‘Baby Einstein’ DVDs Recalled

When my Simone was 6 months old, I was looking for some educational DVDs which she could watch on a regular basis. As much as possible, I refused to let her watch TV but since I am at work during her active hours, I cannot have full control on this especially when her adult carers themselves can’t stop from watching TV. So the best alternative I could think of is to allow her to watch ‘educational shows’.

I saw her interest in ‘TV’ when she was 4 months old. Her father was watching ‘Hulk’ the movie when she was suddenly awakened by the loud sound effects (naturally!). After the movie, we asked her what she saw and, surprisingly, she raised her two arms and made a ‘grrrrrrrr’ sound as if imitating ‘Hulk’! We couldn’t stop laughing!

I have read about ‘Baby Eintein’ DVDs in blogs and websites. I didn’t immediately go to video shops and grabbed a copy. After all, its S$16 retail price per DVD isn’t cheap so I went to ebay to look for used ones to try it out first. Fortunately, there was a huge lot (about 30 titles) of used Baby Einstein DVDs for bidding and the best thing of all is the starting bid was only a dollar! I watched this item and eventually placed my highest bid at S$60. If I won the bid, each DVD would only cost S$2. It would’ve been a steal! The bidding amount went as high as S$99 and I was willing to go all the way since it will still turn out to be a lot cheaper than buying each of the DVDs in its retail price. Unfortunately (or fortunately as I later found out!), I didn’t win. I was outbid by S$5 at the last TWO SECONDS of the bidding process!

Fast forward to a year after, I came across a Baby Einstein Mozart DVD in a leading bookstore. It costs S$14. Although I have bought a lot of other ‘educational DVDs’ for my little one like Dora the Explorer and Barney which costs a lot less than Baby Einstein, I still gave in and parted with my $14 just to try it once and for all. After all, my kiddo loves music! I played it to my toddler and as with anything new, she enjoyed it at first viewing but totally ignored it when she saw it the second time!
I must admit I was totally disappointed with the DVD. The back cover describes the DVD as —

“Acclaimed by parents, this vibrant, award-winning musical feast for little eyes and ears exposes babies to the splendor and delight of classical music. Treat yourself and your little one to mesmerizing, multi colored images accompanied by enchanting versions of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s most popular compositions. It’s a fun way to share the joy of discovering music — and the world — together!”

but it was nothing but a showcase of colourful and moving objects while Mozart was playing in the background! There wasn’t even a coordination of the video and the music! I really felt cheated and totally wasted my money on it!

And so when I read this news on Yahoo! on the massive recall of Baby Einstein DVDs, I wasn’t surprised at all and just glad that I only wasted my money on one DVD! I just hope Mums out there who spent on a significant amount of these Baby Einstein DVDs get refund from Disney!

It’s an important lesson for us all Mums not to be easily deceived by these ‘educational products’. Sure, all Mums want their kids to be smarter (I, too, was a victim!) so we rely on technology to help teach our kids but I guess, as always, nothing beats ‘human’ teachers and we, Mums, are always the best teachers to our little ones!


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Is your baby colic?

In one of our posts entitled ‘Baby Talk‘, we discussed about sounds babies make in trying to communicate with adults. One of these sounds is ‘Eairh‘ to mean ‘I have wind‘.

Gas in baby is one of the most common causes of irritations in infants. This often results to upset stomach causing babies to cry incessantly. If you notice your baby is crying non-stop despite all your efforts to soothe him, has abdominal bloating, and is always irritable, fussy, and is often sleepless, he might be suffering from a condition called ‘infant colic‘ which is usually common amongst bottle-fed babies but also occurs in breast-fed babies.

If your baby is showing some or all of these signs of colic, there are some ‘home remedies’ available to mothers of colic baby to help soothe your little ones. One of the most common home remedies is giving your baby drops of gripe water. Its ingredients vary, and may include alcohol, bicarbonate, ginger, dill, fennel and chamomile. This home remedy has been used since time immemorial and is proven to be effective in soothing colic, teething pains, gastrointestinal discomforts, and other stomach-related ailments. There are also testimonial accounts of gripe water also being given to adults for gas and stomach related conditions.

