March events and March school holidays activities for children in Singapore 2018: where to bring kids this March 2018 – meet & greet, to musicals and more. Check back regularly as we will add more activities and events.
Every year, millions of people around the world participate in the world’s largest grassroot movements – Earth Hour – as a symbolic gesture for climate change. How do they do this? By switching off their non-essential lighting for an hour!
So sign up here and get regular alerts from us about how you can help this be the grandest Earth Hour event Singapore has seen!
Earth Hour 2018 will take place at 8.30pm, 24 March 2018, Saturday
About Earth Hour
Earth Hour is a global environmental initiative in partnership with WWF. Individuals, businesses, governments and communities are invited to turn out their lights for one hour on Saturday March 24, 2018 at 8.30pm to show their support for environmentally sustainable action.
WWF – the World Wide Fund for Nature, is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organisations, with almost five million supporters and a global network active in more than 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
Environmental impact of key actions
The air-conditioner is a major contributor to the amount of electricity consumed in the typical household. Using the air-conditioner in energy efficient ways can reduce its impact on the environment and your electricity bill.
The air-conditioner takes up 30 percent of the typical household electricity bill.
Air-conditioning should be set at 25 degrees Celsius, and not below 24 degrees Celsius.
When set to this optimal temperature, the air-conditioner will not need to use up so much energy to cool the environment around you. This, in turn, results in lesser fossil fuels burnt to power the air conditioner and less heat released into the atmosphere, hence reducing the impact on the environment.
Every one degree increase in the air-conditioner temperature helps you save a minimum of S$25 annually. We can save a minimum of $150 million annually in the total electricity bill for Singapore if all Singaporeans take this up.
LED lights offer greater energy savings than traditional incandescent lights. Most of the energy LED lights use goes into making light instead of heat. Most incandescent lights, for example, produce anywhere from 5-20 lumens (a measure of brightness) per watt, whereas compact fluorescent bulbs put out about 40-70 lumens. By comparison, LEDs range from 20 lumens up to 100 lumens.
3 billion plastic bags were used in Singapore in 2011, needing 37 million kilogrammes of crude oil and 12 million kilogrammes of natural gas to make.
Each kg of plastic bags requires 1.2 kilogrammes of crude oil, according to a study done by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research.
Globally, each year, more than one trillion plastic bags are used around the world, less than two percent of which are recycled. The rest end up in landfills – where they can take up to 1,000 years to break down – or as litter.
Parents in Singapore don’t have to fold their strollers when they board the bus anymore. From 2 April 2017, open strollers are allowed onto public buses, except when it is crowded.
New relaxed rules
This announcement by Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA) serves to make travelling with young children on public buses more convenient. In line with the government’s efforts to create a more inclusive public transport network, other commuters are encouraged to be patient if parents with open strollers take a longer time to board buses.
However, there are safety guidelines parents need to take note of when boarding the bus with strollers.
1. Priority Queues
You should wait at the priority queues at bus interchanges. The general order for passengers to board is wheelchair-bound passengers, passengers with strollers and then other passengers.
2. Wheelchair Accessible buses
While all public buses allow open strollers, you are encouraged to bring them onto wheelchair accessible buses as they are designed for easier boarding and offer more space. Wheelchair accessible buses will have a wheelchair decal on the front windscreen.
3. Board by the front door
The rear door should only be used if the stroller is unable to fit through the front door. If you need to board by the rear door and/or use the ramp for your stroller, approach the bus captain for help.
4. Folding of strollers in crowded buses
If the bus is already crowded before you board, the bus captain may request for you to fold your stroller. However, if the bus gets crowded when your stroller is already on board, then you will not be required to fold it.
5. Designated Wheelchair space
Park your open stroller in the designated wheelchair space and make sure to use the brakes to secure your stroller, to prevent it from rolling around. However, remember that passengers in wheelchairs will still be given priority.
6. Prevent obstruction
Avoid parking your stroller along the aisle, near the entry and exit points and the upper decks of a double-decker bus.
7. Dimensions of Open Stroller
Your open stroller should not exceed 1.2m (length) by 0.7m (width). If it is unable to fit through the doorway of the bus or the bus is too crowded, it will need to be folded up before boarding and alighting.
8. Responsibility for your Child’s safety
You are responsible for your child’s safety, including during boarding and alighting. Be alert and hold on tightly to the open stroller during your journey.
