stage – At which stage are you? Are you just starting out as in just delivered, or are you already 2-3 weeks into your confinement? Recall I mentioned earlier that milk production takes time to have a constant supply? Therefore, if you’re just starting out, the automatic pump might not be as effective compared to the manual one. In fact, it may cause pain as well.
  2. Suction Power – There are many brands out there offering automatic breast pumps. Among some of the more popular brands would be Spectra, Advent by Philips, etc. Some of these automatic breast pumps also offer different modes or suction power. Buy one that offers different modes so that you can adjust and use the mode that is comfortable for you.
  3. Suction Area – We nearly bought our automatic breast pumps online. Though it is more convenient, nothing gives you the confidence and pre-knowledge on the pump’s effectiveness than to see it with your own eyes. Hold it in your hands and examine the size of the suction area (sizes differ across individuals) before you decide and make your purchase.
  4. Support – Another important factor would be the support that you’ll get. Brands like Spectra is an imported product. Spare or replacement parts may or may not be so easily accessible. Repairs may not be available as well.
  5. Maintenance – Are the replacement parts costly. Are the parts in general detachable, accessible and washable?

For automatic breast pump, we went with Youha even though it is a local brand, it’s effective and it works.

Manual – There are two types of manual breast pumps as well. One that comes with a lever like Philips’ Advent, and the other that just latches on like Haaka. If you’re just starting out, get the one with a lever. When your milk production is constant, then only get the one without a lever.

GREED IS GOOD

Not really but… I believe you’ll need both automatic and manual, and use them whenever it’s suitable. If you’re working and you need to pump (cause if you don’t, your breasts will become swollen and painful due to the milk inside), and you don’t have the luxury of sitting by a work desk or even the privacy while at it, you can also consider Youha’s Cup. It’s rather convenient though it doesn’t pump as fast as those regular ones.

STORAGE

Once you’re done pumping for that session, you’ll need to store it in either storage bags, or storage bottles. We prefer bottles as it’s reusable and you don’t introduce more plastic wastage, also, when you grab it from the refrigerator, just cap the teat on and place it in the warmer.

We measured the amount needed for each feed and stored them in multiple storage bottles. You might also want to label them using masking tapes, noting down the date and time the milk was stored so should the milk turn bad, or sour, you would be able to trace where/when/what went wrong.

When you store the pumped milk, if it’s in the freezer compartment, use storage bags, they should be good for 3 months or so.

On the other hand, if you’re storing them in the refrigeration compartment, place those bottles (or bags) as deep as possible into the shelf. Reason to this, the coolness of the refrigerator drops every time someone opens the refrigerator door. If the bottles were placed near the doors, then the temperature of the milk will be affected, which can cause the milk turn bad faster. Stored milk in the refrigeration compartment can last up to 3 days, but I personally won’t recommend you to stretch it too far.

B. Hygiene

YOU SMELL

BUBBLE BATH

Hehehe… DREAM ON!

Well on this matter, it’s subjective and entirely based on the individual involved so… whatever your choice is, you’re solely responsible.

No bubble bath.

No bathing… at all… for the 1st month!

Impossible right? How can one not bathe for 1 month? Ewww!!!

Apparently there are a good number of mothers who were able to. The younger mothers on the other hand, are a wee bit more “adventurous”.

You’re not supposed to bathe during the confinement period. You’re not even allowed to be in contact with water, so they say. You can start imagining the fragrant smell produced by your body, the oil smell from your hair, the layers of sweat, etc.

Christine couldn’t stand it and she bathed twice (or was it thrice), during her confinement. Then the “advice” from a seasoned confinement lady, who was also her aunt, dawned upon her… And this was what she said, “Girl, 30 days will pass by very quickly. But 30 years…”

It’s not the end of the world… yet…

A friend of ours told Christine that there’s a way for her to wash, or rather clean her hair. Dry Shampoo.

You can make your own Dry Shampoo. The basic ingredients are:

  1. Baking Soda
  2. Cornflour/starch

Mix 1 part of Baking Soda, to 3 parts of Cornflour/starch. If you want a nice scent to it, add in a few drops of essential oil. Fill the mixed powder into a pepper-puffer (those plastic bottles that hawkers use to store pepper, found it easier to apply this way, doesn’t land lumpy on your hair).

