Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008. What a Year it was!

2008 will soon be but another memory. With the arrival of 2009, I can’t help but to reflect on what 2008 has been and what it meant. It has been a great year. Although there is not much of a significant progress in my own career, my wife’s career has certainly taken a great leap forward, although it comes with more responsibility, accountability and stress. From the family perspective, we see the addition of little Ryan into our family, a bundle of joy, a handful of responsibility and certainly a major factor in the changes of our lifestyles and priorities.

We have graduated from just a newly married couple with not many worries in the world to new parents with more worries than the world. From a happy-go-lucky couple who could practically just pack and drive for hours for a golfing holiday, to a couple who need to plan months ahead and take an entire day to pack to stuff that we need to bring along (which is like the entire house!). From a couple frequently found at Bernards, Champs or some nice restaurants or pubs on Fridays and Saturdays to a couple sitting at home busy trying to get Ryan to bed, expressing breast milk and getting his next feed ready before he screams his lung off.

2008 sees a golf addict (or so my wife claims) who frequents the driving range at Tropicana Golf and Country Resort every alternate day and hitting 200 to 300 balls, turning in my gloves and storing my golf bag in the store room rather than the boot of my car so that I could have more space for Ryan’s stuff when we travel.

2008 sees a bumbling fumbling husband and daddy struggling with the growth of Ryan, the mid night feeds, the baby baths, the changing of diapers (not forgetting moments being drenched when his little fountain suddenly came alive!) and dealing with the smelly poo poo.

2008 certainly has been eventful and life changing and I wouldn’t trade it for all the treasures in the world. So, here I am, bidding farewell to a year well spent and embracing 2009 with great expectations, excitement (despite all the economic gloom), anticipation and a brand new hope for better things to come.

Thanks for sharing part of our journey together since this blog was created in August and we welcome you to continue this journey with us and become part of our lives.

HAPPY NEW YEAR from Daddy, Mommy, Ryan and Zoewe (woof woof!)

Smooch them while you can

Yesterday afternoon, Ryan just refused to sleep. He was playing on our master bed, tossing and turning, kicking his bolster with his little feet, smiling and laughing cheekily. Seeing him in such a good mood, I joined in. He loves to be tickled, especially if I kiss him under his armpits, his chest and his inner thighs. So, I was having a whale of a time, cuddling him, kissing him and tickling him until he was laughing so loud and screaming as if saying `No more! Enough! Enough! Haha!’

When I grew tired and I am sure he was, I was kissing him gently on his cheek which he adores. He will lie perfectly still and wait for me to kiss him again and if I kiss him at the back of his neck, he will be grinning and smiling.

What a moment it was! And it suddenly occurred to me, how long would my little baby allow me to smooch him like this. As children grow up, moments like this become rarer. How many 6, 10 or 15 year old boy would allow his daddy to smooch him all over? How many 12, 16 or 17 year old daughter would allow his daddy to kiss her on her cheek and tickled her pink?

So, I have decided to smooch Ryan every chance I get while he still enjoys and yearns for my kisses and cuddles before he grows up and the only cuddles and kisses he enjoys would be from his girlfriends. So, Ryan, here I come!!!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

When breast squeezing is NO FUN!

Yes. There comes a time when that happens. For some reason, my wife breast’s was engorged for the last couple of days. It was a painful experience. I could feel hardened lumps at several places and she was crying out in pain each time she tried to express the milk out for Ryan. I have always known my wife to be one who has very low pain tolerance. She is horrified of the needle and will whine over a simple paper cut. Yet the endurance she went through childbirth amazed me.

I can not comprehend the pain but I could certainly see that it must be painful. Each squeeze and stroke she took to try to unblock the blocked milk ducts was pure agony as I can see tears welling up in her eyes. Yet, being known as one totally dreadful of pain, she persevered and squeezed harder. When her hands grew tired, I helped and believe me, although many men might disagree, breast squeezing in moment like this is certainly NO FUN. With each stroke, as she grits her teeth to endure the pain, I could almost feel the pain too.

Breast milk, undoubtedly the best and most natural milk for babies with the correct amount of nutrient and antibodies certainly comes with huge sacrifices. Among the many obstacles a breastfeeding mommy has to endure include:-

  • Cracked and painful nipples.
  • Engorged breast.
  • Discipline and stress of expressing breast milk regularly to ensure continuous flow or risk engorgement and reduce and ultimately complete stop of supply.
  • Discipline to refrain from eating food that might not be healthy for the baby since it will affect the nutrients and quality of milk.
  • To constantly ensure eating the right and nutritious food to ensure quality of breast milk produced.
  • To constantly drink lots of liquid and soup to maintain or boost the supply of breast milk.
  • The stress and concern when breast milk supply runs low.
  • The inconvenience of wet shirt as a result of dripping as a result of not expressing overflowing milk.

