How to Save 40 Minutes With a Steamer Blender

Using a steamer blender can save you time (up to 40 minutes) but do you really need one or is it all about keeping up with the joneses?

We actually bought one and here’s our conclusion. It is a convenient appliance to have but it is not something you absolutely can’t do without. Thus, if you are on a budget, there is no need to worry over this. However, if money is not an issue, a steamer blender does add variety to the food stuffs you can prepare and saves you quite a fair bit of time as well. For busy parents, this will be a handy addition to your kitchen.

I will go through the basics of baby feeding and then bring in the steamer blender at a later point, so that you can understand what you can do with it, and how it can save you up to 40 minutes per day.

Baby Diet 101

When should Babies start Weaning?

The first six months of your baby’s diet is going to be either breast milk or formula. Some babies seem to develop quickly and we have parents weaning their babies from the 4th month. Most professional advice points to the 6th month as the ideal time for weaning.

For us, we started somewhere in the 5th month.

The Start of Weaning – What do Babies Eat?

The start of weaning can pose a BIG question mark to new parents. Every baby is different and what seems to work very well for one may not have the same positive result for another.

To help you, we have some free baby recipes (purée) on this site and these are tried and tested by us (our baby!), so do give it a try and don’t be too worried. Feel free to experiment a bit and adjust according to your baby’s palate. A purée is simply cut fruits or vegetables mixed and blended into a mush that makes it easy for your baby to swallow and digest.

Mainly, it involves blending cut fruits with milk or water into a purée. The process is simple, takes less than 5 minutes and you just need a basic blender that is about 500 ml or even less in capacity. It is for baby food, so you don’t really need a big one. 1 litre is an overkill to me, unless you want to prepare more in advance.

The purée is usually the first phase of weaning and probably lasts for 2 months. Once your baby gets older (7-8 months onwards), it is advisable to introduce them to other solid foods such as congee, leafy vegetables, carrots, fish. Blended of course!

Boiling versus Steaming

However, the thing with congee, vegetables, carrots, fish (our baby loves salmon) is that you can’t just blend them straight out of their packaging.

You got to boil rice to get congee and this is a process that takes anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes.

Vegetables, carrots and fish have to be boiled in water before they can be eaten. Especially for carrots, since in its natural state, it is hard and you can’t blend it into fine mush. You would be lucky if the blades did not snap.

The alternative to boiling is steaming and this is best achieved using a steamer blender that retains the vitamins of the foods and also save you time.

What is a Steamer Blender?

A steamer blender is basically a steamer and a blender mixed into one appliance. Sorry for the boring description but this is exactly what it is.

The steamer is a common kitchen appliance, especially for the health conscious who wants their food to retain the nutrients instead of being destroyed by boiling.

In fact, there is quite a market for steamer and most steamers these days come with multiple layers so that you can steam different layers/varieties of food at one go which is really an efficient use of electricity and time. Tefal is a good brand if you are looking for one. However, it is too big for baby food where the quantity is usually much lesser.

Steamed Food: The Benefits

There are many benefits associated with steamed food.

At the very forefront is the fact that steamed food preserves the vitamins and nutrients of the foods. Boiling or microwaving will destroy part of the nutritional value of the foods and according to research, veggies that are boiled or microwaved lose their cancer-fighting properties. Ouch!

Steaming cooks faster than boiling. Surprising yea? I thought so until my memory was jolted by that long forgotten physics lesson that steam contains more heat than boiling water because of its latent heat of vaporisation. Alright, I’m not going further than this but Google it for details if you want to refresh your memory on this.

No oil is required and this is always a healthier option.

Steamed food does not alter in appearance. This is a lesser factor for me personally as I don’t really worry how my food look as long as the nutritional value is intact.

Steamed foods are more easily digestible. This is a plus for babies as their digestive systems are still young.

With steaming, less kitchen utensils are required, saving you time on the aftermath cleaning. Busy parents will appreciate this and that means every parent.

As opposed to rumors that steaming removes the taste from the foods, steamed foods do retain their taste and textures turn out just as good, if not better. I know this because I always make it a point to try a mouthful before feeding it to baby.

Unboxing of a Steamer Blender

For this unboxing, I am just going to show the steamer blender we are using right now for our baby. It is from Tommee Tippee and you can find details of this product from Amazon.

The package came with 2 small food containers and a stirrer which is used to mix the blended food.

Then, we have the steamer blender itself which comes with a 500 ml steaming/blending container. We have never filled it to the brim with food but if you do, 500 ml is enough for a few days. You would need more food containers to keep them refrigerated. So far, we have never gone beyond 2 days. In other words, whatever food that is prepared has to be consumed no later by the following day. We think this is healthier.

Using the Steamer Blender

To use the steamer blender, just pour 450 ml of water into the water container on the top left hand side. This water will be used for steaming the food.

