6 easy peasy ways to make baby smarter

We all want baby to be smarter but we’re too busy and we don’t want too much hassle (so demanding, aren’t we). Forget about plonking baby in front of an iPhone. Yes, it will help you to babysit junior but even the educational apps will not make her smarter. 

There are 2 windows of opportunity where the brain undergoes rapid development. The first brain spurt happens during pregnancy, starting from the eighth week after conception to the fourteenth week. The second spurt starts around 10 weeks after baby’s birth and continues its rapid profusion for around 2 years. It really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to maximise your baby’s potential so that she will have a good headstart. Isn’t it exciting?

Here are 6 cheap (mostly) and simple ways which will make baby smarter.

1) Create a stimulating environment at home

It is the number of interconnections between the brain cells which determines your child’s intelligence. To increase the number of interconnections, we have to provide different intellectual and sensory opportunities for baby. Make your home rich in colour, textures and aromas. Don’t forget to also make it rich in laughter, conversation and love.

When your older kids bring home their art pieces, instead of relegating them to the far corner of your cupboard, why don’t you pin them up on the walls instead? It will add colour for baby, and your older ones will feel so proud of their work. Dig out your sweaters, scarves and hats to let baby touch and feel different textures. Let baby smell the lovely sweet aroma of a ripe mango and talk to baby about the fruit. 

2) Enjoy nature

Take your baby outdoors as often as you can. Mother Nature can teach baby countless lessons. From the rustling of the leaves to the movement of the clouds, baby’s imagination and creativity can be stimulated. Besides, instilling a love of nature and the great outdoors can go a long way in letting him stay active and healthy.

3) Keep moving

Physical exercise helps the brain develop new synapses which makes baby smarter. Take your baby to the playground every day if possible. Reduce the time spent carrying your baby around or putting your baby in activity centres or support chairs. Yes, I do agree that it’s the most convenient way of leaving baby by herself while you are busy, but they do need ample opportunity to move around. Either childproof your whole house and let your baby move around freely, convert an unused room to a playroom and pad it, or get a playpen. Since I don’t have any spare rooms (obviously, with so many kids) I borrowed a playpen to let Kate play in, and rotated the toys offered to her.

4) Learn more languages

Babies are born with the ability to learn an infinite number of languages. The earlier we expose them to a second or third language, the better their ability to master the language. Research has shown that learning more languages does make children smarter. Perhaps mum and dad can speak to baby in English while grandma and grandpa does so in Mandarin. The other set of grandparents can converse in their dialect while the Indonesian helper speaks to baby in Malay. There you have it, she will pick up 4 languages without much effort!

5) Music, music, music

Let your baby listen to all genres of music. Besides the usual children’s songs, you can let baby listen to classical, jazz, pop, mandarin, k-pop, R&B, etc. The broader the baby’s auditory landscape, the better her neural functioning. Go a step further and allow baby to bang on pots and pans to create her own percussion band.

Singing along to her own music

6) Eat good oils

We need omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs) for the brain to function properly. Children who have sufficient EFAs are able to learn faster and focus better. Just add a teaspoon in baby’s purees just before serving. Rotate between flax oil, hemp oil, coconut oil or olive oil (cold pressed). It is safe to feed baby 1-2 teaspoons a day from 9 months.

Family Command Centre

Obviously with 6 kids, there are a lot of logistics to handle on a daily basis. I have to be organized or it gets really stressful when things are left to the last minute. There were countless times when a child did not have the materials ready for the next day’s show and tell, they forget they had an excursion and we didn’t have the right ‘healthy’ snack for the lunchbox, or worse, they forgot they had a Math exam and forgot to tell me that their calculator had run out of batteries. Even when I had only 3 kids and had no proper system, I was going crazy. Now I’ve got the whole process down to a pat.

My Command Centre

I rely on these to keep things running smoothly:

Family Wall calendar
Weekly meal planner
Daily To-do list
Yearly pocket calendar
Some notebooks

I love kikki.k over at ion. They have lots of organisational tools to help us busy moms stay on top of things. Colour really brightens my day and all these pretty stationery helps to keep me motivated to get the boring paperwork and administrative work for the family under control.

#3 drew the cute lil’ minion

I needed a huge magnet board so I recycled #2’s old board by turning it around and using the back. We got this magnetic board from Ikea many years ago. There were 2 holes at the back which were meant for hanging the board up. I tied some rope across the top so that I could peg photos of the kids and keep them rotated. It always cheers me up to see them smiling. I got the magnets from Daiso and added some stickers to personalise them.

