Tag Archive | "parenting"

About Grandparents

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About Grandparents

Posted on 07 September 2015 by Kristrun

Most of us were lucky enough to grow up in a loving family and environment.  Most of us have parents that we love and who love us back.  As mentioned in my last blog, parents can be helpful, and also unhelpful, when it comes to the first days with a new baby, partly because when they were raising their children, the environment and advice was very different to now.

It is hard for parents to abandon their beliefs and habits and they do not always understand the way our generation does things as parents – all the access to courses and information, how we research and investigate before we do anything.

In fact, our parents are often of the belief that despite it being great to be able to get support from the internet and our friends, the overflow of the same is only making our lives more confusing and frustrating. Taking away the independence and “get on with it” parenting.

Of course, we all know this and probably agree to a point, but we cannot go back in time.  And to be honest, there are so many things from the past that we are grateful to not have to go through. I am not even going to start the list of comparison.

What I wanted to remind us all of was that grandparents, despite their perhaps different opinions and other difficulties (the typical MIL issue), are not something we should take for granted.

The day will come, and has already come for some, that the grandparents will say goodbye for good. There will be no more remarks or comments, no more unrealistic demands or opinions, no more decisions on how to split the holidays etc. 

And in my opinion, to have grandparents in my children’s lives, is such a treasure.  They add such tremendous value and richness into the lives of those kids – they teach them so much by just being there.  By their manners, their personalities, the way they speak, think, the things they have gone through in life, their way of handling situations, money, travels, how they hold books when they read and how they patiently cut the food for the children.  How they have time, and make time, and quietly teach them without teaching them.

Everything about the grandparents is different and not easily emulated by those of a younger generation.  It is something that comes from living through the times they lived through, growing up amongst larger families and more generations of people under the same roof. Having gone through the times where money, electricity, heat, access to all sorts of products and services was limited, travel was not an option so easily and more and more.

If we grew up in a loving household where our parents were kind to us and did their best, our parents deserve, however annoying they may sometimes be (I mean this in a humorous way), that we treat them with dignity and kindness back. Perhaps they can sometimes just have their way with the kids, without us getting annoyed.  Perhaps it will not do any harm to our children.  And perhaps, we need sometimes to slow down and remember to enjoy all the moments that we have with our own parents too. 

Every year I try and “let go“ of my kids for a few weeks and they grow up in the arms of their grandparents. I try and let them not be guests in the homes of their grandparents, but rather to live with them. I am lucky, as the grandparents have health and the willingness to offer and welcome this.  They get something out of it too, of course.  But it is not something I take for granted. 

 

Of things in life that my children have, I rate this amongst the highest of all things.

 

Hulda 2015

 

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About support

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About support

Posted on 28 August 2015 by Kristrun

hthorey

Most of us have many loving family members and friends that surround us when we have a  baby. Even if we are living away from home, often our nearest and dearest will come to visit to offer their help and support and of course many others want to feel involved and offer advice. I remember it being so nice when the extended family offered to help and even just spend some time at home with us and the new baby, once some time had passed and we were getting used to this new reality. Luckily for most new parents, the support is genuine and needed.

Last month, I was seeing a woman at home to help her with breastfeeding.  She was having a hard time adjusting her sleep to the baby and breastfeeding was more tiresome than she had expected.  I guess we have all been there at some stage.  What caught my attention was that she kept repeating to me how supportive her family was and that she really should be grateful.

She had a little bit of – again what most of us have unfortunately – the ‘good girl’ syndrome.

She felt she should be grateful, even though actually the support that she was getting was entirely on the terms of the givers – not the receiver. The kind of things she was hearing, I have heard many times before….

“He is just hungry, I really think we should give him some formula, you have had no rest“

“If you want us to help, we need to be able to soothe him, and obviously we cannot breastfeed him.“

“You really should go out more, it will do you good, plus we have not seen any of Hong Kong during our stay here…. let’s go for lunch.“

“A baby should self settle, crying does no harm to them“

The thing is, all of the above can be said and may sometimes be appropriate, but it is NON-SUPPORT when it is given in this format.  It is not actually helpful, especially in a case like this, where the mum was just in a very normal situation – baby was sleeping well but waking up reasonably often, gaining loads of weight and nothing wrong with him.  But what has got to be remembered is that our parents’ generation grew up in a different environment to us.  They received very different instructions and advice from those in the know and sometimes, despite their best intentions to support, they just don’t actually know how to.  Hence the comments that don’t help.  So it is important, before inviting them, to ask yourself if they will actually be helpful, i.e. are they happy to just hang around you on yours and your baby’s terms.

Another comment I had from a lady not so long ago threw me completely.

“My husband is so happy how everything is going well but he really thinks that I should stop breastfeeding now“.

The couple had a two months old baby that was happily breastfeeding, no problems at all.  The opinion expressed, was because the husband was uncomfortable with his wife breastfeeding right from the start – happy to tolerate it for a certain amount of time – but was of the opinion that it was inappropriate and unnecessary. He was formula-fed himself, as his mother had reminded him, and he really did not see the need for it.