No idea how much is 450 ml? No problem, just pour sufficient water into it. You will be able to see the water level and as long as it is not too low or overflowing, that is fine.

Next, cut the foods into smaller pieces and put them into the steaming/blending container.

Yes, you can use it as a blender and start blending right away. For fruits which are generally soft, there is no problem but if you are preparing carrots, you definitely want to steam first to soften them before blending it.

Tip: Make sure you put the steaming/blending container in the right direction (with handle pointing towards you). You can actually put it in the opposite direction and if so, it won’t work and will produce a beeping sound when you try to operate it. The other thing is to ensure you lock the container in place by turning the dial to lock position. If you forget this step, it will not start too.

With the steaming/blending container in place, just set the function (either steam or blend or both) by pressing the steam or/and blend button and setting the time for each.

We suggest for steaming, you go with 7-8 minutes per session and do it again if you feel the food is not soft enough. The maximum time is 30 minutes per steaming session.

One thing we notice with steaming is that it randomly dispenses a lot of water into the container, making the steaming less efficient since foods that are submerged in the water do not experience the effects of steaming. That’s why we suggest 7-8 minutes per session. If there is too much water in the container, you can at least empty the water and run the next steaming session. So far, 2 sessions of 8 minutes work very well for us and we are using it to steam fish, beef, carrots, vegetables.

We have researched online and unfortunately no one seems to have a clue on why water is randomly dispensed into the container, submerging the foods. In fact, we returned the first steamer blender thinking that it was faulty but the replacement set has the same issue, so we conclude this is a flaw in the design. Other than that, the Tommee Tippee steamer blender works like a charm and really saves us precious time.

Rice to Congee 

We prepare congee for our baby and prior to the steamer blender, this is a process that will take anytime from 30 to 40 minutes to boil the rice until it becomes congee. During boiling, our feet are glued to the kitchen for fear that it will be over-cooked and charred, which actually happened before not once but twice.

Thus, it is quite an ordeal to prepare congee and we painstakingly take turns to do it for two months until we conclude that our time can be better used elsewhere. A food processor maybe? The decision was quick this time round.

So here’s the big revelation. It was mainly because of congee that we decided to get the steamer blender.

So, can it really steam rice until it becomes congee?

Yes it could but the end result cannot be compared to boiling which produces a nice gluely texture. As such, we have to say it didn’t really meet our expectation fully.

Do You Really Need a Steamer Blender?

It really depends on your needs. The steamer blender is a great time saver and while it did not achieve the congee effect we were looking for, it is helpful for steaming other combination of foodstuffs including fish, beef and especially carrots. Carrots are by nature quite hard and the conventional way is to boil them in water for a good 15-20 minutes before they soften. With a steamer blender, it takes roughly the same time (16 mins or two sessions of 8 minutes) and best of all, I don’t have to stand and watch over the boling pot.

So here’s the recommendation. Tommee Tippee is a great brand and we are using it on a daily basis. It operates very easily and maintenance is just as fuss-free. If you like, you can check out the latest price and availability on Amazon. We got ours’ on Amazon UK and believe it or not, it was 50% off the usual retail price. Perfect timing, I say.

Last but not least, are you worried about your kitchen real estate being taken up by another appliance? Here is a picture so that you can see how compact it is. That’s my 11 inch Macbook Air.

Staying Dry And Keeping Warm

If you live in a region where the weather is unpredictable, you may be fretting over whether to bring that rain cover for your baby stroller.

A stroller raincover is not heavy but when you are traveling with a baby, the logistics just add up and before you know it, your diaper bag is cramped full of “what if baby needs this” items.

We share why it is still a good idea to put that raincover as part of your baby travel essentials.

It All Started…

Stroller with rain cover attached
An All-Weather Solution

with our recent outdoor experience. We live in London and the weather forecast on that day says it will rain and indeed it rained but just briefly.

Thus, the moment we stepped out of the house, we were greeted by a sunny weather and a very nice breeze. Summer time in London is best if you want to come here for vacation.

Anyway, we reached our destination and to our surprise, it got very windy and temperature also dropped by a few degrees. We had our coats on and that was fine but poor baby was fidgeting in her stroller as the cold wind hit her smack in the face and body.

That’s Where The Rain Cover Comes In

It was a spark of inspiration but we decided to put on the rain cover and use it as wind shield (windbreaker effect) instead.

Immediately, our baby was enclosed in the warmth of the stroller and fell back to sleep. We carried on for the rest of the afternoon in that manner.

Since that incident, we have always kept the raincover attached to the stroller’s canopy and if it rains or gets windy, we latch it to the front of the stroller to keep our baby dry and warm.