This family calendar is just perfect for me – it has 6 columns. I got it from Tango Mango at Tanglin Mall, and you can also order it directly from Organised Mums which ships to Singapore. Whenever the kids come back with notices from school, I immediately pen it down on the calendar before tagging it on the board. This way, I will never forget to pick up any kid after ad hoc activities and we’re always prepared for events like wearing traditional costumes for Racial harmony day etc.

Menu planner from kikki.K
Having a weekly meal planner is really a life saver. Before I had it, I would just mentally plan some meals in my head. There were many a time when I was busy and before I knew it, lunch (or dinner) was upon us and I had nothing prepared for the starving kids. We usually ended up eating out (expensive), getting take-away (waste of time and not nutritious especially if it was fast food), or cooking instant noodles (definitely not nutritious). Once you get the discipline of setting aside a fixed time to decide what you’re going to cook and going to the supermarket, it will become a family routine.

On Sundays, I look at the week ahead and mark off on the family calendar which kid is back for lunch on which days so that I can see at one glance how many kids will be eating and which ones. If all or most are eating, I will prepare those meals that they are all ok with. If 1 or 2 are back on a particular day, I can then cook that child’s favourite food.

To-do list from kikki.K
I really like this To-do list as it’s got ‘Top 3’ things to do. When I used to have those normal To-do lists which just runs down, I will get really frustrated if half of the list is undone. Now, if I get my 3 most important tasks accomplished and a couple of the others, I’m a happy mom. Talk about a shift in perception! There’s even some cute icons to let us track how many cups of water we drink a day. Anything that helps to keep us healthy gets my two thumbs up 🙂

Lovely notebooks from Prints at ion

Whenever I saw something interesting in the newspapers or on the internet that I would like to take the kids to some day, I used to tear out the bits of newspaper or scribble the info down on post-its. However when the school holidays or long weekends came about I couldn’t locate the info I wanted. So I got some lovely bounded notebooks from Prints at ion (they have a shelf with past season items at 50% off) and started a resource book where I categorized the stuff I did with the kids and jotted down the info as they came, straight into the right pages. That way, I would just open up the book and scan the options and we’ll decide where we wanted to go or what we wanted to do that day.

Mail stand from Typo
I use these giant paper clips to sort my mail. I got them from smiggle (they have many outlets). I will handle the urgent ones, and when I have free time I will file the rest away properly.

The little yearly calendar is to keep track of things like when I paid their enrichment fees, when I paid my helper, or any other info where I can easily flip back to track. We have a Chinese tutor who comes over to tutor my primary 5 girl and to read to the 5 of them (Kate included). With the calendar I would know how many sessions she has already done and when to pay her. I also get the tutor to sign on the calendar so that there’s never any dispute.

Handmade birthday calendar

#2 made this lovely birthday calendar for mother’s day a couple of years ago. It is really handy as I can look ahead in that month and note down which birthdays are coming up. I will then shop for the necessary presents all at one go. This saves time and money as nowadays a trip to the mall is really not cheap if you include petrol, ERP and the exorbitant parking charges!

Gift cupboard

I also keep a cupboard stocked with presents suitable for a range of ages so that whenever the kids get invited to a birthday party I don’t have to make a trip to the shops just to get a present. I usually stock up my gift cupboard during the bi-annual private sales at Isetan or Robinsons as they have good discounts then. For the younger girls I get craft, playdoh or dress up/jewellery type gifts, for the older girls stuff like board games or DIY activity sets. For the younger boys, construction toys and for the older boys, science experiment sets.

Sane tip: With 6 kids, being organised is not an option, it’s mandatory!

Save tip: I realised that being organised helps to save a fair bit of money over the long run.


To know how we manage 6 kids, click here.

~ www.mummyweeblog – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~


Kate had amazing fun at Kidz Amaze

Today the kids celebrated National Day in school, and were released at 10.30am. #3 took opportunity of the early dismissal and had it all planned with her 2 best buddies. I was to take them for pepper lunch, followed by dessert at sogurt, then adjourn to Kidz Amaze indoor playground at Jurong Safra. They get unlimited play till 7pm for $8.25 (that’s the current promotion for weekday, non-school holiday price). I dropped them off at Kidz Amaze and left to settle the other kids.

After Kate had her afternoon nap, I took her, #4 and #5 to Kidz Amaze to join the rest. The main play area is actually not suited for babies under 2 years as there are a lot of older kids there and they tend to be a bit rowdy (admission is for children until age 18).

