Monday, July 31, 2017

How to deal with a slow eater

There comes a point in time when your toddler starts to become choosy. You may have observed this when it comes to picking out clothes to wear, toys, and even food. Perhaps it is just part of the growth gap years. It’s understandable when it comes to clothes and toys. But when it comes to food, just like in our case, it can be very frustrating.

The slow eater. We have read from online articles that a slow eating child could also mean that your toddler is a picky eater, just not in the usual way. The typical picky eater would obviously “pick” at their food, only eating what they like or what they are familiar with. The slow eater, on the other hand, is one who will take forever to eat. With our little babette, it often took one to two hours just for her to finish one meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner). She would just let the food sit in her mouth, sometimes chewing, most of the time not, and this would go on even with a constant reminder to chew the food. And just like the stories of other parents, it is frustrating. You will definitely reach the point where you would lose your patience, even if you didn’t really want to. 

The Filipino child. In the Filipino household, rice is a staple food. But we have observed that our little babette usually eats very slowly when it comes to main meals. This is usually the time that we serve rice. But when it comes to snacks, her eating pace is normal. Then again, it also depends on the viand. There are days that she eats with a normal pace, perhaps because she liked the taste, and then there are days that she would take too long in swallowing. I guess this is why they called slow eating a type of picky eating.

There are a lot of factors, as they say, as to why this is happening. It could be that the child is just not as interested in food as they are with other things. It could be control issues, the food being served, too many distractions, the food portions, company at the table, and so on. But what troubles us the most is that if we end up just ending the meal even when she’s not yet done, what would happen to her weight, nutrition intake, feeling full, and things like that. This simply cannot go on forever. We love our little babette and we want what is best for her. But our patience, my patience, can only tolerate so much.

We searched online to see what worked for others and we tried them. Although the slow eating hasn’t changed much, there is some improvement. And it has helped us keep our patience below the “I lost my patience” zone.

    Minimizing snacks to once in the morning and another in the afternoon. This could also be just one healthy snack per day. Meals should also be spaced at three to four hours apart.
    Set the time limit and then if the meal is still unfinished, remove the plate and explain to the child that this will be his/her “snack” for the morning or afternoon. In our case, breakfast usually becomes her morning snack if she wasn’t able to finish her meal.
    No distractions such as TV or toys. In some cases, this is easier said than done. Our dining table isn’t close to our living room (where the TV is). So we usually end up just listening to the TV or not watching TV until after meals. But on some (I repeat, some) days, we eat in front of the TV. Toys, however, are set aside and we explain to her that she can play with them after she finishes her food.
    We try as much as possible to give her the right sized portions. Most of the time, these are just small portions. But she doesn’t seem to complain about getting hungry.
    Positive encouragement always makes her smile. So whenever she finishes a meal, we give positive remarks. Although we still have to remind her to chew her food, it’s not as frequent as before.
    Don’t leave them to eat by themselves. Even if you’re done and have so much other work to do, be with them at the table. You can eat with them, talk in between or simply accompany them as they try and finish their food. Leaving them at the table will not only seem lonely, it will also make them lose more interest in chewing or finishing their meal.

In all cases, make sure that you talk to your child as to why this has to be done. You can tell them that food has to be put away after meals and that the sooner she finishes her food, the more time she has for playing or some other activity. We have tried the timer but this somehow doesn’t work for us. She just became curious of the ticking object and did not mind the time warning at all. We have also tried the “taking away of privileges” technique (no dessert, no TV, no tablet, etc.) but this also didn’t work for us. She would just end up agreeing to no TV or no tablet or to whatever you said you will “take away.”

Our nanny once told us that this could also be due to our child not yet being dewormed. Although we haven’t given our little babette any deworming medications yet, we don’t know if this is true or not. You can try asking about this to your doctor. We’ll just update this post if we see any changes after deworming.

Some things may work for you and some may not. It’s okay. Not all children are alike. Over time, you’ll figure out what works for your slow eater and how to keep your sanity. But if this is worrying you too much or if you believe your child isn’t getting the nutrition he/she should be getting, talk to your doctor and ask them what you can do.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Nido Storybooks and Story Time

Stories are a part of everyone’s childhood. You may have memories of your parents reading you a bedtime story before going to sleep. Others would have stories being read to them as if it was a play, complete with costumes, actions, and different voices. My memories take me back to where my cousins and I would gather around our grandma’s living room and listen intently as she told us wonderful stories.

