Easter Inspired Food

It’s Easter and it is also the start of school holidays for me, which means time to rack my brains to come up with activities to keep the little ones from tearing the house down and driving me bananas with constant badgering about how bored they are! Hence this quick post is dedicated to having some fun with the little ones cooking! Cooking with kids can entertain them for hours and enjoying what you make with them is a bonus! Here are some Easter inspired ideas:

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Bath Time

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Bathing a newborn for the first time can be quite daunting and so I have dedicated this post to providing some tips to make bath time for baby less scary. Once you get the hang of bathing a newborn it can be a really enjoyable and relaxing time for both mother and baby. Bathing your newborn helps you bond and form a loving relationship with your baby so I do encourage fathers to have a few turns bathing bubs as well.

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The first rule of thumb for bathing a newborn is to choose a standard no frill, no attachment, simple and very basic stock standard bath tub. Target and Kmart standard baby tubs are perfect and should cost about $30. Don’t bother going for an expensive tub with all these toys and other attachments on, it hinders and makes the task of bathing more difficult! Because your newborn is very fragile and you need to have a good grip on them you do not want anything hanging off the bath tub getting in the way it can get very annoying. The only accessory that I do recommend is a bath stand for those that are like me and have a bad back, having a stand allows you to bathe baby standing up.

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Next and very importantly make sure the water temp is warm but not too hot. The ideal temperature for bathing babies is 37 degrees Celsius. If you are a first time mother I strongly recommend a bath thermometer to make sure the water is not too hot. The trick is to fill the tub with cold water first then add the hot water to warm it up. Remember never leave the water running when bathing a baby as the water can get too hot really quickly.

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Choosing what soaps or bath lotion to use can be rather stressful and confusing as there are quite a lot of different good quality bath soaps, lotions and oils available. My general guide in this area is to choose a soap free one. The more natural the better for our babies as generally most babies don’t really get that dirty that you would need harsh soaps to clean them. Babies skins are still quite soft and sensitive and so exposing them to soaps can cause rashes and dries their skins. I have included above my recommendations as I have used all three brands with my children without any problems. However, any other soap free brands are just as good. Addressing cradle caps, for both my children the Dermaveen oatmeal shampoo worked in lifting and removing their cradle caps (which is the hard, flaky, scab like formation on a babies head) usually appears a few days after birth. I have heard rubbing olive oil also works on stubborn cradle cap.

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Finally, babies usually should only need one bath a day (they don’t usually get dirty except for the occasional bowel accidents)! I find bathing baby twice a day tends to dry their skin out. However, most babies seem to settle and sleep easier after a bath, my second child was like this. After bath time he settle into a good sleep quite easily so I chose to give him his daily bath just before bedtime. As baby gets older bath toys and bubbles can be introduce to make bath time fun as some may find that their child might not like or enjoy having a bath and can make bath time quite dramatic! I find if this is the case try giving them bubble baths instead, kids love anything to do with bubbles! Toys can help distract them from being afraid of being in the water and gives them something to fidget with while you clean them!

Valentine’s Day

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With Valentines Day just around the corner I thought this is a great chance to dedicate this little posts to all the guys out there struggling to find the right gift for their loved one or like some may refer to as their better half! So if you are finding it difficult to find a gift for someone who may already have everything or you simply have no clue what to buy here is my top 5 gift ideas for Valentines Day 2015! Enjoy and goodluck.

1. PERFUME

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Universalis Forte
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Universalis Forte

I know perfume is always a popular choice as a gift but instead of buying your loved one the normal celebrity fragrances how about trying some different perfumes that aren’t as well known and a little bit different from the rest. So first on my list is the wonderful scent from Mecca which has a notes of citrus and a refreshing scent making it great for summer! The above perfume is the more expensive of the range but they do stock some cheaper unique perfumes which you can check out at their site www.mecca.com.au

2. LEATHER GOODS

Furla Royal Envelope Set
Furla Royal Envelope Set

As everyone may know a lady can never have enough purses and handbags! One of my weaknesses is the endless new range available and hence second on my list of gift ideas is the Furla Envelope Set of purses. At around $200 you get three purses in three different sizes and colours that fit into one. So practical and the 3 colours will compliment a range of different outfits!