If you commute often on a public transport, choose strollers with these features:
Lightweight yet sturdy
Easy to manoeuvre
Foldable with one hand
Able to stand on its own when folded
Able to roll while folded
Lower compartments for storage
Stroll Lite with Bonbijou Lucas Lite Weight Stroller ($299.00) compact and lightweight design makes moving around with your baby so much easier. Weighing only 5.4kg, the 5-point harness makes sure your baby is securely strapped in, and the full canopy protects your little one from harmful sun rays. Your baby’s comfort is well taken care of with thick moulded seat pads and back support holes for better ventilation. Suitable from birth up to maximum weight of 20kg.
It is likely that these modern lifestyle choices impact the way your child’s gut microbiota is established, and how well it develops.
Common ailments like asthma, eczema and hay-fever, and length of recovery from the common cold could be linked to what’s going on in their gut.
Your baby’s gut health has a big part to play in their immune system and overall metabolism, with the first three years of a baby’s life a critical period in their microbial colonisation.
At Akesi, we believe in educating parents about the growing importance of gut health in babies and children.
Here’s what you can do to improve your child’s gut microbes.
Increase time outside – gardening, composting and exposure to dirt
Consider an increased exposure to animals – particularly a dog or being on a farm
Consume predominantly fresh produce and limit highly refined food
Maximise fibre intake and encourage adequate hydration
Limit the use of “anti-bacterial” soaps, washes and cleaning agents – you’re destroying the beneficial bacteria too, warm soapy water will suffice
Discuss with your doctor pros and cons for antibiotic prescribing
Consume probiotics with a diverse number of strains – either as a supplement or as fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut or kimchi. Store bought yoghurt and ‘probiotic’ milk drinks provide insufficient probiotic strains and high amounts of sugar.
It is both yummy and healthy providing berry antioxidants, papaya plant enzymes plus billions of beneficial bacteria to help restore and maintain your family’s gut health.
Antibiotics vs Probiotics
What about that course of antibiotics your child had for the recurring ear infection?
Whilst antibiotics have a rightful place in the doctor’s toolkit – in some instances they are the only treatment option available – a five-day course of antibiotics can suppress as much as a third of your child’s gut bacteria.
Taking a quality probiotic with a diverse number of strains for a minimum of two weeks following an antibiotic course will help re-establish beneficial strains in their gut.
Probiotic powders are an easy way to introduce beneficial bacteria to babies and children – they’re certainly easier than convincing little ones that ‘smelly cabbage’ really is good for them!
Look for one that contains no added nasties.
Akesi Probiotic+ Powders have an impressive 10 bacterial strains at a strength of 10 billion CFU, even better, Akesi Baby can be taken from birth.
These products will support your child’s immune system and help with digestion and bowel movements.
Children especially love the delicious taste of the purple Akesi Child Probiotic+ Elderberry Boost that dissolves rapidly on their tongue making compliance an ease – a scoop in their mouth once a day and their gut microbes will thank you!
Receive 10% off, plus free shipping in Singapore, from www.akesiwellness.com with the promo code NEWAGEGUTS
Here’s something interesting that market analysts have discovered about human nature.
When choosing a product we don’t know much about, we tend to lean towards the higher or highest-priced item, assuming that it might be of higher quality. This spills over into our sensory perceptions too. (Source)
As parents, we want the best for our kids. But does it mean we have to buy costly baby strollers or the most expensive milk powder in the market?
It’s not always about the price tag.
And we’ve all had experience that tells us so – that a higher priced item or service may not always be the ‘better one’.
Infant Formula: More Expensive = More Nutrients?
As recommended by World Health Organisation and Health Promotion Board, breastmilk is recommended for newborns until they are 6 months old or older.
But when breastfeeding is inadequate or not possible, infant milk formula can be an alternative and supplementary source of infant nutrition.
With so many brands of formula milk in the market, how do you choose one that suits your baby best?
Does the most expensive brand mean the best?
We’ve round up a few brands and did a comparison.
First we looked at the cost of a few formula brands.
Next, we looked at the nutrition table of each brand.
Source: Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH)
Based on the table above, we noticed that formula brands in the range of $50 and above have certain nutrient contents (i.e. DHA, Iron, Calcium, Choline, Folic Acid or Zinc) higher than the other brands.
Does this mean that affordable and ‘cheaper’ formula options are inadequate for your baby?