I certainly hope that when Ryan is old enough to read and understand this post, he will begin to appreciate what his mommy has to endure to ensure that he gets the best. Meanwhile, there is little that I could do but to support and learn to appreciate her love for our baby.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Season of HOPE, PEACE and LOVE

It’s Christmas eve! As Christmas approaches, it brings with it the close of another year. And what a year it has been. 2008 sees the arrival of Ryan, the hope and love of our lives. It brings a whole meaning to Christmas, the whole meaning of unconditional love, devotion and giving without any expectations in return. This will be our first Christmas together.

2008 also sees me discovering the joy of blogging and the wonderful experience I have while sharing with so many of you who have been faithfully visiting, commenting and encouraging a bumbling and inexperience daddy as he fumbles with the daily routine of bringing up the pride of his life.

2008 also sees the beginning of a world wide economic slump and gloom. To many, the uncertainties after Christmas are nerve wrecking. To many, their long unpaid compulsory leaves have already begun. `Ho Ho Ho’ seems hardly to be appropriate with the fear of losing their job or pay cut.

Yet, true Christmas spirit is about hope beyond our human’s comprehension. When God closes the door, He always opens a window.

So, clinging to this hope, we will celebrate this Christmas with Ryan and you and looking forward to run a good race and fight a good fight in 2009.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Milestone - On his own walker

Date : 19th December 2008
Time : 1:30 p.m.

Ryan has been trying to take steps to walk although he could barely sit solidly on his own. Since the doctor said that he is longer than average, we were thinking whether he could sit on his walker and start running about.

At least I hope that he will enjoy himself on his walker and start exploring rather than wanted to be carried all the time.

So, out come the walker from the box (a gift from a friend) and after a quick and easy assembly, it was ready. So, we put him into his walker and immediately, he was away!

Barely half an hour later, he was pushing himself towards things that he fancied. Therein, lays the next challenge to us. We got to start child proofing our house. But then, that is part of the progress anyway.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

An Old Ginger...

Chinese has a saying that `Aged ginger is more pungent’ (姜是老的辣). This meant that the elderly people are more experienced and hence better in handling situations. This couldn’t be more true when it comes to parenting and handling babies.

We have been having a `jolly good’ time feeding Ryan his solids. Besides squirming and twisting in his high chair, his hands are constantly waving and pushing. Every time we push a spoon near his mouth, he will attempt to grab the spoon as if he wants to feed himself. Occasionally, he will knock the spoon completely off our hand, resulting in the apple puree flying through the air. None is happier than Zoewe, our toy poodle who sits patiently to pick up whatever that lands near her. Too big a mouthful, and he will spit out the puree and smiled cheekily.

We are also fearful that he will choke and as a result, we are giving him small spoonfuls. Needless to say, the feeding takes a pretty long time.

My mum is currently here for Christmas. On seeing me feeding him this afternoon, she couldn’t stand all of Ryan’s antics and took over. Spoonful after spoonful was pushed into his mouth. Ryan’s with his puzzled look has little choice but to gobble and swallow every spoonful. Within 10 minutes, it was done! And that little monster wanted more! See how he bullies his daddy and mommy.

Of course, my mother was proud as a peacock. `See what ma-ma can do!’ she proudly announced.

Either my mom is super good in handling him (as they said aged ginger is more pungent) or that little monster knows that the only way to his grandma’s heart is to make her feel super important. Smart kid.

Wait till daddy feeds you next. No more Mr Nice guy with small spoonful. You better gobble and swallow or else…….

Excellent post from Spices of Life!

Umma, writer of the Spices of Life blog posted an excellent article a couple of days ago. Aptly entitled, WHAT TO EXPECT DURING PARENTHOOD, it listed down 10 things that any parent should expect in this wonderful journey and adventure of parenthood.

As I read it, I cannot help but to identify with every single one of the 10 listed, without actually and consciously realising it. Having a baby totally changes our marriage, our life style, our expectations, our hope and what we care for.

I am certain that many of my readers do read Umma's but in the event that you don't, do drop by her site and read this article. With your permission, I have set up the link here.

Read all about it at Spices of Life and welcome to the wonderful world of `parents going crazy with love'.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

An Embarrassing Habit

Has your baby develop any habits that are unique to them? A specific habit that they used to soothe and calm themselves right before they fall asleep? A specific habit that sometimes can be distasteful, weird or embarrassing?

I noticed that Ryan has developed this distasteful habit of biting and chewing the string of his bolster every time he wants to sleep. He will happily chew away as he dozed off. I am not sure when the habit starts but I don’t think it’s going away soon. Every time, we pulled it out from him, he will show his displeasure. So, in order to make sure that it is at least hygienic, we have got the maid to change the bolster cover everyday. In fact, he has developed a liking to clutch his bolster tightly, covers his face and chews the string to sleep. (aiyoh..slap head, what an ugly sight especially in public).