A part of me wanted to scream.  Sorry – but I really feel that that this is simply not even something that anyone, but the mum, can even have an opinion about, let alone express it to the mum. How dare anyone suggest that she should not feed her infant when everything about it is going very well?

A part of me remembered that this is actually, all about how people are raised, what information they are given and so on.  Of course this dad really must not know any better.

So parents, we really do need to educate our kids well.  Raise them up in an environment where this is not even a debate.  That they understand that breastfeeding is normal for babies for as long as mum and baby want it and nobody should question that.  Equally, that when someone bottlefeeds their baby, they are not entitled, as kids or adults, to judge that.

And when we grow old ourselves, let’s try and remember, when our kids have children, that we can support them a lot.  But it is not our role to tell them how to do things.

“Surely this kid needs to socialize“ – I was once told about a 3 week old.
Seriously!

Hulda x

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Mothers’ Day. Every Day.

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Mothers’ Day. Every Day.

Posted on 10 May 2015 by Kristrun

mothersMy Facebook page is today inundated with messages from everyone around me about Mothers’ Day.  As a result I am reminded of the fact that it is “Mothers’ Day”.  One more time, how annoying.  From the grumpy corner in which I sometimes sit, I cannot help but think, how many mother’s days are there per year? Or how many should there be?  I find this just as annoying as all the Valentine’s Days and whatever else they are called. There seems to be no end to all sorts of special days that actually we should be celebrating every day and not restricting to an annual and public display on social media but rather to actually focus on being nice to each other, wherever we are, with those around us.

Sorry, readers, I actually am nice to people most of the time, although these words do not sound like they come from a nice person.  I just get very annoyed sometimes in between.  A little bit like the character Dr. House, if you know him.  You can interpret it the way you like.

Nevertheless, it is, in fact, Mothers’ Day.

I just sent my own mother a rather difficult email about her flaws.  But that could have been any other day, life goes on you know.  Are we supposed to behave better on these special days?

No – we probably should all try and behave, live and think a little better every day. About ourselves, our mothers, our children, other people around us in general.  Because to be human is also to be nasty, selfish and unkind.  Greed, lust and whatever all the other sins are called…  And sometimes it can be an effort to think kindly of others, or to be grateful for what we have. Not you?  Great, but most of the rest of us could do with a little wake-up call every now and again.

There are people suffering everywhere around the world.  Of course the latest on everyone’s minds is the terrible disaster in Nepal. It makes it hard to celebrate – if you start to think about it too much – your own victories and successes and good life.  But as I said before, life does go on and we carry on the best way we can.  So we can brag about achievements and our own great children and I can tell everyone how I actually ran 5 km in less than 30 minutes (if that ever happens), without feeling too guilty about the mothers in Nepal.

So I am going to tell you about two mothers that I admire.  None of them has had a tough life as such.  But they both deserve admiration for their everyday efforts to make their children happy, to keep the ball rolling and being the ones that carry much weight of the routines and rhythms of their households.  And let’s not forget – and I think us mums all agree in this – that the routines of one’s household can be quite a task to manage.

When I was little, my mother had me, a total nightmare child that was all over the place from day one.  She was 20 years old and had moved from the capital of Iceland where all her family lived, to a very small town of 150 people in the rural north of Iceland, 650km away.  Three to four months of the year there was so much snow there, that the cars were snowed in and could not be moved, but most families did not even have a car so that did not matter anyway.  When we were out playing with our friends in the village, our parents would have a certain light turned on in the house to indicate to the other parents that we were playing at that place, because in those days there were no phones in most homes, so  it was not possible to call and check. The young families of Iceland in those days had little money and none extra, and made do with whatever they could, so my mother and grandmothers hand-made much of our clothes and fixed the ones that broke.  They baked the bread and the cakes at home and there were few days in my youth where there was not freshly baked and yummy food available for our teatime snack.  Because my mother had gone to “Good Housekeeping School” (for the lack of better translation), good housekeeping was definitely important and the standards were not dropped when my three siblings were born, two within a year, in December and January of the same year, and my youngest sister six years later.

My mother annoyed the hell out of me when she was running the household in her very organized way.  I was so pissed off as a child or teenager to have to participate in all the chores and cooking and babysitting, it must have been hard to chain me down to do all of this.  And I think the reason that I like Baby Led Weaning (another concept that pisses me off – why do we have to label everything, so that some greedy person gets royalties every time a child sticks a carrot in its mouth) is because I fed my siblings so often as a kid that I got the overfeeding-others-disease.

But she did a fantastic job in her mummying and housekeeping, my mother.  Despite me being rather un-upbringable, I did learn stuff, and I was well loved.  I learned to be sustainable and take care of myself and others at a young age.  I learned that things don’t get done unless someone (I) does them.  And that playing with your siblings is actually way more fun than playing with anyone else.  I learned to fix things, to bake and to cook, and a lot of other practical household skills that have, even in Hong Kong where everything seems to be done by a specialist, gotten me far.