 

 

Parenting Tip Ep 15: Bring home the Michelin restaurant and not have to worry about baby logistics

After the birth of our baby, we hardly go out for meals. In fact, the first 2 months were really a period of confinement. Physically I was recovered and ready for buffet. My confinement helper has a different take on that but anyways…I didn’t go out much and if I did, it was for casual strolls around my apartment.

I missed the pre-baby days. As one friend would candidly put it, “How I wish I can stuff the baby back into my tummy!”

My husband didn’t get it and to add to it, he wasn’t a foodie either. Thus, he is getting along fine munching on the same food day in day out.

As for me, I was going a bit crazy and thoughts of food keep dropping in. Just to set the record straight, I enjoy food but not someone who goes food-hunting. BUT TWO WHOLE MONTHS is just way too much. I feel like a prisoner of baby.

It is a challenge to go anywhere as baby has to be fed once in every 2 hours…3 hours is max interval and we tried not to test that limit too often. We drove but it doesn’t help. Just getting baby in and out and down to the nearest cafe/restaurant to and fro is already an hour plus. Furthermore, many restaurants which we used to frequent are popular and crowded. Long story short, not easy to find an eatery which caters to baby strollers…for better understanding, we were living in Hong Kong then.

The Secret Recipe from my brother…

I love cooking but for a family of two (now three), it was difficult to whip up something elaborate just for a meal. Thus, we often take our meals outside.

Then my brother shows me his secret recipe and cooking skills using a slow cooker and an auto spin halogen cooking pot.

The output is delicious lamb shank that tastes as good (if not better) than what’s sold at the restaurants. I dare say the recent meal we had easily rivals the best out there and probably for half the price…though there is quite a bit of washing up to do. My husband is good at washing, so…it’s not an issue 🙂

First, let me show the final product.

These taste really good! Michelin level I say!

I have to give credit to my brother for showing us how he did it. He prepared it in one afternoon. Actual time is 90 mins for slow cooking and another 30 mins or so for the final touch using the auto spin halogen cooking pot.

I am going to walk you through the steps so that you can also prepare your home-cooked Michelin dishes. Suitable for everyone and especially so for the confined parents.

Step 1: Put the lamb shank (or other meat) into the vacuum zipped bags

For this recipe, we cooked lamb shank but you can experiment with other meats. The first step is to put the meat into the vacuum zipped bag.

I hear you asking. Why don’t you put it into the water?

Two reasons. First, the slow cooker can become really oily if you put it in the same container of water. Second and more importantly, if the lamb shank is slow cooked while it is immersed in water, it will lose part of its flavour to the water. The idea of the vacuum bag is to keep the taste and nutrients intact within the meat. (i.e. it is not lost to the water)

The zipped bags come with an air valve at the corner. The purpose is for you to vacuum out the air from within after putting in the meat. This helps to keep the meat in close contact with the heated water, allowing it to be cooked. Otherwise, it may be really slow…

Vacuum Bags for the Lamb Shank
You need two vacuum bags with a mini vacuum to extract the air from within

Step 2: Slow cook for 90 mins

Depending on meat type, you want to slow cook it for around an hour at least. We did 90 mins for our lamb shank and it turned out…perfectly!

There is nothing you need to do while it is being slow-cooked. Just leave the zipped bag (with lamb shank) inside the pot and the precision (slow) cooker will do the trick.

ANOVA Slow Cooker
The ANOVA precision cooker in action. The red pot is sold separately, you can use any pot

Step 3: Bring on the Auto-spin Halogen Cooking Pot (Optional)

The purpose of the auto-spin halogen cooking pot (what a mouthful of words!) is to give the lamb shank a bit of crispyness to it. It creates the barbecue effect but in a healthy way as heat is evenly spread over the entire chunk of meat (wrapped in aluminimum foil). There is no charring on the meat, so you get your barbecue fix without causing greater burden to your health.

Auto-spin Halogen Cooking Pot
This is a cool appliance, it auto-spins and gives off light. From a certain angle, it looks like a spaceship from Star Wars

I listed this step as optional as you can still enjoy your lamb shank or other meat without it but imagine eating a bag of french fries without chilli or ketchup. Enjoyable but not epic, as they say. With the auto-spin halogen cooking pot, it provides the finishing Michelin touch.

Try it, I guarantee you will love it!

The above recipe works well for most kinds of meat. Lamb shank is our all-time favorite but you can experiment with different meats.

Oh, there’s one more thing. The sauce.

My brother concocted the sauce using a combination of herbs (basil), garlic and olive oil. Mix these ingredients together and cook them in a frying pan for a few minutes. After that, use this sauce to go over the meat before you put it into the vacuum bags. I am jumping around a bit but I forgot to mention that prior to applying this sauce, the meat should be marinated with Mustard. We use the Traditional Dijon Mustard which you can purchase conveniently from any super marts.

This can be bought easily from any department store

 

The Sauce
The secret is actually…in the sauce!!!

