Fear or Faith

In my study of religious philosophy I have come across two fundamental emotions or values from which all other emotions or values originate. The first may not surprise you, it is “love”, the root emotion to most positive feelings such as empathy, compassion, duty, non-violence, patriotism, faith etc. The other  opposing emotion is “fear”, from which most negative emotions or values are spun, such as jealousy, anger, frustration, competitiveness etc.

When testing these fundamental emotions whilst observing religious people over social media and news platforms, most religious people who are newsworthy or who are prompted to speak out openly seem to be driven by one of these base emotions. Most of us will probably be motivated by a mix of these two emotions, but leaning heavily towards one side produces two very different kind of religious aspirants within the very same religion.  This has become exceedingly apparent in the times of the Trump presidency. There is the kind of Christian that is seemingly motivated by fear, whose fears are manifest as racism and religious intolerance, the irrational need to own guns and invest more in defence and security, including an expensive border wall. On the other hand, there are the Trump detractor Christians, who, driven by love, insist on protecting the victims of war regardless of their religious inclination or race, who would rather invest money in humanitarian causes than defence. These Christians, like the great Mother Teresa, driven by love, are able to see Jesus in all.

Every major religion produces many different kinds of followers, depending, I would say, on their motivating feelings and their intentions. These differences in motivation produce very different world views and naturally very different outcomes.

We can say that religion is the cause of most major conflicts in the world today. I am convinced that religion, by itself, is not the problem; but rather, it is the motivating emotions behind each person’s chosen religion (regardless of what that religion is) that is the problem. If we were to live in a world where the religious were motivated by true, divine, unconditional, unprejudiced, boundless love; then our world would flourish and we would usher in the Golden Age that many of us await.

I am often able to relate more to my husband who is of a different religion to me, than others of my own religion. This is because the variation within religious groups dictate that the traditional means of dividing and judging people based on religion is actually very ineffective. We should rather be judged on how much of love we have in our hearts; and since this is impractical with our limited senses, maybe we should leave the judging and the grouping to God.


Lessons From an Interfaith Home – How to Hold A Peaceful Conversation About Religion

Religions won’t always agree; so how do we make a relationship with a partner of a different religion work knowing this? First, we have to be at peace with not agreeing on certain things. Much of the beauty, drama and vibrancy of this world, is that which is different from what we are and what we are used to. Being exposed to new and contrasting opinions is one of the adventures of life, embrace that. Sometimes though, those differing opinions may harm your ego and cause you hurt and pain. It is difficult to tell you how to handle such situations because each one will be unique. Don’t let your ego (or a reflection of your own ego onto God)1 get in your way of peace. Who knows what the truth is besides those that have directly witnessed it. The rest of us are at the mercy of what we have been told, passed on from person to person. The religious, rightly or wrongly, rely on faith to guide our hearts. Each religious person does this, therefore we should respect the religion of the next and be at peace with your partner not accepting the same ideas as you. Focus instead on those many things that most religions do agree on.

It has been my experience that some views maintained by some religious groups are particularly hurtful to those that do not belong to that group. If your partner expresses one of those hurtful opinions, then let him or her know how that makes you feel openly, calmly and honestly. Do not do this in a “waging war” kind of way, because war begets war. Speak always in a calm but feeling manner. Always be honest, but always be composed and compassionate in your approach. Encourage logical dialogue to seek out common ground on a topic. Do not believe that there is no home for logic in religion. Without logic, we are little better than animals. Logic and faith can live together and both should be employed in this aspect of our lives.

An activity my husband use to engage each other on religious philosophies is to use made-up “case studies” and apply the philosophies or laws of our religions to these case studies. We then discuss the justness of these laws in our opinions. What is important is that our philosophy on basic moral values (such as truth, love, non-violence, peace, right conduct) are aligned. When we use these values like a Litmus Test in any case study or real life challenge, we will then almost always come to the same conclusion, and this is where it matters.

Remember, it takes maturity to have a peaceful conversation about religion and it takes composure and humility not to become inflamed in the face of disagreement.

1Often we reflect our own personality traits onto God, expecting Him/Her to be much like us – power hungry, egotistical, competitive. But to me, God is beyond these human traits and we need to move beyond them too. After-all, who is there for God to compete with? Whether you call God Him or Her, Higher Consciousness or Higher Self or Light or Love, we can probably all agree that there is no equal.