But surprisingly, I understand that most babies will develop some form of a unique habit that they will naturally carry on into their adult life. My youngest sister has this habit of smelling the string of her bolster to sleep. (I think she still does that!). My wife needs her extra big pillow to cover her head. (She has even given the pillow an affectionate name - `chow chow’ which means smelly in Cantonese). My habit is even more embarrassing! My mother told me that I have a tendency to clutch and squeeze the corners of my pillows to sleep when I was young. And I know she is telling the truth because I still do that unconsciously when I want to doze off. (Now you know my dark side).

I just hope that Ryan’s habit of chewing will stop and he will pick up a lesser `yucky’ habit when he grows older.

Do you have a unique habit to share?

Preventing Food Allergy - Guide to Prudent Weaning

In my previous post on Food Allergy, probiotics have been mentioned as an important element to prevent food allergy. It has also been reported to be an important factor in reducing the risk of colic among young babies. So, what exactly are probiotics?

Probiotics are live cultures of friendly bacteria that are used as food ingredients. When ingested, they offer health benefits to the host such as:-

  • Protection against allergic diseases
  • Protection against intestinal infections which may cause diarrhea
  • Help in the absorption of minerals
  • Help in the synthesis of vitamins B and K

Breast milk is still the most important source with special properties to promote and encourage the growth of probiotics.

In this final part on Prevention of Food Allergy, we will look at a simple guide to prodent weaning. We will look at types of food that is safe to introduce to infants and at what age to best avoid the development and risk of food allergy.

Foods which are LEAST LIKELY to cause food allergic reactions (to be introduced from 6 months)

  • Rice, Carrot, Pear, Apple, Prune

Foods which are usually well tolerated, but OCCASIONALLY CAUSE allergic reactions (to be introduced from 6 months)

  • Barley, Oats, Wheat, Beef, Lamb, Chicken, Broccoli, Cabbage, Potato, Spinach, Corn (and corn oil), Banana, Turnip

Foods which are MOST LIKELY to cause allergic reactions (to be introduced from 9 months)

  • Egg Yolk (must be fully cooked), Legumes (soya beans, beans), Fish

Foods which are HIGHLY ALLERGNIC (to be introduced from 12 months)

  • Seafood (prawns, crabs, dried and fresh scallop), Egg White, Peanuts

Happy Weaning!

Other related post:-
Preventing Food Allergy – The role of bifidobacteria
Preventing Food Allergy – Causes and Symptoms
Preventing Food Allergy – Is my baby at risk

Ryans’ First solid milestone post:-
Milestone – Ryan’s First solid (Part 1)
Milestone – Ryan’s First solid (Part 2)
First Solids – Taste of Apple
First Solids – Taste of Pear

Colic - Every parent's nightmare!

Recently, while I was browsing through some DVDs at a DVD outlet, I noticed the above poster on the wall. It is a Thai horror movie made in 2006 about the how an evil spirit threatened the life of a baby. The movie was COLIC.

Why was colic used as the subject in the above movie? What is colic? Is it that terrifying and mystical that the movie producer would associate it somehow to something evil?

For mommies who have infants with colic, I am sure that they will testify that it is indeed a nightmare and trying times for them as well as the baby. I have a friend whose son suffered from colic. It was a total nightmare for her. She said that she almost had a nervous breakdown going through the experience and lost so much weigh during the ordeal.

Firstly, what is colic? Colic is a condition where a seemingly healthy baby will frequently cry or scream uncontrollably for extended period with no apparent discernible reason. It is reported to appear during the first two weeks of live and will disappear just as suddenly when the baby reaches three to four months. The sudden frequent crying will appear at a specific period in the day, often in the early evenings. However, the mystifying fact is that with the current advancement in science and medicine, the cause of colic has yet to be established and proven.

Colic is traditionally explained as abdominal pain as a result of trapped gas in the digestive tract. Other explanation include the composition of gut flora where there is a lack of Lactobacillus acidophilus, a probiotic or friendly bacteria, that commonly occurred in breast milk. There have also been studies that linked food to colic, specifically what the mother consumed that is being passed on to the baby. To-date, there have not been one conclusive study that can accurately identified the cause of colic.

Just as the cause of colic, there is no absolute treatment for colic. Recommended treatment includes drugs (Simethicone) which treats trapped gas. Other methods recommended include soothing measures such as pacifiers, listening to white noise, rocking, swaddling, swinging, placing the baby on his side or stomach and making the Shhh sound. An experienced massage lady placed a warm handkerchief over my friend’s baby stomach and provided massage to the baby to soothe him and it apparently worked.

Having a colicky infant will drive tremendous stress and strain to the parents. Low self esteem and confidence and feeling completely helpless in watching the infant cry uncontrollably, coupled with post-natal depression can be devastating. Spouse and family support and understanding are extremely important at this stage, with the knowledge that colic will eventually go away just as suddenly when the child reaches 3 or 4 months old.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You don't need fishing to test your patience

I have several friends who adore fishing. They will plan and take trips into some God forsaken interiors and will disappear for days, just camping and fishing. I also have several friends who adore open sea fishing. They too will make effort to plan and take trips out to the open sea. To many of them, it is a form of escapism. When I asked them, they strongly defended their hobby and sport and claimed that it is an excellent way to test and train their patience and endurance. They claimed that their biggest sense of achievement was when they reeled in their big catch after hours and hours of patiently waiting and fighting to bring the fish in.