Apply it by puffing the powder onto your hair, then spread it by brushing it over your scalp, especially the pores of your hair where the oil and dirt gets trapped. Once you’re done applying the powder, just brush it off and look into the mirror.

Behold… White/grey hair! Hehehe! This is one of the reasons why they suggest to mix in some cocoa powder in some recipes. Your choice. Just Google “Dry Shampoo recipe” and pick any your desire or just follow what we used above.

There are also ready-made ones available off supermarket shelves. We made our own Dry Shampoo because, it’s cheaper for one, and we can still use the leftover ingredients should there be extra.

C. Diet

YOU EAT, YOU FEED

HAND IN HAND

What you eat will affect what you’ll feed.

If you’re Chinese like us, you’ll be taking a lot of “heaty” stuffs (food that makes your body warm e.g. ginger, rice wine, etc.). It’s good for the stomach but, whatever you eat, eat in moderation.

Being first time grandparents and being enthusiastic to help with food, every meal, every dish we had for our meals, had ginger in it. Okok over exaggerated, most of our dishes then… Christine took them as served, and she realized there’s a certain kind of reaction to her body. She started sweating, a lot… and she felt hot all the time. Remember, in moderation.

Apparently, we also discovered that whatever she ate, affected the baby as well. For us (remember scenario may be different for you), dairy-based stuffs (eg. yoghurt, cheese), bottled chilli and/or tomato sauces and tomatoes.

Affected the baby?

Yeaps! You could tell based on baby’s poo; basically the amount of poo, and the texture of it. On regular/normal days, or diet, that is we didn’t introduce something new to our meals, or even eating out, baby’s poo is rather “refined” and dry. On days we accidentally introduced those items listed above into the menu, baby’s poo went watery, and it looked like fish curry served on a diaper.

Now if your baby’s poo is refined and dry, you can conclude that your baby was able to absorb the goodness from the breastmilk. On the other hand, if your baby’s poo is watery, like fish curry, then you can conclude otherwise and… You will also need to top-up on your feeding to compensate the liquid lost in the poo.

Baby

Every baby is different… Use your own discretion.

3. Baby

Beh-bee…

Everyone’s focus in the family will be zero-ed onto the baby. Everyone’s attention and alertness suddenly will be heightened, strengthened, sharpened.

I guess when it’s our first, we are kinda inexperienced, and truthfully, we didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t know how our baby will be, will baby be easy to manage, or challenging… will baby be fine with noise, or one who wakes whenever there’s sound… will baby be normal and healthy… So much uncertainties.

Below are a few handles for you. May or may not apply cause, every baby is different, family is different, your surroundings are different too. Use your own discretion.

A. Lifestyle

BABY MINE

BABY MINE, DON’T YOU CRY

Was watching “I am Mother” the other day when I first came across this song, “Baby Mine”. There was a scene towards the start of the movie showing an android taking care of a baby. The baby was crying and the android started playing different kinds of songs through the speakers until “Baby Mine” was played. And the crying stopped.

We’ve folks telling us that it’s okay to let the baby cry so that the baby “understands” attention cannot be demanded and they’ll grow to be independent, or not so sticky to you. We have also folks who said otherwise, that your baby may go through a traumatic experience which may lead to low self-esteem, or even causing high fever due to excessive crying which leads to brain damage.

We didn’t choose either, but… We did what we felt was necessary for our baby. Whenever our baby cried, we would try our very best to attend to baby’s needs. Somehow your heart will just drop to see your baby in such distress and unrest.

The thing is this, babies don’t simply cry for nothing.

There’s a reason. I suggest you to find out why.

Based on our experience, our baby cries due to four reasons (do note that this differs across babies).