I think I covered everything for this simple to execute recipe. If my husband can do it, so can you. LOL

Let me know if you have any questions about the equipment or steps in my recipe. For quick reference, I am listing out the appliances, items mentioned in this article so that you can find them easily.

…I cannot communicate taste with words but the lamb shank really turned out very well. We attacked it with vigour and within minutes, the whole plate was gone. Our baby looks on from her crib…wondering when she can join in.

Happy Cooking, Happy Family Time minus all the headache of baby logistics!

Products mentioned in this article

   

Parenting Tip Ep 14: What to do when your baby is refusing milk?

When our baby was 6 months old, she started to refuse milk. Well, it’s not a 100% rejection but she would just stop drinking in the middle of it and it would take a herculean effort to get her to resume and finish the bottle.

We know she can finish the bottle but just cannot figure out why she is pausing halfway or sometimes three-quarters through. As a result, feeding time gets longer and we constantly worry if she is unwell. Is your baby going through the same thing?

If so, here are some suggestions to help you.

Weaning Season

At 6 months old, your baby is probably starting to wean. Not completely of course. In fact, all the way until 1.5 – 2 years of age, your baby is still going to rely on milk as their staple. However, as they wean, they will start taking in more variety of solid foods and the quantity of milk consumed may decrease but not too significantly.

Thus, you don’t really have to worry if baby starts to refuse milk or is taking in less. The tip is to adjust the quantity. We used to do 150 ml per feeding. We lowered it to 120 ml and it works. Alternatively, you can also split up the feeding into 2 sessions separated by a small time interval.

External Distractions

This is probably our most A-ha moment when we kind of figured it out one day as we observed our baby. Maybe we are slow to realise but at 6 months, your baby’s senses of sight and hearing are well developed. They can see and hear very well compared to when they were 2-3 months. So, what does this translate for you? Put simply, your baby is more likely to be distracted by sights and sounds which may not be a bad thing because it means their senses are normal.

Thus, every time we feed her, she would move her head from side to side at the slightest hint of sound or any moving object. This makes feeding a tedious effort and we ended up spending a longer time to feed her the full amount. Once we figured this out, we decided to experiment and would feed her in our living room which is cooler and during feeding time, we try to dim the lights (if it is night time) and make sure the surrounding is relatively serene.

You don’t really need to play soft music or anything. Just make sure there is no loud noise/sound or people moving around when they are feeding. In this way, they can settle down more quickly and we did this for a while and it worked beautifully.

Problem solved!

Are you still using your old teats?

As your baby grows, they will require a new flow rate for their milk bottle teats. At 6 months, are you still using the same teats meant for newborn (NB / 0+)? If so, it is a good idea to look into this and change into the proper teats. If the flow rate is too slow, your baby may feel frustrated and refuse to drink.

Generally speaking, teats are categorized according to their flow rates. So you would have teats meant for newborn (NB/0+), 1m+, 3m+, 6m+ and so on. Every baby will develop their preference differently, so the numbers on the packaging is just for reference. One piece of advice here…just because 3m+ and 6m+ seem so close, do not be tempted to buy the 6m+ teat because if you do, your baby may also end up rejecting it due to the fast flow rate that they cannot handle.

Yes, I know…it’s tedious but babies are delicate and so treat them with love and care (PATIENCE).

The Fact of the Matter is…

Every baby can be slightly different. The suggestions are for your good reference. They work really well for our case but one final word of advice…babies do not stay stagnant. Just when you think you had it all figured out, they start to evolve and your routine gets broken up. Do not be frustrated but learn to adjust for that is a sign that they are developing and growing.

Happy parenting!

Preserving the Nutritional Value of Baby Food

In our last article, we shared how you can prepare a banana cereal smoothie for your baby in 3 mins. It is a cost effective way of introducing solid food to your baby’s diet at the 5 – 6th month. However, it is quite likely that your baby will grow out of it after eating the same thing for weeks. A balanced diet is the key to good nutrition and health and is achieved by introducing them to different varieties of food intake.

To prepare different types of food requires time and energy, both of which are precious commodities to any working parents or even full time stay at home moms and dads. Don’t you always wish you have more time or an extra pair of hands? We did!

Today, we look at another product which may help to alleviate part of your burden, making it easier to prepare delicious and healthy meals for your baby. I am introducing the Steamer Blender from Philips.

Steaming your food keeps the vitamins intact

The steamer blender is a combination of two key functions that go into preparing healthy meals for your baby. Let’s go deeper into the basics of steaming food. Steamed food has the advantage of preserving the vitamins and nutritional value of the cooked food. When we processed food or let it come into contact with a stove or smoke of charcoal, the properties of the food is altered and not at their original nutrition. That’s why it is often advised (even to adults) to avoid processed food or at least reduce the consumption of it. We are what we eat and the same goes for your little ones.