3. JEWELLERY

The Duchess Clover Earrings
The Duchess Clover Earrings

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend and how true that is! So at number three is jewellery any jewellery is good for Valentines Day and if you can’t afford diamonds this is my next best suggestion! Anything from CZ by Kenneth Jay Lane is perfect for adding that touch of sparkle and elegance. The above earrings were worn my Duchess Kate during her New York visit! At just $175 the price is truly affordable to dress like a Princess!

4. CLOTHING

Equipment Signature Shirt

Probably the hardest item to choose on my list but if you are wanting to get your loved one a nice item of clothing for Valentine’s Day then my suggestion is an Equipment shirt! The cut and fit on these shirts are amazing and is one of the reason many stars such as Miranda Kerr are a fan of the brand. Equipment shirts are timeless and will last the endless fashion trends making them an investment piece in anyone’s wardrobe!

5. LINGERIE

Calvin Klein Lingerie Collection
Calvin Klein Lingerie Collection

Rounding out my top 5 gift ideas is the ever reliable lingerie to spark a little romance this Valentines Day. If you thinking Lingerie then you can’t really go past Calvin Klein. I have been a fan of their lingerie ever since I can remember Marky Mark on those billboards in his white Calvin Klein undies! Loved their commercials and advertisements ever since and the quality of their garments have never failed to disappoint over the years!

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY xoxox

And So 2015 Begins

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Wow, I can’t believe we are well on our way in 2015. I hope everyone had a wonderful festive season and welcomed the new year in style!! I know I enjoyed the Christmas and New Year period way too much and now unfortunately have to embark on my traditional New Years resolution of losing weight!! This usually last a few weeks of January and then I slack off and go back to my lazy old ways!! But as always this year I tell my self it will be different I will go the distance and make 2015 the year I stay fit all the way until December!! I shall let you know how I go with that!! Wish me luck!

The start of my New Year’s fitness regime begins with some procrastination as to which exercise program to embark on that I will last the distance without losing interest too quickly due to exhaustion and fatigue! I’ve never been the sort of girl that actively participates in rigorous exercise programs such as body combat or strenuous aerobics. I much rather prefer the softer approach to exercise and hence Yoga and Pilates are much more my preferred options.

Yoga Poses
Yoga Poses

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Yoga and Pilates are my favoured options as they both work to strengthen your body core and sculpt your body by toning your muscles. You find over time that your body becomes more elongated and refined which can give an illusion of added height something I desperately crave. Yoga is also especially good for busy mums as it helps to relieve stress and reinvigorate our minds. While Pilates is a relatively newer form of exercise made more well known thanks to the likes of the Middletons sisters who are active participants of Pilates. Pippa has recently written an article on Pilates for Waitrose Weekend Magazine. Both of these forms of exercise are great as you can still continue with them even if your pregnant as well as post pregnancy albeit on a modified version of either.

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Finally, the added incentive of some wonderful gym wear currently available makes exercising much more enticing!! Wish me luck on my New Years resolution towards health and fitness and I hope that you all are well on your way to attaining your own New Years Resolutions!!

Christmas Fashion Tips

Christmas is almost here and truly I don’t know how it is when I still remember ringing the new year for 2014 and now here we are almost seeing out 2014! Time does fly and we all find ourselves in the midst of the festive season. I must admit though I love this time of year whether it’s the joy of seeing the kids count down the days til Santa makes that all important visit or the fact that there are endless parties and festivities to celebrate this time of year. Which is where the inspiration for this short little post comes from, the chance to dress up and celebrate with friends, families and colleagues can be both fun and hectic at the same time with everything else we all have on during the Christmas period. So I thought I would share with you some of my favourite outfits for the festive season whether you are sweating it out in 40 degrees weather in Australia or shivering your way through the festivities in the snowy background of Europe I hope this post will help those who don’t have time to flick through the endless magazines to find this seasons hottest trend. Imagine this post as a quick cheat guide to dressing fashionably yet comfortably through the Christmas and New Years celebrations.