  1. Hungry – If you’re like us using the “feeding block”, it will be quite easy to pre-empt this. I set an alarm 20 minutes before the feeding block to take the next feed out from the refrigerator to be put it into the warmer. Depending on your warmer, some takes 5-10 minutes to warm the milk up from the refrigeration compartment.
  2. Discomfort – There are different kinds of discomfort. Discomfort could be due to pee or poo. A diaper normally could hold 2-3 times of pee. Feel and smell the diaper to see if it’s moist, or soft. Discomfort could be also due to wind in baby’s body. It is important to spend some time to burp the baby after feeds and before sending baby to sleep so that the sleep is not interrupted, and the baby would not wake-crying at odd intervals which affects your work or plans. Discomfort also could be due to the room temperature. Check if your baby is sweating, or if baby’s hands or feet is cold.
  3. Reaction – It’s entirely up to you how you sleep your baby whether on the back, or proned. If your baby sleeps on the back, it would be easier for baby to react in shock toward sudden noises like door slams, dog’s barking, etc. Some suggests to towel-wrap the baby (like burrito) to prevent shock reactions, while some suggests to put a small pillow (mind the size and weight) on the baby’s chest.
  4. Attention – Baby just wants you; your smell, your touch, your voice…

ROUTINE

Christine says that there’s no fixed formula when you’re dealing with a baby cause it’s a living being and there are many factors contributing to well-being of the baby.

True.

But what I believe is also this, the moment we get out from bed, we would tend to fall into a routine, if there are no “surprises” for the day. Right? You would visit the washroom, get your teeth brushed, breakfast, etc. Therefore, just like us, I would come across with a rather strong opinion that, babies, too, can be put into a routine, only if it is entailed with the determination, and the effort put to it.

Pre-empt it, rather than to be found preoccupied by it.

SLEEP

Not you… The baby.

You will be working on a routine for your baby. You will try your best to, knowing that with a routine, your work will be planned better, and less interruptions in between. You’ll go like “Eureka!”

Really.

Sleep is one of the biggest components in your routine. Remember, baby’s sleep, not yours.

Three items, as we visit on Sleep.

Posture – Two ways in general how you can sleep your baby. Whether it is on baby’s back, or on baby’s chest (prone). The argument that people face sleeping babies on their backs is “how it affects the shape of the baby’s head/skull”. They believe that as the baby grows, the skull will slowly form its shape.

So, if you sleep your baby on the back, and the baby’s head facing upwards most of the time, most likely the back of the baby’s skull will be flat. That is when they came up with “baby pillows” that is in the shape of a semi-circle with a hole or depression in the middle of it.

You can also choose to prone your child as he/she sleeps. Proning, some believes, is risky due to suffocation. If you choose to prone, make sure the surface is flat (coconut fibre mattresses is good for this) and take note when the baby wakes, he/she will try to turn the head, which some times may land flat on the face and contributes to suffocation.

Your baby is more susceptible to shocks sleeping on the back unless you have a pillow rested on the chest/stomach area. Baby moves a lot too, and in the process, if the pillow is too light, it might land on the face, which causes suffocation as well. Some people wrap their baby to sleep like a burrito (swaddle). Swaddling is quite cruel though in my opinion, it’s like putting on a straight-jacket on you.

As for us, we found that proning the baby promotes longer sleep hours. Christine and I didn’t prone our baby all the time though, most of the time baby sleeps on the back too, but, the head faces sideways. It’s easier to “encourage” this posture when you feed lying down on the bed.

Equipment/Gadgets – The older folks in general find that baby care is made easier with the use of a baby swing or a bounce-net. True, to a certain extent. The problem comes when the baby sleeps (or is only able to sleep) with the “swing” motion, and baby is used to it, you’ll need to bring the baby swing and/or bounce-net along when you travel, or you’ve to swing the baby to sleep in your arms.

Individual – Somehow baby sleeps easier and better on the mommy, more cushioning on the chest area. So where does that leave us dads? You can still sleep your baby by placing a soft pillow in between your child and yourself. I did that, it works!

That’s for us… What about you?

B. Hygiene

BREATHE

DIAPER-LOGY

Also known as the “Study on Diapers”, it’s kinda overwhelming. There is just so much to learn about diapers, it’s like rocket science.

This section is for those who wants to use diapers for their babies instead of nappies, or both.

Christine and I have been buying, and trying different diaper brands, to see which is best suited for our baby. We’ve tried, some we sighed, hoping to be able to find one, just one that will meet our needs.

When we asked recommendations from our friends, they named brands which worked for them.

We also received diapers as baby’s gift as well.