10 Tips To Minimise Water Usage That Won’t Cost You A Dime

South Africa and many other countries around the equator are in the clutches of a severe drought, the effects of which are resonating through all spheres of life. A limited water supply has a very tangible impact on the individual and on a country’s economy at large. We can each do our bit to use water sparingly and see to it that fewer people and animals go thirsty and hungry. Remember always that all water is holy water. Having previously worked as an engineer in the water treatment environment, I am aware of how much of energy and investment is required to purify water to a suitable standard. With water quality deteriorating worldwide, this is a more and more challenging and expensive feat. Show your appreciation to God or mother earth and your society by conserving this precious resource.

1. Submerge dirty dishes in a sink or bowl of water immediately after use, this will  make it much easier to clean since dirt and grime are not given an opportunity to harden and dry thus saving water. Better yet, let the sink fill up with water from your hand washings or other not so dirty activities so you don’t need to fill it up with clean water. Thereafter, sponge and rinse clean.

2. Today’s modern tap handles make it easy to open taps fully. Instead, open your tap to the minimum water flow required.

3. Many people have timers on their garden sprinklers so that they automatically start at specified periods. Make sure your sprinklers are switched off on or after rainy days. Try to minimise water usage on your lawn. If your grass springs back when you step on it, it does not need a watering just yet. In times of drought you may choose not to water your garden at all The grass will become dormant and turn green again when you resume watering or it starts raining.

4. If you let the tap run to adjust the temperature, have a vessel ready to collect the unused water and use this water to wash hands or water the garden etc.

5. Wash children’s hands in a bowl or in a stoppered sink. Children tend to waste much water washing their hands since they are not as efficient at it. Washing their hands in an appropriately sized vessel of water will minimise wastage. Always supervise this activity.

6. Even Barney knows to “never let the water run” . When you are brushing your teeth, shaving, washing the dishes etc., make sure to close the tap when you are not using the water.

7. Reducing, reusing and recycling packaging and other materials in your home will also save water because all manufacturing processes use water in some way or the other. Use of water through industrial activity is significant. So reduce the need for unnecessary industrial processing to save water. In the same vein – do not waste food! Agricultural activity consumes large quantities of water too.

8. Think batch process. Filling an appropriately sized vessel for use in washing clothes or dishes etc. usually saves water as opposed to washing under a tap.

9. It is easy to lose yourself in the shower and afterwards let the water run just a little longer. Keep the focus in the shower and get what you need to get done, DONE. Not a moment longer. Because you would rather have your thirst quenched than sing in the shower.

10. Often saving water is just about being conscious of your use of water every time you use it. Keep the value of water in your mind always. Understand and remember that your actions with regards to water use, impact people and the environment. All water is Holy water.

How to Avoid the Dairy Allergen

I found out that my baby was allergic to cow’s milk when he reacted to a few bites of baby cereal containing milk powder. At 19 months he is just getting over his allergy. This meant 13 months of watching, innovating and protecting him from exposure to the cow’s milk allergen, casein. This period has tested me and trained me. Here are some helpful hints that I have picked up along the way that  helped me ward off danger from my most precious possession – my son.

In most instances I would cook all my baby’s food from scratch. This prevented unnecessary exposure due to miscommunication or contamination. When you do buy pre-packaged food, even if it is just a loaf of bread, read and re-read the ingredient label. Look for the following words that indicate the presence of dairy in the product: Malted milk, milk solids, butter fat, butter solids, artificial butter flavour, natural butter flavour, quark, curd, acidophilus milk, lactaid, lacteeze, lactose, lactulose, lactoglobulin, lactalbumin, casein, casein hydrolysate, hydrolysed casein, ammonium caseinate, calcium caseinate, potassium caseinate, sodium caseinate, rennet casein, whey, whey powder, whey protein, whey hydrolysate, sweet dairy whey, hydrolysed whey, delactosed whey, demineralised whey. I have highlighted what I have found to be the common culprits.

Other more obvious ingredients that indicate the presence of dairy are: Milk, milk powder, butter,buttermilk, cheese, cottage cheese, processed cheese, cream cheese, feta cheese, condensed milk, evaporated milk, cream, whipped cream, ice cream, yoghurt, sherbert, chocolate, margarine, processed meats, chewing gum, toffee, peppermints, caramels, fudge, Clifton, Horlicks, Ovaltine. People often don’t realise that foods like margarine and processed meats often contain dairy, that being said, there are brands that do not contain dairy.

