I’ve been reading a book I borrowed from the children’s library called “Born Reading” by Jason Boog. The book focuses on the benefits of interactive reading and gives helpful ideas on how to make reading session with your little one more fun and interactive. It also has strong emphasis on screen time limitation for children.
Honestly, this book is so timely for me because George and I have been arguing about how much screen time we allow our daughter. I am really against the use of digital device for children 2 years and below, but who am I kidding? For us who don’t have a nanny or house help, an ipad is an effective tool to keep my daughter occupied while I do some house chores. We’re guilty of this for sure. My only consolation is that, we also see to it that Yanna spends more time playing or reading books than in front of the screen or we just allow her to watch video in desperate situation . Many instants I tried to put a stop to her screen time, but I always ended up giving in, especially those days when Mother Goose club video or little baby bum was the only thing that could make her eat her meal. Argghh.
Yes, we have a baby that is hard to feed. So it’s either we turn on the device or let her go hungry. I do hope I choose the lesser evil. Pretty sure many of you can relate with this parenting dilemma. What I like about this book is that it’s not judgmental to parents who use digital device to their little one, rather it acknowledges that electronics are part of our children’s generation whether we like it or not, that it’s almost impossible to block them from knowing about all these things. It even recommends books and kids- appropriate apps for every age level starting 2.
I must echo though that as much as possible, children below 2 years old should not be introduced to screens yet and 2 hours maximum for 2 years and older as suggested by AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics). This applies not only to computers or tablets but all sorts of screen like tv or video games. Instead, take advantage of the first 2 years to make your son/daughter appreciate printed materials more than any forms of computer. I think, once you have established this, no gadgets can replace the influence of books to your little person.
For whatever reason, lately I’ve become so passionate about reading to kids that my attention is always drawn towards materials with similar theme. Probably, because I’ve seen the results of reading to my own daughter.
So if you come across this book the next time you visit the library or a bookstore, you might wanna check it out for yourself. I really don’t get any commission from promoting this book. I just thought it might be worth reading and sharing to all moms with little kids or expecting moms out there.
It’s true that having a baby can be pretty challenging and quite COSTLY. Take it from a first-time mom who relies on single income and who lives in a faraway island where everything is twice expensive compared to any other places. But, you can also do something to get away with large expenses (yet unnecessary) if you want to. Let me share with you some of the tried and tested (by us) ways to save big bucks. They are tremendous help to us. They might work for you too, so read on.
Prepare for a normal delivery
The truth is, delivery via C-section is expensive anywhere you go. So this is probably the most practical thing you can do not only to save money but also for your baby’s health and yours. Except for cases of serious preexisting medical issues, the woman’s body is made to deliver a baby normally just as it is capable of nurturing the fetus in the womb. Trust God and trust your body. It’s all in the mind and if coupled with enough preparation, you can nail it on your due date. Having a normal delivery wasn’t out of sheer luck in my own experience. It was a conscious decision that my husband and I made at the time we learned that we’re pregnant. We put a lot of effort on it. We read the book called “the husband-coached childbirth” by Robert Bradley, enrolled in a birthing class and thoroughly followed all the recommended exercises, all of which helped me a lot to have a smooth, fulfilling, unmedicated, uninterrupted normal delivery experience, even though Alyanna came almost a month earlier than expected.
What even got me motivated to work hard and aim for a normal delivery was learning that my medical insurance only covers normal delivery and not surprisingly, the cost of C section in Bermuda is ridiculously HIGH. We nonetheless saved up for the expected cost of C-section, just in case, but since we didnt have to use it, we now have more funds to add to our emergency fund. The funds we saved gave us extra sense of security.
I was very determined to breastfeed my baby mainly for economic reason at first until my pedia told me that “my breastmilk is the best gift I can ever give my baby”. I gained more confidence to breastfeed when I joined the pro- breastfeeding facebook group called “Breastfeeding Pinays”, where I learned a lot about the benefits, techniques, and more importantly, the consistent encouragement from other moms in my breastfeeding journey.
One of the benefits of breastfeeding is strong immunity for your baby so he/she rarely gets sick, therefore less trip to the doctor and big savings on medication. With my experience, trust me, no formula can ever match the power of mother’s milk. How cool is that, being able to give the BEST nourishment to our little one without spending a penny at all. Instead of buying formula milk, I could save the money for my child’s education or other life enriching experiences like our dream family vacation. I’m a fulltime mom, but working moms need not be discouraged. I know a lot of working moms who still give expressed (pumped) breastmilk to their babies. It’s very doable. I suggest you do your own research about breastfeeding or join pro-breastfeeding groups ahead of time, before giving birth. It is difficult at the beginning, I have to be honest. The thing is, nobody teaches about breastfeeding. Most people think or assume that the ability to breastfeed comes naturally once a woman give birth but the truth is, it doesn’t. It’s not straightforward too. Therefore, you need to think ahead of time, prepare and commit to it. You need all the support, the right information and encouragement especially from your husband. Once you get the hang of it, everything else will be a piece of cake. I will have another write up about breastfeeding in a separate blog so watch out for it.
