Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My Rojak kid

Rojak is a kind of South East Asian salad - a mix of fresh vegetables, pineapple, fried dough bits, dried cuttlefish, and bean sprouts covered in a thick yummy sauce (with chopped peanuts). Absolutely delicious and a real mix of whatever you have at hand that's fresh for a hot day. There isn't a right or wrong way to make it. Everyone has their own idea of what makes a good one.

I also affectionately refer to Sophie as our Rojak kid.

A play on the fact that she's a delightful combination of Franco-Singaporean blood, born in Italy, and raised largely in Beijing. Fabien and I are reviewing our parenting styles and practices. We like doing that when we go on weekends away, so that we take stock on our lives, change what we don't like, resolve to do better, and encourage each other on what we think we're doing right. We spent the long weekend with my parents and Sophie here, and it totally rocked.

Anyways, trying to define our own parenting style was the result of a huge research topic. I had taken 12 months off work after giving birth to Sophie, and I had read everything I could lay my hands on for parenting a child for the first 3 years. I (ahem) "extended" my library privileges (I was working at the UN staff college)and subscribed to BMJ and AAP, and printed reams of symposium papers.

Anyway, I've blended my own Rojak formula for Sophie, and for the record here it is:

Proximal care (i.e. soft and woolly) elements:
- Extended Breastfeeding (till Sophie more or less self-weaned *with some encouragement* at 18 months)
- Babywearing ( I think we hardly used her stroller, but the baby bjorn and ergo carrier for the longest time)
- Elimination Communication as a good spin-off from baby-wearing
- Montessori environment (we bought the idiot proof Montessori-at-home set) for sensory exploration for her
- gentle vaccine schedule (we follow the Beijing/ French vaccination schedule, but adapted it to be more spaced out)
- organic menu, natural fibers, natural environmentally sustainable furniture

The hard bits
Sleep Training - we did this from 6 months gradually - a combination of self-soothing and parent soothing. We've got strict sleeping schedules too, and Sophie puts herself to bed (i.e. we read a story, and say good night, and leave her room when she is still awake, but in bed).
Baby sign language - she learned to sign "please/thank you" very early and learned that was the only way to get anything was to ask nicely for it. It made early communication important, and I really do think that she talks well because of this.
Self-Feeding - she could drink from a glass cup from 10 months, so currently at mealtimes, she climbs up on her Trip Trapp, sits down, and feeds herself, and then helps to clear away her own plate. Throwing food, getting down from the chair, and just generally pissing off Mommy at the dining table, was the one sure route to getting no more food. Since our kid LOVES eating, this was one way to phase out some annoying toddler habits pretty quick.

I think in terms of my personal reference books, I have handy - Tracy Hogg, Marc Weissbluth, Harvey Karp and Tim Selden. I also read (but didn't think it worked for us) William Sears, Shichida Method, Glenn Doman, Richard Ferber.

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