These days there are so many movie remakes of classic fairy tales and stories as well as various twists that the purist at heart would remark that, “It wasn’t like that in the book.” But nevertheless, times change and as parents, we also have to adapt. We grew up reading stories from books that is probably why we let our children experience this as well. Plus, it’s a great way to spend quality time with your children. But because of technology, almost all of these stories are already animated. The child would just click, swipe, tap or do some other hand gestures to read a story. It is entertaining and interactive. But as always, set a limit as to how long and how often your child will be using the tablet or the computer.

Now that we already have our little babet, it is interesting to see that she has become fond of Nido storybooks. Nido, a milk brand in the Philippines, used to have pocket fairy tales as freebies whenever you bought their product. From the name itself, these are pocket-sized storybooks about classic children’s stories as well as tales from around the world. The storybooks came with the box or with the can of milk. My sisters and I collected these when we were still kids and eventually used them when we already had children of our own.

Our little babet became fond of Jack and the Beanstalk. We have read it so many times that she has already memorized the story. To make it fun, we even gave her the part where the giant would say “Fee Fi Foe Fum” and she would do it with so much enthusiasm.  

The stories have moral lessons at the end and have colorful drawings. Although most of the stories are condensed versions of the original, it’s the right size and the right length to be appreciated by children. And in these little books, I am able to share a part of my childhood with them.

Did you collect Nido storybooks? Which one was your favorite story? 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Do I need Bottle Liners?


Bottle liners are a nifty invention. They are convenient to use since you just place the liner inside the baby bottle and then place the milk in the liner. The baby bottle doesn’t get wet which means you don’t have to do a lot of scrubbing.

In the Philippines, bottle liners are not commonly used. There are limited stores that sell these products. But, you can find sellers online. Still, bottle liners are not a must have here when you have a baby, at the moment, that is. It’s probably because a lot of mothers are breastfeeding, a lot of parents don’t know or are unfamiliar about bottle liners, and because it’s an additional expense. It’s basically cheaper to just use the baby bottle and then scrub and sterilize it after using.

We encountered bottle liners during our travel abroad. That was the first time we heard of a bottle liner and knew that such a thing existed. This was an answer to the dilemma that we were facing with our upcoming travel back home. We only brought along a few baby bottles and knowing that International flights take several hours, the bottle liner would be a convenient choice. I couldn't imagine washing a used baby bottle inside the plane and then not being able to sterilize it. It would also be difficult to bring along so many bottles and fit them inside our carry-on bag. And so that’s how we met the bottle liner.

Our little babet uses Dr. Brown’s bottles and unfortunately, we were unable to find a bottle liner specifically made for this type of bottle. We ended up using a slim type bottle liner from Tugaboos. Because it’s not specifically made for Dr. Brown’s bottles, it wasn’t a perfect fit. But it had to do since it was able to somehow fit and hold the milk. The issue we had with the liner was that the cap ring of the baby bottle, the one that holds the nipple in place, wouldn’t be sealed tightly because of the bottle liner in between. This resulted in a few leaks especially while shaking the bottle to mix the formula and the water. Although only a few leaks, we just placed a bib or a small towel underneath our little babet’s chin in case it leaked again. Also, although we purchased an 8oz. bottle liner, there is only a small gap from the opening of the liner to the 8oz. mark. This meant that we couldn’t actually prepare an 8oz. milk because it would overflow. But again, the bottom line is that we weren’t able to find a Dr. Brown bottle liner in the first place that’s why we encountered these issues.

We recently checked whether there really is a bottle liner for Dr. Brown’s baby bottles but couldn’t find anything. Perhaps they don’t have any liners at all. Although we found out that they now have wide-neck bottles and these could possibly make use of wide-neck bottle liners made for other brands. If you happen to try them out, let us know.

Now going back to the question of do you need bottle liners? Considering that you’re living in the Philippines, you don’t need to use bottle liners for daily feeding. For short travels by land, sea or air, you can live without one although, it will be convenient to have bottle liners around. For long haul flights, especially if you’re already bottle-feeding, you’ll still get through without them but they sure are great to have around. It’s convenient and disposable. You also don’t have to worry if you’ll run out of clean bottles. If you’re concerned about reusing the nipple, you can always bring along extra nipples that have already been washed and sterilized. Plus, they’re easier to carry than baby bottles.