With steaming, the principle is to distribute the steam across the food so that it is cooked evenly. This is a gentle cooking method and the food is not heated up rapidly which causes loss of vitamins and nutrients. In essence, a steamer uses the evaporation of water to steam your food. While this type of cooking method may have its oriental roots with Asians cooking this way more often, the movement has become global due to a rise in worldwide recognition of healthy living with the right diet.

Now that you understand why a steamer is beneficial for preparing your baby’s food, we look at the other function – the blender.

Blending for the right bite size…for different ages

The steamer is part one of the whole equation of preparing healthy cooked food for your baby. Solid food is usually introduced from the 5th to 6th month onwards and your baby will take some time to acustom to the feel of textured food. After all, they have been on the milk diet from birth till then and this is a new adventure for them.

You probably need to start with the finest solid food and work your way up from there. At 6th month or earlier depending on your child’s development, brown rice cereals mixed with milk is a good start as the texture is fine and easy for consumption. As your baby weans, you can increase the concentration of brown rice cereals to give it a more ‘solid’ texture. Well, this is for brown rice cereals and it is easy. You don’t need a blender for this. All you need to decide when using cereals is the ratio of milk to cereals, for this controls the texture of the mix.

A blender comes in useful when you start including cut fruits, vegetables and meat. Those are foods that are generally too big in size for your baby to consume directly. Hence, using a blender makes quick work of them turning them into baby bite sizes. Again, depending on how fine you want it to be, you can control by varying the blending speed and duration.

Usually it doesn’t take more than a minute to blend everything up before it’s ready for serving.

What kind of ingredients are suitable for your baby?

You probaby may wonder what kind of foods are suitable to prepare for your baby. If you need ideas, you can just visit your nearest super mart and head for the baby food section. There you will see all kinds of organic baby food, ready to eat puree.

For a quick reference, these are some ingredients that are baby friendly.

Different types of organic baby foods
Ingredient ideas from your nearby super mart
  • Banana
  • Brocoli
  • Carrot
  • Fruit Mix
  • Papaya
  • Peach
  • Pineapple
  • Potato
  • Pumpkin
  • Raisins
  • Spinach

You can add to this list your baby’s favourite ingredients. Our baby is fond of banana and anything with banana mixed in it goes very well with her. Banana is also great for preventing constipation along with others like prunes, raisins. Thus, our baby moves her bowels well on a daily basis and we avoid explosive poops…thankfully. When it comes to preparing solid foods for your baby, we think the best way is to experiment with varieties. Babies are all different even if they are of the same age. Mine loves banana but your baby may prefer another fruit or vegetable. In addition, even if your baby develops a liking for certain ingredient, make sure to try out different ingredients so that they can get a balanced diet and not be lopsided in one area of nutrition.

 

Putting them together…Philips AVENT 4-in-1 Steamer Blender

4-in-1 Steamer Blender from Philips
4-in-1 Steamer Blender from Philips

To prepare your baby food, you need about 20-30 mins. 15-20 mins is for the steaming and with the Philips steamer blender, once the water in the tank fully evaporates, it will shut off instead of running continuously. This is a nice safety feature which is probably installed for all the AVENT products. We also used their 3-in-1 Bottle Steriliser and it works on the same principle.

Once steaming is done, you can turn the jar over and start the blending process.

With the Philips AVENT Steamer Blender, the same jar is used for steaming and blending and how you switch between the two is to turn the jar over and insert it back onto the motor unit. Here’s a picture courtesy from Philips website.

Just turn jar around to switch between steamer and blender
Just turn jar around to switch between steamer and blender

I really like this feature because it means there is no need to transfer steamed food from one container to another, leaving me with less things to wash. If you are using a dishwasher at home, you will be happy to know that the Philips AVENT steamer blender (except for the motor base) is dishwasher friendly. For us, we don’t have a dishwasher installed but cleaning up the steamer blender takes less than 5 mins.

The Philips AVENT steamer blender has a 4-in-1 package. The other two features are defrost and reheat which are useful because the jar has a sizeable capacity of 1000 ml. What we do is to prepare the food for the whole day and have it split into 4 or 5 portions. The unused portions are kept in the refrigerator for later use.

Conclusion

Preparing solid foods for your baby/child can be a time consuming activity. We used to spend more time because we have a separate steamer from Tefal and also a Kenwood mini blender. Both work well but the Tefal 3 layer steamer is a bit of an overkill while the Kenwood mini blender is a bit too mini. Using both of them consume more time and electricity. That’s the reason why we invested in a steamer blender from Philips because it is really a great time-and-space saver.

If you are hard pressed for time and want to prepare your baby’s food all at one go, with fewer items to wash and store, we recommend you to check out the Philips AVENT 4-in-1 Steamer Blender from Amazon which may sometimes offer it at a discounted price.