Many products do indicate the allergens it may contain. Some (but not all!) products even indicate if the product may have been manufactured in a factory containing specific allergens. This probably means that other products are being made in the same equipment line as the product you are considering purchasing; and residuals from these products (which may contain allergens) may contaminate the product. Whether or not you need to avoid these products probably depends on how serious your baby’s allergy is. My son used to mildly react to baby cereals that did not even list any allergens in the ingredients and I suspect that contamination from common equipment was to blame.

Note that allergens can pass through into breast milk as well. If your child is not severely allergic then this may not be a cause for concern for you. Especially considering incremental exposure to the cow’s milk allergen will eventually help your child overcome symptoms of the allergy.

Also note that your baby may respond with symptoms to some forms of dairy and not others depending on how acute your baby’s allergy is and depending on the concentration of casein protein in the form of dairy. Consult your allergist on when and whether you can try certain forms of dairy on your child.

Your child will likely overcome his/her dairy allergy eventually. Mines did. Hang in there!

Read the following related articles:

Cow’s milk allergens in breast-milk?

Alternatives to Cow’s Milk

Eczema in babies – Troubleshooting the itch

My Story

I started my interfaith journey 11 years ago when I fell in love with my husband before realising that he belonged to a different religion than me. Having been brought up in a home which encouraged respect for all religions and belonging to a spiritual organisation that teaches that “all religions are one”; I felt obligated not to see religion as an obstacle for us. My husband (boyfriend at the time) was brought up in a more conventional setting, and often felt conflicted over many aspects of our future and thus began our journey of growth. Five years into our marriage and with 2 kids in our arms, we can proudly say that we have peace, love and happiness in our lives together. We still maintain our respective religions and we don’t agree on everything in each other’s philosophy books and sermons; but (and it’s a big but), we do agree on most things, especially the values that we ascribe to in our personal, professional and parenting lives.


In my life of 30 years I have seen many people give up on love because of the complexity of an interfaith relationship. I hope to provide the world with an example that interfaith marriages can work, and that not only can it work but it can work well. You can be your happiest self in an interfaith relationship. Like all relationships, interfaith relationships too take love, understanding, empathy, sensitivity, respect, amongst other values; to make it flourish. Although our interfaith family project is still a work in progress, I am here to give you a window into my life so that maybe you can benefit from it in some way. It is a very personal story to share with the world, but I am going to try to be completely honest whilst being sensitive to the people around me.


I have also included  help for those on a compassionate eating journey as I am. I believe that the topic of compassionate eating, alongside that of propagating love between religions, races, cultures and nations, can usher in a new era of peace and love and create a healthy environment for us all.

Please feel free to drop me comments and questions.


Eczema in Babies – Troubleshooting the Itch

To us, eczema was more than just an itch. Eczema disrupted good sleep habits, restricted my diet, changed our wardrobe, and broke my heart over and over again. My baby started developing eczema at around 5 months. He is now 16 months old and his skin is clear most of the time but it has been a frustrating journey to get to this point. I had read that eczema patients often have “flare-ups” at which point their eczema becomes active; well my son’s eczema was continuously “flared-up” with me having to apply the prescribed steroids almost every day. Although the steroids would eventually clear up the redness in his skin, it would never completely relieve the itching associated with eczema. The best advice I can give to fellow parents of eczema sufferers, based on my experience, is to be alert to what triggers your baby’s eczema off and try and eliminate or control these triggers. Be aware however, that your child’s allergy triggers and the associated symptoms will change as he/she grows.


This article documents my investigation into what triggers my son’s eczema, as well as measures we put in place to eliminate or reduce the reaction to triggers. Take note that eczema triggers vary from baby to baby, so conduct your own investigation for your little one and take the appropriate associated steps to relieve your loved ones eczema.


Trigger 1: Laundry Detergents

My son’s eczema first started showing when we changed his laundry detergent. We had run out of our usual baby detergent and so we used a different brand of baby detergent. Our cutie’s skin was rough to the touch on all the areas of skin exposed to the clothes. When we changed back to the previous baby detergent, his skin showed improvement.

As he became more sensitive, we noticed that when we held him against our own clothes, whilst carrying him or putting him to sleep, it caused his cheeks to light up bright red. We then started washing all our laundry with his baby detergent. Our clothes are none the worse for the change in detergent and it helped reduce his flare ups.

Lesson Learnt: Not all detergents, even those marketed as baby detergent’s, may be compatible with your baby’s skin.