The answer to the question will really depend on what do you need bottle liners for. The box we bought contained 100 pieces and we’ve only used them during that flight. But here’s something that will help you decide if you need one or not: if you don’t have a means of sterilizing the bottles then bottle liners will be a great help to you. Just make sure that you do a test run and that it’s the right fit for your baby’s bottles. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Better Tasting Medicine

Children can get sick for a variety of reasons. This includes not eating the right kind of food, no proper hygiene, change in weather, getting infected, and many others. Some of these can be treated without the need for medicines while there are other illnesses that require taking medication.

Over-the-counter medicines for children typically include medicine feeders, droppers or small measuring cups. They also have great tasting flavors, making it easy to take for children. Some parents may have children that just don’t like taking medicines. Perhaps it’s due to the taste or they really just don’t feel well. We didn’t have difficulty with letting our little babet take her medications when she was already over a year old. When she was just a few months old, it was a bit difficult primarily because she was still a little baby and was probably not accustomed to the taste of medicine. However, there are cases where over-the-counter medicines just won’t do and your pediatrician prescribes an antibiotic for your child. If you’ve never had any trouble letting your child take antibiotics then lucky you. But for most parents, I believe, this is when the real struggle begins.

Why struggle, you ask? It’s simply because antibiotics do not taste good. If medicines for cough, colds, fever, and allergies can be made to taste better, antibiotics just taste like, well, medicine. Some have added flavors but these just don’t mask it enough and still leave a certain taste. Plus, antibiotics have certain textures that add to the problem. And when children really taste medicine, they don’t want to have anything to do with it. It makes giving medications frustrating and you end up forcing it on your child just so they will get better. Which really makes me wonder, why can’t they make better tasting antibiotics?

I’m no pharmacist and perhaps there is a good reason why. Maybe adding flavors could interfere with the medicine’s efficacy. If you’re suggesting trying a tablet/capsule instead, then that’s another struggle since you have to teach the child how to swallow it first (I'm imagining how I'll explain this to a 2-year-old). Crushing the tablet so that it will be in powder form and then mixing it with food or juice seems like a better option. But still, your child may still be able to detect something tastes a bit different. There are those suggesting on mixing liquid medication with fruit juices and the like. So we ask again, doesn’t this affect the medicine’s efficacy?

You know what works for your child and you know what doesn’t. Our little babet, for example, doesn’t seem to like even bubblegum flavored chewable tablets. Then again, what works for them when they are still young may not work anymore when they’re a bit older. Forcing medicines may give them a traumatic experience and no parent would want that. However, they do have to take their medication and when there’s no other way to go about it, parents are left with no choice.

How about using a syringe type feeder and then placing it at the right position in your child’s mouth? Well, this is worth another try and actually looks promising. Let’s just hope and pray that our little babet doesn’t throw up like she did on a previous occasion.

If you have the same dilemma and would like to try some of these methods, make sure that you ask your pediatrician if doing so is okay and will not affect the medicine’s efficacy. Ask them for suggestions on how to best give the medicine, especially when it doesn’t taste good. 

There has to be a better way; one that doesn’t involve forcing or that doesn’t leave a traumatic experience. There has to be a way that won’t make parents feeling frustrated or that cause children to become anxious when it’s time to take their medicine. And so we continue to hope that there will be better tasting antibiotics in the near future. 

If you have the same experience, let us know. We’d love to know how it worked out for you and your little one.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Ice Candy: A Simple Summer Treat

It’s summer time once again! Every child looks forward to this time of the year since school’s out and that means more time for fun and play. It also means time for cool summer treats.

Summer time in the Philippines is definitely hot. This is why a lot of families go to the beach to cool down or spend time in places that have cool weather. Eating Halo-Halo, Mais con Hielo, and other cold treats are also common during this season. People basically prefer activities and foods that make them feel cool and refreshed. It’s a way of beating the summer heat.

If you’re looking for a cool summer treat that is cheap but enjoyable, ice candy would be it. I don’t know about you but ice candy brings back a lot of childhood memories.  Ice candy meant happiness. It’s a sweet treat that you can easily make plus it’s cold and can come in different flavors.