Jumpsuits from left to right Witchery, Little Joe Woman, Zimmerman, Witchery
Jumpsuits from left to right Witchery, Little Joe Woman, Zimmerman, Witchery

If you are like me and enjoying Christmas in sunny warm weather than Jumpsuits are one of my favourite items this season and also one of 2014 hottest fashion piece. Jumpsuits are great for Christmas bbqs and lunch parties as they are not only comfortable but stylish as well. Plenty of room in these outfits too pig out on the yummy Christmas food without any worries! Jumpsuits are super versatile, you can dress them down with just flats or sandles and a cute fedora hat or up with heels and a fitted jacket, add a clutch and you have instant glam.

Maxi Dress by Zimmerman
Maxi Dress by Zimmerman

Maxi dresses are also a great piece for Summer Christmas festivities and taking inspiration from one of my favourite fashion bloggers Margaret Zhang who can make anything look amazing by simply pairing the right accessories to an outfit. I love what she has done with this fabulous Zimmerman maxi dress that is already great on its own but her special take on wearing this dress is simply superb. Check her blog out on www.shinebythree.com for other unique fashion takes on basic pieces. Just love her style! My love of maxi dresses stems from the fact that they are great at hiding my many body flaws which gives me confidence to take on the world without having to give up my love of food. The fact that they cover flaws and still makes you look stylish is simply win win!! Here are some of my favourite maxis:

Urban Outfitters Maxi Dresses
Urban Outfitters Maxi Dresses
Alice & Olivia Maxi
Alice & Olivia Maxi
DVF Silk Maxi Dress
DVF Silk Maxi Dress
French Connection Monochrome Maxi
French Connection Monochrome Maxi
Burberry Coats as seen on Jean from Extrapetite
Burberry Coats as seen on Jean from Extrapetite

For those lucky enough to enjoy a white Christmas a great coat is pretty much your main essential item that will keep you warm and looking stylish through the festive season. Choose a coat that will last many season so stick to a simple classic well tailored coat such as Burberry and you will enjoy many Christmas celebrations with it! Any outfit can be made to look expensive by accessorising a great coat over it. Black and cream are a go to colour for me as it goes with pretty much anything you wear underneath. But this season I am seeing some great colours for coats which I do love as it sets the mood for a fun and joyous season of celebration and joy for Christmas! Here are some of my favourite coats for 2014:

Matthew Williamson Coat
Matthew Williamson Coat
Mulberry Coat
Mulberry Coat
Alexander McQueen Black Flared Wool Coat
Alexander McQueen Black Flared Wool Coat
For a more casual look opt for an Urban Outfitters Faux Fur Coat
For a more casual look opt for an Urban Outfitters Faux Fur Coat

Finally to end I find that in 2014 it is all about prints and crop tops. So for this festive season how about having some fun with the great selections of prints and crops available, here are just a few!

Little Joe Woman Jumpsuit
Little Joe Woman Jumpsuit
DVF Wrap Dress
DVF Wrap Dress
Issa Knit Jumper and Pants
Issa Knit Jumper and Pants
Adidas Originals by Mary Katrantzou
Adidas Originals by Mary Katrantzou
Alice & Olivia Embellished Crop Top and Fitted Skirt
Alice & Olivia Embellished Crop Top and Fitted Skirt
BCBGMAXAZRIA Crop Sweater and Skirt
BCBGMAXAZRIA Crop Sweater and Skirt

Enjoy your celebrations until next time CHEERS xoxo

Sleep Patterns

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The best advice I can give in regards to sleep in the first month is “Try to sleep when your baby sleeps”. In the first month sleep is probably the one thing that you will crave most but sadly will not get much of especially long uninterrupted sleeps. The silver lining is that it does get better so just hang in there!

During the first few weeks you will notice that your baby tends to sleep most of the day and play during the night! Don’t be alarmed this is normal as they are not able to distinguish between day or night and are simply doing what they have been doing in our womb. That’s why if you are like me find your baby seems to be active and kicking in my stomach more during the night than in the day. For this reason the first month can be extremely difficult and if there is any offers for help during this month take it up. I was lucky and had mum help out for the whole first month! Not sure how I would have survived with her!

To help baby adjust to a day and night routine there are a few things we can do to speed up that adjustment so that eventually baby distinguishes that day is for play and night is for sleep! Which will help us get our sleep back on track as smoothly as possible.