Parenting Tip Ep 13: How to Train your Picky-Eater to be a Foodie

Every parent encounters this problem at one stage. Your kid starts to develop a habit of selective eating and each meal becomes a tug of war that seems to stretch on forever. And guess what? Over time, you will cave in and allow your baby to eat whatever they want because you are busy, you feel bad forcing them to eat or drink what you have prepared.

And…this is where the problem escalates.

Humans (small or big) are creatures of habit and your beloved little ones are no different either.

For babies or toddlers, they are constantly exploring their boundaries (i.e. testing the waters, we call it) and the moment they discover a crack, they will go for it. The crack may be a moment of emotion as you cannot bear to see him or her crying. We are not saying you should force-feed them food but they shouldn’t be the ones to make the choices for you.

You are the parents. You know better what’s good for them (at least for food and basic needs). When it comes to marriage and career later, they get to choose for themselves. Anyway you get the point. Parents, be firm with your kids or you may end up with an escalated problem that takes even more time and effort to fix later…

There is a saying in South Korea (I lived there for 2 years!) that habits developed before the age of 3 will last till 80 years old. Whether it is age of 3 or 4 or 5 in your country, the significance of this wise saying is not lost. During your kids’ formative years, make sure you’re setting the tone right for them and it will benefit them for life.

Today’s article is about food but the same principle applies to all aspects of life.

Well…back to food issue.

Why does your kid selectively choose his or her food?

The reason is simple. They have choices and who provides those choices. We. The Parents.

Yup, we encourage those situations when we allow them to act on their whims and fancy. No, we are not dictatorial parents but as mentioned earlier, it is the responsibility of parents to plan and decide what’s best for our kids when they are still so young and can’t make rational decisions.

Methods to help your kid become a Foodie

1. Parents set the examples in all situations. If you want your child to be a foodie, then first of all, parents and / or caretakers should live by example and enjoy taking meals of different varieties together with your kids. It doesn’t work when we just preach but not walk the talk.

2. Stick to routine timings for meals and feed the same amount. There may be occasions when your kid does not eat as much as usual and it’s okay to reduce the amount and let them make up with lighter feeding in between meal times.

3. Let your kids try different food at their natural state from young. This means avoiding unnecessary seasoning and keeping original colours and tastes as much as possible. As adults, we enjoy our food when it comes with seasonings (spicy, sour, sweet etc.) and unfortunately most of that is unhealthy but adults being adults, old habits die hard or won’t die at all. It is important to be patient when introducing new foods. Just because your baby is eating brown rice cereal (solid food) well does not mean all types of solid food would immediately go well with him or her.

4. Avoid fast food and processed food as much as possible. Fast and processed food are prepared in ways that whet the appetite but when consumed regularly can lead to obesity and other health issues.

5. Do not try to change the menu quickly the moment your kid resists it. By doing so, you are creating ‘options’ for them and encouraging them to be picky eaters. Instead, stay on the course and stick to the pre-planned meals. Sit them in front of their meals even if they do not eat it initially and gently coax them to take small bites.

6. Last but not least, it is important to create a happy and fun atmosphere during meal times. Have fun even in the midst of mealtime battles! If you get frustrated and try to force-feed them, this can backfire, leading them to dread every meal ahead.

Reasons why you want your kid to become a foodie

First and foremost, we all know that in order to grow healthier, a balanced diet is important and thus, it is crucial to set the habits right for your kid so that they don’t over-indulge in one area and malnourished in another. Secondly, feeding time can become a very time consuming activity if your kid constantly resists due to his or her picky habits.

Conclusion

The feeding habits of your child is an important aspect of their well being. In fact, it stretches into the future where their health too will rely largely on how they feed themselves. Many parents experience stress when they see their kids not accepting food or changing their eating habits. It is important to note that this does not mean your kid is having a serious problem that requires a special fix. Instead, be patient with them and help them adjust and build the right habits from young.

 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Parenting Tip Ep 12: Travelling with a Baby

If you are planning your first overseas trip with your baby, there are a couple of things to take note. 

First of all, you have only 2 pairs of hands and that is provided if you are travelling with your spouse. One of you will be carrying the baby while the other person is carrying the diaper bag and other necessities. Basically, you want to travel as light as possible without missing out a single essential.

What are the essentials you have to bring?

These are items we think you should bring. You can adjust according to the flight duration. The following is a good reference for a 4-hour flight. Also, you should add 2 hours or more to the overall duration to cover travelling time to and from airport. In other words, if your home and destination is each 1 hour away from the airport, you want to prepare for 4+2 (6) hours. 