Well, I have news for you gentlemen. Women don’t need to go fishing to test and train their patience. Ask any mothers with a toddler and they will tell you that they have all the training they need right at home.

As Ryan grows so does his temper and not to mention his unique ability to drive me completely nuts. If you want to test your patience, try changing his diaper when he is frantically twisting and turning while screaming at the top of his lungs. If you want to train your endurance, try feeding him when he is squirming in his high chair with his lips tightly sealed and his hands pushing and waving, and the apple puree that you have so `patiently’ prepared lands everywhere but your intended target, his mouth.

So guys, seriously, if you want to test and train your endurance and patience the next time, just babysit for a day. Your greatest sense of achievement would be to survive the day!

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Gemini

My son, the Gemini (May 22 to June 21). This sign is also known as The Twins. I am not one into horoscope and believing what my sign holds for me and neither do I dictate my life based on what my horoscope tells me for the day, week or year. In fact, I don’t even read them.

But out of curiosity, I wanted to know what Ryan’s star is and the description of a Gemini could not be more accurate.

Gemini, being the twins, can take on two personalities of the complete opposite. They are apparently dual-natured. They can be calm at one instant but can just as easily whip up a storm. Their good characteristics include imaginative, adaptable, communicative, inquisitive, energetic and witty to name a few. On the other hand, they tend to be restless, dislike being tied down, mental inaction and being left alone.

Well, Ryan has definitely shown a good volume of imagination and determination in getting the things he wanted, very inquisitive and curious and pumped up with boundless energy. (He is like the Energizer pink bunny and me, the one running on ordinary batteries. sigh). Describing him as restless is an understatement. And above all, he hates being left alone and wants constant company to keep him well occupied.

Will the sign dictate what he would become then? Incidentally, my wife is a Libra and she is a fanatic over fairness. But could her over zealousness to be fair, a result of her knowing that she is a Libra, and hence, living as one?

I still believe what our children will become is how we mould and teach them. Although they do exhibit some of their basic characteristics now, I am sure every baby can be nurtured. All it takes is lots of love, patience and sacrifices on our part.

In parting, we have a very good friend who seemed to have a very strong liking for Taurus. Not only is she a Taurus, she was born in a town by the name of `Menglembu’ (‘lembu’ is cow in Malay) and her Chinese surname is Moo! Funny but true. Her nickname is appropriately given. It’s `Ah Ngau’ (‘Ngau’ is cow in Cantonese). Obviously, she sees red when we call her that……

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My Wedding dinner door gift

Last year when we had our wedding dinner, we were frantically trying to source for an ideal door gift. We have even toyed with the idea of going to Bangkok to source for some interesting and hopefully inexpensive items. However, after much searching, we decided we would use the little pink bear shown in the picture above. Her name is IloveStrawbeary. Needless to say, she was an instant hit among the guests.

ILoveStrawbeary is a unique character created out of love and passion by my younger sister. After an early retirement from her hectic schedule as a very successful Financial Controller, she wanted to fill her free time with some creative venture. Out of her research and brainstorming with her children, ILoveStrawbeary character was born. It is meant to be wholesome family character, embracing the nature of family values, moral and education. Its website is targeted to young children who can download a whole host of activities such as calendar, bookmarks, e-Card, wallpaper, coloring templates and free stickers. Special festival season editions such as Chinese New Year, Christmas and Hari Raya were also created to inculcate the nature of harmonious living among the different races and culture in the minds of our young ones.

There are also special edition of ILoveStrawbeary wearing different costumes of the countries that she has visited, thus introducing different interesting countries to the children. Recently, ILoveStrawbeary is also available for mobile wallpaper download.

Drop by the website at

For my wedding gift, I got this special hand customized pair from my sister which is sitting nicely in my master bedroom.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Kiasu Daddy and Son

Last Saturday, I read from the newspaper that Giant is offering Mamy Poko Medium size 66 pieces for RM43 something. Ryan is still on disposable diapers at night because he can sleep longer. We have tried Drypers Wee Wee Dry but it was not as good, especially for overnight use. In fact, Ryan developed nappy rashes as a result. We have since changed to Huggies Ultra and recently, we have also tried out Mamy Poko. Both were fine but we find Mamy Poko offering Ryan more comfort due to its design.

Hence, when I read about the offer, I quickly got my younger sister to drive Ryan and me to Giant at Sunway Pyramid to grab some. Mommy was away for the PC fair in Ipoh and Penang for the weekend. Despite being there at 11am, there were only 2 packets left although one could buy 3 per transaction. Well, without any hesitation, I just grabbed the last two and headed for the counter.