I also was very much loved, despite me being annoyed by my mother. There was always time for us children, and our parents took extremely good care of us through our hobbies and school, without hovering over our heads all the time, but by supporting our uniqueness and our strengths by nurturing them further. Mostly I did not see all the little things that my mother did for the household, or for me, while I was busy playing in my worry-free world as a child.

While my mother had friends amongst the 30 or so other mothers her age in the village, there were few “me days” like we get nowadays.  There were certainly no mani–pedis and dream on about suggesting that she would go out for a little morning jog before everyone woke up. If not too exhausted by yesterday’s work, there was plenty to be done each day, other than “me” stuff.  And as it was not until I was quite old that my parents got a decent washing machine, the laundry piled up easily in a household of five and later six.  I think that my mother was happy though, and she got her me-times differently; through drop-ins between the mums in the village where they would give each other a cup of coffee and a taste of the latest bakings, gossiping about what had happened in the days before.

Funnily enough, these kind of drop-ins is something that I have often thought that the mums in Hong Kong could so do with.  Casual and non-prepared, just genuine friendship and a check to see that everyone is doing fine, while children play without the mums being in a structured paid playgroup environment.

I can only imagine that sitting down with a friend must have been great after chasing after me, taking care of my one and two year old siblings and managing all the household chores at once without help.  Just going to the shop that was open a few days a week, with snow up to your waist and having to pull and carry all three of us, to buy milk – took two hours.

You are wondering, where was my father?  Just like today, in those days, many fathers were working a full day and in the year 1976, it was more common for dads to have a social life after work than for mums to have it.  They would play Bridge, volleyball and go to a Kiwanis meeting (a mens’ club) in the evenings.  No offence to my father, he is also a great man and did lots of great things with us, but this was the atmosphere of that time.

There are so many things that I could say about my youth and my mother and I am certainly not writing this about our life to have you think that we were very poor and struggling.  This was just the life that the year 1973 in Iceland offered and everyone had to get on with it in the best way.

In 2015 in Hong Kong, we have other battles and joys, quite different ones, us mums here in Hong Kong.  A lot is shared and many feelings are the same, as when my own mother was raising us.   It may be worth it, while we moan about our helpers and complain that we cannot have a shower before lunch with our singleton child in our 100K a month flat, to think a little bit to the year 1973 in a small town in Iceland, and then perhaps moan a little less.

It may not work, again, all our troubles and emotional ups and downs may be very relevant to each one of us as we go through them – and despite all the real sufferers of this world – but it may well make our challenges a tiny bit smaller.

Happy Mothers’ Day my dear mothers in Hong Kong and around the world, I hope my own mother one day realizes how happy I am with her upbringing, love and support for all of the 42 years that I have managed to spring through.  And I so dearly hope that my own children will love me as much as I love her, despite all my flaws and grumpinesses, for another 42.

This blog entry has already gone on far longer than I planned, so I will tell you about the second mother in my next post.

From the very imperfect mum of 4,

Hulda Thorey.

Consultation with the midwives, available on Skype (face time or other platforms), over the phone or in the office. Click here to book. More information about our services on our website.

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Normal, not natural

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Normal, not natural

Posted on 13 March 2015 by Kristrun

Annerley Low 10Annerley is a private organization. We are not innocent, any more than others in such a position, of using catchy titles, promotional texts and other ways of grabbing people’s attention. We do however, try to limit it to no-nonsense and something useful.

It bothers me endlessly how so many concepts seem to have been labelled and commercialized.  Why does everything have to be called something catchy?

Natural birth for example.  I use this term often myself but it really annoys me and I mean to stop it.  It is as used and stretched as “natural” labelling on food products: it does not really represent anything anymore.  And it puts pressure on people to perform in a “natural” way or else… What does natural stand for in labour, for example?

Can we please just call vaginal births NORMAL BIRTHS?  And natural parenting, what is that?  Normal parenting please.  The extremes of this world are starting to annoy me so much. It makes life too hard for us all. There is so much hypocrisy in it anyway.  How can you be all natural in one aspect of your life and the rest is all screwed up?  What is the point of it anyway?

And then there are the definitions.  “I failed to do Hypnobirthing” someone said to me the other day.  “What a load of nonsense,” I said.  There is no such thing as failing in, for example, Hypnobirthing.  It is just a method that you can use the way you choose, even if someone has labelled it and trademarked it.  Same for “Baby-Led Weaning”.  It does not have to be all or nothing, or else you have failed in the method.  There is nothing natural about this all anymore, just pressure to follow someone’s instructions as if they were a god and desperate to get all the credit, and income, from it.

In my opinion, average is good.  Normal is great. Natural…I am not so sure.

From the grumpy corner,

Hulda

Consultation with the midwives, available on Skype (face time or other platforms), over the phone or in the office. Click here to book. More information about our services on our website.