  • Diapers x3 
  • 1 Diaper changing mat
  • Wet wipes
  • Pacifier
  • 1 set of extra clothing in case he/she soils the clothes
  • 3 bottles of milk (formula or breast) based on feedings of 2-3 hours per interval
  • A heat resistant container for warming up your milk since they will be kept cold in a coolant bag
  • Yes, you need a coolant bag
  • Baby passport!!! (We almost forgot to bring!)
  • A Diaper Changing Bag to hold all of the above
  • Your Baby Stroller – Check out our review for Babyzen Yoyo+ which is the friendliest stroller for travel

You can check in the baby stroller as well just prior to boarding the plane. Just make sure when you are at the boarding gate, get a tag from the customer officer. It is to identify you as the owner and for easy retrieval at the destination airport. 

Do you know…

You can board without joining the main queue (priority boarding) if you have a baby with you. Simply push your stroller with baby to the front of the line and the boarding officer will check your tickets and let you pass through in a jiffy. 

Take-off and Landing

During take off and landing, your baby may feel discomfort due to the change in atmospheric pressure. Adults resolve this easily by yawning, swallowing saliva but your baby won’t know how to do this. If she cries, it helps too. A less stressful experience for your baby is to use a pacifier. Alternatively, you can time your feedings at take-off and landing. This has the same effect as the pacifier and also keeps your baby fed. 

We usually try to feed her at take off and landing. Not only does it solve the air pressure issue, we won’t have to worry about feeding her until we reach our hotel or home. 

Feeding your baby on the plane

Any parent can agree to this. Feeding your baby on the plane is not the easiest thing to do especially if you are on exclusive breastfeeding. We tried it once and frankly, it resulted in a lot of spillage and wet clothing (both baby and mom). Eventually, we decided to go easy on ourselves and bottle feed using expressed milk. 

With bottle feeding, you need to keep the expressed milk cold throughout the journey. At the point of feeding, use a container filled with hot water to heat up the bottled milk for 5 mins. We find this to be the most convenient and fastest way since there is no way you can use an electric warmer unless you are taking First Class with power outlets.

Anyway, cabin crew are usually friendly and have a softer spot for babies. I asked for a cup of green tea and it took 15 mins because the crew member forgot about it but our baby had her milk readied in 5 mins. No complaints here though 🙂 Babies come first!

*By the way, we fly SQ from Singapore. Despite the challenges in air flight service lately due to increasing traffic, it is still by far the best airline we had flew. Keep it up!

Sleeping on the plane

At some point during the flight, your baby will need to sleep. Airlines provide bassinet for newborns as long as they are not more than 1 metre in height but you have to request in advance when you book your tickets. I think a comfortable range would be 80-90 cm. Otherwise, your little one may feel very cramped and unhappy. Our baby is 70 cm and already she fits the bassinet snugly. 

Though bassinets will be provided to babies, do make sure to book your tickets earlier if possible to avoid any unforeseen circumstances such as shortage of bassinet seats for example. In our trip to Sydney last December, there was a total of 11 babies on the flight. It was quite a symphony throughout that flight. 

If it so happens that bassinet runs out, you may have to hold your baby from take-off to landing. You will have sore arms after that. Here are two interesting alternatives for your consideration. No, we have not used them before but we found these from our research. If you have any experience with them, please leave a comment below.

The Infant Airplane Seat works by latching one end to the back of the seat in front. It can be ideal for very small babies but we are not quite sure if it works well for bigger size babies. The advantage is that you can see your baby all the time.

The Skybaby Travel Mattress is basically attached to the parent, allowing the baby/child to be firmly secured closely to the parent. For shorter trips, this can be a good idea but if you are going to try this for the long haul flights, it will be a challenge physically.

Poo and Diaper Change

Bassinet for baby to sleep

No parent wants to encounter this but sometimes it is beyond your control. If you don’t want your baby to poo onboard, you can try to train him/her to poo in the morning or evening and if your flights do not overlap those hours, you can maybe escape a poo explosion. 

No one wants to deal with a poo situation on the flight. 

The space for doing diaper change is very small and you need to work within very cramped conditions, sometimes with a line of people waiting behind you. Crying baby, stressful parents…

Here’s our tip to improve this situation. You can change your baby’s diaper using the bassinet provided. The bassinet is about a metre in length and seriously, it really makes things much easier. You may feel conscious that other people are looking but really they just marvelling at how great you are as a parent to “operate” under those kind of conditions. 

In our recent trip, I did a diaper change in less than a minute using the bassinet. When I turned around, I expect people to be applauding but most of them are sleeping or engrossed in their own work. So there…the concern doesn’t really exist.

Conclusion

From check-in to landing, we have covered what you need to take note when travelling with your baby. At first, it may not be easy and as first-timers, you may even lose your cool. But hey, travelling with a baby isn’t all that difficult once you get the basics.

Know that you can’t move around as fast as you would like in the past. You can’t push your baby around like a F1 racer like what you used to do, and going through security checks take a bit more time as well. So it’s better to start off a bit earlier and have allowances for delay here and there.

