Monday, 28 May 2012

Parenting an 18-month and beyond

Parenting Kah Yen in the past has been relatively easy. Things to take note are just a few:

(1)   Breastfeeding / Milk

Breastfeeding can be the most natural but also the most challenging thing for a new mum and pumping milk is anything but fun, but I have managed to press on for 14 month and successfully switched her to formula afterwards, not without her going on milk strike for nearly a week though.

(2)   Solid Food

I hardly even cooked before the baby arrives, which is equivalent to say ‘I don’t know how to cook”. And she eats like a little hamster, not just a little hamster but a royal queen hamster that insists on deciding exactly what goes into her mouth for each meal. Nevertheless, for a year or so I managed to stuff enough things in the queen’s stomach at the end of each meal. And I am lucky to have a nanny who cooks porridge very well so solid food issue is considered passed. 

(3)   Physical milestones

Come to think about it, I did not do anything. She worked hard and achieved all the physical milestones herself. I am perfectly fine to just let her develop at her own pace. The only thing that worried me a little is she learnt to walk only at 15-month.  

(4)   Toys

Much of her playtime is spent on free time; she is not old enough for structured play or learning yet. Hence all we did is buying some age appropriate toys and let her choose what she wants to play.

(5)   Language development

The only thing I need to do is make sure I always talk to her, sing to her and read books to her when I am with her.

That’s it. Fairly easy right?

Mummy says I am an easy baby!
But now she is official 18-month old; she is walking, talking, learning and showing personality and temperament of her own. Parenting is beyond just milk, food, toys, and talking and singing now. There are so many more areas I need to learn:

(1)   Weaning off the bottle

Yes she is still drinking milk from a bottle. I know the book says that it is best to transit from bottle to straw cup after baby turns one. She can use a straw cup perfectly for drinking water, but I have not let her try to drink milk from it.

She is not a very aggressive milk drinker; she usually doesn’t finish her 150ml bottle. We are constantly on a mission to let her drink more milk especially since she is relatively small in size. We worry that any change to the current arrangement will trigger milk strike and cut down her intake drastically. Nevertheless, we have to start soon. We have heard the potential impact of drinking from a bottle for too long to language development and teeth growth.

(2)   Self-feeding

She is quite a fussy eater.  Till now I still have to make sure her food is very smooth in texture otherwise she won’t eat very well. And I have mentioned she is small in size. So you can guess how much effort we are putting in to make sure she finishes her meal. The focus right now is really to make sure she eats enough than to let her learn to be independent and feed herself. I am not ready to see half the food goes to the floor in front of me.

But, I need to train her to self-feed before two, so that she will not go hungry at Childcare. And yes the independence part, which is also very important to me. To add to the challenge, I am a working mum; I only spend 2 days per week with her, and at least half of it we may be outside. The time left to train her is very little.

(3)   Potty training

Another mission to accomplish before she turns two. Some may have potty-trained their kids at as early as one, but honestly, potty training was pretty much at the back of my mind till recently. Getting her to drink and eat well was my priority. And I have no ambition to go against the norm. I think, I have not read anything on potty training but I think, 18-month to 2-year is a good period to let her say goodbye to diapers.

As I said, I have not read ANYTHING on potty training yet.  So I have just ordered the book Potty Training 1-2-3 by Gary & Anne Ezzo, since it says that “The good news is that potty training doesn’t have to be complicated—and neither does a book that explains it.”

(4)   Language development

Things have been pretty easy in the past, as I have shared, all I need to do is make sure I always talk to her, sing to her and read books to her. It doesn’t really concern me much when she utters her first word or what is her vocabulary count at 15 or 16-month. I choose to let her go at her own pace.

Now that she is 18-month old, she is talking more and learning fast, are the above still sufficient? I recently chanced upon this Singapore SAHM’s blog “Once in a life time”, I am amazed that she already started home-schooling her daughter at 18-month old and also started to send her to enrichment classes (with her company)! I know very well I can’t do what she has done because firstly I am a full time working mum, secondly I don’t think I have enough patience to research and prepare all the home-schooling materials.

BUT, I can’t help thinking whether 18-month is a good time to start to teach my daughter ABC and words. Before I find the perfect answer to this question I am just going to continue to do what I am doing – Reading more books to her.

(5)   Structured play and learning

No more running around the house and switching toys every two minutes.  I want to focus more on structured play and to help train her attention span. This is one of areas that I feel I have compromised the most because I am a working mum. Since we sent her to Nanny during the day, her day is filled with random free play only.

To prepare her for childcare, where she doesn’t get to choose what she wants to do, and when she can do it, it is time for me to train her to follow instructions (What Mummy tells her to play) and focus on what she is doing for a prolonged time. Gosh, how to do this when I have only Sat and Sun afternoon with her? Thank God now she goes to Sunday school on Sun morning and it is an excellent platform to train her.

(6)   Obedience and self-control

Before the “Terrible two” phase starts to turn the house upside down and drive Daddy/Mummy up to the wall, we’d have to focus more on training her obedience and self-control. I am hearing myself saying more “Kah Yen, Mummy said it is time to go to bed!” “Kah Yen, No, don’t touch that!” “Kah Yen, you have to finish your food!” & “Kah Yen, go and play with your toys, don’t come to the kitchen!”… She may not have the reasoning capability to understand why certain behaviors are not allowed yet, but I need to train her to follow instructions and behave according to what is being told. I believe obedience and self-control can be trained from such a small age. I am glad that I have already gotten a copy of "Preparation for parenting - The toddlerhood transition" book, and almost the entire books talks about obedience and discipline. It is definitely not as easy as the book says, but I will work on it.

(7)   Childcare

Childcare, Childcare, when and where? Talking about childcare I am not a very good mum  – because I have not done anything yet. I know other parents who start to register their babies’ names long before they turned one. I guess we are too comfortable with our current Nanny arrangement. I am in no hurry to send her to Childcare but again I think 2-year old is a good age. Hence, I need to research on the Childcare centers near our place soon. And what are my criteria in selecting a good Childcare? What’s the best for her? … Just asking these few questions is already causing me a mild headache!

If you are reading this post you are probably already having a headache like me by now. Parenting an 18-month and beyond toddler is like a giant leap from parenting a baby right? Yes I am stressed by the challenges ahead but I am also thrilled at the opportunities that I can see her learn and grow.

PS: I have long wanted to share about the Preparation for Parenting books but I have not found the time. Meanwhile, if you are interested in the books or any other resources from Growing Family International, you can order from the GFI Singapore homepage here.

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