Firstly, it is very important that we try to help our newborn distinguish between day and night as quickly as possible otherwise you will be pulling your hair out during the first month due to the lack of sleep but also the stress that comes with having little or no sleep. During the day have all curtains and blinds open even if baby is asleep it helps them to recognise day has light plus if you have a jaundice baby like I did, the UV light is good for the baby. Jaundice is quite common amongst Asian babies if left untreated can cause liver and kidney damage, but rest assured it is easily treated and most doctors usually pick it up during your hospital stay. Also, during the day give baby plenty of playtime such as tummy time, music time, and some TV for noise is good. Some activity lets baby know it is day even while it is asleep try to continue with what you are doing for some noise it helps baby to recognise its morning.

During the night try to keep the room dark and quiet, but if you are like me and feel uncomfortable having your newborn in complete darkness a soft night light or lamp is good. I also preferred to play some soft music when I put baby down to sleep at night but reading to it prior to bedtime is good too. Whatever you do try to stick to that routine it helps baby to recognise that this is night time now. If you find baby has trouble settling down try giving them a warm bath prior to bed time this helps to relax them and I find they settle quicker and sleep longer after a nice bath. My son still sleeps straight after his bath irrespective of what time he has his bath because he is so use to that routine from birth. If baby cries or stirs during the night try patting baby on the bottom gently while singing softly to them this helps to soothe them back to sleep. Avoid picking them up straight away if they cry at night unless they are screaming in pain. You will slowly recognise and distinguish between a cry for attention or a pain cry, call it a mothers instinct. So if you stick to a usual morning and night routine this will go a long way to helping baby sleep well not only during the day but also most importantly during the night.

The only other important thing to help baby sleep better is providing a safe and secure environment for your baby. Having a proper cot to put baby in will make it a lot easier to settle baby and keep them asleep longer. Check out my post on choosing a cot if you need help or are confused as I know there are so many different ones available. Avoid putting excessive heavy blankets on your baby as overheating them can cause stress and disturb their sleep. Instead of thick blankets if baby is born in winter put baby in a baby sleeping bag my recommendation is the Grobag which is what I used for my son and absolutely love it as it was very easy to put him in. You can check their website here at www.gro.co.uk However, my friend has also recommended the Ergo Pouch which she used and said that her daughter never got too hot in it. Their website is www.ergopouch.com.au. For the first couple of weeks swaddle baby before putting them to sleep. Swaddling helps soothe and comfort them while they are asleep. Swaddling baby while sleeping instead of putting blankets on baby helps to reduce SIDS as advised by my maternity nurses. I love the Aden and Anais range of swaddles, yes the same ones used by the Duchess of Cambridge for her little boy. The Aden and Anais swaddles I find are more light and breathable compared to the flannette ones the hospitals supply. They also show you how to properly swaddle your baby on the website www.adenandanais.com.au. I love their range of baby products and take forever browsing their website. Try to keep baby’s cot as clear and minimal as possible. No pillows, teddy bears, dolls or cot bumpers should be put on baby’s cot in the first month to help reduce the incident of SIDS. Lastly, I know in many Asian cultures we were told to put baby on its tummy or side to sleep as putting it on its back will give baby a flat head (does this sound familiar?) But currently based on recent medical research putting baby to sleep on it’s back is the best way to reduce SIDS. So this is my recommendation and both my boys slept on their backs and I can guarantee both have round heads not flat ones!

Women Against Violence

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imageWhite Ribbon November 25

I thought I would write a quick post to get behind Women Against Violence. I recently read Wendys Lookbook blog ( for those who love fashion check out her blog she has great taste). However, aside from her array of fashion styles that I just absolutely love she recently shared a terrifying experience which happen to her. If you have a chance please read her blog as this could pretty much happen to any women at any time which is quite frightening as one decision can affect your whole safety and possibly your life. It really hit home as everyone in Australia will know what happen to Jill
Meagher that fateful night where a monster took the life of a beautiful young woman on her way home from a party. A circumstance not that much different from Wendy’s experience. However, unlike Wendy Jill was not lucky enough to escape and ended up losing her life. So I wanted to write this post to warn all my ladies out there, regardless of which situation you find yourself in consider your safety as paramount and if that means having to leave a party late at night tagging along with a couple than do it! Don’t leave yourself open to monsters that are sadly out there and waiting for us to let our guards down just even that one time. Also, as part of the Violence Against Women Campaign I hope women who had ever been subjected to any form of physically violence to speak up and get help, you shouldn’t have to accept any forms of violence and there are people out there that can help you deal with these situations they just need you to let them know!

