Category Archives: Mamas and Papas

Miracle for My Skin: Love Organic, Love Botáni

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In the third trimester that I was pregnant with Ethan, three eczema patches showed up on my face that left me wondering what went wrong with my skincare regime. At first, I thought it was just pregnancy hormones messing my skin up, but when the three scaly, itchy, dry patches grew larger, even long after I have given birth, I had a hunch that my body was reacting to the chemicals in the skincare products I was using and that it was time to overhaul my beauty regime. Yes, I was on a mission to clean things up, quite literally, because I am convinced my skin was suffering from the effects of harsh chemicals slathered on my face.

For many months, I used calendula on my skin. The formulation we had worked wonders to get rid of Faith’s eczema, and I applied the calendula ointment on my face to see if it might help with the patches. The wonderful bit is two of the three patches cleared right up. The bad thing is one stubborn patch remained on my left cheek. That patch annoyed me to no end, as it looked red if I didn’t put on any makeup, and if I did paint my face, the patch showed up dry and flaky and there was nothing I could do to conceal it.

After this, I tried different organic and natural skincare products from local and international brands in an attempt to improve the condition of my skin. Whilst the products have been excellent at really nourishing my sensitive skin without stinging or causing itch, none could get rid of the third eczema patch on my face. I was about to give up on the search and cave into using steroids when I stumbled upon the Botáni range of natural and organic Australian skincare carried by a local store, Love Organic.

Karen, of Love Organic, very generously sent me a couple of Botáni products to try, and one and a half months after using them, I am completely sold. Yes, COMPLETELY, you read that right.

Just a little background on Botáni products before I go into the details of how the products helped me. All ingredients used in Botáni products are Eco-Cert approved, and do not contain petrochemicals, mineral oils, PEGS, silicones, paragons, artificial fragrances or colours, animal derived ingredients, propylene glycol and sulphates. The signature ingredient of Botáni skincare products is Olive Squalene – nature’s only biocompatible ingredient which bears the closest resemblance to human squalene, our body’s in-built moisturiser. We are all born with 12% squalene and this starts to decrease from the age of 25 onwards, leading to premature ageing, dry skin and fine lines among others. In short, olive squalene should be your new best friend, even if the ravaging effects of time isn’t.

The Olive Skin Serum is my favourite of all the products that I have been given (or my favourite of all skincare products I have ever used in my life, for that matter). I would go as far as to call it a Miracle for my skin because the third eczema patch has been banished to oblivion two weeks after applying this serum on my face. My skin feels extremely nourished, and is so much suppler and smoother than before.  I noticed that my skin looks more radiant too and I feel more confident about going out without putting on makeup. This is unsurprising, given that the serum is infused with highly concentrated 100% phyto-active Olive Squalene, vitamins C and E. The serum has been clinically proven to increase moisture levels by 50% within 24 hours, to stimulate cell renewal and collagen production, and is ideal for sensitive/eczema skin. I have been told that it doubles up as a makeup primer too; in my case, it’s good for holding my makeup in place for about 4-5 hours. A little goes a very long way when it comes to this serum. I use it once in the morning and once at night, and only require two drops each time for my entire face and neck area. The best way to use it is to pat the drops onto damp skin (fresh from toning, don’t wait until the toner dries out) until it is completely absorbed. Because the serum is incredibly hydrating, I don’t always apply moisturiser after that (not even if I am about to go to bed in an air-conditioned room) and only do so if I want to give my skin a little extra pampering. The serum alone is enough to keep my skin nourished and hydrated, and I wake up with clearer, suppler and smoother skin even after a night in an air-conditioned room. This workhorse is a must-have for me. Case in point below.

This is a photo of me taken first thing in the morning under natural lighting. I just woke up half an hour before the photo was taken, was bare-faced and the photo is not filtered or altered in anyway. My skin is not perfect but it’s so, so, SO much better than before I started using Botáni skincare! I would never publish a selfie taken in broad daylight if my skin were looking battered like before. (Note: The two red blobs on the bridge of my nose are tell-tale signs of nose-pads from my glasses. Had to point that out as it’s nothing harmful caused by the products.)