This treat doesn’t need to have a lot of ingredients. We used to make ice candy from a sachet of powdered fruit juice (Tang or Eight o’clock). Just mix the powder with one liter of water and that makes a lot of ice candy. It’s delicious and refreshing. You can also try making ice candy from a chocolate powdered drink such as Milo or Ovaltine. Just add sugar according to your liking. Although the powder is already mixed, it tends to settle to one side. We just turn it to the other side a few times before it becomes completely frozen.

What we love about ice candy is that you can mix and match whatever flavors you like. You can go for a halo-halo ice candy, buko pandan, and all those other flavors or you can just have it like flavored ice. It’s a simple summer treat but it’s guaranteed to be fun. Having the kids help in the preparation also makes it an instant family bonding activity.

So make some ice candy today. You’ll enjoy eating it, make money by selling it, and definitely delight your little ones and the kids at heart.

Do you have any kid-friendly summer treats? We’d love to try it.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy: After one year

Our little babette has already turned one year old and a lot of things have changed. Here’s a little update on what has happened and the milk transitions we had after she turned one.   

After being diagnosed with Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy, we stuck with NAN HW for her milk since she responded well to this milk. We started with NAN HW1 when she was still between zero to six (0-6) months old and then shifted to NAN HW2 when she reached six to twelve (6-12) months. We continued with NAN HW3 when she turned one. Take note that our little babette’s stool while taking NAN HW is more on the liquid side (but not like the one you get when your baby has diarrhea) and is greenish black or grayish black in color (image).

Enfagrow Toddler Transitions
However, we were faced with another challenge when we had to travel to the US to attend a wedding. We asked our little babette’s doctor as to what milk substitute we could give, in case we couldn’t find NAN HW3 in the US. The doctor told us that NAN HW3 was available in the US. We didn’t want to go unprepared so we searched online for milk substitutes. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find NAN HW3. So we resorted to Enfagrow Toddler Transitions instead. Although we brought along a box of NAN HW3 for the travel, once we ran out, we became worried as to the effect the new milk would have on our little babette. This is because Toddler Transitions has a different composition from NAN HW and is not anymore hydrolyzed whey protein. This milk was just like any typical milk. There is completely nothing wrong with it. But for a parent whose child has a history of cow’s milk protein allergy, this is something we were worried about. But our little babette responded well to the new milk and we were relieved and happy. And because we kept monitoring her stool, (please be warned that this contains an image of an actual stool) here’s what it looks like after taking Toddler Transitions. Although the stool looks hard, the consistency is a bit soft. And this really made us happy since we could immediately flush it in the toilet. 

--- We apologize if this blog contains images of stools. As a parent, we find this helpful because when we were trying to figure out cow’s milk protein allergy, we wanted to understand it and really get the whole picture. We wanted to know what changes we have to expect as well as what we should look out for. We weren’t able to find a lot of comprehensive information that is why we include relevant details, such as stool, in this blog. ---

When we arrived back home, we then switched to Enfagrow A+. It is a bit expensive since a 1.8 kg box costs about Php1,800.00 (as of the time of writing). So we decided later on to switch to Bear Brand Jr. (for 1-3 years old).  It’s more affordable and our little babette still gets the nutrients she needs. A 1.6 kg box costs about Php600.00 (as of the time of writing). You can compare their nutritional facts if you like and you’ll find that Enfagrow A+ has a bit more than the other.

It will be up to you if you’ll go for the more affordable milk or for the premium ones. What this post is all about is letting other parents know that after our little babette turned one, we tried giving her typical milk that is based on cow’s milk. And up to this day, we’re happy to say that she has responded well. We haven’t seen (and hope to no longer see) any bloody stool since we switched to a different milk.

As always, this is based on our experience, which may be different from yours.  You may consult your child’s doctor if you wish to switch to a different formula. Although we cannot truly conclude that our little babette no longer has cow’s milk protein allergy, what we are thinking is that perhaps she has already outgrown it.

How did your child outgrow cow’s milk protein allergy? We’d love to hear it.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Traveling with Kids

Traveling is one of the many enjoyable activities that you can do with your family. It is definitely a great way to spend quality time with your kids and your husband/wife. However, it can be stressful and challenging, especially if you are travelling with children who are two (2) years old and below.

There are a lot of resources online that will help you prepare for baby’s first long distance flight. It is important that you read these so as to anticipate what could happen and how you should handle it. During the time of our travel, our little babette was already 13 months old, could already walk, and already eats solid food.