Cheaper Infant Formula Just As Nutritious
Despite differences in price and formula recipes in brands, the Health Promotion Board states that all formulas sold in Singapore are nutritionally adequate for babies.
Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, has also come forward to debunk this myth. He adds even though several infant formula companies give the impression that their brands can “do more for children”, the scientific evidence shown so far is weak.
Reminding parents that cheaper options are just as nutritious, Dr Koh warned parents not to be misled into using price as a stand-in for quality of the product, and to be vigilant when it comes to relying on claims made by infant formula companies.
Rising Cost of Infant Formula
The cost of child-rearing has risen over the years. Today, the average price of a 900g tin of infant milk powder has more than doubled over the last decade to $56.06. (Source)
This is why NTUC and its group of Social Enterprise are constantly evolving their range of products and services to fulfil the different needs of people in Singapore of whom, many are parents.
In an effort to ensure affordable infant milk powder in the market, NTUC Social Enterprises are making more brands available to foster stronger price competition and provide more choices for parents.
To give parents a wider range of infant formula options that won’t burn a hole in your pockets, we round up affordable alternatives available at NTUC Fairprice.
#1 Australia’s Own
Australia’s Own was introduced in June 2017. Manufactured by Freedom Foods, the milk used is sourced from premium dairy regions of Australia to ensure the highest quality standards. The formula is rich in protein and calcium, and costs between $27.50 and $35 for a 900g tin.
#2 Fairprice Gold
Sourced from Australia and available in three variants for children of different ages, the formula is fortified with Omega 3, Omega 6, Lutein, Prebiotic and Nucleotides. A 900g tin of Stage 2 FairPrice Gold Follow On Formula costs $29.
#3 Aptamil Infant Formula
Specially imported from New Zealand, Aptamil was brought to Singapore earlyin 2017. It is developed by Nutricia, Europe’s number one baby milk company*.
Free NTUC FairPrice Aptamil milk powder with your Good Start Bundle
Their infant formula is designed for babies from birth to six months of age, not being breastfed or as part of mixed feeding. A can of 900g Aptamil Gold+ Stage 2 costs $54.60 at NTUC Fairprice.
*Danone Nutricia ELN is the first Ranked Milk Formula manufacturer both in Sales Value and Sales Volume for these 9 countries (UK, DE, NL, IRL, PL, BEL, CZE/SLO and ROM) during the MAT period Dec 2015.
Receive a 900g tin of Aptamil Infant Forumla in NTUC Good Start Bundle
Bearing in mind the rising child-rearing costs in Singapore, NTUC and its group of Social Enterprises have come up the NTUC Good Start Bundle, offering perks to help young families cope this challenging new phase of life.
In the bundle, each family receives:
FairPrice Fairmily Kit, containging up to $100 worth of FairPrice groceries the whole family can enjoy, including a tin of Aptamil infant formula for babies six months old and above
1 year ccomplimentary one-year health insurance from NTUC Income
Parents book, “Early Experiences Matter: Parent-Child Activity Book” conceptualised by NTUC First Campus
Sippy cups can be wonderful to prevent spills but a bane when it comes to cleaning. The nooks and crannies of a sippy cup can cause milk residue to build up and become havens for bacteria and mould.
Here’s a step-by-step sippy cup cleaning guide to help you.
Steps to washing a sippy cup by hand
Rinse cup immediately after use
Disassemble all parts of sippy cup
With warm soapy water, use the right cleaning tool to scrub each part thoroughly.
Rinse thoroughly with clean water to get rid of residual soap
Air-dry the parts
Store them only when parts are dry
Long, thin brushes are great for cleaning sippy cups as they can reach the tricky spots. The durable bristles of Munchkin Shine™ Stainless Stain Bottle Brush ($26.90) can clean the crevices thoroughly without scratching them, including the edge of the bottom of the cup, inside the mouthpiece and in the groove of the rubber stopper. The base keeps the brush standing upright for quick drying and storage.
Steps to washing a sippy cup by dishwasher
Disassemble all parts of sippy cup.
Place the parts on the top rack of the dishwasher. For smaller parts, place them in a dishwasher basket to prevent them from dropping.
Items placed in the top rack of the dishwasher receive a gentler wash than those placed in the bottom section.