The Rescue Eye Treatment, enriched with anti-inflammatory plant actives such as Arnica Root, Licorice Root, Acacia Senegal Gum and Olive leaf extract, works wonderfully to hydrate my awfully-dry undereye area. I used to sport fine lines not unlike wrinkled crepe paper and dark circles that were telling of the lack of restful sleep. Half a pump is more than enough to take care of my eyes and whilst the gel feels slightly tacky at first, once it’s absorbed into the skin, it no longer feels sticky. I would say that my dark circles have lightened by up to 40%-50%, and the lines are not so pronounced now. I highly recommend giving this a shot!

I absolutely love the Soothing Facial Mist too. It is alcohol-free and refreshingly scented with Rose Damascena, and makes me feel so good on a hot day or when I just need to perk up! I did use this as a toner before patting on the Olive Skin Serum, but it smells like such a luxury (and is much more expensive than the toner I have been using, which works well for me) that I like to keep it for critical moments throughout the day instead (like kids driving me nuts and I’m completely flat out of battery, or when I am feeling irritable and sticky, or when I am on the road and want to feel energised). I also spray this on to set my makeup, and…have I mentioned how refreshing this is?! Okay, I think you get the point.

The Olive Soothing Cleanser is a cream-based cleanser that is absolutely wonderful at cleansing my skin. It leaves my skin feeling fresh and clean, without stripping its moisture, or weighing it down like some cleansing oils do. It was also effective at removing non-waterproof makeup. Just 2-3 pumps for the entire face should suffice and it can be applied directly on dry skin before you wash it off when you are done massaging your face! Unfortunately, this is a little expensive for me as a daily cleanser but I would definitely purchase it to remove non-waterproof makeup because I know I’m in good hands when I use this. I mean, I had enough with gentle cleansers claiming to remove non-waterproof makeup AND not working.

Two other product samples that I was given were the Boost Balancing Moisturiser and the Olive Repair Cream. The former is very lightweight and easily absorbed, and works wonderfully to hydrate my skin as a day moisturiser. But what I really adore and will purchase again is the Olive Repair Cream which packs a punch when it comes to delivering moisture to my skin. I’m reaching my mid-thirties soon and I do appreciate intense hydration and healing properties of a good moisturiser, and the Olive Repair Cream, which is an ideal treatment for eczema, psoriasis,  redness and irritated skin, does just that. It is touted to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, improve the appearance of scars and even out skin tone, but the sample I received was only good for 2-3 applications, so I can’t vouch for that but I am eager to test that out when I purchase the full-sized product!

So there you have it! I know this review is a little lengthy, but if you have made it down to the last lines, I hope my thoughts and experience with the different Botáni products will help you in some way! I have experienced the benefits of green beauty (I’m only months into cleaning up my regime) and  I must say that I am loving how nourished, clean and unburdened my skin feels now. Botáni has proven to be an excellent choice for me, and the products are mostly very affordable, so I’m definitely making it a huge part of my regime now. It doesn’t hurt that Love Organic is an online store based in Singapore, and there several stockists island wide too if you want to touch and feel the products. Please let me know if you have tried the other products and seen real benefits from using them! I would love to give the rest a try too.

*I was given the Botáni products for the review. No additional monetary compensation has been received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.

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Shopping, Mummy-Style, with Agape Babies

[*SPONSORED POST] I have said it before and I will say it again, that I LOVE online shopping. I didn’t care for it before I became a mother though; I much preferred taking a walk, running my grubby hands carelessly over the terrain of merchandise on display, and feeling the thrill of actually bagging items upon checking out at the cashier.

BUT. Becoming a mother has changed my lifestyle on many fronts; I have to be careful about spending, and I have neither time nor energy to lug kids (who seem to choose to be exceptionally cranky when I need them to be un-cranky) to the stores.

I have been shopping online at Agape Babies since just before I had Faith four years ago. My very first purchase was the Medela Freestyle breast pump set, which I bought for 50% off the retail price and remains an incredible steal now. Since then, I have found many more fantastic deals for products that are crucial to our parenting needs. I have saved so much money on Laninsoh nursing pads, California Baby products, Melissa & Doug toys, books, you name it, and I hardly go to brick-and-mortar stores for things that the kids and I use. It no longer makes sense to go through the hassle of lugging the kids through the crowds when I can save tonnes of money shopping online at Agape Babies in the comforts of my own home.

This time round, I managed to stock up on the Laninsoh nursing pads (been using them for as long as I have been breastfeeding), California Baby Bug Repellant (our go-to spray when we are out and about), and carted two Handwriting Practice books from Letterland for F as she has been asking me to get them. And I did all this on the mobile phone!