Finally I urge people to get behind the White Ribbon campaign on November 25th in support of Violence Against Women!

The Confinement Period

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Photos Courtesy of Thuy Tran
Photos Courtesy of Thuy Tran

Welcome to the first part of my series of post dedicated to the First Month! In the first post I thought I will look at the Confinement Period and it’s significance in Asian culture. I also thought it was appropriate to start this post sharing some wonderful images taken by a family friend who is also a wonderful mother and just and all round talented and creative woman. Just love her culinary and photography skills.

The Confinement Period is usually the first month of a baby’s life and also the first month being a mother. As all Asian mothers know the first month is called the “Confinement” period because you are basically confined in your home for a whole month. During this period you are allowed as far out as your backyard but no further so if you are like me it was basically a little like a prison sentence but I know some of the reasoning behind it, whether you agree with it all not if you are Asian you basically have no choice!

The Confinement period is usually govern by strict rules and regulations. Some of these rules are based on age old wives tales but others have some merit. So in this post I will attempt to identify some rules that I believe are old wives tales while identifying the rules and procedures I stuck to for the whole month.

The main wives tale that our Mother and Grandmother would like us to follow was that we should not wash our hair for the first month after giving birth. The main reason for this is they believed if we wash our hair during this first month we are more likely to get headaches and migraines later in life. However, if you are like me and can not stand to go a day without washing my hair how was I going to survive a month without doing that? Hence, this was one of the rules I chose not to abide by and it was mainly because I believed that migraines can be caused by a number of different reason and is not directly attributed to one washing their hair after giving birth. Therefore, I have classified this rule as a wives tale.

Another procedure was that you had to heat a brick, wrap it up with a towel and put that on your tummy for an hour. I was mortified when I heard you had to do this and yes you might have guessed from
my reaction that this was a procedure I did not follow. However, I did compromise with my mother and my husband by putting a hot water bottle on my tummy for an hour. They were happy for me to replace the brick with a hot water bottle. The main reason for doing this was to flatten your tummy and get it back into shape! Wasn’t really convinced about that but I did find it relaxing and warm having the water bottle on my tummy especially since I had my son during winter and found it good to fall asleep with. So it is totally up to each individual whether you want to classify this as a wives tale or not.

The next rule is strictly no physical activities, my parents literally wanted me to stay in bed pretty much for the whole month. It is pretty much common belief that your uterus hasn’t returned to it’s normal position so any heavy lifting or heavy exercise can cause problems later on as your body is trying to adjust post baby. Part of this made sense so I couldn’t classify this as totally old wives tale, but staying in bed for a whole month doesn’t make sense either. I did some research and light exercise like Pilates or Yoga is actually very good for you post baby. These form of exercise can help you relax and sleep better. Try to avoid strenuous exercising such as aerobics and body combat for at least 12 months. This gives your body plenty of time to heal and get back to normal. I know that some celebs pretty much bounce back to normal after giving birth but if you look after your body you will reap the benefits in the long term.

Another procedure was a daily ritual of a steam bath. I really thought this was a wives tale but my parents were unwilling to budge on this. So hence, I had to undertake this steam bath in a daily basis for 2 weeks. The steam bath involves boiling a pot full of herbs such as eucalyptus and lemon grass and also a splash of Chinese wine. Once the pot has boiled you are meant to strip down to your undies and cover yourself and the pot with a blanket, bear in mind leave a distant between yourself and the hot pot. The idea is to inhale the herbal steam as it will help to cleanse and heal your body. At first I was abit skeptic of this procedure but even my dad was adamant that I do it. I had no choice but even after the first time I felt really good. My skin felt cleaned and fresh and I was surprisingly very relax after each session. After an hour of the steam bath you wipe yourself dry and then have a quick bath and you feel pretty awesome afterwards! I will try to find out what goes in the pot if people want it but most Asian parents will know what to put in there. It is pretty much standard with only one or two variations on the ingredients.