See, parenthood have really made an `auntie’ out of me. I am becoming more Kiasu now. You wouldn’t see me at Tesco, Giant, Carrefour or Jusco sale before. I detested the crowd and the queue. But with the current economic downturn and the necessities for Ryan, a dollar saved is a dollar earned. If you see an uncle lugging packets and packets of Mamy Poko in front of you at the cashier counter in the future, smile to that uncle. It could be ME!!!

Definition of Kiasu according to Wikipedia:-

Kiasu (Traditional Chinese: 驚輸; POJ: kiaⁿ-su) is a Hokkien (a Chinese spoken variant) word that literally means 'fear of losing' (Mandarin Chinese: 怕輸). However its actual usage would imply a meaning more approaching that of "dog in a manger", and yet not quite. Examples of kiasu behaviour includes accumulating too much food on one's plate during a buffet lunch in case there is no more later, or joining a queue many days in advance just to ensure that one successfully gets hold of the limited free tickets to events, promotions and shows such as Singapore's annual National Day Parade.

This word is so widely used by Singaporeans and Malaysians that it is incorporated into their English vocabulary (in the form of Singlish). It is often used in describing the social attitudes of people, especially about South East Asian society and its values. Its widespread use is often because these attitudes are common—to not lose out in a highly competitive society (e.g. by above-cited examples), or to the extent of parents imposing heavy study labour on their children in their wish to make them at the very top of all other students. Growing up with this attitude, these students often become ambitious businesspeople, with the desire to be on top in wealth and prestige regardless of whether the most prestigious careers are aligned with their true capabilities.

It is often perceived as part of Ah Beng culture.

First taste of Pear!

Several days ago, we tried giving Ryan’s his first taste of pear from Heinz. It tasted much better than apple and he liked it. We then tried moving him on to carrot. Bought a stick of carrot, boiled it, blend it and gave it to him. It was a total failure. He totally disliked it. Can’t blame him though. I didn’t like it much either.

So, yesterday, I bought some pears home, double boiled them to soften them, mash it up and gave him some. He totally loves it and finished the whole pear for his dinner. It was a pretty sight. Towards the end, he was fighting to have the spoon and insisted to feed himself and make a mesh out of it. But it was a happy moment for us, as you can surely see from the picture. I think his mommy’s mouth is bigger than his…Haha!

Next, I will try to boil the apples I have bought for him too and see whether he love that too.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Preventing Food Allergy - The Role of Bifidobacteria

Our intestine produces 80% of all antibody-producing cells, thus, making it our largest immune organ. It is the home of trillions of both friendly and unfriendly bacteria, forming an intestinal microflora. Its role is to keep us healthy as well as preventing allergy.

A newborn’s intestine is sterile but within hours from birth, it will quickly become colonized by microorganisms from the mother’s birth canal and environment. A particular type of bacteria known as the Bifidobacteria becomes dominant and will eventually takes up 99% of the total bacteria count in exclusively breastfed babies.

The role of the Bifidobacteria is to stimulate the maturation and functions of our child’s intestinal immune system. It is reported that young children with food allergy have lesser bifidobacteria. In addition, Bifidobacteria also protects against intestinal infections caused by harmful bacteria such as gastroenteritis leading to diarrhea, which in turn is still the leading cause of infant mortality.

How does the method of child delivery affects the population of Bifidobacteria? The mother’s gut, skin and vaginal flora are sources of bacteria for colonizing the newborn’s intestine. Hence, it was found that infant delivered via caesarean section, where there is minimal or no contact with the mother’s vaginal and faecal flora, experienced a delay in the building of their intestinal microfloral and it may be disturbed for up to 6 months after birth. The Bifidobacteria population is further reduced if these caesarean-born infant are not breastfed or breastfed for only a very short time. Breast milk still has the special bifidogenic properties that will encourage the growth of Bifidobacteria.

Weaning also affects the population of Bifidobacteria, leading to changes in the intestinal microfloral population and decreasing the count of Bifidobacteria. Hence, solid food has to be introduced carefully since weaning is considered a high risk period due to the risk of developing food allergy.

Herein, lies another strong reason why we should be breastfeeding our babies as long as we possibly can, all the more so, if your baby is delivered via caesarean section.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Our very own Red Nose reindeer!

Christmas is not complete without a red nose reindeer, and how many families can claim that they have their very own red nose reindeer. Well, we certainly can. It’s not Rudolph that we are talking about, but Ryan the red nose reindeer.

When Ryan woke up from his nap last night, we noticed that his nose were all red and swollen from a mosquito bite. He looked so pitiful. It must be really itchy. We quickly took some ointment and applied to the infected area. Thank God, the swelling and redness went down soon after although we could tell that it is was still itchy.

Although both our hearts were painful seeing him suffering from the bite, but the devil in me, got the better side of me last night. I quickly grab the camera and caught a picture of his little red nose. He must be thinking how wicked his daddy is if he read this when he grows up, but then, I just can’t help it. It is one of the precious moments that I must record down in the history of time. Sorry son.