Trigger 2: Wool

We had put a woollen jersey onto our son after a long time and within an hour he was all shades of red on the areas that the jersey collar was in contact with his face… he is allergic to wool! To eliminate this trigger we use only cotton clothes, blankets (with exception of baby sleep sacks which do not come into contact with his skin) and duvets on the baby. We have also removed woollen rugs from his play areas and replaced with rubber mats (much like yoga mats) which also serve as a great non-slip protective cushion on which to learn how to crawl and walk.


Trigger 3: Lanolin

After realising that my son was allergic to wool, I stumbled upon an article that stated that if you are allergic to wool then you are likely to have a hypersensitivity to lanolin. This made a lot of sense to me when I realised that the bum cream that previously caused him a red bum had contained lanolin. Lanolin is a by-product of wool, or more accurately stated, it is a wax secreted by the sebaceous glands of sheep or other wool bearing animals. Several cosmetic products contain lanolin including baby moisturisers, nipple creams, sun-blocks and bum creams, as well as many moisturisers and aquaphors recommended for eczema.

We had then changed to a far cheaper, lanolin free bum cream and he has not suffered with a diaper rash since. We also stay away from products containing lanolin. By 11 months, our son seemed to be over his wool and lanolin allergy.


Trigger 4: Cow’s Milk Allergy

Cow’s milk was my son’s main eczema trigger and the reason that he was suffering from almost continuous eczema. My son has been exclusively breast fed so I was not aware that he was allergic to cow’s milk till I fed him cereal that contained cow’s milk. He broke out into hives around his face and neck about a minute into the feed. By the time we had got to the doctor’s rooms, he had mostly cleared up but began vomiting violently. Yes, my boy is truly a bundle of allergies…. Cow’s milk protein, specifically casein is the culprit here. After reading that casein does pass through into breast milk in trace amounts, I stopped consuming dairy – this made all the difference to his eczema. I had previously tried to stop consuming dairy for a week to see if this was related to my boy’s eczema, but his eczema had only become worse in this period. The problem was that I had not tried long enough. This time it took me more than 2 weeks of going without dairy before I had started seeing an improvement; his eczema again had become worse before it became better. His eczema is now almost completely clear with only occasional minor flare-ups due to temperature changes. Most notably, he no longer develops eczema in his ears, and when he does flare- up it is minor and limited to his cheeks and elbows.

At 13 months I reintroduced dairy into my diet whilst still breastfeeding with no noticeable change in his eczema profile, despite blood tests showing that he is still highly allergic to cow’s milk. This may be because his allergy symptoms have changed.


Trigger 5: Dry Air Conditions

Dry air gives you dry skin which increases susceptibility to eczema. The following tips help us prevent and relieve dry skin in our baby:

  • Bath with Epimax or aqueous cream instead of soap;
  • Moisturise twice in a day with coconut oil and Epimax after bath or wipe down;
  • Moisturise face often since it is always exposed to the air and wash several times a day after meals;
  • Apply an extra barrier layer of unscented petroleum jelly on the face if the air is particularly dry;
  • Keep a humidifier on to increase air moisture content. The humidifier is especially necessary if you are using a heater at home. If you do not own a humidifier then place a shallow dish of water (out of reach of your child) in the room in which the heater is in use.


There are several other triggers that could set off your baby’s eczema. Keep alert to identify those things that are causing your precious baby to itch.


Trigger 6: Drastic Temperature Changes

This is a tricky trigger to control because it is almost impossible to control the temperature of every environment to which we expose our babies. My son’s first major eczema flare-up on the face was due to the sudden and drastic increase in ambient temperature conditions due to change of season. His face was red, peeling and so itchy he could not sleep soundly. We tried to cool him down with air-conditioning but the problem was that we only had air-conditioning in our bed room and so he was exposed to drastic changes in temperature when he moved in and out of the room which only worsened the eczema.

Also, sweat build-up in the folds of his skin aggravated his condition.

Steps we have taken to guard against eczema triggers due to sudden temperature changes:

  • limit exposure to air- conditioning
  • If we do use air- conditioning we do not change the ambient temperature too drastically, so that there isn’t a big temperature difference experienced when location is changed. We also keep a humidifier on, to guard against drying out of the air which will ultimately lead to drying of his skin.

Eventually my son acclimatises to the new temperature and his eczema heals. We take control measures listed below to reduce the symptoms of a breakout.