3. Save Yourself from Buying Unnecessary Baby Stuff
When expecting, it is just right to prepare things before your baby arrives. I’d say just buy the basics like clothing and decent beddings for your little one. Other things can wait until you need them or perhaps after your baby shower. Don’t be too obsessed buying the things you think you need just because your friends have them, only to find out they’re unnecessary. What other moms/babies need may not be the same with yours. Your baby will tell you what he/she needs or you need for her/him. I learned this the hard way when I was still pregnant. I wanted everything to be organized so I got so crazy about shopping for baby stuff. For instance, I bought this top-of-the line electric breast pump during my 7th month upon the recommendation of my friend because she used to pump a lot when she had her first born. I gave high priority to breastfeeding so I didn’t mind spending more for a breast pump. Although it served its purpose, it was taxing to use as it is bulky and complicated to clean. I ended up buying another set, a much cheaper one (a hand pump) because it’s more convenient and perfect for relieving late night engorged boobs. I think, both pumps have the same efficiency in expressing milk. But the cheap one worked better for me, ha! I also bought some feeding bottles and pacifiers in advance only to realize that my daughter didn’t like to use them.
Don’t just buy out of whim. Know what you really need and research about the product before you buy. Read forums/reviews and compare. Depending on the need, expensive stuff doesn’t always mean the best option.
4. Go for hand-me downs and second hand items.
Although everything is expensive here in Bermuda, I appreciate that there are various thrift store or “ukay-ukay” shops like the Red Cross, The Barn and Salvation Army. These are nice places to find cheap yet quality items, from clothes to furniture, appliances, toys and even books. We got the crib, car seat and stroller from emoo – a website that sells second hand products, and even got the changing table for FREE. We also got lucky that we were given two huge bags of hand-me-down clothes by a friend who works as a nanny. Plus the brand-new clothes my baby receives as presents on special occasions just keep piling up, that we really don’t have to buy new clothes for Alyanna, maybe until she’s 3. I LOVE buying second hand items. It’s good for the environment and of course our pocket. Think of it as recycling. Some moms may not want “ukay-ukay” for their babies, I completely understand that. But if you don’t mind second-hand stuff for your little one, go for it. There is nothing wrong with hand-me-downs or “ukay-ukay” as long as you check them for safety and clean them well before using if you don’t know where they come from. Some westerners use/ buy secondhand items too. Also, babies grow very quickly you may end up using a set of dress in 2 months only. So why spend a fortune on that $159 dress from amazon when you won’t need them after 3 months. My former employer used hand-me-down clothes for their kids even though they have all the money to buy brand new.
5. Just Cook for your baby.
There are so many jarred/packed baby food nowadays that claim to have all the vitamins and minerals your child needs and if you’re a busy mom, it’s really easy for you to get lured and grab them. But nothing beats a home-cooked meal especially for your babies. It’s healthier and cheaper. You don’t have to be a chef to cook a decent meal for your kids. Even though fresh veggies/ fruits are not cheap here I still end up saving if I cook/ make my own puree. For example, a jar of gerber pureed carrots costs almost the same with a pound of fresh carrots. For sure, I can make more than 1 jar of baby food from that 1 pound of carrots and I can be assured that there are no added sugars or salt on it. My suggestion is, if you are a busy working mom, you can prepare food in advance on weekends and store it in the fridge and thaw when needed. Keep simple recipes and think local ingredients. Now if you’re dealing with a picky eater, we’re on the same boat and it’s a different topic in my blog.
6. Don’t go overboard with your baby’s monthly birthdays.
I observe that many parents these days make a big deal of their babies monthly birthdays. Don’t get me wrong here. We recognize and thank God for our baby’s milestones. We just don’t buy cakes and have a feast every month. I save at least 30$ a month for not buying a cake. It’s not much, but hey, it’s more than a minimum day’s wage in the Philippines. It’s still worth saving. I could invest the $30 I save each month in my favorite company in the Philippine Stock Market and watch my money grow in due time 🙂
Celebrating milestones is fantastic. It’s always nice to create fond childhood memories. However in our household we like to celebrate longer or bigger milestones like our child’s 1st birthday, baptism, 7th year birthday etc. It saves us some money and energy from preparation as well.
I understand that as parents we only want the best for our children and shouldn’t be scrimp on them; however the BEST things in life don’t always come with a price tag. More than the material things, the baby needs a secure family and a loving home. All I really want to say is that, having a baby shouldn’t be a financial burden. With a little practicality and a bit of prudence, ours turned out to be the most wonderful experience without necessarily hurting our purse.