For an avid user of the mobile phone like myself, the mobile-optimized website makes for a great shopping experience on the go. I don’t have to power up my laptop, and all I have to do is do quick searches and cart the items on my phone, even as the kids are pulling at me or glued to my hips. Major win.

Fans of Jujube, the poison of many mums, will be glad to know that Agape Babies has
expanded its brand & product selection to include more hot brands like said poison and 3M. Agape Babies now carry over 250 brands and 6000 products in over 10 categories at incredible prices, so it’s really a no-brainer for parents, newly-minted and seasoned alike, to shop on the site.

If you are a first-time customer, you get to enjoy $10 off your first purchase on top of getting a free gift. VIP customers get to enjoy special price reductions and also lifestyle privileges. If you’d like to save on shipping, which isn’t costly by the way, you can opt for the one-click self-collection from 3 convenient locations – Newton, Sengkang and Old Airport Road. Smaller parcels can be picked up from 72 locations across the island as well.

To sweeten the deal for you, Agape Babies is giving my readers 5% off all items except milk, diapers, wipes, Jujube, Medela breastpumps, sale and clearance categories. All you have to do is to enter the coupon code pleasuremonger5% upon checkout (valid from 22 Aug to 12 Sep 2016).

I am not sure what else I should say to convince you to give Agape Babies a shot in changing your mummy-and-me shopping needs, but seasoned mums who have tried will tell you that shopping at Agape Babies is a lifesaver, as it has been for me all these years!

*I was gifted shopping credit and paid for excess amount incurred from the items I picked. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.

How I Protect My Skin From The Sun: NAÏF Protecting Sunscreen

[*SPONSORED POST] When I was in lower primary, I was often teased for having fair skin. I was called all sorts of things, including a vampire, and man, did I detest having a fair complexion.

When I grew older, I was still at the receiving end of this mockery and I didn’t embrace what I have until I was in my mid-twenties. I remember going out to the beach on weekends during my late teens, just to get a tan, but funnily, all I did was to turn into a lobster and then revert to channeling Morticia Addams. I must add that I sunbathed without sun protection, and I regret it because I do have a few spots on my face now that I am in my thirties. Had I known that exposure to the sun will cause hyper-pigmentation later in life, I would have been more consistent about sun protection when I was younger.

It’s a little late to start anti-ageing skincare routines in my late twenties it seems, because those spots had shown up on my face by then, but I guess it’s better late than never! I apply sunscreen on my face and body everyday, even when I stay at home; reason being our apartment is flooded with natural light and I get exposed to UV rays even when I am indoors. I also make school runs and the sun hits my arms and the right side of my face whenever I drive, so I am rather strict about applying sunscreen before I leave home.

For years, I wasn’t too concerned about using chemical sunscreens and I have unconsciously leaned towards those that do not leave a white cast (which means they are likely to be made with chemical UV filters), but lately, I have been reading up on greener and safer skincare options and realised that it is just better to use physical sunscreens (stable in sunlight, good balance between UVA and UVB protection especially if it contains zinc oxide, generally do not contain harmful additives). You can have a read about the general differences between a physical and chemical sunscreen over here. The dreadful thing is physical sunscreens are thick and opaque, and are known to leave a white cast even after you have had a good workout rubbing the product into your skin. I don’t mind it at all if I were just going for a swim but I don’t really want to be walking around looking like a splotchy plaster wall when I am out and about.

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About two months ago, Tim invited me to give the NAÏF Protecting Sunscreen a try. It boasts an SPF of 50 and protects from both UVA and UVB rays with its physical filters (15% zinc oxide, 5% titanium dioxide), is preservative-free, and is touted to be incredibly moisturising. I couldn’t say no after learning about its benefits, and it helps to know that the NAÏF line of skincare products is formulated with babies in mind, are dermatologically tested, hypoallergenic, pH skin neutral and the products are made without any harmful ingredients. Yes, you heard right. The products do not contain mineral oil, parabens, phenoxyethanol, SLS/SLES and harsh chemicals. Indeed, a quick check on the EWG site reveals that the ingredients of the Protecting Sunscreen are ranked low in hazard scores.