Use detergent that is free from chlorine
Set the washer to heat rinse cycle
Air-dry the parts
Store them only once the parts are dry
Dry it out
It is important to make sure every part of the cup is 100% dry, to prevent any liquids from being trapped. Air drying is a recommended for drying baby bottles and the easiest way is to let them dry naturally on a drying rack while excess water can flow down into the drip tray system.
It is recommended to sterilize your baby bottles before use, for at least the first 12 months of your baby’s life.
Always wash your hands thoroughly before touching equipment that has been sterilized.
Here are a few sterilization methods:
1. Electric Sterilizer
Not only can electric sterilizers kill germs and bacteria in baby bottles and sippy cups, they can also deodorize and dry your bottles.
2. Microwave Steam Sterilizer
You will need a microwave for this type of steamer. Add water in the steam sterilizer and put it in the microwave. How long the sterilizer stays in the microwave depends on your microwave’s wattage. Check the instruction manual of the steam sterilizer before use.
3. Boiling water
Boiling is the traditional way to sterilize bottles and cups. Once all the cups and bottles have been washed, submerge all parts completely in boiling water for at least ten minutes. This method is best for sterilizing glass baby bottles and BPA-free plastic bottles.
From an educator’s experience, this is rarely the case.
Most of the time, children don’t have good reading habits. Success depends on changing routines.
What better time than now to get your child reading regularly?
How to Boost Your Child’s Love for Reading
#1 I read, you read
For better or worse, our children watch us and copy our behaviour. Parents encourage positive eating habits by eating healthily themselves. The command of “eat your vegetables” sends out a confusing message, if your own greens are untouched.
Reading is the same. If we are seen to value reading by doing it, we are more likely to instil the habit. Pick up a book and set the tone for your child.
For maximum impact, a good book with a side of broccoli in full view of the family is recommended.
#2 Routinize your reading
Consider the amount of brand new lycra and red faces currently doing laps of the Botanical Gardens. These people are trying to change their exercise habits for 2018. Depressingly, most will fail.
Simply adding exercise to already busy lives leads to overload. There are, after all, only so many hours in the day.
If you child isn’t reading, make sure they actually have time to do it. This means sacrificing something else.
At the British Council, all our Primary lessons begin with dedicated quiet reading time to help support regular, routinized reading. I think I can comfortably assert that students and teachers both definitely prefer this to a red-faced, sweaty run in the park.
#3 Never stop the stories
It’s a sad day when your child is too big (or too heavy) to put on your knee and read stories with.
The look of wonder when they turn over to the next picture and begin to pick out their first words is truly a magical moment.
Books can continue to inspire throughout our lives but we tend to stop reading with our children the moment they begin to show signs of independent reading.
Yet really, they are still just getting started. The issue of ‘not liking reading’ is often connected with finding reading tiring – think about our red-faced joggers struggling to complete their first 5 km in years.
Continuing to read with them takes some of the load and makes the story more satisfying.
Finally, there are benefits to busy mums and dads too. For example, I’m willing to bet you will have forgotten just how good Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is, and how well it can distract you from work, the boss and life in general.
Twenty regular minutes of escapism can be good for everyone.
#4 What are the Joneses reading?
Ever been met with the justification for (usually bad) behaviour that starts “Ryan, did it, so I did it too”?
As adults, we are powerful influencers on our children, but their peers have a role too.
Most reading takes place alone at home, so kids aren’t necessarily aware of what their friends and wider peer group are looking at.
Speaking to other parents about what their children have read and enjoyed comes with the added advantage of peer power – “Natalie, read this and thought it was great”. Often we see our students wanting to borrow books that their classmates have enjoyed.
#5 Fact or fiction
Some students prefer fiction, others prefer non-fiction. Ideally, they would like both but importantly; it is unlikely they will like neither.
There is a book for everyone.
Many of British Council’s Primary courses have a mixture of narrative and factual texts for this reason and we find that the factual books we lend weekly to students are as popular as the stories.
Just remember, reading the often more technical language of non-fiction, does need support from parents and teachers. See Point #3 on never stop the stories.
Those who read regularly do better in school.
Instilling good and sustainable reading habits is about changing routines and showing that reading is valued.
By Charlie Spiller, Head, Primary Courses at British Council
British Council Primary courses focus on developing strong reading skills at lower primary, which will prepare students well for the increasing challenges of the language in upper primary and the PSLE English. Find out more at www.britishcouncil.sg/english/courses-primary
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