Ryan, the red-nosed baby
had a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw him,
you would even say it glows.

All of the other babies
used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Ryan
join in any baby games.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say
"Ryan with your nose so bright,
won't you guide my sleigh tonight?"

Then all the babies loved him
as they shouted out with glee,
Ryan the red-nosed baby,
you'll go down in history!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Preventing Food Allergy - Causes and Symptoms

In my earlier post Preventing Food Allergy – Is my baby at Risk, we have seen that infants from parents with food allergies have a higher risk of developing food allergies themselves.

What is food allergy? How does it come about? Normally, our immune system will attack harmful bacteria, viruses and foreign substances in the body while recognizing food as harmless. However, food allergy arises when the immune system mistakenly identified a particular food or component, usually a protein, as dangerous and attacks it.

Symptoms of food allergy vary, including itchiness, eczema, dermatitis, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing, asthma and bronchitis. In some severe attacks, severe reactions can be fatal.

Any type of food can cause an allergy although the possibility for some is higher than others. Highly allergenic foods include cow’s milk, egg white, soy fish, shellfish, crab, shrimp, lobster or crayfish and peanut. It is reported that allergy to cow’s milk is particularly common in infants.

Since, there are no cures for allergy; it is only prudent that parents help to prevent the development of food allergy for babies at an early age.

Measures that can be taken include the following:-

  • Recognize baby’s risk by knowing or recording your family allergy history

  • If you are not breastfeeding, discuss with your doctor other options such as hypoallergenic formula. (It’s protein is less allergenic and is formulated to prevent allergies)

  • Using soya milk and goat’s milk formulae do not reduce the risk.

  • Wean your baby only after 6 months and avoid highly allergenic food for the first year.

  • Reduce dust in the house.

  • No pets at home or child care centre.

  • No smoking during pregnancy or in the presence of the child

In our next post, we will look at the role of our intestine, the largest immune organ of our body and how a friendly bacterium plays an important role in preventing food allergy and why babies delivered naturally has fewer tendencies to develop food allergy as compared to those delivered via caesarean section.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

First Solids - Taste of Apple!

We started Ryan on apple yesterday. We bought a bottle of Heinz Fruity Apple and we gave him his first taste of apple. I personally find it a little sour. Honestly, I would not have like it if I were made to eat it. And obviously, Ryan has the same taste bud. At the very first taste when the apple puree touched his tongue, he squirmed and squinted. He adapted to the taste after awhile but I don’t think he like it very much.

We started with apple because it is reported as one of the safest solid food to be introduced to a 6 month old baby. We are starting him slowly on one food product to another to ensure that we know what he likes, dislikes and allergic to (hopefully none). Next food product on the menu is PEAR! I will let you know the outcome when we get to that.

Preventing Food Allergy - Is my baby at risk?

As I have mentioned in my earlier post where Ryan had his first solids, we were quite eager to get him started the moment he reached 4 months old. We saw some baby foods that are recommended for babies of 4 months and above. We bought a packet of the organic rice cereal and were about to start him on that before we were advised by our paed to refrain from doing so. He explained that starting Ryan only upon 6 months is much safer to prevent him from getting food allergy. Of course we obediently followed. Hence, when Ryan started his solid a couple of days ago, Ryan could only take about 6 spoonfuls before the packet expired. Sigh! What a waste of hard earned money.

So, how does a baby develops food allergy? Is there any prevention? What are the risks of a baby getting it?

We did some research and found some pretty interesting facts.

For this post, we will share what we learnt about the risk of food allergy.

Food allergy has no age barriers and it usually begins during the first year of life. It is reported that most children will outgrow certain allergies by the time they begin schooling. However, some may persist into adulthood. High risk group are those with a family history of allergies.

Risk of developing allergy based on family history:-

Both parents with no allergy – Only 5%-15% risk of allergy
One parent with allergy – 20%-40% risk of allergy
Both parent with allergy – 40%-60% risk of allergy
Both parent with same allergy – 50%-80% risk of allergy

I have a couple of good friends who are extremely allergic to egg white for example. Just a brush with egg white in their food (apparently even the apparatus that cooked them) can bring them down with severe symptoms including asthma, nausea and black-out. Frightening isn’t it?

For the next post, we will share how food allergy comes about, common symptoms and the type of food that would commonly causes allergies.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Nail Biting Moment

It’s that nail biting moment again, the moment when I have to clip Ryan’s finger nails and toe nails. The last time I did it was when he was 2 months old before we sent him to the babysitter. Now that I have officially taken over as the babysitter, the task inadvertently lands on me. I had better get it done, as both his finger and toe nails are rather long. My already not so handsome face is slowly becoming even more unsightly, with scars and scratches from this little monster of 6 months old, ever scratching, pinching and grabbing at my nose, lips, cheeks and eye brows at the slightest opportunity.