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I have been using the NAÏF Protecting Sunscreen on my body since then and it is amazing! It is runny, wonderfully emollient and incredibly easy to apply compared to other physical sunscreens I have tried; seriously, it takes only ten seconds to rub it in and the sunscreen does not leave a white cast. It keeps my skin moisturised, and I come off smelling clean and fresh. Have I mentioned that I am super-sensitive to smells and feel dizzy upon inhaling most scents? This, I have no qualms whatsoever!

The NAÏF Protecting Sunscreen really is a godsend, and I will purchase it once I run out as it is remarkable and convenient for daily use. Baby Pure Singapore, exclusive distributor of NAÏF products, also gives back – the company sponsored $10 vouchers for approximately 6500 Hair for Hope participants and it also donates a dollar to the Children Cancer Foundation for each Protecting Sunscreen sold. I can’t think of a better way to protect myself against the sun AND to do good at the same time.

NAÏF Protecting Sunscreen retails for a very reasonable $35.90 online and you’d be happy to know that one gets free delivery within Singapore with a minimum purchase of $60!

*I was gifted the NAÏF Protecting Sunscreen for the review. No additional monetary compensation has been received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.

Ecover ZERO – Cleaning Products That Wouldn’t Kill Your Skin

[*SPONSORED POST] Three years ago, I became that parent who constantly sources for eco-friendly, safer products to use in our home, knowing that Faith is likely to lick the floor, throw her toys around and chew at them after…you get the picture. I knew I couldn’t totally protect her from the big bad world but I was (still am!) determined to minimise her exposure to harsh chemicals, especially when she suffered from eczema back then (she hasn’t had flare-ups in the past year or so). I tried using a couple of products to clean our home and have been loyal to mainly two brands since 2012, one of which is Ecover. I have used its floor cleaner religiously over the past three years and am a huge fan of it. We have gone through bottles of that stuff and I only have good things to say about it. I was naturally delighted when Ecover invited us to try out the ZERO range, which is touted to thoroughly clean with its gentle plant- and mineral-based ingredients whilst staying gentle on sensitive skin with its colouring-free and fragrance-free formulation.

I have tried the following for about two weeks now, and am VERY pleased to report that the ZERO range lives up to very high expectations.

  

The ZERO Laundry Liquid is superb at cleaning our clothes, even at 30 degrees Celsius, which is the temperature I use to save on utilities. I haven’t found any stains or aggregates that may come from certain laundry powder or liquid products, and our laundry comes out smelling clean even though the laundry liquid is fragrance-free. I really, really like the fact that it is so because I am very sensitive to smell (I abhor most fragrances from laundry products…they make me feel nauseated). I have also used the laundry liquid on the kids’ clothes, and F, who has more sensitive skin of the two, has not reacted to this new product, unsurprisingly so as it has been dermatologically tested and approved by Allergy UK. Yay! I am also glad to know that the laundry liquid does not contain any phosphates or optical brighteners; that’s super good news for my handwoven wraps and pretty baby carriers!.

We also use the ZERO Fabric Conditioner in every load and it does the job of keeping our clothes soft pretty damn well! Again, our clothes smell clean, even in the absence of fragrance. I’m pretty amazed at how the products do this. I suppose the plant- and mineral-based ingredients are super effective at cleaning! I mean, if something is truly clean, then it shouldn’t smell funky, right?

And the ZERO Washing Up Liquid? Stellar. My hands used to age with every round of dishwashing I do, no thanks to the harsh but effective dishwashing liquid that we were using before trying out the ZERO range. My hands no longer feel parched and tight with the ZERO Washing Up Liquid and most of all, I am truly in awe of its cleaning prowess. The dishes, pots and pans are squeaky clean when I am done washing, even with the sometimes-heavy cooking I do! LOVE this product. And my dishes don’t come off smelling like ‘Lemon’ or ‘Lime’, just clean! 

I am pretty impressed by the ZERO range, and highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for clean-and-green products that are suitable for sensitive skin. They are definitely more expensive than the harsher counterparts that I used to use but I think  the products are well worth the money if you are in need of something that is eco-friendly AND less likely to kill what’s left of your sensitive skin, 

You can shop online at Ecover or get hold of its products at the following stockists.

*I was gifted Ecover ZERO products for the review. No additional monetary compensation has been received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.

Clean Where The Sun Doesn’t Shine With GES PLUS: Day 5

[SPONSORED POST*] SO. You might have read about the test I planned to put GES PLUS to. For those who haven’t quite caught up with what GES PLUS does: it clears and maintains a plumbing system by releasing millions of live, non-pathogenic and non-toxic, beneficial bacteria that turn grease and oil wastes into harmless carbon dioxide and water. It also contains a powerful odour counteractant that eliminates odours stemming from blocked drains.