All natural gripe water is easily available in OTC sections of your neighborhood pharmacy. There are a variety of brands out there. Make sure to choose the ones with all-natural ingredients and always read the label.

If in doubt and if your baby’s symptoms persist, it’s always best to consult a medical practitioner.

(Brought to you by your friends at http://www.coliccalm.com)

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Conversations with my 19-month-old

My little one turned 19-month-old yesterday. Allow me to share with you BabyCentre.org’s update on my toddler I receive monthly to keep track of her development. By the way, if you’re on your way to becoming a new mother or is just a new mother, try signing up at BabyCentre.org, it’s a great resource for Moms and moms-to-be.

19 month old

This month, you’ll notice that your toddler’s powers of observation are getting sharper. She’ll laugh at something that’s obviously wrong — like calling a giraffe a zebra or calling a brother a sister. And she’ll notice when a favourite toy is missing an eye or has lost a patch of fur. Her language skills are maturing, too. Although you may understand less than half of what your toddler says, she understands most of the words you use around her. She may also put together pairs of words, like “Me go” or “You put”. The best way to encourage her budding speech? Talk to her.

Indeed, I have noticed her blurting out words here and there. Her vocabulary has widened although I have stopped from reading books to her at night since she preferred her Dora, Blue’s Clues, and Barney. (Although I did resume reading to her at night last night so she can pick up more words.) I must give credit to these kiddie shows too since she picks up words from these shows. For instance, she knows how to ask for Dora and Barney by saying Dora and Barney or to answer ‘Oh, man!” when somebody shouts ‘Swiper, no swiping! Swiper, no swiping!’

She can also carry a mini-conversation with me. I can already ask her to pick up her things on the floor or to pick up something to give to me or to her nanny. She can communicate what she wants be it water, her milk, her favorite TV shows, her favorite pillow, her book, or if she feels sleepy. She can also indicate a yes or a no by nodding or shaking her head.

During her routine 18th month check-up and also for her last vaccination (DPT booster), her pediatrician asked me what words is she already articulating. Ironically, I was lost for words. Too many I couldn’t single out a few. Maybe because I was also taken aback since the doctor expressed her concern on my toddler’s speaking ability. “I have not heard her speak ever since” to think that it was only the second time she saw my kiddo, the first one was when my kid was 13 month old for her measles vaccination. I assured the doctor that my baby is a lot more talkative than kids her age and that if there is any concern like that, I would be the first one to voice out that concern.

True, I may not understand more than half of what she’s babbling but I’m just glad that her vocabulary is getting wider and that she can already communicate to us what she thinks and more importantly what she wants.

They say kids from 0-5 can learn 5 languages at the same time. Hmmm…I am already thinking of French lessons for my 19 month old! 🙂

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Separation Anxiety

My 19-month-old is getting clingier than ever! I went away for a work-related travel to Bangkok for a week and when I came home, she made me feel she did not see me for a month! Sweet, I know, and I am cherishing every moment of it because I know those moments could be easily gone when she grows older!

She never wants to leave my side; she does not even allow me to go to the toilet to pee! She would run after me to the toilet and knocks the door heavily while loudly shouting ‘Mama’! She even wants to lay her head on my lap whenever I am in front of my laptop working (I sit on a sofa in front of a small table where my laptop is, so there’s plenty of space for her to lie down beside me on the sofa). Often, she would squeeze herself in between the desk I am working on and my lap for her much-needed cuddle! At night, on our bed (she sleeps beside me because my husband works in another place and only sees us every month), she would put her head on my tummy while she thumbsucks her way to dreamland!

I would like to wish she’d be like this forever because it melts my heart every time she wants a cuddle from her mother. But it can get tough especially when I have to leave the house to run some work-related or personal errands or to simply go to the gym.

I am well aware this is just a phase in her growing-up years and, soon, she might want to completely want independence from me. When that time comes, I know I have to give it to her even if it will break my heart. But, in the meantime, I will just cherish every hugging and cuddling and kissing moments I share with my little girl!

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Finding the Right OB-GYNE

I should back date this post because I started this article perhaps a year ago but never finished it. Anyway, I managed to edit it finally for this post and I hope you find it useful.

Looking for and choosing an OB-GYNE in a foreign country can be a mammoth task. If you are like me who finds personal connection in everything she does or meet, it would really be a tough job. I only had one requirement in choosing an OB-GYNE, that she is a female because I am not comfortable spreading my legs in front of another man! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t resent women who don’t mind having a male OB-GYNE. In fact, I do admire these women because unlike them, I get disturbed just by thinking about it.

I found my OB-GYNE through a search engine. Internet penetration in Singapore is close to 100% and what better way of finding something in the ‘little red dot’ but to ‘Google’ your way to an information. I particularly went to motherhood and women forums because in there I knew I would easily find the answers I was looking for.

I finally found a certain Dr. Soong at Thomson Medical Center which is probably the nearest private hospital from our place. She has good reviews from her patients. She has a Chinese name, but since she’s better known as Dr. Bernadette Soong, I knew I wouldn’t have difficulty communicating with her because having an English name is one sign that the person is English-educated in this country (so communication wouldn’t be a problem) and/or the person is a Christian. The latter isn’t really that important because I know it would be asking too much since I am no longer in a Christian-dominated country. (But fate would have it, I have known later that my chosen OB is a Catholic. We share the same faith. The significance of which I will share later in another post.)

And so I searched for her clinic’s number at the hospital’s website (merchants’ websites in this part of the country is as important as their telephone numbers). I phoned in and asked for an appointment. I was lucky, there was an available slot two weeks from that day and the nice Alice, the nurse-cum-secretary, fit me in to the doctor’s schedule. Normally, the busy doctor’s slots get filled up a month before.

The day of my appointment came. I waited for more than an hour despite arriving 30 minutes before my scheduled time slot. I guess that’s the case with any doctor appointments. They cannot control the length of time of each consultation. There are patients who tend to ask too many questions (and would even bring a list of questions with them, which is a good idea I think). There are also times when doctors engage in some personal conversations with their patients, thus, eating some of the consultation time.

I can say it was ‘attraction at first sight‘. My OB made me feel comfortable and at home the very moment I entered her consultation room. Her genuine smile and show of care gave it away. The first five minutes were spent getting to know each other. Natural, I guess, since we would be seeing each other for the next 7 months or so. She was ‘gentle’ specially during intrusive examinations.

The first consultation confirmed my first pregnancy. There was a sac and a heartbeat at 8 weeks. I was asked to go back three weeks after but fate would have it, I needed to see her a few days after because of spotting which eventually led to miscarriage (A separate account on that experience will be posted soon).

Her ‘first consultation’ fee is a bit expensive. (Although I was already expecting the slightly-higher-than-usual fee because the hospital where her clinic is is actually towards the high-end. Why I chose this hospital is because of proximity although there is a government hospital near our place, I am extra-squeamish so I needed an assurance that everything is spic-and-span.) The next consultation fees are manageable if you saved enough for this pregnancy but the meds and the tests like the ultrasound which she does “every” consultation adds up to the expense.

So since I was comfortable with her from the very start, I stuck with the doctor. If not, I would’ve done more ticking and clicking in the search engines to find the right OB-GYNE.

So before you lift that phone and make an appointment with an OB-GYNE you barely know, do some research. Read through some women or motherhood forums and ask the fellow mothers or mothers-to-be in your area for recommendations. Make sure you’re also clear on your ‘criteria’ such as ‘female’ (in my case), has accreditation or is allowed to deliver in the hospital or community hospital or lying-in centers where you want to deliver your baby, and, of course, fees within your budget.

The first consultation is very important. Make sure you ask all the questions you have (including his/her delivery fees) and that the doctor is someone you are comfortable with. It’s best to visit 2-3 doctors before you settle for ‘the one’ who will finally deliver your baby especially if you have doubts or felt uncomfortable with the first doctor you visited. Or even if it’s not the case, it’s always best to check out others first if you have the means and luxury of time to do so.

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Testicle Issues

Kimi was 13 months old when the Child Health Nurse in Sydney noticed his testicles were not in the scrotum or somehow difficult to locate. It was not a problem when he was born or even during his previous required check-up at 6 weeks, 6 months, and 12 months so we were really surprised. I remembered we took effort in “heating” Kimi’s testicles when he was a newborn until he reached 3 months. I did that during the regular morning massage by rubbing my palms with baby oil and placing my palms on Kimi’s testicles to transfer the heat that helps develop the testicles.

Upon learning about the possibility of undescended testicles, the worried mom in me researched about it in the internet. Undescended testicle occurs when the testicle or both testicle are absent in the scrotum and are lodged instead in the groin or in the lower abdomen. The testicles may be undescended at birth especially for premature babies or those with low birth weight. But, they may eventually descend at 6 months. If that doesn’t happen, a surgical procedure may be needed to correct it to allow full development of the testicles and prevent associated health problems like hernia, testicular cancer, trauma, infertility, and poor self-image. Reading about that made me more fidgety.

On the other end, hubby and MIL (mother-in-law) requested a referral from the GP and booked an appointment with a Paediatrician. I couldn’t believe it takes 3 weeks wait to see a Paedia in Australia even with a private doctor. I reckon this doesn’t happen in Manila under the same circumstances. And mind you the doctor’s fee was really at the roof. We paid $160 for a less than 10 minute check and only recovered about $66 from Medicare. The good thing, though, is that Kimi doesn’t have an undescended testicles but retractile testicles. In this case, the testicles are in the scrotum but they are hiding somewhere especially when it’s cold. It doesn’t require corrective surgery but should still be regularly checked and monitored. What a relief!

Since then hubby checks them on a regular basis especially after a bath. However, few weeks ago, he was a bit concerned as he can only locate one of the testicles. So even without the need to have an 18 month check with the GP, I booked one with the GP who checked him at 6 weeks to appease us once again. I would have sent him to a Paediatrician again if it was not expensive. During the appointment, GP emphasised that she doesn’t do 18 month check. I told her I knew about it and I’ve booked with the Maternal and Child Health Nurse (MCHN) for next month. I expressed our concern with Kimi’s testicles and two other things (that need a separate article). She checked them and in less than 30 seconds, showed us both testicles at the same time. She advised there is nothing to worry about and she thinks Kimi is progressing well.

Enough of being worried.  But, surely, we all know that parents always want to be assured that their baby is doing great and developing well. If you come across with the same dilemma, don’t hesitate to have your baby checked too by the doctor. Afterall, it is best to know from the expert.

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Quiet Sunday

We did not have anything planned last Sunday. After breakfast, the sun was up, a rare occasion these days, so I decided to bring Kimi to the small park across our house and for a short walk around the block — our bonding time sort of since I work full-time. I quickly dressed him in several layers of clothes and jacket, prepared his small bag and ‘smart’ trike, and in less than 15 minutes, I was already pushing him. Have to move fast. The dark clouds might come anytime — as you might know Melbourne and surrounds including Geelong is notorious for its four seasons in one day.

The walk to the park was great. Kimi was excited as always. He was even glancing and giggling back at me while I was pushing him and his trike. I put him in the swing and I told him to hold the side straps tight while I was also holding his hands then lightly swing him. He loved it! I found a front strap to buckle him up a bit. After a few more swings and enough confidence, I slowly let him go that I was able to snap photos of him.
He moved his feet and body to fit between the strap and the swing. (Imagine him inching and wriggling his body). I knew right then and there that he wanted to walk around so I unlocked the buckle around his waist and put him down.
He went straight to the seesaw and I positioned and held him to make sure he would not fall over. After a while, he motioned to go down. He explored the area, ran after me, and laughed his heart out.

After a few more minutes, the wind was getting strong so I decided to start our walk around the block before eventually heading home in time for his morning nap. He enjoyed the walk, smiling to everyone that walked past and saying aw aw! to the dogs.

Upon arriving home, he probably missed his Tatay (dad in Filipino) that he went to him for a cuddle straightaway and slept in his arms. They were such a bliss to watch, isn’t it?

Life is tough moving away from our comfort zones, leaving family and friends behind, starting anew. However, simple outing like this makes me like living in Australia. The open spaces and parks and the priority they put on families and raising kids are really great — something that can outweigh the benefit of access to affordable nannies in the Philippines. 🙂

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