We have tried Drypers, Diapex Premium, Goon, Fred and Flo… there wasn’t just one that fits all.

Yes, you’ve gotta buy them all… not true either. Diapers are expensive too. Even though most of them averages at RM30 per pack, do take note how many diapers you’re actually getting out of it. Some comes with 68, some 82, etc.

And owh, buy diapers from Chinese Medical Halls. Somehow they are cheaper. Milk powders too.

Back on track…

The Study on Diapers

There are a few things in general that you’ll need to know about diapers:

  1. Type – Are they tape-diapers, or pants-diapers. Use tape-diapers for babies who are not able to stand or walk yet, basically newborns and alike. Pants-diapers might be (used might be because we’ve no experience with pants-diapers yet) better suited for babies who are already able to stand or walk.
  2. Absorption – Different diapers have different absorption threshold (and different material used for absorption too). Most of the time, you would be sold product based on the information printed on the packaging. If you were to walk along the supermarket aisle where they sell diapers, there are samples on the shelves where you can touch, feel and examine. See for yourself to believe it. A general guide how much a diaper absorbs would be the thickness. The thicker it is, the more pee and poo it can absorb, which also determine how fast money flows out of your wallet/purse on diapers. On average, a diaper can hold 2-3 pees.
  3. Height and Width – Think of diapers as something similar to sanitary pads. How long and wide the diaper is, will determine the area it covers, which also affects the amount it can absorb so that in case you get served “fish curry”, it doesn’t leak out from the back.
  4. Indicators – Some diapers like Goon comes with an indicator, to show you how wet the diaper is from the outside. This feature, to be honest, may come in handy but it is not entirely necessary.

Knowing your Baby

Diapers is one thing to learn. Another thing to learn would be the user; getting diapers best suited for the user, your baby.

Some brands out there do hand out samples (especially those new in the market), do ask if there are samples to save yourself buying one pack of 68 (example) only to find it’s not effective on your baby, and dread yourself to finish using those diapers (or until they get passed-on, thrown away, or intentionally forgotten).

Among some questions you can ask yourself before heading off to get your baby some diapers would be:

  1. Frequency – How frequent does your baby pee or poo within a feeding block (3 hourly)? This information is useful to determine how many diapers do you need in a day, how often do you need to change, and why is your baby crying.
  2. Amount – And every time your baby pee or poo, especially pee, is it a lot, like flood? Or a little, like a splash of water. This will also help determine how many diapers you need in a day, how often do you need to change, and why is your baby crying.

Senses

Sometimes having just the knowledge of things (intellect) is not enough. You have to use your other senses too.

How do you know if your baby is already “too wet”? How can you tell if the diaper is soaked?

Touch if it’s moist… and smell (yes, stick your nose to the diapers).

Newborn baby’s pee and poo don’t smell that bad, except for the first. It gets exponentially worse when your baby gets started on solid food.

The Experience

The following works/worked for us, may or may not work for you too, so… after considering all that has been written under this point, you decide what’s best for your baby, okay?

Please note on the “series” of the respective brands as well. There are so many kinds under one brand.

Huggies Dry
Initial thoughts: Just started today, will update on our experience with this later.
Our verdict:
Good: –
Not-so-good (won’t say bad): Thin, somehow felt different compared to the sample we got.

Goon
Initial thoughts: Made in Japan, has to be good… So we thought.
Our verdict:
Good: Good height, has wetness indicator outside of the diaper, better in material qua-li-ty? We’re not sure but it seemed to be,
Not-so-good (won’t say bad): thin, starts with “S” (small), not easily available in supermarkets, expensive.

Diapex Premium
Initial thoughts: Owh premium… Must be good.
Our verdict:
Good: Thick! Like super thick. We used this for nights.
Not-so-good (won’t say bad): –

Fred and Flo
Initial thoughts: Tesco brand… Hmmm…
Our verdict:
Good: Very good absorbance, good coverage area. We are using it for nights as well.
Not-so-good (won’t say bad): –

Drypers Wee Wee Dry
Initial thoughts: Everyone’s buying this for our baby.
Our verdict:
Good: Average absorbance (2-3 pee, 2 servings of fish curry), good coverage area, using this for day.
Not-so-good (won’t say bad): –

Note: It is not-a-bad-idea to change the diaper whenever you feed, considering on average a diaper can hold 2-3 pees, and per feed block baby might have peed 3-4 times too (and possibly another during change).