I tested the product out by pouring about half a cap full of GES PLUS into each drain and leaving it to do its work overnight for 5 consecutive days, and did the same thereafter once a week to maintain the plumbing system. Here are our results, which are mighty satisfying! You will see why after you look at the difference between the drains on Day 1 and on Day 5.

 Pre-treatment on Day 1 (left) vs Post-treatment on Day 5 (right)

GES PLUS has helped remove the disgusting slime coating the walls of the pipe! If you are wondering why the slime further up the pipe hasn’t been removed, it’s because I couldn’t get the GES PLUS level to go any higher up even with a larger volume added and I suppose that’s to do with the differential pressure in the pipes of the drain.

I am pretty impressed by how GES PLUS worked to remove the buildup in the drain. I can’t comment on its effectiveness in odour control or increasing the flow rate in slow-flowing drains because I don’t experience any of these problems with our plumbing system, but…JUST LOOK AT THE SLIME. IT’S GONE!

If you would like to give GES PLUS a shot, take 5% off the original price of $79.90 by entering the code ‘thepleasuremonger’ at checkout. The code is valid until 31 October 2015.

For more updates on GES PLUS and other eco-friendly products, follow Our Lifestyle Shop on FacebookTwitter and hop over to the online store to join the mailing list.

*I was gifted one bottle of GES PLUS for the review. No additional monetary compensation has been received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services, as ambassador to Our Lifestyle Shop.

Clean Where The Sun Doesn’t Shine With GES PLUS: Day 1

[SPONSORED POST*] When we were living in London between 2007 and 2011, the drains in our flat often clogged up and were terribly slow-flowing. Back then, we turned to chemicals to clear the blockages, ones that were so harsh that they burned my skin if I should even spill some on myself. It was painful, whenever it happened, and I should have learnt my lesson and used eco-friendly, less harsh alternatives, but we were students then and too poor to afford anything more than a two-quid bottle of what-feels-like-strong-acid-on-my-skin.

Ever since we became parents, we switched to using eco-friendly household cleaning products as much as our budgets would allow us, including floor detergents, hand soaps and insecticides.   For a long time now, I have neglected the drains in our home as we haven’t noticed any changes in the flow rates or smells coming up from the gutters. Out of sight, out of mind, you know what they say. We are very fortunate to be reminded of the eco-friendly alternatives that we can use for different parts of our home, as I am ambassador to Our Lifestyle Shop which stocks a range of products that I am happy to include in our arsenal against germs, insects and yucky things. This time, we have been sent a bottle of GES PLUS to naturally clear blocked drains and maintain the plumbing system, and of course, I was suddenly reminded of how awful clogs can get from our experience in London. So even though we don’t get bad smells or slow-flowing drains at the moment, that doesn’t mean that the drains are a-okay.

Day 1: Before treatment with GES PLUS

I opened up the drains in our bathrooms and kitchen to take a peek after receiving GES PLUS, and true enough, they were disgusting! Just look at the build-up in one of the drains! The sight of it was so revolting that I wanted to hurl and I washed my hands no less than five times after opening the drains. BLEURGH.

I finally have some time at home after battling endless rounds of illnesses and going on a holiday recently, so it’s time to put GES PLUS to test. It is touted to naturally get rid of fats, oils and grease, you know, stuff that come off our bodies and dirty dishes into the drains, by releasing millions of live, non-pathogenic and non-toxic, beneficial bacteria that turn grease and oil wastes into harmless carbon dioxide and water. It also contains a powerful odour counteractant that eliminates odours stemming from blocked drains. I am eager to see if GES PLUS does clear up the disgusting buildup in the drains!

The plan is simple. I will test the product out by pouring about half a cap full of GES PLUS into each drain and leaving it to do its work overnight for 5 consecutive days. And I do the same thereafter once a week to maintain the plumbing system. Hopefully we will see some results after 5 days! I’ll be reporting the results then in another post, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, if you are keen to try GES PLUS out, take 5% off the original price of $79.90 by entering the code ‘thepleasuremonger’ at checkout. The code is valid until 31 October 2015.