Everytime, as I hold his little fragile fingers and carefully positioned the nail clipper, my heart literally misses a beat as I hold my breath to clip it. It is probably the longest few minutes as I have to attend to all ten little fingers and his feet. Needless to say, I will be sweating like a waterfall once the deed is done.

At least now, the scars on my face have time to heal before his next nail clipping moment. Sigh…..

Maid - Setting Up the Review Process

Every human being likes to be told whether they are doing well or otherwise. Praises are good motivators while reprimands on wrongs must be swiftly delivered. Similarly, everyone has their likes and dislikes, opinions and concerns. It is only fair then that they be given an opportunity to speak up and be heard.

We treat our maid no differently. We set up periodic reviews that we will sit her down with us to review her performance. We will let her know what she has achieved, improvements that we noted and are glad and similarly, what we disliked and areas that we wanted her to change. At the same time, we wanted to give her an opportunity to voice out her concerns, views and requests.

We will take this opportunity to remind her and reinforce our expectations and at the same time, shared with her what other new responsibilities we would be entrusting to her.

This periodic review also gives both of us an opportunity to release any penned up frustrations and tensions before it explodes, becoming even more difficult to manage.

For the past one week, our maid who previously was not allowed to handle Ryan has been entrusted with the following new responsibilities:-

  • Prepare milk to feed Ryan (although we have not let her to feed Ryan just yet)
  • Take care of Ryan for brief moments including carrying him.

She seemed excited at the prospect of being allowed to take care of Ryan. We are glad although we will still be supervising her closely. Ryan seems to have taken a liking to her and would smile whenever she calls out to him.

She has progressed rather well in the last six months considering that she does not even know how to cook. To-date, she cooks our rice, boiled vegetables, boiled simple soup, cooked double boiled herbal soup for my wife (as long as I gave her the ingredients) and boil bird nest soup for my wife. We have also `officially’ assigned to cut all our ingredients whenever we have to cook, and she is pretty good with the knife.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Maid - Setting the Work Schedule

Around 500BC, Sun Tzu was granted an audience with the Prince of Wu and was put to a test to drill his 180 concubines and ladies. Upon dividing them into 2 groups headed by two of the Prince’s favorite concubines, they were instructed to follow Sun Tzu’s instruction to turn accordingly. However, on the first and second attempt, there was total disarray. But Sun Tzu did not punish the ladies or the concubines, giving them the benefit of doubt that they have not clearly understood the instructions. Upon the third failed attempt, both the head concubines were swiftly executed.

In my working history, there have been jobs where I reported to work without any job description or briefing of what my job is and what are the expectations. Have you ever had such an experience? Sitting there on your first day, not knowing what to do? Feeling completely lost? Imagine, if you were given a task without proper instructions and you got fired or lashed out for not doing it right. How would you feel? Was it fair to you?

Our maids are the same too. If we do not lay out a properly structured job description and schedule for them, hoping, wishing and expecting that they would be able to perform from the very first day, should we blame them if they got it all wrong?

The second thing that we did with our maid when she arrived home, after sharing with her our simple expectations, were to give her a weekly and monthly work schedule, detailing what she is expected to do from the time she wakes up to the time she retires. We make sure that she understands what we wanted by getting her to repeat it to us. She knows that she has to sweep and mop the floor by 7:30 am for example. She knows that she has to clean the refrigerator every second Tuesday of the month. She knows that we expect her to change the bed sheet and clean the fish pond every Saturday.

Having a schedule does not guarantee a problem free relationship with the maid. We have our fair share of issues with her. However, it becomes much easier for us to tell her off. Just like Sun Tzu, if we have not given her clear instructions and made her understand, how could we punish her?

Wolfberries Egg Soup

My wife loves to have soup for her dinner. Drinking lots of soup apparently will help in the quantity of breast milk. Hence, we will try to boil some soup for each dinner that we cooked. However, there are times, when I could not go and buy the necessary ingredients for boiling soup in time for dinner, since it normally would required a good 3 hours or so.

Since taking of Ryan during the day, it became increasingly challenging to go to my usual fresh vegetable and meat shop to get the ingredients ready for dinner, because Ryan is just so `sticky’.

2 days ago, since I did not have time to boil the normal soup requiring 2 to 3 hours, I have tried out boiling a Wolfberries Egg Soup that is simple to prepare. As I have mentioned in my earlier post in Wolfberries Chicken, wolfberries are widely acknowledged as a nutritious herb, widely used for ladies during the confinement period.

The dish can be prepared within 20 minutes. Taste wise, no complaints from my wife or my younger sister. Try it out if you need a soup dish that is nutritious, fast and easy to prepare.

1 egg
1 stalk spring onion (chopped)
2 tablespoon wolfberries (soaked)
40g chopped ginger
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sesame oil
500ml chicken broth

Heat up sesame oil to fragrant the chopped ginger. Then pour in the chicken broth and bring to boil.
Next, add in the soaked wolfberries and salt and cook for 3 minutes
Beat an egg lightly in a serving bowl and add in the chopped spring onion.
Pour into the boiling soup immediately; stir lightly until the beaten egg is cooked.
Serve hot.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ryan's 6th Month Celebration

Ryan finally reached his 6th month birthday. Remembering how he was born a pre-matured baby at only 2.2kg, hitting the 6th month milestone was something that we have always been looking forward to.