Main play area

However, the older ones were so excited to take her on all the slides and since it was not so crowded I agreed to let her go in. She has so far only been on slides at the playground. This was the first time she went on a big slide. She seemed to enjoy it.

Wheeeee!

Next, they took her to the King of Slides! This 3-storey slide is the highest indoor spiral slide in Asia! It does look intimidating, especially for a 9 month old baby. The kids told me it’s not very fast, but sometimes it makes them a little bit dizzy. I looked at the structure and since it goes round and round, not straight down, I was quite certain she could handle it. And she absolutely loved it! I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s the youngest baby to have tried this slide.

I went down the highest indoor spiral slide in Asia!

She spent the rest of the time climbing all around the huge play zone. Her siblings had to surround her as there were a lot of other kids scrambling and running about and they might just knock her over or step on her little fingers.

With 5 of them looking after her, I could take a breather and I went over to sit at the café to write this post. If your child doesn’t have any older siblings, why not rope in older cousins or neighbours when you take her out to such fun places? The older kids will be more than happy to babysit and you can have a break!

There is a separate little play area meant for the 0-5 year olds. Although it is a tad small, the good thing is that it’s right by the café so you can keep a close watch on your toddler.


She was there for probably just over an hour but she sure was exhausted. I guess now that she’s tackled this giant indoor playground, my options on places to take her have suddenly widened. I have so far only taken her to Gymboree and SingKids at United square. I can now try the rest of the other indoor playgrounds that have sprouted up in recent years.

Sane tip: I like such indoor playgrounds as the kids can entertain themselves while I chill at the cafe.

Save tip: I always take opportunity of such school ‘free days’ to take them to places which are cheaper on non-peak times. We always inform one another on special promotions going on. Do email me if you know of any and we will spread the word 🙂


~   mummy wee – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore  ~

Don’t babies naturally fall asleep when they are tired?

When my eldest was 3 days old, the midwife came over for a home visit to check her weight and height and to see if I needed any help with breastfeeding. My baby yawned a few times, which I thought was completely normal. I mean, how many times have we seen cute pictures of babies yawning, right? The midwife said ‘poor baby, she is so tired’ and she looked very concerned. My hubby and I exchanged looks and we were thinking ‘What’s the problem? When she’s tired she will just sleep. She is sleeping most of the time anyway!’ We didn’t know about bedtimes, routines or sleepy signs. Some days she would cry incessantly and we had to put her in the car seat and drive around. She would promptly fall asleep. However when we carried her out of the car she would wake up and cry again! When she was 1+, she would sit and do jigsaw puzzles till 10 or 11pm while I did my assignments and she would just take her bear, get into bed and fall asleep almost immediately.

Her first pair of sandals

When she started to walk, I went to the mall to get her some shoes. I couldn’t believe it when the saleslady told me that the cheapest pair of sandals cost $50! Made of leather. Leather? Why in the world would kids need leather shoes? Mummy needs a new leather handbag… In the end, she convinced me how important it was for toddlers to wear the proper footwear with good support.

What a great fashion sense… red socks with sandals!

During winter, I just pulled on a pair of socks with the sandals as I was definitely going to let her wear that pair of sandals till she outgrew it! I honestly didn’t notice that the other toddlers were togged out in closed-toe shoes and some even in boots. Her toes must have been freezing most of the time. Oh and our pram was a $40 one which my mum got from OG and brought over to us, and I used to wonder how come the other babies looked so snug in their ultra bulky and comfortable strollers which were covered on all 4 sides, while my baby looked so exposed in her flimsy pram.

Her favourite toy

She used to play with our phones, the remote controls (don’t ask me what it is with babies and the most important gadgets in the house) and even my spectacles. Of course we told her not to touch those things but we were not consistent or firm enough and many gadgets were spoilt by her. As she grew up, I thought she would just know how to behave and how to be a good girl. Ok, I must have been the most naïve parent in the world. But of course she didn’t, and the other kids just followed suit, both the bad and the good.

Her next favourite toy

I have since come a long, long way. I now know how important sleep is for children (and mummies too!) and I know for certain that babies or children will not just go to sleep when they are tired. In fact, when they are over-tired, they become hyperactive (as some hormones are released) and will find it even harder to sleep. Kate goes to bed at 7pm, and the 3 other kids in primary school go to bed by 8.30pm. I also know for certain that we definitely, positively, without a doubt, have to discipline children. And it should be done as early as possible. With Kate, from the time she was 6 months, when she wanted to take our phones to play, we will say no and take it away from her. Consistently. It saves us a lot of money on replacement specs, phones and whatever else that she may decide to destroy. I will share with you my journey on all the different aspects of parenting in my million mistakes as we trail Kate’s development.