For more updates on GES PLUS and other eco-friendly products, follow Our Lifestyle Shop on Facebook, Twitter and hop over to the online store to join the mailing list.

*I was gifted one bottle of GES PLUS for the review. No additional monetary compensation has been received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services, as ambassador to Our Lifestyle Shop.

Babywearing: Review on K’Tan Active

[SPONSORED POST*] When F was born, I was the most clueless first-time mother around. I didn’t know anything about the importance of establishing routines (the horror), early bedtimes (where have I been?!) and what-have-you, and I certainly didn’t know that one could wear a baby.

Noob, right? I know.

I was first introduced to the world of babywearing by three lovely friends – Y, Y and P – who came bearing gifts and an arsenal of knowledge on slings, soft structured carriers, wraps and pouches. I was exhausted, frazzled and completely overwhelmed by an 8 week-old who didn’t sleep unless she was held in my arm, so you can imagine how grateful I was (still am!) to the three ladies.

Eager to try the different ways out, I put whatever I could get my hands on to the test. The pouch was difficult to manoeuvre for me as F seemed squashed in the cradle position; no matter what I did, I couldn’t get her chin away from her chest and that made me very nervous. The wrap, whilst highly adaptable to a growing baby and very versatile in terms of carrying styles, was much too intimidating; I didn’t attempt it until I gave birth to my son, E. I was most comfortable with slinging F in the kangaroo position, one that she loved and one that I struggled least with until she was ready for the soft structured carrier when she turned 5-6 months old. I didn’t stop babywearing until F was much too heavy for my swollen frame to bear when I was pregnant again.

Now that E is all small and squishy and warm in my arms, I am back on the babywearing track. I scoured the web for beautiful and practical options and I now have 3 slings, 1 wrap and 3 soft-structured carriers (but SSCs are too big for infants so I didn’t use them until recently) to play with. I am no noob when it comes to slings and bought a third one only because it comes in such a beautiful weave. But the wrap, oh that wrap…I love its lightweight fabric and how it offers even distribution of weight on my shoulders and lower back. You see, there is a particularly noxious point somewhere across my shoulders now, having borne the weight of a growing child for most hours of the day (and night) with poor postures for the past three years, and a wrap offers much relief now that I am babywearing again. Also, one can adjust the wrap to suit the favoured carrying styles well as the sizes of the wearer and baby!

There is a problem though. Actually…two. I don’t wear nursing clothes as I find that nursing wear tends to be expensive and unflattering, and the openings are much too restrictive for baby to get a good latch without having his or her face buried in fabric; I end up wearing normal tops and using a nursing cover instead. As you can imagine, nursing with normal tops whilst being bandaged with a wrap is a challenge, especially when I am out alone with my baby. It is difficult to thread my top back down to my waist through the ties from the wrap whilst cradling a squirmy baby in one arm (a baby with not-so-great neck control at the moment, if I might add). As such, I only use the wrap when someone heads out with me, so I can hand E to whoever whilst I cover myself up again after nursing. And the second problem? It is tough to try and re-tie the wrap if you can’t free up your arms. (Perhaps I should have invested in nursing tops because…I LOVE this wrap to bits!)

Of course, I am being a total noob again because there exists a wrap that does not requiring any fumbling of sorts, and I only realised this when my friend, S used it and again when Happy Coast Kids contacted me to try out the K’Tan.

It is basically a wrap that you purchase based on your clothing size, and it supposedly hugs your baby right, as a well-adjusted wrap does, without the need to fumble with knots and what-not! I jumped at the opportunity to try it out as it seemed to fulfill most of characteristics that I want – convenience, support on both shoulders, lightweight, breathable fabric – in a carrier. There are a few models to choose from, based on your needs. I picked the K’Tan Active as it blocks over 90% of UVA and UVB rays, and I figured this was a plus given that we get a lot of sun during our outings with the kids and even in our very brightly lit home. I did make the boo-boo of picking S instead of XS; word to the wise, make sure you select your true size (I went a size larger as I normally like loose-fitting clothes, but with the K’Tan, you would need it to fit you quite snugly for your baby to be worn safely)! Once I had the size sorted and made sure there wasn’t excess fabric around E when I put him in the K’Tan, I put the carrier to the test.