To celebrate this milestone, we have decided to go to Clearwater Sanctuary Golf & Country Resort for the short holiday with my in-laws. Clearwater Sanctuary Golf & Country Resort located at Batu Gajah, holds some fond memories as my wife and I have on several occasions played golf there. We have stayed in their suite (apparently the same suite that Chow Yuen Fatt stayed when he was filming the King and I) several years back while we were still dating. So, going back with Ryan now seemed to us like a milestone by itself.

We headed back to Ipoh on Saturday where my wife was from. On Sunday, by 2pm, we checked in into two of their chalets. Being categorized as a super peak period now with the school holiday season, the rate for non members is RM350. Fortunately, we have a friend who knew a member who was kind enough to make the reservation for us. Member’s rate is only RM255 net.

Clearwater Sanctuary was built on a piece of land surrounded by old tin ore mining ponds with lots of natural vegetation, floral and beauty. All chalets were built with lake view, giving guests an excellent view of either the sunset or sunrise with water lilies aplenty, floating ever so peacefully and occasional sightings of monitor lizards or beavers taking their leisurely swim across the lake. There is an excellent and challenging 18 holes golf course (which was voted the second best course for 2007/2008) and one 9 holes par 3 course ideal for beginners.

My wife and I were intending to squeeze in 9 holes since our in-laws were around to take care of Ryan. Unfortunately, with so many other activities lined up, the nearest that I get to play was hitting 50 free balls at the driving range. Ryan went for his first swimming lesson, while I took my niece for her first kayaking experience.

All in all, a short but well deserved holiday.

Milestone - Ryan's First Solids (Part 2)

This is part of the moment that will remain precious to us forever.

Hope that you enjoy the moments as much as we do.

Milestone - Ryan's First Solids (Part 1)

Date : 2nd December 2008
Time : 2pm

We have been waiting anxiously for the day that we could feed him his first solids. So, once he reached his sixth month birthday, my wife happily took out the rice cereal that we bought much earlier to feed him.

We sat him on his highchair, prepared the rice cereal with some breast milk and gave it to him. His reaction was so funny. He was so eager for the food. Maybe it is because the rice cereal was something new to him. He was eagerly waiting for his next spoonful and getting impatient when we were a little slow.

We were equally excited and my wife was ecstatic as she fed him and seeing the way he responded and reacted. I was more amused with my wife’s expression. Watch out for my wife in the pictures above. It was indeed another priceless moment that will remain in my memory as proud parents forever.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Milestone - Ryan had his first swim!

Date : 30th November 2008
Time : 5:50pm

Being 6 months old seemed to achieve several milestones. Only in the morning before we left for Clearwater Sanctuary Golf and Country Resort that we caught Ryan pulling up and sucking his toes. At Clearwater, Ryan finally had his first taste of swimming.

Ryan loves the water. When he takes his daily bath, he would be aggressively kicking and splashing, so much so that the whole floor would be wet, not forgetting the one giving him his bath, the daddy. So, we had always wanted to let him try swimming as soon as possible to see how he would react to the water.

We have been looking for a suitable swim suit for him for several months and when he was five months old, we finally found one at a shop in Sunway Pyramid. It is a wet suit with inbuilt floats. Although the suit was meant for 2 years old (or so the label said), we bought it anyway because we thought that Ryan might be able to use it sooner. It cost us RM70!

Anyway, I guessed we were more excited than Ryan. Once at Clearwater, we quickly identified where the pool was. By evening, we quickly pulled out the swim suit, pumped it up and suited Ryan up. He looked so `funny’ and `cute’ wearing the suit all blown-up, like a balloon. I placed him in the water, supporting him and he was so excited, his little legs kicking away. He was in the water for merely 5 minutes, as we were afraid that he might get a cold, but the five minutes were indeed an exciting moment for us, seeing him playing and floating in the water like a life buoyant. Parents are indeed easy people to please!

Milestone - Eating his own toes!

Date : 30th November 2008
Time : 11.17 am

Backdated post.

Ryan is exactly 6 months old. How time flies. It was just like yesterday that I held him in my hand, so small at 2.22 kg and so fragile. Today, we are going to celebrate his 6 months milestone at Clearwater Sanctuary Golf and Country Resort in Batu Gajah. We have noticed that he has been trying to pull up his leg and suck his toes but have not been successful. This morning, while we were dressing him getting him ready for the 2 hours journey, he suddenly pulled up his legs and put his foot right into his mouth! And as we take his pictures, he was showing off his new skill.

“See daddy. I can reach and suck my toes. Yummy!”

More Pictures on Jeju Island Coming up NEXT!