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A story about a lonely mum

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A story about a lonely mum

Posted on 06 November 2014 by hulda

She is the third woman that sits in front of me today and weeps quietly.  Happy that her baby, now a few months old already, is sleeping in the car seat so that she can talk without interruption.  She wanted to breastfeed more, better, longer and feels like a little failure as it is not going as easy as she would have wished.  But this not the reason for the cry, really.  The cry is an outbreak of feelings that have been building up over the last few months, while a mixture of different demands, feelings of guilt and change of rhythm and role in her life has swung her backwards and forwards from happiness and joy to loneliness, sadness and emptiness that no one else around her seems to share.

 

She is not depressed, really.

But she is very, very alone.

 

Let's be kind to each other

Let’s be kind to each other

 

She is the third woman that I see today that shares pretty much the same story.  Actually, she did not really wish to share it.  She was just going to carry her weight and continue to remind herself that she should be happy.  Happy to have healthy children and a perfect family, good enough income to live a fun life here without anything missing.

 

Or what?

 

She goes regularly to mothers groups with the little baby and it is a relief to go out of the house every now and again and meet other mums.  It does, however, leave her with a strange feeling and this has been growing stronger and stronger each week.  The sensation of not performing well enough, not keeping up.  The comparison somehow always feels like it is not in her favour.  When should the baby sleep, how often should it feed, should he nurse to sleep, should he be entertained during the day, what time should he do this and that, with whom and how.  And it extends to other family matters; exercise after birth, losing the baby weight, going back to work, and husband’s role in the parenting, travels, in-laws, rhythms and routines of the household.  Not to mention the helpers.

Mostly she is quiet in the mummy groups.  Sometimes she participates and it feels good to share, and sometimes she just pretends, so that the others don´t realize how terribly disorganized and sad she feels.  There are many nice mums in the group and she would love to be closer to them.  But even then, she really does not have energy to do much more than what she already is doing.

Her husband comes home each night and he is tired and wants something that she cannot give.  Most of all, she really would just like to be in bed, nursing the baby to sleep or have him wrapped around her from behind and share short stories about how their day was, like they used to do in their early years together, before kids.  Then fall asleep and wake up in the morning, not tired and grumpy and perhaps have breakfast after their morning sex, shower and the baby playing happily in the background while they chat about what the day is likely to bring them.

Perhaps meet him for lunch later.

 

But actually, the reality is a bit different at the moment and it is hard to talk about it.  The tears are running down her face as she explains this to me, really, a stranger to her. But a person who does not judge her and can listen without having a strong opinion about everything.

 

In fact, a person that has heard it all before, many, many times.  From many, many other women. The ones that look happy and probably, most of the time also feel happy.  But battle all the same demons, thoughts and sometimes loneliness.  The feeling of loss or change of identity where they have ended up becoming – the wife of someone.

 

„So what does your husband do? “

 

The first question always asked when new people are met.  Not „who are you? “Or „what is your profession? “

And even if she is perfectly happy to have chosen to be at home with her little baby, happy and grateful to be able to spend time with him instead of rushing back to work, to be supported by her husband to take this role, she somehow feels strange about it.  Perhaps it is the pressure and the judgements, the strong opinions of others and how things are supposed to be. Perhaps it is the fact that the baby is crying more than she had expected and she has a hard time finding out how to soothe his needs.  Perhaps it is the very different ways that she and her husband feel should be used to manage cries, sleep and playtimes. After reading a lot of research on https://www.inpatientdrugrehab.org/ she feel that perhaps she has postnatal depression. She does not know, really.

 

And in fact, she understands her husband well, when he explains:  I work 15 hours a day and come home exhausted.  I bear the weight of all the finances in the household and I somehow need to find energy to fit in the family and kids time in the little leftover of it that there is, when holidays and guests are not taking our attention.  All I want is a quiet and calm and happy household to come home to, a clean home with a happy wife that greets me, sex two or three times a week, some decent food and a little extra time to have beer with my mates and go to the gym every now and again.  Is it too much to ask? “

 

She does not really know.  All she knows is that she is lonely and feels sad at the same time as she is grateful and happy in between.  She feels the love, towards her husband and her kids, friends and family.  She comes to the mothers groups and looks around and thinks about how kind these women are, how nice it is to meet them.

 

Most of the time, this beautiful, interesting and clever mum is absolutely fine.  But every now and again, she sits here in this chair and shares her feelings with me, weeping quietly.

 

I am a midwife and studied about pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.  Yet most of my day is spent talking about parenting and relationships.  I am far away from being the expert in this.  But I have lots of understanding about it and I have come to realize that the non-support that people experience, when they become a family, from the environment, from others, perhaps simply just from the pace and complexity of our living, is enormous.

Staying afloat, let alone enjoying the journey, can be hard.

 

But it is possible.  And as we mature, things get a little easier.  The love and the patience and the knowledge somehow increases.

 

The woman in front of me wraps it up and puts on her sunglasses we hug a little and she goes to her next project.  She is happy as she walks out.  It has made me think again, perhaps I should talk about this more.  Share the story.  My story, just as much as everyone else´s story.  The story that is not shared often but most feel.  Mums and dads.
Let’s be warm and kind to each other everyone.  Best,

Hulda

Consultation with the midwives, available on Skype (face time or other platforms), over the phone or in the office. Click here to book. More information about our services on our website.