WET-WIPES

Convenient aren’t they?

I believe eventually you might consider using wet-wipes for your baby. The same problem occurs though, every single time, “Which brand?” “Which type?” Abel you can’t be serious, which type? Can’t we just go with Johnson and Johnson’s?

It is quite normal to default yours with Johnson and Johnson’s. After all, J&J has been in this field for a very very long time. Not only have they built brand recognition worldwide, they would have built good rapport and confidence with their consumers as well, whether it is shampoo, soap, cleansers, etc.

So did we…

But not until… someone made us think… a wee bit more…

Is it safe?

I’m not saying that J&J products are not safe. Neither am I saying that J&J’s wet wipes are harmful.

It all boils down to our own preference and, to what extent we want to see to our child’s hygiene and care.

Our Verdict

We started using J&J’s wet wipes when we first started. Since we had no other choices in mind, so we just used it. Soon, we realized that J&J’s wet wipes gave a rather “soapy” feel and we also discovered rashes developing around our baby’s bottom. We are not sure what caused it.

Rashes is due to moisture right? What we have been doing was this. After we cleaned baby’s bottom with the wet wipes, we put on the new diaper almost immediately. I guess as parents it is normal we try to trace what went wrong in our handling and conduct. Since the sign of rashes, after cleaning baby’s bottom with wet wipes, we dap-dried baby’s bottom with tissue paper, powered the area with tapioca flour, then put on the new diaper.

It got better.

Another thing we realized was this strong smell that came with the wet wipes.

We are blessed to be in a community with many young parents among us. We also have friends who are both young and experienced parents as well. On and off we do share in our conversation what we are doing and giving our child(ren). Wet wipes was one of the topics raised in one of our many conversations.

We realized that there are so much more to wet-wipes, or the brand for that matter, than just the brand. Buying something based on the brand is just one small factor contributing to the product’s quality and reliability.

There was a very good article here by Applecrumby and Fish (which somehow I couldn’t find it anymore but…)… Take a look at what Applecrumby and Fish has to offer for their wipes, I’m sure it’ll give you a rather good idea what to look for when you purchase wet-wipes for your baby.

We’re now using wipes by Applecrumby and Fish for our baby. We’re not sponsored by Applecrumby and Fish to do this, but this is based on our own finding and experience. There’s an offer going on for their wipes and their product range. No harm checking them out.

On the Contrary

If you find Applecrumby and Fish is a wee bit troublesome to access, since you are only able to purchase them online, you can also try Pureen Baby Wipes (80 sheets, in orange packaging).

BOTTLE CLEANSER

“Don’t need la.”

That was what I used to think.

We breast-feed our baby. Breast milk is high in fat, so it’s oily. If you were to feed your baby breast-milk through a milk bottle like us, the bottle will be oily too. If you were to just rub and rinse under just running water from the faucet, and even if you were to use warm or hot water to rinse them after, it will still be oily.

Get a bottle for your baby. Mix it and store it in a smaller, and manageable bottle so that there’s little wastage, and it’s not too concentrated as well. We store ours in bottles with pointed nozzle/tip similar to those they normally use to store oil for sewing machine.

Use sponge with the mixture.

STERILIZER

You might have heard people recommending to purchase a bottle sterilizer, or a sterilizer, to kill off those nasty germs and bacteria! At least for the first month they say.

We didn’t.

I mean this is your choice at the end of the day but what we have been doing is this… Wash the milk bottle with the “cleanser mixture” under running water. Then rinse the bottle in warm water, flick dry and let it dry in a colender.

Talking of which, you might want to stock up on colenders. They come in handy.

FUNGUS

Where???

The white patch at the back of baby’s tongue. They can’t brush, you can’t help them brush either. They’ll be all fidgety and struggling as best they can to be set free.

What we have been doing… Get a glass or warm water. Get a plastic spoon (those that they hand out at ice-cream parlours or even KFC, KFC’s a bit thin though)  and a non-woolly handkerchief. Wrap the handkerchief around the handle of the spoon (make sure the spoon’s handle is not pointy and has a rounded edge to it), dip it into the warm water, and slowly, but gently graze on baby’s tongue. Rinse and repeat 2-3 times.