Daily Skin Maintenance

As thorough as you may be in the effort to keeping your little one away from his/her eczema triggers, flare-up’s do happen. This is my daily routine to prevent and control those incidents:

In the morning I give my baby a “top to toe”. I wipe each part of him with a soft face cloth and warm water. I apply coconut oil or almond oil followed by baby moisturiser whilst that part of the body is still wet; the wet skin enables better absorption of the oil and moisturiser. If he is drooling excessively or if the air is particularly dry, I follow up with some Vaseline on his chin and cheeks.

In the evening we bath him with aqueous cream or Epimax Junior followed by another massage with coconut oil and moisturiser while his skin is still warm.

When my baby’s eczema was very severe, I would re-apply moisturiser every hour on his face. I would also use the prescribed steroid ointment if needed and as often as recommended.

Alternatives to Cow’s Milk

Do you or a loved one suffer from cow’s milk allergy or lactose intolerance? Or have you or a loved one chosen the noble route of going vegan? No idea what to cook? I was there when my son was diagnosed with cow’s milk allergy and both he and I had to go dairy free. There are alternatives to cow’s milk that will help keep you going in the kitchen. Do take note that these milks cannot be the main source of milk for infant feeding as with cow’s milk, however, they can be used for cooking and food preparation. Remember that breast milk is the best source of milk for your infant. This is the experience I have had with the milk alternatives I have tried:


Almond milk

Almond milk tastes great in desserts but is not suitable for savoury dishes because it is very sweet. You may even find that you have to omit or reduce the amount of sugar you use in your dessert recipe. I have heard of unsweetened almond milk but have yet to find it in my grocery store. I have also found it to be significantly more expensive than other milk alternatives.


Soya milk

Soya milk is a versatile milk and can be used for both savoury and sweet dishes. However, it does have a stronger flavour than cow’s milk which can come through in lightly flavoured dishes. Soya milk is easy to drink by the glass when in the form of a milk shake but that is probably not the healthiest option especially for diabetics or those watching their weight. Also, my dietician has mentioned that soya milk is contraindicated for babies with cow’s milk allergy since there is close cross linking which can sometimes trigger a soya milk allergy. My paediatrician’s wise advice is to consume everything in moderation to manage allergies.


Rice milk

Rice milk is lightly flavoured with a lovely scent and a hint of sweetness. It can be used in both savoury and sweet dishes. However because it is slightly sweeter than cow’s milk, you may want to increase the savoury element in your dish and decrease those elements that add sweetness (for e.g. onions) to try and achieve a balance in savoury dishes. I was using rice milk for many months without questioning it’s safety because it was listed as an option for cooking with by a paediatrician we had visited, but I have recently read that there is some controversy over rice milk since rice milk and other rice products were found to have higher than average levels of inorganic arsenic. The truth on the matter… even the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) does not seem to have made their mind up on the subject yet. I have two cartons of rice milk in my cupboard and I am not sure what to do with them either…


Coconut milk

Coconut milk is often my milk alternative of choice. Coconut milk is a versatile milk which can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. It is often used in curries and is a popular ingredient in Thai cuisine such as the famous Thai green curry. Coconut milk adds a creaminess to your dish that most other milk alternatives do not. Some may prefer coconut milk over cow’s milk whilst others tire easily of the coconut flavour it often imparts. I would recommend it to balance acidic curries, in desserts and for use in your toddler’s cereals. It is also high in saturated fat which is an important component for your growing child’s brain.

Television and Your Baby

As a stay at home mum, I am confronted with the option of switching on the television several times a day. As a child I enjoyed growing up watching Friday night comedies and Sunday evening nature documentaries with my family; but I can also do without TV, forgetting to switch it on for a month at a time, being too busy with other pursuits. I am very mindful of the fact that television is a relatively new tool in the history of human parenting. My father, who was born into a poor home in South Africa in the 1950’s only had a television as part of his home furniture when he was 24 years old and he is one of the most intelligent people I have had the privilege of knowing. That being said, TV has become a powerful and tremendous part of human culture. If TV is omitted from a child’s life, it could make them feel socially excluded or cut-off from the rest of the world (this, of course, only becomes a factor after a certain age). Television is also a powerful learning tool, exposing us to a variety of cultures, religions, races, interesting animals from different habitats, information on hobbies and interests, and beautiful places, all of which we cannot hope to physically experience in our short lives. But I am also of the view that too much of TV can be a hindrance to optimal mental development, especially at the critical brain development age between birth and two years when the brain’s neurons are forming trillions of connections. Like most things in life, and especially with our children, when it comes to television, control is important for optimal development.