 

 

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Water in Hong Kong and its use in making up infant feeds

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Water in Hong Kong and its use in making up infant feeds

Posted on 12 September 2014 by Kristrun

Here at Annerley, we are frequently asked by parents for information on which water to use for making up bottles of infant formula and for using on its own for baby to bagsofBreastmilkdrink. This is a very difficult area to look into with no definitive evidence for blanket recommendations. A quick search on the Internet will show you that there is a lot of confusing and contradictory information which does not help in any way to quell the concerns of many parents with young babies.  The following information is based on our research into this area and we hope that it will help to answer some of your questions. Nicole Edwards, Peadiatric Dietitian, has worked with us to provide the following information.

Choosing which water source to use for making up infant feeds can be a difficult and confusing task for parents in Hong Kong. In most countries using boiled, cooled tap water to mix with feeds is the ideal choice but many people in Hong Kong express their concern over the quality of our tap water, in particular how it is delivered to the domestic tap. Some parents have opted to use bottled or mineral water. However, this option does not come without its own potential problems and costs. There are no international evidence-based guidelines regarding the use of mineral or spring waters in infant formula feeding therefore it is difficult to make  recommendations regarding which brand to use.

The responsibility of which water to choose still falls on the shoulders of the parent especially as there is essentially no ideal solution to be recommended.

It is important to note that in all cases, any water which is to be used for making up infant feeds (tap/filtered/bottled/spring/mineral) MUST be boiled and then cooled prior to using.

If parents are happy to use tap water, they may want to invest in commercially available water filters which are fitted to the domestic tap and consist of an activated carbon filter through which the water flows. It is important to note however that they are not recommended by the Water Supplies Department (WSD) as it is felt that they may become an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and may represent a health hazard if not maintained properly. If these filters are used, it is recommended that parents follow the manufacturer’s instructions and ensure that the filter cartridges are replaced regularly (at least once a month). It is essential that water from the tap (even if it first passes through a self-fitted filter) is boiled before it is used to make up infant formula feeds.

Reverse osmosis (RO) filters claim to be a more effective type of filter, removing pathogens and chemicals from the tap water. The system is permanently fixed to the domestic tap. Specialist companies in HK provide this service and will return to check and replace the filters. The installation and service of these filters is considerably more expensive than attaching a commercial filter to the domestic tap. The filter process removes chemicals, 95% of the water’s mineral content and metals and pesticides. Some bacteria and viruses are also removed however, this is not guaranteed and thus RO water should still be boiled if it is to be used for making up infant formulas.

Regarding distilled water, there is conflicting advice (none of which appears to be scientifically based) on whether distilled water has the ‘leaching out’ effect of minerals in the body. Distilled water has been said to act like a ‘magnet’ which collects rejected, discarded, and unusable minerals in the body and, assisted by the blood and the lymph, carries them to the lungs and kidneys for elimination from the body (from the book “Fit for Life II: Living Health” by Harvey & Marilyn Diamond) The same authors feel that it is impossible for distilled water to remove minerals which are already part of the cell structure, thus the ‘leaching out’ of essential minerals does not occur as these are already part of the cell.  It is uncertain whether adding minerals back into the water (for example in a brand such as Watsons Water with Minerals) after the distillation process would counteract this suggested property of distilled water.

Guidelines on maximum mineral concentrations acceptable for drinking water (UK Dept of Health figures)

Bottled water is not recommended to make up a feed as it is not sterile and may contain too much salt (sodium) or sulphate. If you have to use bottled water to make up a feed, check the label to make sure the sodium (also written as Na) level is less than 200 milligrams (mg) per litre, and the sulphate (also written as SO or SO4) content is not higher than 250mg per litre. It is not usually sterile, so it will still need to be boiled, like tap water, before you prepare the feed.  However you may need to use bottled water to make up a feed if:

• your drinking water has been contaminated because of flooding
• you’re travelling abroad and drinking the local water is not recommended.

(Ref: NHS 2012)The mineral composition of many mineral/spring waters does however fall well below the guidelines above thus parents may question why these cannot be used. As there are no other guidelines apart from the DOH ones above, parents must know that  they use mineral waters at their own risk, but assuming they choose waters which conform to the above standards, the risk of solute overload may be small. Due to this lack of clarity on the suitability of various waters whose mineral content actually does fall under the above recommendations, plus the large variety of waters on the market, it is impossible to endorse or recommend specific brands.

In summary:

  1. All water used for infant formula MUST be boiled and cooled before using to make up infant feeds.
  2. The quality of HK Water is considered safe for use in making up infant formula feeds provided the pipes and holding tanks within the building structure are up to standard which is the responsibility of the building management and parents to check.
  3. If parents opt to use tap water for feeds it is probably a good idea to fit a commercial water filter or Reverse Osmosis water filter to the domestic tap. If this is the chosen option parents must be aware of the potential hazards of the filter becoming a breeding ground for bacteria. Commercial filters therefore must be changed as regularly as recommended by the manufacturing company. The RO filter will also need to be cleaned and checked regularly by the providing company.
  4. Distilled bottled water with added minerals may be a safe alternative to tap water provided parents are aware of the conflicting advice given regarding its suitability and safety when bottled in plastic bottles. There is insufficient scientific information, as noted by the WHO, on the benefits or hazards of regularly consuming distilled water.
  5. Choosing other bottled waters for the regular use of mixing with infant formula may be confusing and costly. It is likely that choosing water which is simply labeled ‘bottled water’ (as opposed to spring or mineral water) may be the safest option as these waters are expected to conform to essentially the same standards as the public water supply and they are therefore suitable for giving to infants or for preparing feeds.
  6. If it is absolutely necessary to use ‘spring or mineral water’ for example if one is abroad and the tap water is not safe, then the composition of the water should be checked and avoided if the levels of minerals exceed the guidelines given above. As generally bottled water is not sterile, this MUST be boiled before use with infants.

Thanks to Nicole Edwards BSc RD, Clinical & Freelance Paediatric Dietitian based in Hong Kong, for her contribution to this article, first published in 2008 in the Annerley Newsletter.  

Comments regarding NHS guidelines added by Conchita Amende, 2014.

Consultation with the midwives, available on Skype (face time or other platforms), over the phone or in the office. Click here to book. More information about our services on our website.

 

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Safety at home

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Safety at home

Posted on 12 September 2014 by Kristrun

Why is home safety important?

Giving children the best start in life is a priority for us all and this includes keeping them safe from harm. We cannot prevent every bump and bruise — nor should we try — drugsbut we do need to protect children from serious injuries, the effects of which can sometimes last a lifetime. Seeing a child who has been badly hurt is very upsetting and is made worse when you realise (usually just a short time after the injury) that it probably could have been easily prevented. We cannot prevent every incident, but the risk of injury can be reduced. With hindsight, it is usually possible to see how timely action could have prevented the child being injured.

We can apply this hindsight to help parents reduce the risks to their children. Practically this amounts to careful supervision, improved awareness of the hazards around us and the use of safety equipment.

Together we should focus on reducing the most serious injuries that can have long term consequences. These are the injuries that result in formal admission to hospital or an intensive care unit and in the saddest cases, death.

Most accidents happen in the home.

The abilities that children acquire as they grow and develop – such as grabbing, rolling over, crawling, and standing, climbing, opening bottles and turning handles – can delight us as parents and carers. But these same abilities, when they take us by surprise, can lead to serious childhood accidents. For example:

  • A young baby grabs a nappy sack and pulls it to their face, but is unable to let go or pull it away again, so suffocates in silence.
  • A toddler climbs up to play but gets tangled in a blind or curtain cord and is strangled.
  • A young child learns to open a child-resistant container and swallows oven cleaner or bleach. Many of these accidents happen in a matter of seconds, when an adult’s back is turned or their attention is focused on something else.

Young children love to copy the grown-ups around them, whether that’s swallowing pills, straightening their hair or stirring pans in the kitchen. It’s not naughtiness – copying adult behaviour is how they learn and develop.

Young children are also good at repeating instructions back to us. But this doesn’t mean they can understand risk and consequences in the way an adult does. For example, research shows that children cannot judge the speed and distance of traffic until the age of eight or nine, so cannot be relied on to cross the road safely on their own.

What’s more, young children’s bodies are different to ours. For example:

  • Their skin is thinner, which makes them more susceptible to serious burns and scalds.
  • Their heads are proportionally larger, which increases the likelihood of a serious fall.
  • Their windpipes are smaller and less rigid (and honestly need to be replaced by this SR Windows guide to single pane window glass replacement), so they suffocate far more quickly if their necks are constricted.

What can we do?

Keeping one step ahead of your child is essential and, depending on their developmental stage, different accidents are more likely to happen.

  • Educate all carers in CPR and First Aid – including yourselves and helpers
  • Educate all carers on child development and what your child is capable of – especially occasional carers such as grandparents or friends
  • Have a plan for emergencies, including an escape route in case of house fire
  • Educate all carers about your emergency plans

Below is a list from closeupcheck of things to keep in mind when going through safety at home from room to room, but be mindful that this is not a complete list for every household. Every home is unique and those living in each home will know best where the biggest traps are to be found. The best option is to have a tailor-made safety check in your home and here at Annerley Conchita Amende is qualified to do a home assessment for you and to provide you with advice.

Falls

  • Make sure your baby cannot roll off the changing surface.
  • Fit restrictors to upstairs windows so they cannot be opened more than 10cm.
  • Keep chairs and other climbing objects away from windows and balconies.
  • Fit safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
  • Don’t leave anything on the stairs that might cause someone to fall over, and ensure there is enough light on the stairs.
  • Check there is no room for a child to crawl through any banisters at the top of the stairs.
  • Keep balcony doors locked to prevent your child from going on to it alone – if it has railings your child could climb through, board them up or fit wire netting as a safety guard.
  • Secure any Reclinercize furniture and kitchen appliances to the wall if there’s a risk they could be pulled over.