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For starters, it was easy as hell to prep myself with the K’Tan. I simply had to make sure my arms and head were looped through correctly; this is as easy as putting on your T-shirt. Popping E into the K’Tan was not a problem too; I am used to propping his knees up and drawing his feet up to his bum before putting him in a kangaroo position in the sling. This is no different, he was snug in the pre-set loops of the K’Tan in no time. Taking him out to nurse posed no challenge whatsoever, as there are no knots or tied loops to fumble with; I only had to pull the two sides of the fabric down to his bum and pop him back out of the wrap, and I could lift my top up to nurse him easily before making myself decent and putting him back in the K’Tan without help. The K’Tan is certainly a very user-friendly carrier! Just check out the videos here on the various positions one can easily put a baby in!

E remains relatively cool in the K’Tan as the fabric wicks away moisture and breathes; that’s a bonus as it can get really hot with the weather in Singapore. E also seems comfortable in the K’Tan as he didn’t struggle in it and slept rather quickly whenever I put him in it. Ten points for sleepy dust!

Whilst the K’Tan distributes the weight evenly between my two shoulders, I did find that if I carried E in it for more than a few hours, my middle and lower back would start to ache. I do tend to ache eventually after hours of babywearing, so perhaps this has to do with my longstanding back problem as I was thrown off a horse a few years ago and I failed to take care of my back after I became a mother. The other issue that I had with the K’Tan was how someone of a different size wouldn’t be able to use my carrier. My husband is really tall and wider than I am, so I would have to get two K’Tan carriers if he wants to carry E this way too. This wouldn’t be the case for the sling (M doesn’t like to use a sling), a wrap (M finds it too troublesome) and an SSC (which can run a tad large for E’s petite frame, but we can easily solve that problem with a simple gadget we found).

Based on my usage of the K’Tan over the past few months, I would say that it is perfect for solo outings with the baby as I don’t need an extra pair of hands whilst popping E in and out of the carrier. It is also wonderful for when babies are still too small for soft structured carriers (which I am a huge fan of) and a lifesaver for parents who aren’t adept with the sling and wraps. Simply put, it is completely fuss-free! The material is great for our weather and the fact that the K’Tan Active blocks out UV rays is such a bonus as I do not apply sunscreen on my kids until they turn(ed) 6 months old. This came in really handy as we head outdoors with F pretty often and I certainly don’t want E to burn in the sun! Personally, I would keep outings in the K’Tan to just 2-3 hours as my back starts to ache after that; this isn’t really an issue though because I don’t head out with E for longer than that when I am alone with him. I would recommend the K’Tan as the perfect carrier for babywearing noobs and parents to infants especially (to be used with care and according to instructions, of course)! Now that E is almost five months old, I have switched to using SSCs that I can share with M, but I have seen parents carting their kids around in a K’Tan even after the kids’ first birthdays, and that says a lot about its longevity! As long as one gets the right size, it does take A LOT of stress out of fumbling with knots and pieces of fabric when trying to wear a baby. I do wish the K’Tan carriers come in more attractive designs locally; wider ranges are available internationally, so perhaps this is something Happy Coast Kids can look into bringing in!

*I was gifted one K’Tan Active in Black in size XS (sans shipping). No additional monetary compensation has been received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.

You may shop for the K’Tan on Happy Coast Kids!

A Local Delight to Read: Stacey Goes To The Peranakan Museum

[SPONSORED POST*] We are big, BIG fans of books (in fact, we bought F more books than toys or clothes, most of the latter are gifts from family and friends!) and one of the things I like to do with F after I pick her up from preschool on weekday afternoons is to read. We have amassed a variety of tales in F’s growing library, but one genre that I didn’t get my hands on relates to our local context. Up until recently, that is!

Lianne Ong, author of Stacey Goes To The National Museum, has released the second book in the Stacey & The Museums series in partnership with the National Heritage Board, and this one really caught my eye as it introduces the Peranakan culture to children.

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When I first received the book, I was a little concerned that the prose might be too advanced for F, who is just 2.5 years old now but looking at how F pounced on the book when I whipped it out and how she gushed over the brightly-coloured illustrations, I needn’t have worried that this was out of her league. She pored over the book and pointed excitedly at the pictures, exclaiming, “Pretty dress!” when she spotted the kebaya, and thumbed every page whilst giving a live commentary of what the illustrations depicted before she handed me the book and asked to be read to. As I went through the story with her, I was brought back to the time when we visited the Peranakan Museum with F; she was about one then.