TV and Natures Physical Laws

From birth to about eight months of age I did not allow my son to watch any television at all; it was only later that that he was allowed short periods of television. The reason for this? Babies are learning everything from scratch, including how their physical world behaves. Let us consider the simple example of a baby trying to obtain a rolling ball. With observing the ball rolling multiple times, she will eventually be able to predict where the ball is going to be at a certain time, based on its trajectory and speed; and she will learn how to move in the right direction and at the right pace to obstruct it at that time. When she swipes at the ball and the ball rolls away she is beginning to understand the concept of inertia where an object will continue to be in a state of motion or a state of rest until a force is exerted upon it. With practice she also may begin to understand the relationship between force and speed and later on she will begin to understand the relationship between the angle of the force she applies and the resulting direction of the ball. So much can be gained from a simple interaction of a baby and a ball. This is just one example of the many physical interactions and experiences your child will be having as she develops her motor skills and understanding of her complex environment. Now imagine this same child watching a ball rolling around on television where there are a multitude of inconsistencies and even contradictions when it comes to physical laws of motion and what I fear to be the most confusing of all… the constant scene changes. When you introduce television too early, given the differences from physical reality, it makes it harder for your baby to realise what these physical laws are and therefore harder for your baby to function in his or her physical world. Babies are too young to tell the difference between physical reality and television and therefore their little brains cannot yet explain these many contradictions. Although it may be true that every child will probably gain an understanding of the physical laws of nature eventually, I do believe that TV at an early age can delay this process and this could have a knock on effect with other things such as motor skills. Do not take for granted that those things that seem obvious to you will be easily learnt by your tot.



Background TV

Do you leave the television on even when your child is busy with other activities? There can be consequences to this common and often unintentional act.

If you have an audible television or music on constantly in your home it is possible that it can make it more difficult for your child to associate sounds with activities taking place, whether it be activities he is busy with, activities going on in the home, or even outside the home. You will want your child to be able to tell what is happening around him and where it is happening based on what he can hear. If a television is on and audible all the time then it removes some of the opportunity for your child to learn the sounds of his world as well as the opportunity to associate these sounds with their sources. However, a good dose of background music is believed to positively stimulating and highly recommended for developing children, given of course that it is a good choice in music and given that you moderate this with quiet time too.

Furthermore, I believe that television sounds can drown out the sounds of words and conversations being spoken around the child and even those words directed at the child, thus delaying the ability to comprehend and form words.

A wall of old vintage tube televisions

Content of TV

Often cartoons and programmes, even those aimed at young audiences, use certain bad character traits such as lying, violence or competitiveness to create an interesting story line. Considering the limited exposure your child has to the outside world to develop its picture of what society deems as normal, you should tightly control the content to which your child is exposed. After all, it is our foremost responsibility to impart good values to our children.

Also used to spice up plots are scary characters, or even worse, scary situations. This not only puts stress on your child during the viewing session, but can thereafter be the subject of your child’s nightmares and has the potential of creating life-long fears. I remember my little brother’s crippling fear of aliens, and my own fears that remained with me for years as a result of such programmes. Children can also become quite emotionally effected by sad things that appear on TV, whether in the form of a drama, news report or documentary.

On the other hand, television has been observed to lead to emotional desensitisation. People become less responsive to another’s pain and suffering possibly when they have been over exposed to these concepts through television.


Television and toddlers

Perhaps my biggest gripe with television as a mum of a 3 year old is that television is too interesting. When exposed to such high levels of stimulation, my child either acts out if over-stimulated or is not as interested in doing less interesting things such as reading which is a better experience for them.

TV and The Parent

Perhaps the most damaging part of having the TV on, is what it does to me as a parent. When the television is on I don’t feel compelled to think of another activity for my son to engage in, the conversations and interactions between us are drastically reduced… in fact I get caught up in his programming too and become a “TV zombie”. This is, I suppose, acceptable some of the time; but if it becomes a habit it could be potentially damaging to parent child relationships, children’s language skills, and many, many other skills as it reduces all manner of beneficial activities. It is important to remind ourselves that family time should include a variety of activities including sitting together watching TV, conversation, prayer and plenty of games. This holds true not just for families but for couples too.


The Positives

Even after recognising the negative aspects of television, I watch my son clap to a song and delight in recognising a word or animal that he is familiar with and I have to recognise that television is a powerful educational tool and a fun part of our culture. I will continue to allow my son to watch television and I have to admit, I will enjoy TV time with him but I will limit the time spent watching television until such time that he is able to manage it responsibly himself.