Poisoning

  • Keep anything that may be poisonous out of reach, preferably in a locked cupboard – this includes all medicines and pills, household cleaners and garden products.
  • Use containers with child-resistant tops – be aware that by three years of age, many children are able to open child-resistant tops, although it may take them a little longer.
  • Keep all dangerous chemicals in their original containers.
  • Dispose of unwanted medicines and chemicals carefully.
  • Discourage your children from eating any plants or fungi when outside – some are poisonous and can be fatal. Avoid buying plants with poisonous leaves or berries.
  • Install smoke/gas detectors in your home.
  • Remember that child-resistant devices, such as bottle tops, strips of tablets and cigarette lighters, aren’t completely childproof – some children can operate these products.

Burns and scalds

  • It’s best to keep your toddler out of the kitchen, well away from kettles, saucepans and hot oven doors – you could put a safety gate across the doorway to stop them getting in. Unless of course you’ve decked you kitchen out like the boise showroom with all the child safe fixings, you can never be too safe.
  • Use a kettle with a short or curly cord to stop it hanging over the edge of the work surface, where it could be grabbed.
  • When cooking, use the rings at the back of the cooker and turn saucepan handles towards the back so your child can’t grab them.
  • Never leave a child under five alone in the bath, even for a moment.
  • Fit a thermostatic mixing valve to your bath’s hot tap to control the temperature.
  • Put cold water into the bath first, then add the hot water – use your elbow to test the temperature of the water before you put your baby or toddler in the bath. This is more sensitive than using your hand.
  • Put your iron, hair straighteners or curling tongs out of reach while they cool down after you have finished using them.
  • Fit fireguards to all fires and heaters.
  • Keep matches, lighters and lit candles out of young children’s sight and reach.
  • Keep hot drinks well away from young children – a hot drink can still scald 20 minutes after it was made.
  • Put hot drinks down before you hold your baby.
  • After warming a bottle of milk, shake the bottle well and test the temperature of the milk by placing a few drops on the inside of your wrist before feeding – it should feel lukewarm, not hot.
  • Don’t let your child drink a hot drink through a straw.
  • Encourage your child to play in the shade (under trees, for example) especially between 11am and 3pm, when the sun is at its strongest.
  • Keep babies under the age of six months out of direct sunlight, especially around midday, and use sunscreen.

Drowning

Children can drown in even a few centimetres of water. They should be supervised at all times when near water. Make sure you:

  • Never leave a baby or child in the bath or paddling pool unsupervised, not even for a minute – this includes in a bath seat.
  • Don’t leave uncovered containers of liquid around the house, such as clothes soaking in a bucket of water.
  • Empty paddling pools and store them away when not in use.

Strangulation

Babies and young children can easily swallow, inhale or choke on small items such as marbles, buttons, peanuts and small toys. The steps below can help prevent this happening:

  • Keep small objects out of the reach of small children.
  • Choose toys designed for the age of your baby or child – encourage older children to keep their toys away from your baby.
  • Beware of clothing with cords, dummies on necklace cords and bag straps – they can easily get caught and pull tightly on the neck.
  • Lay your baby on their back in a cot to sleep – don’t let babies sleep in an adult bed or on the sofa and don’t use pillows as they can suffocate.
  • Keep plastic bags away from young children – they can pull these over their heads and suffocate.
  • Nappy sacks, used to dispose of soiled nappies, can also pose a risk – keep them out of the reach of babies and young children.
  • Curtain and blind pull cords should be kept short and out of reach of children.
  • Keep animals, particularly cats, out of your bedrooms – if they jump into cots or beds they could suffocate your child. Attach a net over prams if necessary.
  • Make sure any cot toys have very short ribbons, and remove them when your baby goes to sleep.
  • Never hang things like bags with cords or strings over the cot.
  • Cut or tie up curtain or blind cords well out of your baby’s or toddler’s reach

Ref: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/safety-under-fives.aspx#close

Consultation with the midwives, available on Skype (face time or other platforms), over the phone or in the office. Click here to book. More information about our services on our website.

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My child is biting…. what do I do?

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My child is biting…. what do I do?

Posted on 13 August 2014 by Kristrun

IMG_2162Let your child know immediately that biting is unacceptable. Use firm, short and simple commands: “No, no biting”. But don’t dwell on it, don’t shout and be careful not to scare your child. Distract the child and try to focus on something else almost in the same moment…. “look, the moon”, and walk away from the scene where the biting took place.Don’t explain why they should not bite, don’t say anything else about the biting and don’t mention it again. You are actively ignoring what happened, and that works! Praise the child for doing other, unrelated things. Make sure to support positive behavior and the child will be a lot less likely to bite again.Remember: toddlers don’t understand the concept of apology until the age of 3 or 4 (depends on the child). By spending time on forcing the toddler to say “I’m sorry”,  you are dwelling on the negative behavior and it’s a lot more likely to happen again. Children don’t care if the attention is positive or negative, just as long as they get your attention. Support and praise positive behavior and actively ignore bad behavior.
It works!
Conchita Amende
Specialist community health nurse (health visitor UK)
To book consultation with our health professional click the link – available as home visit, skype, phone or office visit.

