Monday, October 01, 2007

Five Travel Tips for People with Toddlers

Over the past two years, we have travelled with Gabriel locally and overseas. So far, he has travelled on the following modes of transport:
  • car
  • bus
  • boat
  • train
  • airplane
  • bicycle (didn't go far!)
Here are some tips we've learnt from our experiences that may help you prepare your little one for those trips.

1. Bring along the parent or caretaker your toddler is most attached to. Don't think that they don't know or feel anything when their loved one is not around after a while. If you don't heed this advice, be prepared for some far-reaching negative effects after the trip. Children do remember such events and may change their behaviour towards their loved one after they re-unite.

2. Travel by air before your toddler turns two years old. Most airlines offer 25% to 75% off the adult fare for toddlers less than two years old. However, this also means they will get a seat. You can overcome that by choosing partially-full flights or requesting that the airline seat you at the exit or partition rows. This way, your toddler can get an available seat or have more space to move and rest, respectively.

3. Use a lightweight stroller. Get a stroller that weighs no more than your toddler and one that can recline so that he/she can nap on the go. It can be hand-carried into the airplane cabin. If you're heading to places with temperate climate, don't forget to bring a portable fan with soft blades!

4. Pack light snacks and lots of water. Young ones tend to get bored much quicker when they are confined to a seat. Calm your toddler by providing snacks like plain biscuits. Water is vital as they, like the rest of us, dehydrate more when travelling. It is also a good way to clear the ears during altitude changes, like in an airplane.

5. Pray for your toddler's safety and blessing and tell him/her that he/she is going on a trip. You've done all the preparation and precaution you can ever think of, now leave the rest to your Higher Being. Even though they are young and may not have started talking, it's good to tell them what is going on and they may recall the trip when they grow bigger.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

What To Do When Your Child Is Choking

Over the weekend, there was a nine month old baby girl who choked to death when she was:
  1. alone in the living room
  2. attempted to eat a half inch sized fruit found on the floor
She did not survive by the time she was rushed to the hospital.

It is very important to be always on guard with newborns and babies as they can get into trouble very quickly, sometimes taking just less than a minute to die from some hazard. In Malaysia, there have been cases of young children drowning in rivers and buckets, choked on small objects and equipment such as foldable chairs and tables.

Caretakers and parents must assess whether the child can chew and if not, whether the food item is small enough to be swallowed without choking. Bones in fish and meat must be taken out beforehand, no matter how small or soft they are. In the above case, it shows that proper baby-proofing of the house needs to be done to ensure that there are no dangerous objects accessible.

Below are some links to procedures that you can perform when your baby is choking. I'll summarize it as follows.
  1. Observe your child for specific symptoms and react accordingly. If your child is not able to cry or cough, you may need to help remove the object in his or her mouth. If your child is coughing, encourage him or her to cough the object out. If you are going to help your child by giving back blows, be prepared to call for help within two minutes.
  2. Give back blows on the back area between your child's shoulder blades while you position him or her such that his or her throat is pointing downwards. If your child becomes unconscious, you may have to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR.
I've created a procedure chart (PDF document) that you can download, print and paste it in the rooms your child usually plays and eats in. Remember to write down your local emergency numbers at the top.

Links: - Infant First Aid for Choking and CPR: An Illustrated Guide (Babies Under 1 Year Old)
<URL:> - First-Aid for Choking and CPR: An Illustrated Guide (Toddlers)
<URL:> - First-Aid for Choking and CPR: An Illustrated Guide (Preschoolers)
<URL:> - First-Aid for Choking and CPR: An Illustrated Guide (Grade-schoolers)

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Children Watching Television Risk Health Problems

Psychologist Aric Sigman has published a study in the science journal Biologist that warns that children who watch television too much can suffer more harm than previously thought. It found that the popular activity inhibits production of the hormone melatonin, which affects the immune system, sleep cycle and commencement of puberty.

Sigman suggests it is this lower levels of melatonin that cause girls to reach puberty much earlier and increase in average weight than in the past.

Other effects of watching television that Sigman found include possible cause of autism, possible cause of permanent eyesight damage, possible factor in obesity, and risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Infants and toddlers suffer from irregular sleep patterns and therefore higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Sigman is urging the British government to make this issue a top health priority and banning young children from watching television but introducing it progressively and under control. He blamed the current trends - average 6-year-old British child has watched 1 year of television and more than half of 3-year-old children have a television set in their bedrooms - on the lack of parental responsibility.

Sigman is the author of the book "Remotely Controlled: How Television Is Damaging Our Lives".

Links: - Television poses risk to childrens' health: study

Wikipedia - Melatonin

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Gabriel In My Nokia N70

Some photos taken between July to September 2006 of my little clever boy.