Tips for TV Control:

  • Don’t allow TV before the child displays an awareness of basic physical laws.
  • When the child does start watching TV, keep it to a minimum time period. As parents we must make an effort to be conscious of the duration that the television is on for, and remind ourselves of other beneficial activities your children could be participating in instead. Keeping TV viewing time within controlled limits ensures that other beneficial, stimulating activities are not neglected
  • Do not keep the television on while the child is busy with other activities.
  • Control what is being watched, make sure it is age appropriate and that the values displayed are what you would want your child to adopt.
  • Use the television to reinforce lessons you have taught, e.g. this is a crocodile.
  • Avoid emotionally straining programming that can cause unnecessary stress on your child.



Do Cow’s Milk Allergens Pass Through into Breast Milk?

I am baffled as to how many differing opinions I have received from medical professionals about whether or not allergens pass through into breast milk. I have spoken to a paediatrician that said the cow’s milk allergen cannot pass through into breast milk, I have spoken to paediatricians and an allergist that has supported that it can, and I have spoken to a dietician that revealed that the medical world has yet to come to a conclusion on this important topic. Well I need no further convincing on the matter, I have witnessed first-hand the effect of allergens in breast milk and this is my story.

My son has had eczema since he was around 4 months old. On hearing through my nephew’s paediatrician that breast fed babies can be sensitive to cow’s milk in the mothers diet, I omitted dairy from my diet for just less than a week. His eczema did not abate… in fact it just got worse. But my story is not yet complete.

We then discovered that he was highly allergic to cow’s milk when he was 6 months of age when he reacted to a bite of cereal containing cow’s milk. A cow’s milk allergy means that the body is over reacting specifically to a protein called casein found in cow’s milk. So with new encouragement from my ever supportive mother in law, and in a desperate effort to calm my sons raging eczema I omitted dairy strictly from my diet again, this time for a month. The resulting change in my son’s constant eczema was drastic and unquestionable… his eczema again got worse and then … it almost disappeared! His skin was smooth and soft to the touch for the first time in many months and the constant itchiness that not even steroid topical treatment could relieve was finally gone. Most importantly, I no longer had to resort to using steroids to try to offer my son relief from his eczema, and this was a huge relief to me! I then read that casein can take about a month to leave the body and so it can take this long to see any resulting change in a baby’s eczema and that symptoms can sometimes get worse before it gets better; and then it all made sense. This is, I assume, the same concept as when we detox, where the body purges toxins through our skin when we stop consuming those toxins.

During the months that followed I would consume dairy to test if he still reacted in the same way, and his eczema would always flare up. After a while I stopped testing and just resigned myself to my fate. I went strictly without any form of dairy for a whole 6 months. At 12 months we tested my son for allergies via a blood test, and he was still highly allergic to cow’s milk. But then, an allergist/paediatrician advised me that his allergy would be changing as he develops and therefore (much to my excitement) I should try to start eating dairy again, and if his reaction was not severe I should continue consuming dairy. She explained that it is important for babies with allergies to be exposed to the allergens so that they are given a chance to get over their allergies (this advice is probably not prescribed to those who have life threatening reactions such as anaphylaxis, or maybe such actions will be conducted in a more controlled environment).

I started consuming dairy and he did not react, but after two months of consuming dairy I am noticing that he is reacting to breast milk feeds with a red rash around his mouth and itchy ears. This may be because I am consuming more dairy now than when I first started including dairy back in my diet; or that casein is building up in my body and therefore concentrating in my breast milk; or that he is drinking more breast milk in one sitting because I have reduced feeds; or it could be a combination of these factors. At 16 months old my son is still allergic to cow’s milk but can consume butter with no reaction. He has reactions to breast milk feeds which clear up quickly.

Although more studies are definitely needed in this subject to better understand and help our poor little allergy sufferers, I need no further convincing that cow’s milk proteins definitely do pass through into breast milk. If you do abstain from dairy to see if it will give your little one relief from allergy symptoms, remember that it can get worse before it gets better and remember to go sufficient time without the allergen to allow the allergen to be completely flushed from the body so that the true effect can be observed. Remember also that our baby’s allergies do change and hopefully eventually disappear altogether, so do keep testing. May we all overcome our allergy challenges soon!