Done.

SHIT

“Parenthood isn’t complete until and unless you have played with your baby’s shit.”

Okay, I just made that up but on a more serious side of things…

The phrase “The shit that you put me through…” hasn’t meant that much to me (or at all) until baby came. I literally, most times actually really, had to go through my baby’s shit as I “pre-wash” them off from the stained clothing.

There are times you might not be able to keep track exactly how much pee and poo your baby has deposited in the diaper. That is why it is quite important to do your “diaper-logy”, and graduate from it, so that it will save you, and your family, and those who would be “going through the shit” from actually, from going through the shit, every time, or as often as they could.

You have to give some allowance that sometimes, baby poo, and pee, just leaks from the diaper. The diaper that is currently on has a possibility to get “misaligned” or out-of-place every time we carry the baby. There might be also times when the diaper is only left half-wrapping around the baby’s bottom.

So leakage happens. And when it does, it will stain the clothing that baby is wearing, and you can’t just change baby and discard the stained clothing directly into the laundry basket. You got to pre-wash them or else, all your other clothing might be stained by it.

Pre-Wash

It’s not that bad actually. I’ve done it many times, and the more you do it, the thought of it being gross gets lesser and lesser.

Since my baby is on breast milk, the shit is actually oily. If you were to just run the stained area under running water, you will be able to wash off the shit residue, but, the stain will still be there.

I pre-wash baby’s stained clothing in a sink. I have a plastic container filled with washing powder (it’s up to you to use washing detergent) at the sink, and I’ll run the stained area under running water, wash off any residue, then scatter some washing powder onto the area, pinch another area of the clothing, and start scrubbing the stained area with it.

You should be able to remove 90% of the stain, without damaging the clothing as much compared to a brush. Once done, leave it soaked until you’re ready to put in the next load in the washing machine.

The Cannon

Baby’s nostrils will get congested with nose shit as well. It is interesting to know that there is little (or no nostril hair) in baby’s nostrils. Therefore, should you find nose shit in there, you could:

  1. Give time for it to disappear by itself when baby sneezes (yah and it gets catapulted to wherever the nostril is aimed, could be your face hehehe…).
  2. Or you can twist-dig it using a wet-tipped cotton bud. If you just insert the cotton bud tip into the nostrils dry, it’ll be very uncomfortable for your baby and it will become quite a difficult task to achieve.

C. Diet

THIS OR THAT

CHOICES

So… breast milk or milk formula?

I think we’ve covered a lot on breast-milk. Just remember to double-check if the milk (if it’s not direct) is still good for consumption.

Then what about milk formula?

We actually Googled along these lines “Best formula milk”, “Best formula milk for newborns”, “Best formula milk in Malaysia”, etc. The moment when you walk into a Pharmacy, or a Chinese Medical Hall (cheaper remember?), there are just so many to choose from, and they all are priced differently.

We complemented our baby with Abbot’s Similac (blue label). Some says Enfalac A+ is the best milk formula out there.

Do note this tho, not all milk formula is suitable for your baby. Your baby might even reject it because of the taste. Therefore, before going all enthusiastic getting the best and in the largest packaging for your baby, try those in smaller packaging first so that should your baby rejects it, it’s not wasted.

BOTTLE TEATS

There are different kinds of milk bottle teats. Some are softer, some are hard. Harder ones would mean your baby needs to use more effort to suck/drink and might cause your baby frustrated, giving up, crying. Softer ones are easier to suck in general.

Get bottle teats that are as “identical” to yours so that when your baby swaps between bottle feeds and direct latching, the baby would not be confused.

Some teats gives higher flow as well, while some slower. See if your baby chokes during feeds cause if baby does, then you might need to change the bottle teats to a more suitable one.

The End

LAST NOTES

The whole experience has been just amazing and fun. I hope that there was at least something you got from these three articles. Should you have benefited from them, do remember to share it with your family and friends, especially those close to you and I sincerely hope that these articles will help them too.

Thanks for reading! CYAH!

By |2019-06-29T01:56:23+08:00June 26th, 2019|Content|0 Comments

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