Next is your diet during the Confinement period which is probably the most important part of this period. During the Confinement period you are pretty much limited to what you can eat. If you are lucky enough like I was all my food during this month was prepared by my mother. This is due to the fact that you have to avoid any fatty and high processed foods during this month. Most of the food must be steamed, grilled or baked rather than fried and your diet must be mainly made up of fruits and vegetables. Fish is usually preferred over meat but you still need to have at least two days of some meats to get your iron intake. All this is important as it is believed what you eat is what baby will eat through you breast milk so the diet becomes very important especially in the first month as baby’s tummy is still in it’s early stages so a good diet it thought to help baby avoid any tummy aches. This I believed to be true so I stuck to the strict diet regime for the full month. After the Confinement period your rules for your diet is relaxed but I chose to try to stick to a relatively healthy diet for the duration of by breast feeding period. There were lapses of the odd fast food but hey you can’t be good all the time right?

Finally, the only other wives tale that I would like to touch on is the going without a bath for at least 2 days after giving birth. It is believed that having a bath straight after giving birth will make you catch a cold and weaken your immune system in your later years. However, modern medicine have dismiss this wives tale. You are encourage to have a warm bath after birth to firstly clean yourself from all the blood and guts from child birth and secondly to relax after the intense pain from child birth. I understand during our parents and grandparents generation warm water wasn’t readily available and having a cold bath straight after delivery may cause a cold if the mother’s immune system is already weak, but that was the past and a nice warm shower is readily accessible now so I chose not to follow this procedure.

Well that concludes the first part of my series of post. I hope you find some parts of this post useful. Bearing in mind I only touched on some of the rules and procedures common during the Confinement period there are some others that people may follow that I didn’t. If there is some other helpful procedures I haven’t touched on, it would be great if you can share it on this post.

Fun Food Ideas For Kids

As a parent we all can agree getting kids to eat their 5 fruits and vegetables on a daily basis can be quite a frustrating task. So I thought I will share some interesting ways to make the dreaded fruits and veges a lot more interesting and enticing for our little ones to enjoy! Hopefully this quick little post will make cooking with the kids more fun!

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THE FIRST MONTH

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Photos courtesy of Edward Teh Photography & Lumens Photography
Photos courtesy of Edward Teh Photography & Lumens Photography

Personally the first month of a baby’s life is probably the most important but also the most difficult time for a new mother and father. So I thought for this post I will share some of my personal experience to hopefully make that first month less daunting for any new parent. I think that it is safe to say that the first month for any baby is going to be difficult as this is when they have to physically adjust to life in the outside world for the first time away from the safe compound of a mother’s womb and some adjust with relative ease while others take a significant amount if time to fully comprehend what life is like on the outside!! So the most important rule for all new parents is that your baby is different so irrespective of how other babies behave during this month it varies from child to child!! No child is the same and no behaviour is right or wrong. The only thing as a parent we can do is accommodate and adapt to our babies needs and guide it through it’s first month with love and care.

The significant of the first month in Asian culture is signified with a celebration when our precious one reaches it’s first month milestone. They believe the first month is just as important as a baby’s first year milestone. So when baby reaches the first month a party is held in celebration!! (Call it a mini birthday celebration). As a mother I now know why it is so important. The first month is when you begin to form that unique bond with your child that only exist between a mother and her baby. The first month is also the start of life as a parent to a child that now totally depends on you in every aspect of it’s life and no more than in this first month when it requires reassurance that it is safe in this big new world with you by their side.

The first month is also known in Asia as the confinement period. Most Asian mums have to undertake this period of confinement after giving birth to a child.

Personally to me the first month is the most important for both a new parent and the newborn. Therefore, I have decided to break up this post into five categories which I feel is the most significant for any new parent to have some basic knowledge about. These are – The Confinement Period, Sleep Patterns, Bath Time, Breast Feeding and Post Natal Blues. So stay tune for each Post in the not so distant future!

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