13 July 2006: Favourite vehicle - car.

14 July 2006: Distracted by flashy graphics and sound on the TV.

19 August 2006: Itchy/curious fingers at the hardware shop.

27 August 2006: Got to sit here everytime we start off.

23 September 2006: Testing the stability of the sign.

Gabriel frequently amazes us with his keen senses, memory and developmental skills.

He is able to join in singing songs by saying the last word of a stanza. This week when we were singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", he sang "what you are"! Other times he would be humming to the tune or trying to mimick the words, but this was the clearest he has ever sang.

When mummy took Gabriel out for a walk around our home, he saw a signboard put up on a lamp post. It was an advertisement for the satellite pay channels. Mummy initially couldn't believe it when he shouted "Astro"! We know that no one has told him about it even though he watches a little bit per week. Possibly he has been listening to the word spoken in commercial breaks.

So you see, don't under-estimate the perceptive power and learning potential of babies and toddlers. We are thoroughly convinced that my son, like his peers, are at the age when their brains are absorbing and processing data at an unprecedented rate. The Shichida Method and Glenn Doman's institute support this important characteristic of our little ones.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Most Child Car Seats Fail New Crash Tests

New tests done by, the website of the Consumers Union of United States, show that nine out of twelve car seats for babies, toddlers, and young children performed very poorly. The crash tests were done at 35 mph frontal and 38 mph side crashes, in addition to the mandatory federal government 30 mph or 48.3 km/h frontal crash for cars. Only two were recommended in the end.

These two that passed all new tests are:
The others tested resulted in the products being twisted violently or lifted completely off their bases. The tests also showed that car seats sold in Europe performed better than those sold in the U.S. Car seats with the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system, a mandatory feature, performed worse than those using just vehicle safety belts.

The seats were fitted with a 30 pound test dummy, which was covered with impact sensors to gauge the amount of injury caused to the children passengers. In the frontal crash test, seven seats separated from their bases or caused serious injuries. In the standard 30 mph test, all passed except Evenflo Discovery, which urged a market recall of the model. This model was also involved in a NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) investigation 3 years ago but did not pursue the matter further.

Eight models failed the 38 mph side impact test.

These car seats failed all the new tests conducted by in late 2006:
The Consumers Union found that car seats, with or without LATCH, fail in crash protection if they are not properly fitted into the car and secured snugly. LATCH seems to work better if their bases were attached to floorboard anchor points. The common and worrying trend of parents is that they are not well informed on how to install the seat using LATCH, or choose to use the safety belt instead.

At the end of the report, it recommends the following to keep your children safe when in the car:
  • Choose your car seat carefully, preferably according to the models it recommends and avoid those it reported to have failed its tests.
  • Use the car safety belt to secure the child car seat, even if the LATCH system is used.
  • Register your car seat so that the manufacturer can contact you if your model has problems or is being recalled.
Here are some more tips that I've learnt from browsing through the web, especially from NHTSA's website:
  • The statistically safest location of the child car seat is at the rear center seat.
  • Ensure that the safety belts and harness of the car seat are not frayed and twisted and should be snug when your child is seated.
  • Place the car seat in the rear-facing position if your child is less than 12 months old. If your child is more than 12 months old AND weighs more than 20 pounds or 9.1 kilograms.
  • Child car seats must not be placed in a seat where there is an impact airbag from the front or side.
  • Children who exceed the car seat manufacturers' weight limit or whose top of the head is higher than the top of the seat should use a booster seat instead. This is typically between the ages of four and six.
  • When a child reaches six years of age, a backless booster seat should be used.
Safety1st Comfort Rider car seat
Gabriel is using the Safety1st Comfort Ride convertible car seat, released as one of the first LATCH-equipped models. Bought in early 2005, it is quite stable and easy to maintain. He sits well and can fall asleep in it. Hopefully, it can protect him in any situation, in addition to God's blessing on him.

Update: 19 January 2007

CR has withdrawn their recent safety report pending further side-impact collision tests of the involved seats. This comes after CR received concerns raised by the NHTSA on the methods the tests were conducted in. The speed of the side-impact collisions may be inaccurate. - Consumer Reports withdraws infant car seat report

Related links:

MSNBC - In crashes, infant car seats 'failed disastrously'
<URL:> - Safety alert: What if this were your child?
<URL:> - A seat sold abroad outperforms U.S. models

NHTSA - Child Passenger Safety Program

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

New Photos Uploaded

Uploaded Gabriel's photos taken using the Pentax S40 during events that occurred in the past few weeks. See them here:


Some of the events are:
  • DUMC church
  • Uncle's birthday party
  • 1Utama shopping
  • McDonald's breakfast
  • Sunway Lagoon family day
  • Aquaria KLCC underwater aquarium
We happened to pass by a baby photo stall at IOI Mall over the new year and took shots of him in a sailor suit, tux suit, and a Tigger suit. So cute! I'll post them here when they are ready, watch for them.

Happy Boy
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