What to bring. As always, bring along your baby bag that contains everything that your baby will need during the flight and during layovers. This includes diapers, wipes, medicines, baby formula, picture storybook, and food. Bring the necessary medicines your baby would need for the trip but keep these within the allowable limits for hand carry baggage. In our case, we had to bring several ointments and medicine for our little babette’s allergies.

What to wear. Have your baby wear comfortable clothing. Leggings are ideal for little girls and pants for little boys. Since it can be a bit cold inside the plane, have a jacket ready in your baby bag. Long distance flights typically provide a pillow and a blanket per passenger. You can use the provided blanket to keep your baby warm as well.

Have them wear shoes that are comfortable and easy to put on or remove. We opted for strapped rubber shoes for our little babette and had her wear socks as well. This way, when she wanted to remove her shoes, the socks still kept her little feet clean and warm.

Food. If you are still breastfeeding then you don’t have to worry about bringing baby formula with you. You simply have to bring your nursing cover. For those who need to bring along baby formula, place the formula in a spill-proof and airtight formula dispenser that is ideal for traveling. Bring only enough for the flight and store the rest of the baby formula in your check-in luggage. You can ask for hot water from the flight attendant when you already need to prepare your baby’s milk. We suggest that you ask for hot water an hour before feeding to give it time to cool down. This is because they will really give you very hot water.  Just mix in the formula later when it is time for your baby to feed.

Although most airport personnel will be able to understand that the formula is for the baby, there might be some who would suspect its contents since it is in powder form. So make sure to bring only enough in your hand-carry luggage and place it in a formula dispenser.

If your baby is already eating solid food, you can bring along finger foods such as cereals, biscuits, bread, and basically anything that is not messy. This is also convenient during long layovers where you can’t find any available store where you could buy some food.

While on the plane, you can even ask for baby food from the flight attendant. But if they don’t have any baby food available, they will give you the same food that was served to all passengers. Our little babette likes the bread that comes with the meal. So, we save the bread for her.

In-flight entertainment. Long distance flights have in-flight entertainment in the form of music or movies. Each passenger has his/her own screen and earphones. There are many channels that you could choose from in an international flight. But, depending on your child, he/she may not appreciate it unless he/she is already familiar with the characters in animated movies or shows. Earphones can also be distracting for your little one, especially if they are not used to wearing them. So don’t expect the in-flight entertainment to entertain your child.

In our case, we brought along some toys for our little babette as well as entertained her with the view from the plane’s window. Take note, however, that the view will mostly be clouds and the ocean.

Toys. Bring along toys that are familiar to your baby such as their favorite stuff toy or a picture book. You can also opt for toys that engage your child such as those that have lots of colors and have different textures. Choose a toy that would not be so noisy or loud since this could disturb others.

Check with your doctor/health provider. It would be best to pay a visit to your baby’s doctor especially if your baby still has some immunization to catch up. This will also let you know if the place you are going to visit is safe and does not have any medical outbreaks or if there are medical conditions that you need to be careful of. Our little babette was vaccinated with MMR and Varicella as per the doctor’s advice since we will be travelling abroad. This is also a good time for you to ask your health provider/doctor regarding substitute baby formula in case you can’t find the same baby formula abroad.

Challenges. Let’s face it; little children are not fond of staying put for long hours. Expect that, for long distance flights, your little one will be bored, will cry, be fussy, and make a lot of noise. If your little one is already starting to walk, he/she will want to get down on the floor and walk. There is also a tendency that your child may not feel like eating.

Changing a diaper while inside the plane will also be a challenge, given the small space of the plane’s lavatory. But you will be glad to know that there is a diaper-changing table even in that small space.

When it comes to sleeping, be prepared for discomfort. However, you will be able to get some sleep. It’s just that it won’t be as comfortable as that of lying down on a bed. You will be lucky if your little one sleeps soundly all throughout the flight. Some airlines have bassinets that you can use so make sure to ask about this or consider this before booking your flight. You can even find airlines that have a “Flying Nanny.” Their main job is to provide you with an extra set of helping hands while on the air, especially when it comes to putting your child to sleep or entertaining them. 

Traveling is a wonderful experience and who best to share it with than those who are close to your heart. Just hope that you have seatmates on the plane who are considerate, understanding, and have extra patience for very small children. We are definitely looking forward to our next destination as a family!

Happy trip! 😀