Raising your first baby or toddler in Singapore? A top family doctor answers FAQs from new parents

A Singapore doctor answers common questions from new parents HoneyKids Asia

Parents of Singapore, we know that your first time raising babies and small children can be tough. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – support from your friends and family is invaluable, and your family’s GP is here to help. No issue is too great or small! Dr Foong Tsin Uin of International Medical Clinic (IMC) Katong outlines a few pointers to help guide parents through some of the common challenges you’ll encounter with your first baby – and toddler!

Why do babies cry?
It’s a baby’s form of expression. The common causes are hunger, a dirty nappy, too hot/cold, needs to sleep/ too much stimulation, your baby needs to burp, wants to be held, or is not feeling well.

Babies love a cuddle. They spent nine months curled up in a temperature-controlled environment where all parameters are constant and they are never hungry. To arrive in this world and be expected to sleep in a cot can be a rude shock. They derive comfort from cuddles from Mummy and Daddy, and their parents’ voices are probably the most familiar to them from their time in the womb.

Should I use a dummy or pacifier?
Evidence shows that babies should learn to self-soothe and dummies should not be used at the outset as a substitute. If dummies are used, it is advisable to consider weaning the dummy from the age of one. There is also a role for dummies in premature babies to develop their oro-motor skills, which are paramount with future speech development.

Should I use baby devices such as walkers or jumperoos?
Developing motor skills plays an important role in the psychological and emotional development of a child in the long-term. Baby devices such as walkers or ‘jumperoos’ can cause atypical walking patterns, and can cause serious injuries if they trip over in the device. Or, the child might develop a dependence on the device.

Are flash cards beneficial?
Studies have shown that for a child under 18 months, it makes no difference cognitively in the long-term. Talk to your child instead and try to have ‘grown-up’ conversations with them. This not only enables you to bond, but your child will learn to recognise speech patterns from these conversations. Lean away from didactic methods such as flash cards, and just natter away about your everyday activities and things you see around you.

How should I approach screen time for little ones?
Screen time – televisions, smartphones and iPads – are not recommended for children under the age of two. In our digital age, a lot of formal learning at an older age takes place on a hand-held device. There are separate recommendations for that situation, so it does not mean a no-no for the younger child, just sensible and managed exposure.

What is free play?
Time to run around, play and explore the environment is very important. This allows the child to explore and learn about the world, about themselves and about others. This does not need to be in the form of a formal class, playgroup, and activity groups, although the advantage of these classes is that it gives some structure to the day, and allows parents to meet other new parents and have adult interaction and support. Children need to be allowed to be children and not over structure their exploration and play time.

The team of doctors at IMC can discuss parenting tips and conduct childhood developmental assessments. At these visits, we can also discuss vaccination programs tailored to your country of origin or residence, and your travel plans.

Dr Foong IMC HoneyKids Asia
Originally from Singapore, Dr Foong was previously a Partner in a family practice in London serving the needs of a large expatriate community. She worked for 10 years in a central London drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre, and in palliative care. Dr Foong has special interests in family and children’s health and is based at IMC Katong.


This post is sponsored by IMC.