I thought the book is an excellent platform to introduce the Peranakan culture to children, especially when Lianne takes bits and bobs of the exhibits and weaves them into a fantasy where a statue takes Stacey through the museum! I see it as the perfect guidebook for children to navigate and relate the content to the exhibits in the museum; this is what I would do when we take F to the Peranakan Museum in future, as F is very fond of and quick at pointing out things she sees, and relating them to what she has learnt in songs and books these days. I reckon the excursion, with the tale in hand, will make for a memorable adventure for F (and really, it makes it so easy for us parents to stir our children’s interest in local culture and history, I would be clueless as to how to do that otherwise).

We can’t wait for the third book in the series to be released; if the approach is similar to what Lianne has done for the first two books, then I think we might have ourselves another excellent children’s guidebook to one of Singapore’s other museums.

*I was gifted one copy of Stacey Goes To The National Museum and one copy of Stacey Goes To The Peranakan Museum. No additional monetary compensation has been received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.

The Stacey & The Museums Series are sold here. Like the Stacey & The Museums Facebook page for updates on book releases in the series and readings!

Look Ma, My (Clean and Soft) Hands!

[SPONSORED POST*] I didn’t used to carry hand sanitisers with me unless I was on holidays. After Faith was born, I became a clean freak and lugged at least one bottle from a certain brand everywhere I went because I didn’t want her to fall ill and hand sanitisers are real lifesavers in making sure that we emerge from poop/pee accidents (mostly) unscathed when there isn’t a bathroom in sight.

For more than two years, the hand sanitiser did its job, but left my hands smelling like alcohol (not unlike the days when I had to spray my hands down with 70% ethanol whilst working in the research lab) and feeling very, VERY dry. I was keen to look for an alternative but never got down to it. Most hand sanitisers that are on the market contain alcohol anyway.

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Then, Su-Lin from Our Lifestyle Shop gifted us with the latest kid on the block, the safeHands 7 Oz Bundle Pack ($59.70) that consists of three bottles of alcohol-free hand sanitisers (in assorted scents), which changed my life, quite literally. My hands were no longer dry. I no longer reek of alcohol; instead the sanitiser leaves a pleasant, subtle scent if I choose to use the scented ones (Cucumber Mint and Clean Linen). The foam dispensed feels good on the hands (and thrills F to bits with its texture). It is very gentle on the skin (F has eczema and has not reacted to safeHands at all). I have one bottle in my car and have barely made a dent in the bottle despite using about four pumps daily since the middle of November 2013. Granted, it’s not cheap at almost $20 for a bottle, but you get a whopping 7oz of product in each bottle (more than the usual sanitisers on the market), and considering that one full pump suffices for sanitising purposes, you do get a lot of mileage out of one bottle.  I’d say you pay for quantity AND quality, especially when it’s non-toxic, non-drying, alcohol-free, non-flammable and non-irritating, and is the only FDA-registered, EPA-recognised and USDA-approved hand sanitiser that kills MRSA, VRE and C-diff. SOOOO much win!

I have just one nagging thought about the safeHands sanitiser. It’s too big for me to lug in my diaper bag…I mean, you CAN, but I’d much prefer a travel-sized one for outings, especially when a single pump gives you sufficient product to eliminate germs. Now, THAT would be perfect! I’d say the 7oz bottles are great for keeping in cars and on desktops for when you need to sanitise your hands.

GIFT WITH PURCHASE:

To kick off the new year, we have our first giveaway for you! Receive a free sample of Drain Blast (two tablets good for a total o two uses; the full-sized product is good for 12 uses) with every purchase of the safeHands Bundle Pack! Enter the promotional code thepleasuremonger when you checkout. Promotion valid until 12 February 2015.

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More on Drain Blast:  It is a Green product (yay!) that is used to eliminate blockages in commercial and residential drains and to get rid of fruit flies in drains. The bacteria in the product chomps on the scum layers where the flies live, breed and eat, and therefore, eliminates the food source for the flies. When used as a biological mop water treatment (and by that, I mean you drop a table into a bucket of water meant for mopping), it removes food sources for other insects as well including cockroaches, disrupts the habitat that flies require for breeding and degrades organic material in cracks, crevices and drain lines. Be gone, you nasty bugs! I would LOVE to get my hands on this!

*I was gifted one safeHands 7oz Bundle Pack to review. No monetary gift was received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored items, should I find the products unsuitable.

You can shop online at Our Lifestyle Shop.