~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Racial Harmony Day

Last week, #4 volunteered me to help out in her school’s racial harmony day. To be honest, I never actually knew what they did in school on RHD. I just presumed they wore the different nationality’s costumes and that was it. When I entered the school hall, I was surprised that the teachers actually took the trouble to organise different booths to showcase the different cultures.

There was a henna booth where the kids had their hands drawn by the parent volunteers, and the older students even had the choice of creating their own designs. There was a booth where a mummy volunteer taught the students how to don a sarong kabaya. They could then proceed to another booth to have their photos taken.

There were plenty of traditional games to give the students a chance to play the games we played in our day. There were games like Capteh (whereby the players kick colourful feathers attached to a rubber base), Kuti-kuti (whereby the players flick colourful animal shaped tokens), 5 stones (triangle shaped packets filled with beans), hop-scotch and paper balls which you have to manually blow up. I was manning the card games booth, with ‘old-fashioned’ games like ‘Donkey’, ‘Old Maid’, ‘Happy Family’, and snakes and ladders.

Traditional games

The lower primary students were very excited and enthusiastic to try out all the different games. The upper primary students were reticent at first. Perhaps they felt that the games were rather childish. However the teacher encouraged them to take a break from the stress of the upcoming Prelims and to enjoy themselves. They ended up having fun with the simple games!

Many students asked me if I had ‘Sleeping Queen’ (a current card game). One boy saw we were providing card games and asked if we had poker cards. I couldn’t believe it but quite a few kids asked me “Auntie, how do you play snakes & ladders?” The parent volunteer next to me promptly answered “Ladder go up, snake go down”. To which the boys let out a long “Ohhh….”

It reminded me again that our kids are indeed from a different generation. Their experiences are so different from ours. They do not see the world like we do. They probably perceive me as ‘old-fashioned’. I am slowly stepping into their world. One parent volunteer I met told me she took leave to be here as her presence meant a lot to her child. Although I am so busy, I always leave the school glad that I had spent a morning with the children. It is heartening to see your child happily playing with her close friends. I find that time stands still when I’m in the company of so many carefree and spirited children (even if it’s just for a period, before they return to their boring classrooms). To see them wholeheartedly enjoy whatever they are doing reminds me to do the same.

I highly recommend all mummies and daddies to at least volunteer for 1 event per year per child. It’s really not too much to ask right? It means a lot to our children, and it says to them that they are important. Important enough for us to take leave from our work or from our busy schedule to be involved in their school life. Think about it: it costs nothing, you don’t have to plan anything, and it’s not all that tiring… unless of course you volunteer for the outdoor excursions like the zoo outing or the nature trail at fort canning. Sounds much easier than taking them out over the weekend!

Sane tip: I used to tell my kids, do you seriously think I have extra time to volunteer in your school? I realised its a poverty mentality. Now, I tell all of them, if there’s anything you would like me to be involved in, just ask me. I will definitely try my best to go. I realise that taking a couple of hours out to be in the company of my child and her classmates will always slow me down in my busy day. Your child will be so happy you went that she will be very pleasant company for the next few days (that’s what I notice, anyway).

Save tip: If we are looking for ways to bond with our child, I don’t think I can find any cheaper alternative than this.

~ mummy wee – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Milk Magic

(written by #4)

#4 learnt this over at a friend’s house and came home to show us. This is a really quick activity that can be done after a long day at school to unwind. The materials can be easily found at home.

Step 1: Gather these materials: 
  • Milk
  • Food colouring (3 is recommended)
  • Straw
  • Shallow dish
  • Liquid hand soap or dish washing detergent
  • Cotton bud
Step 2: Pour some milk on the dish

Step 3: Use the straw to dip into one of the food colouring (just a little is enough), then dip it in the milk.

Step 4: Repeat with the remaining colours.

Step 5: Pump a bit of soap onto the tip of the cotton bud.

Step 6: Dip the cotton bud into the milk and move it around to create your very own designs.

Have fun!

Sane tip: This experiment is really easy and safe even for a young child to manage on her own. But if you do have some time, doing it with your child is so much more fun! I don’t usually do much art anymore, but when I did this with #4 it was nice and relaxing to just doodle with the cotton bud and it brought lots of smiles to our faces as we saw our own beautiful designs come to life from a blob of colour 🙂

Save tip: If your milk has just expired, let the kids use it and have some fun.