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Guilt free travels for moms

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Guilt free travels for moms

Posted on 24 June 2014 by Kristrun

It is great to have children, to watch them grow and to be with them every step of the way. But I have to admit I sometimes miss the mental freedom. I´m only speaking for myself, but I sometimes keep myself in a mental cage where I think my children are only safe and happy if I´m actually there. I forget that I need to water my own garden and do things for myself in order to be a better mom. So I booked a trip, a trip I have been dreaming about for the last 22 years.10333564_799366336741256_3113558867122887700_o

I was, many years ago, an au-pair in San Francisco and I wanted to see it again and meet friends and the family I stayed with. And I did it. I returned last week from a fantastic trip – I got in touch with old friends, met the children I used to take care (no longer children!) and I even managed to combine business with pleasure.

Yet during the weeks leading up to the trip I was beating myself with negative thoughts about how the kids could be injured, hurt, sad and lonely while I was away. Worrying about their schedule, about their wellbeing and so on. Knowing that their dad would be there for the most of the time, and then a wonderful granddad and his girlfriend – all of whom are qualified to raise and rescue any normal child.

My medicine was to verbalise my concerns: I told my husband, my wonderful colleagues  and myself what I was worried about. I did not ignore my fears. At the same time I told myself I would be a better, happier mom when I returned and that I would enjoy every minute of the adventure. And it helped, just by saying it out loud made it just sound silly – I´m a brave woman, why should I fear so much?

When I got on the plane I was fine, I certainly did enjoy the whole trip and I did not allow myself to be consumed with missing them whilst I was away. I Skyped them every day, kept it short and sweet and then closed my computer and went back to my self-indulgent enjoyment. I relished eating my meals without standing up, drinking very hot coffee, shopping for hours without a toilet trip and losing myself in long chats with old friends. I did not miss them a bit – I allowed myself to enjoy.

I’m back from my fabulous trip, everyone is safe and sound and I’m a better mom. To all moms who imprison themselves mentally: set yourself free every now and then. It really is worth it.

Safe travels

x

Kristrun

Consultation with the midwives or consultants, available on Skype (face time or other platforms), over the phone or in the office. Click here to book. More information about our services on our website.

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Parenting Strategies

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Parenting Strategies

Posted on 26 March 2014 by Kristrun

How to create your parenting strategiesCOSLEEPING

I know this sounds like a project that can’t be resolved without doing a lot of research or by consulting a professional. Of course there are plenty of professionals out there who can help, but you can also do it yourself, and it’s easier than you think. It will save lots of conflict in your relationship with your partner and other caregivers in your family. In Hong Kong, parenting strategies actually become more important than in many other countries as it is very common to have 2, 3 or even 4 caregivers in your household.

When and where do you start?

Try to start bringing your views together before the baby is born, even before you conceive. How were you raised? What do you want to avoid? Who are your role models in child care? Try drawing up the big picture together and do some reading if you think it helps. If you are completely new to childcare, simply focus on simple advice that is easy to find online. Make it yours – if you don’t like some of the advice, then don’t use it. Personally, I would never use time-outs for example, but I like the rest of that list.

Focus on the outcome

Let’s say you want your child to be confident more than anything else. Take time to consider if your parenting methods are likely to achieve this outcome. Firm discipline will not work, fear will not help and a screaming and frustrated parent is unlikely to result in raising a confident child. This is just an example; the main thing here is to focus on the outcome and try to work towards that and to understand what builds the foundation in order for the outcome to be anywhere close to what you hope for.

Beat the Peer Pressure

Try to understand what is age appropriate behaviour. Young children are often expected to behave in a way which is simply not appropriate for their age. For example, a one year old does not understand the word sorry and they don’t understand about sharing toys. So if you are striving towards building confidence in your child, keep praising them for their good behaviour and ignore the peer pressure in the playgroup.

Make time

Make time for your parenting strategies. Make sure all caregivers understand what type of care you expect and help them putting it into practice – all your work will go down the drain if you are doing one thing but your helper is doing another. It is time consuming to do the training but it will help a lot. Make time to spend with your children – it sounds obvious, but you are much more likely as a parent to make a difference with your presence than anything else.

Relax and try your best

There is no such thing as a perfect parent. Don’t forget to live your life at the same time as you work hard on being a good parent. Do fun things together, even if it means staying out past bed time. Use common sense, try to form a united front with your partner and remember that you are the biggest role models in the life of your children. Your children may not hear or remember everything you say but they are constantly learning from what you do.

Best of luck

Kristrun

B.Ed, M. Ed. (Iceland, HK)

C.E.C.E. (HK)

For guidance on creating your parenting strategies – let us help – consultation available in our office, on skype or over the phone

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