My husband and I have been reading books to our daughter since she was about 4 months old. That’s the time when she could clearly see us and got more responsive to us. For sure she wasn’t paying attention at first. We could even hardly finish a book. But we read to her anyway. George has been reading to her every night as part of her bedtime routine and I do during her activity time in the morning or in the afternoon. Now at 17 months, she would ask us to read for her all her favorite books. Every morning when she wakes up, she would go through her books looking so serious or amused while flipping the pages. It’s so funny and remarkable to behold. I can’t believe how much she loves books nowadays. She even knows the title of her favorite books.
I don’t really remember being read to when I was little except the time when my father taught me how to in grade 1, probably because my parents couldn’t afford to buy children’s books at the time. Or they just didn’t know then its importance. Lucky for us reading to infants is highly promoted here in Bermuda. In fact, there’s a public youth library here where parents can register for free and borrow children’s or parenting books for up to 3 weeks. There’s also what they call “book babies” every Thursday and Saturday in the library. It’s a fun reading/ singing/ playing time for children 6 months and above.
Also, children’s books are pretty much accessible here. One can buy good quality second hand books for only a quarter (25cents) or 10 Philippine pesos. So, when I had Alyanna, I got fascinated with all the colorful childrens books that I kept on buying whatever good book I can find for her. Another cool thing is that they also have annual reading festival where a group called Bermuda Book Club gives away free books to children apart from some exciting bouncy castles, free popcorn, fun games and more.
Many parents have overlooked the importance of reading to their babies. One might say, “Why bother read when the baby still won’t understand? Just wait until he/ she’s in school”. Let me tell you, there are many rewards of reading to your little one.
Here are some of the reasons why you should read to your little bunny.
Studies reveal that kids who have been read to can talk earlier than those children who have not. Reading aloud is as important as talking or singing to your baby. It helps improve your baby’s listening skill through the sound of your voice and enhances your baby’s vocabulary, which are essential in communication. And while children can learn your native language through talking or interactions with you, he/she can be introduced to other languages like English through reading. No wonder Alyanna knows a lot of words and can even say short sentences and phrases before she’s 18 months both in Bisaya (our native dialect) and English. On her 15th month checkup, her pedia even mentioned that she has the vocabulary of a 2 year old. Proud momma here. (Wink wink)
Unlike other animals, humans, being the highest form in the animal kingdom have the most highly developed brain, capable to learn the ways and means of living through reading. Exposing kids to books at an early age inspires them to read on their own and makes them love books. It’s also a great way to introduce to infants the different concepts around us like numbers, shapes, colors, and nature and even the idea of sharing, loving, respect, etc. Furthermore, Interactive reading proves to have strong positive effects on other aspects of development.
Our baby learned alphabet at 15 months. We neither force nor intentionally taught her the letters. I believe it was the result of constantly reading to her the alphabet book. My husband and I were both surprised when she could already identify the letters and soon enough, learned to say them clearly. Now she’s starting to be familiar with numbers, colors and shapes. Whenever Yanna sees letters or numbers whether they are on shirt prints, house or building numbers, bike speedometers, clocks – she will try and attempt to read them. We’re confident that as long as we are consistent and show to her that reading is part of life, we know that she will carry her love for reading and books until she grows up. It will be her best tool in learning the world and be able to succeed in life.
More than the intellectual and developmental benefits, the most important reward for me is the bond we create with our little one through reading. It has become the best bonding opportunity for my husband and my baby since George can’t breastfeed. The best way is to hold the baby on your lap and make the reading session more entertaining by cuddling and playing at the same time. It’s a priceless moment seeing my husband and my baby having fun while being so engaged with her favorite books.
If you haven’t done it yet, I encourage you to allot at least 20 minutes of your day reading to your munchkin. It will greatly contribute to your child’s well-being. It shows the baby that she’s loved because you make time for her thereby improving self-esteem and filling her love tank.
Read to your baby not because you want him to be genius or smart. Do it out of LOVE. Cherish the moment and take advantage of the time with your baby when YOU are still the main source of influence in his/her life – not the society, not her friends, teachers, schools or anybody else. The rewards are far greater than you expect. As Rosemary Wells puts it. “Reading to your little one is just like putting gold coins in the bank. It will pay you back tenfold. Your daughter will learn, imagine, and be strong in herself. Your son will thrive, and give your love back forever”.
“Read to your bunny and soon your bunny will read to you.”~RW ~
This blog is borne today out of my deepest desire to share to the world my own journey as a mom in this beautiful island of Bermuda. In the coming days,weeks, and months, this humble site will be filled with anecdotes and essays of my day-to-day endeavor as a wife and a mom, hoping to inspire and pass on some wisdom from the daily challenges and victories that life throws at me.
I dedicate this blog to my husband, who keeps pushing and inspiring me to pursue writing; to my baby (and my future children) whose smile means the world to me; to my family who loves me unconditionally, and to my readers who can relate to me.
Thanks for dropping by my blog. I hope you learn something from me today. 🙂