Secondly, if it is a shorter flight of 3-5 hours, try to time it so that your baby would want to sleep after they board. This may mean keeping them occupied with a bit of play time before setting off to the airport. Our baby slept throughout most of the flight yesterday, and only woke up for feeding before landing.

Well, that’s a perfect landing!

 

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Parenting Tip Ep 11: Healthy Play Time For Your Child

Do you fret over what to do with your child during your off days or on weekends?

Here’s a suggestion for you. Bring them out to venues where they can play, run around or even splash a bit of water (under close supervision of course!)

The benefits of outdoor play on your child’s development cannot be overestimated. Studies have shown and parents have attested to better social and overall development if they plan outdoor activities for their children. Well, it may require more effort and logistics to bring them out but would you rather they be cooped up at home safely with an iPad?

On 28 Feb, we brought our baby out to Sentosa. This is a tourist attraction in Singapore and while we have been there a few times, this was a first for our baby. Seeing her chubby little face lit up with delightful smiles and chuckles, we knew we made the right decision.

Visiting Sentosa on a weekday has its perks…less crowd and plenty of room for your children to splash around

We visited the Palawan Water Park known as Port of Lost Wonder. It is a child friendly water theme park and best of all, admission is free. You are only required to bring your own swimwear / swim diapers for your children and make sure you are properly decked in appropriate swim suit as well. From here, it’s all fun and laughter as parents and children bond together over water games.

The park welcomes children above 110 cm. As for the younger toddlers or babies, they can enjoy the fun if parents accompany them by their side. 

In sunny Singapore, this is really a cool place to bring your children to. More importantly, it is really beneficial for your children to participate in outdoor activities such as these which help to shape their physical development and creativity. 

How To Get There?

Palawan Pirate Ship Entrance: Admission is FREE

The Palawan Water Park is near to the beach station. You can take the Sentosa monorail from Vivocity (sentosa station) and once you reach the beach station, just walk for about 3 mins in the direction of palawan beach and you will see the water park.

If you are driving, you can park at the Beach Station Car Park for $0.02/minute. Please check this rate yourself as it might change with time.

Once you get there, admission is free and thus the whole family can enjoy healthy fun without burning a hole in the pocket. 

Conclusion

The inclusion of outdoor play activities for your little ones should not be overlooked. Children thrive when they are in environments that help to unleash their creativity. Instead of distracting them with mobile devices, it is a better idea to get out and engage in healthy play time. 

 

Parenting Tip Ep 10: A Simple Guide to Baby Tooth Care

Our baby loves to grin at people and it’s cute because she has what you call a toothless grin. 

At 5 months old, she is at the beginning stage of teething, so there is no tooth. Though there is no tooth, it is still a good idea to clean her gum daily. You can do it after each meal. If not, at least once a day would be good. Usually, we clean her gum at the end of the day, right after her last feeding.

What’s the way to clean your baby’s gums?

The easiest way is to use a soft cloth. Wet it with water and then wrap it around your finger. With that, gently clean her gums top and bottom, front and back.

The alternative of using a soft cloth is a finger brush.

The Oral Care Rabbit from MAM: Your baby will love this!

This is how one looks like and you can get it from Amazon or your nearest retail. It is convenient to use, easy to wash and relatively inexpensive.

When’s the best time to start cleaning your baby’s gums?

You can start cleaning your baby’s gums even before the first tooth appeared. There is no harm in doing so, and in fact, it is a good way to develop the habit of tooth care from a very young age. At first, your baby may resist it a bit but once you develop a routine, they will get used to it and even look forward to the cleaning each time.

Our baby loves it and we clean her gums after the final feeding for the day. Over time, it has become a routine for her to go to bed after the cleaning. Babies love routine actually!

Myths and Facts

  • Baby’s first teeth are not permanent, thus there is no need to be too concerned with their care. Indeed, a baby’s first set of teeth is not permanent but failing to care for them properly can lead to gum infection which in turn can affect the future teeth.
  • Drinking tap water is good for teeth protection. Yes and No. Depending on where you live, you want to check to ensure the water is safe for drinking, especially by your newborn. Tap water usually contains fluoride which protects the teeth from acid attacks. The alternative to tap water is using fluoride toothpaste which is suitable for your child when they turn 2 years old. When using fluoride toothpaste, caution should be exercised to use only a small amount of toothpaste. This helps to ensure your child does not swallow excess toothpaste.
  • Babies drink milk predominantly and thus there is no need for oral care especially if they have no teeth. The gums are an important part of your baby’s well-being. In addition, starting early with oral care also helps them to build a good habit from young.

Tooth or not, it is a good practice to have your baby’s gums cleaned on a daily basis. Both you and your baby will experience the far-reaching benefits of oral care from starting at a young age.

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