~  mummywee – parenting 6 kids in Singapore without going mad or broke  ~

Gymboree @ Harbourfront

I heard that Gymboree at Harbourfront was allowing FREE open gym for kids aged 0-60 months for the month of July. I jumped at the chance to take her there as she loves to climb all over the house. She had such a blast!

Getting a head start at rock climbing
Up, up, and away…
Easy peasy
I did it!

Quite a few mums were amazed at Kate’s sure-footedness and were curious at how she became this way. Lots of tummy time from 2 months old, daily trips to the playground from 6 months on (fully padded with knee guards and soft shoes to crawl around and explore), and not being over-protective all helped.


An older boy accidentally kicked her but she was unfazed. What a tough little cookie. I’ll definitely keep my eyes peeled for more such free sessions! Do email me if you know of any such places and I can share it with everyone 🙂 

Sane tip: I love such fully padded gyms. I don’t have to run after her to ensure she won’t hurt herself. I train my kids to be physically steady so I don’t have to hover over them. 

Save tip: I’m always on the look out for freebies 🙂

~ mummy wee – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Coarser Textures

food journey (9 months)

This week’s menu: Japanese pumpkin, broccoli, carrot, potato, sweet potato

I’m going to start making Kate’s purees lumpier so that she can slowly progress to eating the same foods as us. Fruits like apples and pears can now be eaten without steaming. I either give them a quick blend to add them into her purees (especially to thin some dryer vegetables like sweet potatoes or carrots) or I just use a metal teaspoon to scrap directly from the fruit to feed her.

Just a quick blend for a lumpier texture

Every Sunday I will make a whole week’s supply of food for Kate, which takes me roughly an hour. Our freezer is always chock-a-block with so many mouths to feed, but if you have plenty of freezer space, it would save time to make a fortnight or a month’s supply at a go. I got these cute little food containers from Robinsons a couple of years ago. They were very handy for the kids’ snacks and even for making jelly. They come in a set of 8 (either hearts or cars) and cost $14, and they are BPA free. They are the perfect size for Kate’s portion at the moment. When we take Kate out, I just grab one container from the fridge and I’m ready to go (with so many kids, everything is usually grab-and-go).


I had been eyeing the Beaba babycook while I was pregnant as it seemed very convenient and was just so adorable. When my ex-colleagues mentioned they were polling to get her a huge baby hamper, I asked for vouchers instead. I remember after #5’s full month party, I had more than 20 boxes of clothes hampers! It was rather impractical (who needs 20 hooded towels) so this time I requested the guests not to buy any gifts. Since I didn’t need to purchase a  breast pump, sterilizer or clothes as I had plenty of hand-me-downs, I splurged the vouchers on the Babycook. I have to admit it’s rather expensive at $279 (occasionally Takashimaya sells it for $189 at their baby fair) but the great thing is that it steams and blends all in one machine and turns off automatically when it’s done steaming.

With the other kids, I used the traditional method of steaming in a pot and more often than not I end up over-steaming the food or burning the pot. I figured that it cost more money in wasted food and in replacing the pot, not to mention the frustration (with myself!) and stress level when that happens. I consider it one of the handiest appliance at the moment, and I foresee using it for many years to come. I still do steam and blend vegetables for the older kids when I need to thicken their sauces. However, I’m sure there are other steamer/blender options on the market which are cheaper. Just be sure to get a steamer which shuts off automatically. I find that helped tremendously.

Food / Milk warmer

Every night I would take down 3 containers of food to defrost for the next day. Just before a meal I would warm it up in this food/milk warmer. It takes about 10 minutes to warm up. Once ready, it will let out a little ‘beep’.

I started giving her some finger food but I don’t think she’s ready for it. If I cut the pieces too big she chokes, and if I cut them too small she can’t pick them up. Or she squishes them too tightly until they turn to mush. The only thing she manages to pick up well is shredded chicken in tiny pieces. Guess I’ll wait a couple of weeks before trying again.

Sane tip: I used to do everything the traditional way – steaming food in a pot, sterilising their milk bottles in a huge pot of boiling water, heating up their food by warming up in a bowl. I realise appliances really do save a lot of time and hassle.


Save tip: For your baby’s full month party, tell your good friends or state in the invite: No gifts please. We’re happy for them to just come and celebrate our joy with us. But if they feel they have to buy something, they will either give you vouchers or red packets. More practical.

Read about an Allergy that almost killed #1

6 easy peasy tips to make your baby smarter

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore  ~