Saying Goodbye to that Last Overnight Diaper (Part 1) – Background

starry01Just as sleeping patterns seem to vary (see post Sleeping Patterns Do Differ), there appears to be different East versus West conceptions of the appropriate time to wean a child from the diaper. From what I’ve heard from relatives and friends living in Asia, there is a general more relaxed attitude towards toddlers who wear diapers (unless of course, you live in a country where it’s not a customary practice for infants/children to wear diapers in the first place). Usually children are allowed to continue to wear an overnight diaper until they are at least 5 or 6 years of age. The reasoning is that by this age the child would have gradually established better bladder retention and thus wake up with a dry diaper most nights of the week. In other words, children stay in diapers at night until they gradually wean themselves out of needing it. On the other hand, it appears that in most western cultures, there is the perception that the sooner a child is out of diapers the better, so more pressure exists to get a child completely out of diapers.

Our toddler was potty trained in the daytime at approximately 2 ½ years old, but didn’t really get the hang of ‘wearing a panty and not wetting the bed’ during the afternoon naps until she was about 3 years old. Then at 3 years and 3 months of age, I finally started on the last process of diaper weaning – getting her to stop using an overnight diaper. I admit – there is some maternal grandmother pressure on this front – but I also feel cognitively and developmentally she is probably ready for the challenge now. After all, she has been picking up other skills quickly like how to brush her own teeth, wipe her face, fold clothes, button her jacket, etc.

I admit, I’ve been putting off the process a little bit due to existing fears. The biggest one is: “What if I wake her up and she refuses or has trouble going back to sleep?” After having a toddler who sleeps soundly 10-11 hours at night without much fuss, giving you the parent much need time to relax and rest, it is intimidating to think that you can be now ‘disturbing the peace’. After all, why disrupt what is working well? Another thought is: “Now I will need to get up a few times at night to help train the child, so I will be losing my own long stretches of sleep, and may have trouble getting back to sleep!” A third thought is: “Great, now I will have to do more laundry and deal with wet bed sheets, clothes and unhappy toddlers…” I know, I know, these are all pessimistic and selfish thoughts. But I know that letting something continue just for one’s own comfort and convenience may not be in the best interest of the child from a developmental and psychological perspective. I’ve heard of cases where the child continues to sleep in the same bed as the parents though the child is over 8 years of age, simply because that has become what the child is used to, and is now difficult to change. I know I need to overcome my own convenience and fears for the sake of the child.

So what did I do? Instead of going immediately cold turkey with the diaper, I decided on a gradual ‘night time diaper weaning’ approach. Sure this method may take longer, but I think I can live with that. See the upcoming Part 2 post to find out the actual process I undertook!

Qn of the Month: What’s in Chia?

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Chia seeds are tiny small black and white seeds, but nutrient rich. A member of the mint family, these were once cultivated by The Aztecs. It is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala and is still widely used there.

First, what’s the nutritional profile of a serving of chia seeds (equivalent to about 2 tablespoons, 28 grams or 1 ounce)? One such serving provides approximately 138 calories, 9 grams of fat (mainly polyunsaturated fatty acids), 179 mg calcium, 10 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein, 2 grams of iron and also contains alpha-linolenic acid omega-3s!

Chia seeds are impressively versatile. They can be eaten whole or ground up and added to many foods either sweet or savory. Sprinkle the whole chia seeds onto your breakfast cereal, into salad, pudding or yogurt. Add about 3 tablespoons of whole chia into ½ cup -1 cup of hot liquid like milk, almond or soy milk, and it will expand and become gelatinous, so this may make a good hot breakfast option. You can even add chia seeds to fruit drinks or into soups like chicken soup to add texture and nutrition. Besides all this, chia seeds can be used effectively in baking. You can add chia seeds into the batter to make homemade goods or substitute for pectin in jams, or turn chia into a gel (mix one part chia seeds to six parts water) and take one tablespoon of this gel to substitute for a large egg in egg free recipes. Combine ground chia with flour to improve the nutrient profile of baked goods in muffins, cookies and cakes, or even use chia to lighten the texture of gluten-free items like waffles and pancakes. This chia gel can further be used to bind veggie patties or thicken soups.

As chia seeds have only a very slight nutty flavor, some may find it a bit ‘tasteless’. However, the seeds make up for flavor by adding crunch and texture. The only downside is that when sold on their own, chia seeds can be quite expensive. A 150g packet (containing about 10 tablespoons) costs about US $4.99 at Trader Joe’s. Nowadays, manufacturers are also adding chia seeds to snack foods like granola bars and many other products are likely to be coming out soon. So look out for these products or try adding some chia seeds into your kitchen recipes!

(Sources:
1. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. What are Chia Seeds? http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrient-rich-foods/what-are-chia-seeds. Accessed November 30, 2015.
2. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov.)

5 Things I Learned From My Toddler Having Diarrhea

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My 2 year old toddler recently had quite a severe bout of diarrhea. Thankfully she was still generally cheerful and throwing her usual tantrums, without any signs of fever or other symptoms (like teething fussiness), so I knew it was a transient gastrointestinal bug. She didn’t even complain of her stomach hurting during this time and still ate with gusto. However, it became pretty severe, going up to 7 loose stooling episodes in a day! At this point, I had to consider the foods I was feeding and make a few adjustments, although I knew the most important thing was just to wait it out for the bug to pass through her system. Here are 5 things I learned from this whole affair:

1) Stop giving most dairy products like milk and yogurt, and even adding milk into foods
2) Temporarily avoid foods with more roughage like beans and seeds, as well as vegetables and fruits like leafy greens, broccoli, tomatoes and pears. Foods with more fiber, especially insoluble fiber, tend to cause a faster transit of stools through the gut
3) Cook things down to a softer consistency (e.g., well cooked oatmeal if cooking with old fashioned oats)
4) Keep nutrition in by adding in soft cooked beef and chicken, meat gravies, steamed fish and chicken, and hard boiled or steamed egg to foods
5) Don’t cook with too much oil or serve foods that are too oily

It was a bit of a diet change as I was so used to giving her high fiber foods all the time throughout the day, with fruits and vegetables with most of her meals. However I did notice an improvement in her stooling after making the few simple changes above. She had to get used to it as well, but adapted well in the end. Thankfully after 7 days, her stooling returned back to normal and we are back to her usual diet and variety of foods. One more note: as in any case of diarrhea, make sure you offer your toddler plenty of water throughout the day, so that your toddler will stay well hydrated during this period!