Games for Toddlers Aged 1 to 2 Years

My son loves games and it has helped him extend his vocabulary and motor skills. It can sometimes be difficult to think of games to play with our babies and toddlers with their limited vocabulary and immature motor skills, so I will share some games with you that my son and I have been playing. I will add on to this list as our game repertoire grows. The games I have listed require little to no equipment and so will probably not cost you a dime. I hope that these few ideas can inspire many more game ideas that you and your babies and toddlers can play.

Always remember that when it comes to toddlers and games, you should not force them into a game if they are not interested in playing it at the time, it will not be fun for them or for you. Try again when they are in the mood. It will usually go better when they are well rested. Also, do not get frustrated with your toddler when he or she cannot concentrate or does not yet have the skills necessary to play a particular game. You probably will not have to wait much longer before he or she does acquire the skills needed for the game. When trying to think of games to engage your 1 to 2 year old in, remember to keep it simple, let them learn at their own pace and most importantly, have fun!


I Can See

Can be played by: Those babies or children that have developed the ability to point at objects OR identify objects by some other means.

Benefits: Increases vocabulary

Equipment: None

Use the phrase “I can see” followed by an object that can be seen by both of you. For example: “I can see a curtain”. Then ask the question: “Where is the curtain?”. Your child should then point to the object that you are asking her to locate, or she can touch the object. Give them some recognition for identifying the right object or show them the object if they cannot identify it.

My son also likes to repeat the word as he points. Encourage them with some applause and smiles for each object correctly identified. For a different feel, play the game while both of you are lying on your back on the floor. They will love looking at things from a different angle with you. This game is great to keep them entertained during nappy change time too. My son loves this game so much that he even initiates it by saying “see see”.


The Clean-Up game

Can be played by: Those babies or children that can walk and are able to identify some objects.

Benefits: Teaches the use of the phrases “please” and “thank you”; increases vocabulary; teaches colours and shapes; teaches your child the good habit of cleaning up after play.

Equipment: Small toys and a toy box or basket

Seat yourself next to your toddler’s toy basket or box. When toys are strewn around the floor, ask you toddler to pass you each toy using the word “please” and “thank you” each time. When asking him to pass the toy, describe it by colour, shape and the name of the toy. You can then put that toy into his toy box or basket. For example: “Please pass me the yellow block.” And when he identifies the yellow block and brings it to you. Say “thank you”.

When all toys have been picked up, celebrate the achievement with some applause and cheering. The next level of the game would be to allow your toddler to put the toy into the box himself.


The Counting Game

Children love to see their parents jumping around (more than usual); capitalise on this with this simple counting game.

Can be played by: Any age child can be involved. The smaller toddler or infant can watch you from a safe distance. The older toddler can join in on the fun.

Benefits: Fun way to introduce them to counting.

Equipment: A soft large inflated ball or balloon and some space to throw your ball high.

Throw your ball or balloon into the air and try to keep it from touching the floor by hitting or kicking it up. Count out loud how many times you make contact with the ball. When your child is too small to join in she will still love to watch this and possibly even learn how to count. Make sure your child is seated a little away from you so she has a good view. My toddler is usually in the swing when we play this game. The more exaggerated your movements are the more entertained they will be.


Quiz Worm

Who can play: Most toddlers will benefit in some way from being asked questions whether or not they can answer them right now.

Benefits: Increases vocabulary, and comprehension.

Equipment: A book with pictures.

Change up your reading time by quizzing your child on his/her picture book. Ask questions such as:

Where is the owl in the picture/book?

How many eyes does the owl have?

What colour is the apple in this picture?

Start with basic questions and the complexity of the questions can increase with your child’s development.

Or The next time your child opens a book he is familiar with, ask him to tell you the story instead. You will be surprised how well they do even with a very limited vocabulary. This will also start them off on the path to confident public speaking.


The Nursery Rhyme Game

Who can play: Those toddlers that have been exposed to nursery rhymes and have started talking.

Benefits: Encourages memory and increases vocabulary

Equipment: None

Repeat your child’s favourite nursery rhymes but leave out the last word in every sentence or paragraph. Encourage them to fill in this last word. Repeat the word after they have said it and continue to the next line of the nursery rhyme. Repeating the word will correct their pronunciation and correct the word if it is the wrong word. This works especially well with rhyming nursery rhymes as the rhyme gives them a clue to the next word.

Example: “Twinkle twinkle little…? How I wonder what you…?”



Other resources I like to use for free games are the Fisher Price Baby apps or the CBeebies website: