Kiwiparent Issue #286 October 2018 - November 2018

Page 1

RRP $7.50 (incl GST)



Meet the Huggies Cover Star Meet the winners of the 2018 Huggies Cover Star competition

What is normal? Identifying and helping children with atypical development

Messy is marvellous Embrace spring and play outdoors

Dads rock! Nailing it as a stay-at-home Dad

Sowing the seeds Encouraging a love of nature

The magazine of Parents Centre New Zealand Inc


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Subscribe or renew your subscription to Kiwiparent and go in the draw to WIN a Philips AVENT 4-in-1 Healthy Baby Food Maker valued at RRP $329.99! 1 years subscription to Kiwiparent (6 issues) is only $45 delivered to your door.

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Effortlessly steam, blend and serve healthy homemade baby meals with the Philips Avent 4-in-1 Healthy Baby Food Maker. Terms & conditions Subscribers must be New Zealand Residents. Offer ends midnight 25 November 2018. Only one The magazine of Parents Centre 1 entry to prize draw per subscriber. Gift not redeemable for cash. Random winner drawn and contacted by Parents Centre NZ Inc. Kiwiparent is the magazine of Parents Centre New Zealand Inc.

Cover photo: Winners of the 2018 Huggies Cover Star competition, Tegen and Lewis Gerdes with baby Caleb. Photo: Ogilvie and Mather

Special Features


Meet the winners of the 2018 Huggies Coverstar competition........................................... 8–12

Letters to the Editor....................................................... 4

Creating connections

Baby Show keeps getting better.............................. 5

Kirsty Saxon...................................................................14–19

Product page..................................................................6–7

What is normal?

Understanding the Schedule

Aimee Christie..............................................................20–24

Immunisation Advisory Centre.................................32–33

Out and about

Off to a solid start

Buying buggies, strollers and backpacks...............26–30

Baby-led weaning........................................................34–37

Messy is marvellous: play outdoors this spring

Save the Monarch

Michelle Pratt................................................................46–51

With an eye to the future: checking children’s vision.................................52–55 Sowing the seeds: encourage a love of nature Mandy Allen..................................................................56–61

Plastic not so fantastic: making sense of plastic jargon

Plants to help butterflies flourish...................................38

Parents Centre Pages............................................39–43 Find a Centre...................................................................44 Find out about Parents Centre..............................45 Encourage budding scientists with Darwin and Newts.....................................70–71 Lunchbox favourites the Countdown Food Hub team..............................74–76

Leigh Bredenkamp.......................................................62–65

Nailing it as a stay-at-home dad McKay Turner................................................................66–69

Our partners..............................................................78–79

Meal planning 101


Charlotte Chapman......................................................72–73


Winners from the last issue.....................................77





Stay-at-home dads rock! What is normal? | pages 20–24 Parents often worry that their child is not going to be normal. These concerns become a reality for some families if their child does not meet some, or all, of their developmental milestones. If you strongly believe that your child is not developing typically and your concerns are growing, then start seeking help. The process can be long so there is no better time than now to take that first step.

Creating connections | pages 14–19 Mum of multiples, Kirsty Saxon, writes about her family’s parenting journey and reflects on all the connections they have made with so many wonderful professionals and volunteers. Now that her first child is seven, and her twins are nearly five, she realises the most beautiful connection she and her partner have made is with each of them.

Messy is marvellous | pages 46–51 Outdoor play offers education in its broadest sense. Playing with water, clay, plants or soil will all introduce children to concepts in science, maths and language in an active and educational way. When children are outside, their attention is captured by the richness and diversity of nature. Their innate sense of discovery and exploration helps to establish an emotional connection with the natural world around them.

Kiwiparent. Since 1954. The magazine of Parents Centre New Zealand Inc Editor


Leigh Bredenkamp Ph (04) 472 1193 Mobile (0274) 572 821 leighb@e– PO Box 28 115, Kelburn, 6150

Parents Centres New Zealand Inc Ph (04) 233 2022

Editorial Enquiries Ph (04) 233 2022 or (04) 472 1193 info@e–

Advertising Sales Taslim Parsons Ph (04) 233 2022 x8804 Mobile 021 1860 323

Design Hannah Faulke

Proofing Megan Kelly


Opinions expressed in the magazine do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher. Advertising in this magazine does not imply endorsement by Parents Centres. Generally material in this publication may be reproduced provided it is used for non-commercial purposes and the source is acknowledged. However, written permission must be sought from the editor. Kiwiparent is proud to support the WHO/UNICEF International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1981.

ISSN 1173–7638

Printer Caxton Design and Print

It has been interesting to see the significant local and international interest that was sparked by Clarke Gayford taking over the primary care of baby Neve Te Aroha while Jacinda Ardern goes back to take up her day job as Prime Minister. Anecdotal evidence suggests the number of dads staying home to raise their children is on the rise, but it is difficult to know the actual number. The Household Labour Force Survey shows that late last year, 3% of men not in the labour force listed looking after children as their main activity, compared to 19.3% of women. It is likely that these figures underrepresent the actual number of men who are looking after children because they exclude people employed part time, and those who are looking for work. So, why aren’t more fathers taking time out of employment to care for their children? A common experience seems to be that many stay-at-home dads still feel they are vastly outnumbered – and can struggle to feel accepted in the mum-dominated preschool environment. Men who socialise with their antenatal groups often say that, although the women were welcoming and accepting, the mums were having different experiences to them and their sense of isolation increased. The gender pay gap is also a huge factor – on average women earn between 9 and 16 percent less than men in New Zealand – and culture also plays a significant role. These are big issues with no quick or easy fix, but if women had pay parity with men, it could free more dads to take on the primary parent role. Research clearly shows the benefits of strong paternity leave extend to the whole family. When dads take extended paternity leave or become the stay-at-home parent there are a whole raft of benefits. The parents’ relationships become more egalitarian, housework is shared, and there is less gender-stereotyping of roles. Children whose parents have more egalitarian relationships tend to be happier, do better at school, have greater selfesteem and fewer behavioural problems. Girls are more likely to follow less gender-stereotyped career paths, boys tend to have egalitarian relationships and fight less. Places with successful paternity leave schemes make it mandatory for both partners to take a portion of the paid leave available. When Germany legislated that, of a possible 14 months parental leave, two months must be taken by fathers, the percentage of men taking paternity leave went from 3% to more than 20% in two years. After Quebec introduced a similar scheme with “daddy-only” time, more than 80% of dads took up the offer. The awesome McKay Turner writes about his experiences as a stay-at-home dad to four preschoolers in this issue, and I would love to hear from more Kiwi dads who have stepped up to take on this most important of all jobs. How does it work for your family? Would you do it again? And, most importantly, what do you think should change so that more men could be encouraged become stay-at-home dads? Leigh Bredenkamp

The magazine of Parents Centre



Top letter prize

to the editor

The winning letter receives the complete Natural Instinct face care range, truly natural skincare products with active anti-ageing plant-based ingredients and 100% free from over 400 potentially harmful ingredients to you and the environment. Available from leading pharmacies. RRP $102.

Top letter

Congratulations to the Top Letter winners Jenny and Anna Wise who will win a prize pack from Natural Instinct.

Offering support and positivity

At Parents Centre we believe it’s never too early to volunteer! Advertising and Marketing Coordinator/ Co-President Lily Chan from Papakura Parents Centre volunteered at the Baby Show with her daughter Mika.

Our youngest child, Anna, is a very special girl who just happens to be on the autism spectrum. Although her diagnosis was a little overwhelming at first (she was only six when we found out), our family of six has learned how to work as a team so that every single one of us thrives! I honestly believe that had it not been for our wonderful doctors and our “village” of other parents who can relate to our family’s journey that we would have taken a lot longer to establish a routine that works for all of us. And truly, our village includes magazines like Kiwiparent that offer support and positivity to families of all abilities. My fellow parents and I are constantly sharing information and stories with each other that we think may be helpful, and I appreciate that you do the same. I would like to write something to support families with autism that you can share with readers who are starting their autism journey. Jenny (and Anna) Wise

Great to hear from you Jenny and Anna! Watch out for an article from Jenny on supporting families with autism in the next issue of Kiwiparent. – Ed

Susan and Alex Taylor are expecting their first child and have just joined Parents Centre. They are pictured here at the Baby Show with Susan’s parents, Barbara and Andrew Kavermann who used to belong to Onewa Parents Centre.



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Baby Show just keeps getting better! It was great to see so many of you at the Auckland Baby Show in August – we spoke to more than 1,500 people over the weekend! Special thanks to our awesome volunteers who did such a wonderful job and helped to make sure that our stand was such a popular place to visit. We never stopped being busy and met so many amazing people.

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Keeping you regular in a gentle way Phloe® is a natural New Zealand kiwifruit product that is suitable for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Phloe contains digestive enzymes, fibre and prebiotics to help keep you regular in a gentle way.

Minimise stretch marks when pregnant Bio-Oil is a simple, preventative measure to minimise stretch marks while pregnant. The unique blend of ingredients keeps skin well-hydrated and supple – increasing the skin’s elasticity to reduce stretch marks. We suggest applying Bio-Oil twice daily from the start of the second trimester for a beautiful bump. RRP $18.99 for 60mL.

The Sleep Store’s No 1 best-selling carrier for newborns Unlike any other active carrier on the market, Beco Cool brings you a performance fabric that wicks away moisture and keeps you dry. Beco Gemini Cool helps to regulate body temperature, so your baby stays cooler in the heat, and offers SPF 50 UVA/UVB protection to defend against the sun. Perfect for the beach too! Parents Centre members can use the code MEMBERS20 at checkout to receive 20% off this and other selected products.

The best things in life are 3 Mountain Buggy’s three-wheel legacy was born from a father’s need for a buggy with all terrain capability to enjoy New Zealand’s mountain trails with his baby. Three wheels provide superior manoeuvrability, making it easy to navigate any terrain from city streets to offroad tracks, never missing a beat and enabling parents to live life without limit. Shop the collection at



A new generation of sanitary products Drion pads and liners are a new generation of sanitary products designed to support health and well-being. They are free of chemicals and toxins, are slim, ultra-absorbent and feel so dry you could wear one all day. Biodegradable, Drion products also have a green negative ion strip with energetic properties that promote calm cycles and minimise odours. Drion Night pads are also ideal post-birth and recommended for light bladder leakage. Premium products that actually make a difference.

New FeverSmart continuous temperature monitor from Nurofen In good hands when fever strikes The FeverSmart app is downloaded to a smart device like a smartphone, then the app connects the monitor with a phone. An adhesive strip is applied to the monitor which is then placed under your child’s arm. The monitor then reads the temperature continuously and displays it on the phone. FeverSmart clearly indicates whether temperature is normal, moderate or high and sends notifications if the fever is in the high range. It also stores temperature data for sharing with a healthcare professional and can track medicine given and symptoms other than temperature.

Recipes for Messy Play New Shoots Publishing, in conjunction with NZ Tertiary College and Curiate, have released Recipes for Messy Play, which brings much-loved activities of Playcentre back to life. Playcentres were established in the late 1940s to offer childled learning opportunities to explore, create, get messy and grow alongside other children, assisted by parents. “We know, and the research is clear, that in a child’s early years play is learning, and that learning is individual and unlimited when children are engaged and enjoying themselves,” says Michelle Pratt, co-founder of Curiate and New Shoots Children’s Centres. Sensory play encourages scientific processes because problems are solved using all five senses. Messy play helps to build nerve connections in the brain, encourages the development of motor skills, supports language development, and encourages scientific thinking and problem solving.

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An extraordinary


Winner of the 2018 Huggies coverstar competition, Tegen Gerdes, shares the story behind the beautiful photo that captured the eyes of the judges. Early in November last year, my partner Lewis and I set off on one last road trip before our baby arrived – we - ura and travelled with his Mum and brother to Kaiko Hanmer Springs. - ura exploring around and We spent to first night in Kaiko set off to Hanmer the next day, where I started feeling unwell. I just shrugged it off as more morning sickness as I was plagued by this throughout the early months of my pregnancy. We arrived in Hanmer early that day, too early to check into our hotel, so we decided to go for a bite to eat and a drive to a beautiful view point on the way up to the St James trail. By the time we had climbed to the lookout I started to feel really ill and uncomfortable and had a constant excruciating pain that wouldn’t go away no matter how I sat or moved. I also realised that I had started bleeding and we knew we had to get to a doctor as soon as possible – and as calmly as possible. We made our way down the unsealed track we were on and found the medical clinic in Hanmer Springs.



Winning photo As soon as we arrived, the doctor was called to see me and assured us that our son was still doing well but he needed to ring Christchurch to summon a specialist medical team. A helicopter with a midwife was organised to come and get me. It didn’t take too long, but with the amount of pain I was in, every minute felt like 20. The midwife let me know that he suspected that I had had a placenta rupture and we needed to get to the hospital as quickly as possible. It was an extremely windy day so unfortunately Lewis had to drive back to the hospital whilst we were flown in by the helicopter. Not long after we arrived in the hospital, things took a turn for the worse and the staff decided they needed to take me through for an emergency caesarean. I was prepared for surgery and the medical team had all their scrubs on when – right at the last minute – Lewis came running up the corridor just in time for them to quickly prep him so he could join me for the delivery of our first child. Before I saw him running in I had started to panic and wondered if he would be able to make it in time as I knew it would take him a lot longer to travel by road. I was over the moon to see he arrived at the most unbelievable moment. Our son Caleb was delivered via caesarean seven weeks early. I got to briefly see him before he was taken to NICU to be put on oxygen and into an incubator. I had to wait until the next day to properly meet our son. Words can’t explain how I felt at the time – it was such a magical moment. But I guess this is how our parenting story began. Caleb was in an incubator for almost two weeks but, as everyone knows, when you are in the NICU with your newborn every minute feels like a lifetime. The saddest thing is when you have a baby, you expect them to come home when you do.

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Lewis and I spent every moment we could going back and forth to the hospital. Lewis had to continue working so he would spend 10 hours at work and come and meet us at the hospital as soon as he finished. Some days he was so exhausted he would have a little nap on the recliner in the ward. Unfortunately, the first time Caleb was taken off oxygen he had sleep apnea which meant he would stop breathing when he slept. He was put straight back on the oxygen for another week and was started on a small dose of caffeine which would trigger parts of the brain to remind him to keep breathing. Generally though, he was in good health. Caleb was fed directly into his stomach through a gastric line and monitors kept an eye on all his vital signs 24/7 – plus an amazing team of nurses constantly checking on him. Luckily, he had a lot of skin-to-skin time with Lewis and me which was wonderful.

The moment I took the photo When we were almost at the two weeks mark, we were told that we could finally dress our wee man for the very first time as he didn’t need to be in his incubator anymore. I wish I could explain how Lewis and I felt this day, it was such an accomplishment for Caleb. We carefully bathed him and dressed him in his little clothes that were 00000 but were still swimming on him. And this was the moment when I took the photo of Lewis with Caleb. Soon after being out of the incubator Caleb was breastfeeding and growing at an astonishing rate which helped him come home more quickly. I spent the last five days Caleb was in the hospital with him full time. He was finally allowed home in early December, and we got to enjoy our first Christmas at home as a family. Caleb is now ten months old and is a very healthy little man – to look at him you would never know he had such an amazing early entry into the world. Lewis and I dote on him and are so proud of what a little soldier he is.

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Whatever touches their skin, should feel as gentle as your hugs.

Every baby is different, but there’s one thing they all have in common. Their skin is up to 10x thinner than adults. That’s why we’ve designed HUGGIES ULTIMATE® Nappies. HUGGIES ULTIMATE® Infant Nappies are our softest ever and most breathable, to provide our best care for your baby’s delicate skin. It’s the hug that looks after their skin while they wear it. HUGGIES ULTIMATE® Nappies are clinically proven to help prevent nappy rash and have the same trusted absorbency and protection that you expect from all HUGGIES® Nappies.

There’s nothing like a hug

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The magazine of Parents Centre


Tarei Thaila-Jane Carla Amanda Go


dson Hita Teuki Edwar

Thanks for sharing your hugs with us What an amazing response to this year’s Huggies Kiwiparent coverstar competition! With almost 2,000 entries received, we were so very impressed by the high quality as well as the touching comments that accompanied the photos. A huge thank you to all the parents for sharing their special photos with us.

Lana Smith

It was a difficult job, but in the end all the judges agreed that the winning photo was of Caleb and his dad, Lewis, taken at a very special moment by mum Tegen inside the NICU. This was the image that resonated with the judges. We thought that image perfectly captured the loving connections between father and son – a special moment that illustrates closeness and attachment.

Jenna Agamata

Leanne Hearn

But there were so many gorgeous photos that we wanted to share some of them with you. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did. The judges were from Huggies, Ogilvy & Mather and Kiwiparent 




Rachel Coop


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Returning to the paid workforce?

The Return to Work programme offers practicalities, information and tips to prepare for returning to the paid workforce. Early Childhood Education choices Parental guilt & seperation anxiety



Negotiating flexible working house Contact your local Parents Centre for more information on the Return to Work sessions scheduled for the year.


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Our journey from infertility to parenthood

My husband and I were both teachers and have always adored children. After we were first married, we spent time teaching at International Schools in Syria and Jordan, then came home to New Zealand in our late twenties. We began to plan our much-wanted family. I was 28 when we threw away the contraception, and we began trying to have a baby. Although I enjoyed my job, I knew that being a wonderful mother was going to be the most important thing for me to accomplish in my lifetime. I didn't just want to ‘be’ a mum, I knew that this was something I was born to do. Within six months we had a positive test, but I started bleeding straight away and was told I had had an early miscarriage. Another six months passed and we still weren’t pregnant so we went to a gynaecologist in our small town, as there were no fertility specialists in our area. This was the first connection we made while trying to start our family. My gynecologist was totally supportive, knowledgeable and proactive in addressing our situation. My husband and I underwent all the tests, and these revealed that there was only a very small possibility of us conceiving without intervention. I began a cycle of Clomiphene which stimulates ovulation. At the time I began the cycle there was a local shortage of the drug, so I was only prescribed one sequence of doses. We knew that if it didn’t work, we would have to wait a while to try another cycle. All our eggs were in one basket so to speak. That cycle was again unsuccessful, and we continued to experience the roller coaster of high expectations and tearful disappointments.

Around this time, we tried to make other plans that didn't include a child, to take the pressure off ourselves. We had a holiday overseas, and later booked a cruise for the Christmas break. Then I applied for a study scholarship, which would enable me to take one year’s paid leave, while I completed my Master of Education. We tried to focus on other things, rather than getting pregnant, but of course, this was easier said than done. I was a woman obsessed with getting pregnant, charting, taking my temperature, researching … it was horrendously time- and mind-consuming. We started our next cycle unassisted because of the drug shortage and were fairly despondent by that stage. To our delight we were very surprised to get pregnant! My gynaecologist, who was now our fertility doctor, told us she had heard of this happening after Clomiphene, though I don’t know if there’s any science behind it. Just like that we were finally pregnant. It had taken us 18 months and I was now 30 years old. So we cancelled our cruise!

Living with the fear As I had had an earlier miscarriage, I was terrified that I would lose this baby too. I was too scared to feel hopeful and would check my knickers every time I went to the bathroom. But slowly the weeks and months passed. Unexpectedly, I hated being pregnant, I hardly ate for the first trimester as I constantly felt nauseous, though never vomited, thank goodness. My husband would ask me what I wanted for dinner, cook me something delicious, then by the time it was ready I would feel ill again and just want toast; the poor guy. I struggled with swelling and indigestion, but really it was a physically easy pregnancy. Around halfway through my pregnancy I found out I was successful in getting the scholarship, so now not only would

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we have a new baby, but I would be doing a full-time extramural study load. I knew I would cope as babies sleep lots, right?! We were blessed to have a great midwife, but an even more amazing student midwife. I felt like she really understood my feelings and anxiety throughout my pregnancy. Our baby girl, Ruby, was delivered and she was perfect. She was healthy, cute, chubby, all the things you could wish for. I was in heaven. She was the best thing that had ever happened to us. But this happy time was somewhat spoilt by my birthing experience. My waters broke early, but my contractions were too slow to start so I was given Syntocinon to speed up my labour. This was given along with an epidural, however that didn’t work at all, even after repositioning. This meant I had a hard and fast labour with only gas. It was horrendous, and I ended up with stitches. I was adamant for quite a while after the delivery that one child would be enough, as I couldn’t face pregnancy and the risk of a traumatic birth again. As an organised and slightly obsessive-compulsive person, I was totally ready for being a mum, and my postgraduate study. I had plans in place for help from my mum and mother-in-law. Because I was getting paid while I was on leave (technically I was on study leave, and not maternity leave), we were able to have the luxury of a weekly cleaner who was fantastic. Unfortunately, even with all the best laid plans, I was not blessed with a sleeping baby. She was difficult to get to sleep, she never self-settled, she would only nap for short periods, woke frequently in the night (and did for a good four years), and I began to feed her to sleep which was a recipe for disaster.



Keeping up a brave front Although on the outside, it looked like I was keeping it together, at home I was falling apart. I managed to keep up with the study demands, but would spend long periods of the day crying, wondering what I was doing wrong and why I couldn’t cope with my own child. At around four months my family bundled me off to my doctor, and I was diagnosed with postnatal depression. I look back at the photos from this time and everything looks amazing ... a wonderful husband, gorgeous baby girl and happy mama. But it was all a lie. I just felt broken inside. It broke my heart as our daughter was so wanted and wished for. I felt distraught. With the medication, support and wonderful family and friends, I took each day as it came and gradually began to feel better (though still had, and do now have, ups and downs). Though the stress from the sleep issues continued, I just learnt to accept them and tried my best to get on with everything. I tried to find the moments of joy as I knew these were what really mattered in the bigger picture. I finished my year of study and graduated, which was a wonderful achievement, considering how much I had struggled emotionally. By this time my daughter was nine months old. I then applied to my school for maternity leave and was lucky enough to be able to stay at home with my daughter for another six months. She was 18 months old when I returned to full-time teaching. We were lucky enough to be able to split her care between my mum, mother-in-law and two mornings at preschool. We have been so blessed with the support we have received from our family, and I’m thankful for them every day. Despite all the ups and downs, at this time we decided we would like to try for a sibling for our daughter.

“Treasure new parents of multiples, just as you would a parent of one new baby … make them meals; help with their laundry, cleaning or dishes; take the babies for a walk while mum has a decent shower; and most importantly keep asking if they are doing okay. Reinforce to mum that there is strength in asking for help. They may not admit it themselves, but do your best as a family member or friend to assess the situation – is this new mama coping? How can her village wrap its support so tightly around her she will never be let down?”

Seeing two tiny blobs

We knew now we could get pregnant, so were trying to be optimistic that it wouldn’t take very long. I was absolutely ready to accept the reality of only having one child if that was it, but what troubled me was not knowing either way, and wondering how hard to try and how much energy to put into it before giving up. Not knowing was the most difficult part for me. After six months without any success, we were back to my gynaecologist. She prescribed another round of Clomiphene which we started immediately. The day my period was due I took a test. Immediately it came back with an extremely strong positive result. I was ecstatic. The chance of multiple births on Clomiphene was around 5–10%, so although there was only a small chance, a little part of me wondered, with such a strong result, what the outcome would be. I was also starving hungry and ate constantly which was completely different to my first pregnancy! However, for the full nine months I still suffered major anxiety – I was worried I would lose a baby again.

This pregnancy our student midwife had now graduated, so I rang her straight away. She arranged for us to be booked in for an early scan at seven weeks. I felt a little excited that maybe it could be twins but didn’t think it would happen to us. The scan guy looked around for a while before pointing out a teeny tiny blob, “That’s the first baby,” then he pointed to another blob, “... and that’s the second baby.” I was bubbling with excitement, and my husband was thrilled. The excitement lasted about a month before being replaced with pure terror, considering our experience with our first child. Early on in the pregnancy I joined Multiples New Zealand, an organisation which provides nationwide, parent-led advice and support for families expecting multiple babies. I was blessed to have a lovely buddy mum who answered all my questions, and a huge village of multiple mums within an online support group. At every stage, there was a mum who was facing the same problems or milestones – or had been there! Our gynaecologist now became our obstetrician – a woman of many hats. It was another difficult pregnancy, with terrible swelling, pain and stress on my body. I gave up work at 24 weeks and stayed at home with my daughter, who was now two. At 35 weeks I went into premature labour and was flown by the Life Flight plane to Wellington, where they stopped the labour. I stayed in hospital for four days

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before being sent home again. Not for long though; at 36 weeks I was again in labour and sent by Westpac Rescue Helicopter to Wellington again. This time I stayed five days. My poor girl really missed me and couldn’t understand why she couldn’t visit me at the hospital. Throughout this time, the staff in both our regional hospital and the city hospital were amazing. My husband was also treated so well and spoilt at Ronald McDonald House, a charity which will always be dear to our hearts as a family. I held onto the babies until 37 weeks when my waters broke. I was so happy my pregnancy was over I almost skipped into the maternity ward. It was finally safe enough to have the babies at our regional hospital. My waters broke at 4:30pm, and the babies were delivered by caesarean section at 7:30pm due to their breech position. After my first horrific birth, I thought a caesarean section would be relatively straightforward and I could cope with the recovery, but now I can’t decide which birth was worse. The babies were gorgeous, Xavier and Lilian. Perfectly healthy, no special care needed, and they both fed straight away.

Adjusting to a new normal After the initial few weeks of pure insanity, we settled into a groove. My two wee bundles together were far easier than my first child ever was. As a mother of twins, with another child under five, we were entitled to home help hours, which was a wonderful gift. We employed a lovely woman who would come and help with the washing, do a bit of cleaning, or just cuddle one of the babies. This made life infinitely easier, and she is still a close family friend now, over four years later.



My next step on my parenting journey was taking my children to Playcentre. All three of my children have been Playcentre kids and have thoroughly enjoyed being at a parent-led centre. It was a lifesaver on days where I didn’t feel my best, as I still had to make an effort for my babies. This meant I was able to have adult company and conversations, while my children were having fun. Over the next four years I continued to volunteer my time with Multiples New Zealand, helping coordinate events and writing for their magazine. Then in 2017, I was made Editor of the quarterly magazine and I now sit on the eight-member National Executive. It is a big responsibility supporting our families throughout New Zealand, but I love my role.

It just takes time I still struggle through some days, but they are few and far between now. What helped was purely time … time with my children, time with myself, and just taking one day at a time. My parenting journey has been one of definite highs and lows, but through it all I have learned to take each moment, hour, day, as it comes, and know that things will eventually get better; to enjoy the little things, as one day you will look back and realise these are the big things in life; surround yourself with people who will love, support, listen, laugh and cry with you; and most importantly of all – everything happens for a reason. It is not always apparent at the time, but there are lessons there eventually. When one door closes, another opens. If you or someone you know is expecting multiples, send them to to see where their nearest club is. This is the best thing you can do as it is all their support, friendship, and knowledge in one spot. Then, treasure the new parents, just as you would a parent of one new baby … make them meals;


Join u and

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Connect help with their laundry, cleaning or dishes; take the babies for a walk while mum has a decent shower; and most importantly keep asking if they are doing okay. Reinforce to mum that there is strength in asking for help. They may not admit it themselves, but do your best as a family member or friend to assess the situation – is this new mama coping? How can her village wrap its support so tightly around her she will never be let down?

Throughout our parenting journey we have made connections with so many wonderful professionals, but also volunteers. Now that my first child is seven, and my twins are nearly five, I can see the most beautiful connection we have made is with each of them. There were years when I wondered if I would ever be a mother, and now I look at my three little people and know how blessed we are to have them. (Especially when they are all asleep … kidding … not really.) 

with parents at your stage, discuss with others, find local babysitting and coffee groups!

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Kirsty sits on the Multiples New Zealand Executive, and is the Editor of their magazine, Multiple Matters. She holds a Master of Education and a Diploma in Digital Photography. While juggling seven-year-old Ruby, and four-year-old-twins, Xavier and Lilian, she also works as a photographer and graphic designer, and teaches intermediate students in these areas. In her spare time she volunteers with the Shine on Kaitaia project, which aims to bring free family events to the Kaitaia community. Although originally from Nelson, Kirsty and husband Jack are currently living in a seaside village on 90 Mile Beach in the Far North.


The magazine of Parents Centre


What is


Parenting a child that does not meet typical milestones

One of a parent’s greatest concerns is often simply that their child is not going to be normal. These concerns do become a reality for some parents if their child does not meet some or all of their developmental milestones. The struggle of parenthood can be real, for any parent, from all walks of life, but some parents are faced with parenting their little gems through more challenges than others. These little treasures are here to teach us more about ourselves, about inclusion and about the importance of celebrating diversity.



All children develop differently, and this is contributed to by many factors including each individual child’s personality, learning dispositions, gender, age, genetics and environment. As a parent it is very easy to compare our child against others, whether it is a sibling, a friend’s child or someone at playgroup. Typical or normal child development is a broad and large subject, there are a range of ages to achieve developmental milestones and varying ability within each of the developmental areas. These varying ages fit within an age bracket – for example, a toddler typically learns to walk between nine months and 18 months of age. Parents love to share the achievements of their child, as if it is a reflection on their parenting abilities. Sometimes, this can mean overlooking what is

important and creating a competitive environment that makes it very hard for some parents to feel accepted. Atypical child development – or the development of a child that does not meet typical milestones or behaviours – is also broad and very complex. Sometimes atypical development affects one area of development like physical development or comprehension. But more commonly atypical development affects multiple developmental areas – for example, a child could struggle with communication and comprehension as well as social development. Many children receive a diagnosis to explain their developmental delays, but others do not.

Keep advocating If you feel that there is something not right with your child, it is vitally

important that you seek help. Sometimes, parents are declined referrals when they first ask for help, but you need to keep reaching out. Continuing to advocate for your child is imperative and often the hardest job. Finding a team of professionals who really listen to your concerns, who offer ideas, strategies or referrals is vital. Remember, you are your child’s greatest advocate, but continuing to push and fight to be heard is terrifying. Some parents even begin to question their reasoning and concerns, and can be left feeling defeated. Parents who have a child with atypical development have to learn to navigate many more areas than a parent with a typically developing child. They face multiple health and education appointments, learn

If you feel that you need help or support please reach for help, there is help available and an option that suits your needs. Your child deserves it.

medical terminology, and often feel more like their child’s private nurse or physiotherapist rather than a mum or dad. For parents, trying to understand multiple professionals’ opinions from varying backgrounds can be overwhelming. Professionals are often working on different goals and strategies aiming to provide better outcomes for the child. This can be hard to navigate as you consider the implications of what different professionals

propose is the best idea for your child. You need to consider the effects on other areas of development and how they affect your child’s holistic development. Parents are often trying to work on each professional’s individual requirements, and to have them all work on the same agenda or towards the same goals sometimes feels nearly impossible. Some parents can have ten or more different professionals all working with their child at once.

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Asking for help is the first step Deciding that you and your child need help is the start of the process for gaining better outcomes for your child. The earlier you can gain support for your wee one and yourself, the greater the potential outcomes. But where do you start? The minefield of professionals and options can appear overwhelming. Start with someone who knows your child like your general doctor or your early childhood teaching team – this is a safe place to start, somewhere to share your concerns and reasons why you feel this way. If you are not supported by these professionals, then speak to someone else. There are many different organisations that can support you. Finding the right help and advice can so often be about finding the right person to support you within these groups. They can include, but are not limited to, specific professionals within the Ministry of Health, your doctor, Plunket, pediatrician, Ministry of Education, early childhood teaching team, Early intervention teachers, private consultants and



non-government organisations. All these professionals can offer supportive advice and referrals if needed.

When should you ask for help? If you strongly believe that your child is not developing typically and your concerns are growing, then start seeking help. The process can be long so there is no better time than now to take that first step. Your concerns could include such things as: language delays comprehension gaps gross motor skills fine motor skills social skills dietary or food aversion issues hearing vision repetitive behaviours n ot meeting or exceeding typical growth patterns.

Practical advice for parents If your child shows signs of atypical behaviour, find support in family and friends, someone to share your journey with who you will feel comfortable confiding in, sharing your deepest challenges and concerns and celebrating the smallest of achievements. Join an online support group, ideally specific to your child’s diagnosis. The feeling of knowing another parent is going through a similar journey to you can be comforting. It can also be a source of ideas, support and understanding. Take time for yourself each day, remembering that taking ten minutes to yourself will help you be a better parent. Your child and family need you in a healthy state of mind. This may be reading, exercise, painting your nails or sitting down outside with a hot cup of coffee. Question professionals, as they are a wealth of knowledge. Understanding the reason why and theory behind their strategies, goals or treatment is imperative to you feeling

Parenting Solutions For Everyone Struggling with confusing behaviour that is hard to cope with? Worried about your child’s development? toiling with routines? We offer experienced professional consulting to support your child and families natural dynamic and philosophy on life and parenting.

Remember your child is a gift that challenges you, loves you unconditionally and teaches you more about yourself and the things you can achieve than perhaps you thought you were ever capable of doing.

confident that this is the correct path for your child. Discuss your ideas with professionals, maybe what you have read about or learnt from others, so you can understand if this is an option for your child. Find an inclusive early childhood centre or school, somewhere that meets your child’s requirements and matches your values and views on inclusion. This could require talking to education professionals about suitable options, visiting several centres or schools and discovering what extra support is available for your child. Continue to advocate for your child, as you are their greatest strength and support. This can be overwhelming at times but take a moment to appreciate the effort

you have made. Find professionals who are on the same wavelength as your family and that you feel can offer you the support you need. Remove yourself from relationships and situations where you are not included or treated with respect. These negative relationships require a lot of energy that can be well spent in other areas. You do not want or need others' negativity dragging you down. Celebrate the smallest achievements; these are the tiny steps towards the bigger steps that you are working towards. Your child is on their own individual journey; you may encounter regression but remember that there have been achievements and progress has been made.

Behaviour management Family routine Grief support Simplicity parenting Developmental goal setting Early Intervention Rhythm & rhyme of transitions & the day Benefits of nature exposure Technology use Developmental assessment of your child Ages verses stages assessment Educational support within Early Childhood settings Solo or Co parenting solutions Blended family parenting solutions Toilet solutions We offer support for any learning or behavioural needs for your children & family. Please contact us to discuss how we can help

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Reach out to others What you can do to support parents with atypically developing children: Don’t be judgmental. Smile and be approachable. H ave a chat about nothing specific – the weather, the rugby, or pay the other parent a compliment to open conversation. Parents don’t want to talk about their challenges constantly.

Continued overleaf... The magazine of Parents Centre


P arents of atypical developing children don’t want to be asked ‘whats wrong with your child?’. They want their child to be seen as just another little one in the group or at the playground. P arents with atypcially developing children want to be included, they want their child to be treated normally as much as possible. Acceptance of diversity is imperative modeling for children and this is a wonderfully powerful learning opportunity for all children. A typically developing children teach other children and ourselves so much. I f you are concerned about a close friend or family member's child and their development, consider discussing this with their parents or caregivers. Approach the conversation carefully and slowly, ensuring it is a safe and private environment – it could be an emotional conversation. You could meet with resistance and denial. Make sure you say that you care and are there for them if they need you at any time. I f your children asks one of those embarrassing questions



like “What’s wrong with him?” or “Why can't she talk?” or “Why does he have that wheelchair?” Be prepared – answers like “We are all still learning to do things, what are you still learning to do?” or “Everyone is different, it took you a long time to learn to ...” Turning the question or answer back to your child helps them to understand that everyone does learn differently. This also gives the parent of the atypically developing child the chance to share information if they want to. B e prepared to make changes to include an atypically developing child, like moving furniture,

moving activities so that they can reach, or sit on the floor with everyone so that they can join in. I nvite these children and their parents to go out and do something with you and your child. A walk in the forest, a swim, a coffee, birthday parties or a play date. Atypically developing children are often overlooked for social experiences with their peers. I f a parent of an atypically developing child wants to talk, spend the time listening, not offering advice. 

Aimee Christie Aimee is an educational consultant for Early Learning Consultants NZ who provides support to children and families through the challenges they are facing, including developmental and behavioural support. Aimee is a mother of four and has over 15 years of educational experience.

The magazine of Parents Centre





It won’t take long after you get your new baby home before you will be ready to venture out of the house – to see friends, go shopping, visit the doctor or simply get out for a walk in the fresh air. And you will need to be able to trust your stroller, buggy or baby carrier to safely hold your little one when you are out and about. One of the big investments you need to make when you are planning on expanding your family is a good stroller that will serve and survive your family’s needs. But there are so many choices on offer, it is easy for parents to feel totally overwhelmed when it comes to choosing a stroller or buggy. You will find there are strollers for jogging and strollers for walking, lightweight strollers and heavy-duty 4WD strollers. There are combo strollers and travel system strollers, single strollers and double strollers. And this is only a start; the choices are, quite simply, endless. To help you navigate the complex world of strollers, here are a few things to consider before you invest.



Safety first One of the most significant factors to consider when buying a stroller is safety. While most safety features are mandatory and products are in line with New Zealand and Australian standards, it's still important to be aware of them. All strollers should have a suitable restraint that will keep your child secure and prevent them from falling out; a five-point restraint with waist, crotch and shoulder straps provides the best safety. Make sure a tether strap is present to loop around your wrist to prevent the stroller getting away from you (easy to happen if you are out in hilly terrain). Some strollers even brake as soon as you let go of the handle. All strollers should have at least one parking brake, and the release mechanism must be located so that it is not easily accessible to your child when they are strapped in – you don’t want them taking off without you.

What will suit your family Decide what you'll mainly be using your stroller for. If you're an active person who plans on running or even

walking regularly with baby, then look at purchasing a stroller that's suitable for all-terrain, which is a bit sturdier and solid in build and handling. Look out for a model that has the option of adjusting and locking wheels, as these features can make it easier to run over different terrains. If you're looking for something to keep in the back of the car for use around the shopping centre, when taking older children to school, playgroup or kindy, or for generally using in a more urban environment, you could invest in a lighter stroller. While these are generally not as sturdy, they're lightweight and easier to fold and carry if you are going to be in and out of the car multiples times a day. If this is your first stroller and you're planning on having more children, it's a good idea to look at models that will allow you to install additional seats (or even funky skateboards) later. There are many options available and investing a bit more in a model that can grow with your family could save you in the long run.

How strong are you? The weight and size of a stroller varies according to its purpose – something like a rugged all-terrain stroller will weigh more and be bigger than smaller collapsible strollers. Again, it depends on what will suit your family’s needs. It's important to check that neither parent or caregiver will struggle to cope with the weight and size when pushing the stroller – or will find it difficult to lift it once it is collapsed. Also consider how much having a child, a nappy bag and a couple of shopping bags will affect the weight and manoeuvrability of the stroller. Many families that purchase a bigger stroller end up investing in (or borrowing) a lightweight stroller as well; that way you'll have a lightweight one that's easier to carry and transport for quick trips.

Steering a safe course Make sure you're able to comfortably steer your stroller and feel confident in manoeuvring it in and out of tight spaces. You should be able to walk with the stroller using your normal stride, without hitting your shins or feeling as though you have to alter your normal gait. Before you buy, do a stroller ‘test drive’ and see if you

Continued overleaf... The magazine of Parents Centre


can do an about-face to handle stairs, steer through doorways and tip it back to mount kerbs.

of hands. It is good to consider strollers that have enough storage space to suit your everyday needs.

If the stroller is going to be used by a number of adults on a regular basis, it's worth finding a model that has an adjustable handle to allow for any differences in height. This can be an essential back saver for anyone pushing for a long duration, and means the stroller will work for either parent, as well as for other caregivers.

From car to stroller

Easy to collapse? This is more important than you would think! When you’re desperate to get home after a full morning and your child is screaming, the last thing you need is to be standing in a busy car park attempting to work out which lever or button will collapse the stroller before you can load it into the boot. Ensure that when you check out the strollers in the shops, you're confident in your ability to collapse it yourself – and then practice when you get home so that you have the technique down to a fine art.

Storage space Before you leave the house with small children, you must pack for every circumstance – spare nappies, change of clothes, warm jersey, spare blanket, favourite toys, snack, drink… Inevitably you will leave with a bag which is the same size as the rucksack you used when you backpacked around Europe in your twenties. You only need to add a couple of shopping bags and a keep cup of coffee, and you might find yourself out



Some parents like the idea of an 'all-in-one' system that allows you to transfer your baby straight from the car into the stroller. If this sounds like a winner, you could consider a travel system. This is a stroller with a compatible infant car seat that clips into the stroller. An alternative is a universal stroller frame. This lets you attach your car seat to the bottom of it without waking up your baby and means that you can decide on a stroller once baby is a bit older and grows out of their first car seat.

What will it cost? A little bit of research goes a long way in determining what you can get for your money, and this is a good starting point. Hop online and see what is on offer – this will give you an idea of the costs you will face and help you to set a realistic budget. As much as possible, try to stick to it – it's very easy to get overwhelmed by choice and get led astray once you're in the shop. If you decide to buy second-hand – or borrow from a friend – make sure to check out all the safety features carefully.

Wear rather than wheel Some families decide to ‘wear’ rather than ‘wheel’ and opt to use a baby carrier instead of – or as well

New Zealand Safety Standards for prams and buggies Has the pram or buggy passed the New Zealand Safety Standard? In New Zealand it is not compulsory for all prams and buggies sold to have passed the voluntary safety test. This means that there are huge differences between the qualities of prams available. For your baby’s sake, make sure your pram carries the New Zealand Safety Standard tick and a manufacturer’s warranty.

as – a stroller. If babywearing sounds like a good option for you, there are plenty of styles to choose from. Front packs are padded carriers with straps over both shoulders, two holes for the legs and a crotch piece to support baby. They allow for very young babies to snuggle up against you facing inwards. Most of these carriers also allow you to position your baby facing outwards (away from you) – this gives an older baby more freedom of movement and plenty more to look at. Back packs tend to fall into two categories – framed and unframed – and are intended for slightly older babies and toddlers. They’re built to carry heavier loads and work well for where the terrain is too tricky for strollers. There are many options available but keep an eye on how well each model will spread the weight, how comfortable they are for parent and child, and how useful the additional features are for your needs. Soft structured carriers have a soft body and four straps that attach with buckles. These are usually pretty flexible and can be worn on the hip or back, as well as the front.

Win a Mountain Buggy unirider and helmet for outdoor fun! Stand out from the crowd with unirider – a unique riding experience that develops balance and confidence for your child, as well as having so much fun! unirider provides the perfect solution for: day-to-day short trips, walks and/or jogging. Available at Unirider RRP $149, helmet RRP $30.

Enter online at and follow the instructions. Winners must be received by Friday 2 November 2018. Winners will be published in issue 287.

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Slings wrap over one shoulder and then tie firmly around your waist. They let you carry your baby in front – either lying down or sitting up – or on your hip or your back. A wrap is usually a long cloth strip that’s wrapped and tied off around the body across both shoulders.

Things to consider when choosing a baby carrier M ake sure it’s suitable for your child – check the recommended age and weight. B road well-padded shoulder straps that cross at the back will help distribute baby’s weight and a broad hip strap or waist strap will take some weight off your shoulders and improve stability. A ll straps should be fully and easily adjustable and shouldn’t obscure baby’s vision or cut in front of their face. C lips and buckles are usually easier to do up and release than straps, but ties give more adjustment options. Y our carrier should support baby without being too restrictive. Head support is particularly important for younger babies. C onstruction and materials should be comfortable for the baby – and parent.

Machine-washable carriers are easier to clean. S torage pockets can be useful for storing small items. In the next issue of Kiwiparent we will look at babywearing in more detail. Prepared with information from and 

There are no New Zealand safety standards for baby carriers. So, what's important? T he carrier should provide support for the baby’s body, head and neck. It should also hold your baby securely. C heck the size of the leg holes. Leg holes that are too big can let babies slip through. M ake sure there are no points, sharp edges, choking hazards, small loops, clips, or buckles to trap small fingers and toes. Check your carrier often for ripped seams, sharp edges, and loose or missing buckles. Check your baby can always breathe freely.

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Understanding the schedule

The National Immunisation Schedule – simply known as the Schedule – provides the most effective way to help avoid a range of preventable diseases. It’s a great idea to familiarise yourself with the Schedule – so here’s a quick look to get you up to speed.

It’s all in the timing The timing of the different vaccines provides the best protection at the age when it is needed most. Your baby’s immune system has a huge capacity and babies are exposed to countless new germs every day. The effect that immunisations have on the immune system is tiny in comparison. It’s been theorised that a baby’s immune system could effectively manage over 10,000 times the amount of vaccines they actually receive when they are vaccinated. Delaying vaccines can increase the risk of your child getting very sick because their immune system hasn’t learnt how to fight the infection yet.

The Schedule The Schedule starts before baby is born, with influenza vaccine and a whooping cough booster vaccine for mum during pregnancy. Pregnant mums are five times more likely to end up in hospital because of the flu than if they weren’t pregnant. Influenza infection can also affect the growth of the unborn baby. The whooping cough booster not only reduces the risk of mum catching whooping cough, but the antibodies her body makes in response to the vaccine are passed on to the unborn baby. Baby doesn’t get any vaccine, just their mother’s antibodies. This gives baby temporary immunity to whooping cough when they’re born, before their own immunisations start. Children then receive vaccines over seven visits.


common cause of diarrhoea, vomiting and dehydration in babies. Getting those first three doses of whooping coughcontaining vaccine is also a priority: infants who do Age

Diseases covered and vaccines


Booster dose against Diphtheria / Tetanus / Whooping cough

(2 injections)

Seasonal Influenza 6 weeks 3 months 5 months

(2 injections and one dropped in mouth at each event) 15-months

(4 injections)

Pneumococcal Rotavirus (given orally) Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) Measles / Mumps / Rubella Pneumococcal Varicella - chickenpox


(2 injections)

Diphtheria / Tetanus / Whooping cough / Polio Measles / Mumps / Rubella


(1 injection)

Early protection

12 years

Early on, we want to provide protection against rotavirus – this gastrointestinal virus is the most

(2 injections, 6 months apart)


Diphtheria/Tetanus, Whooping cough, Polio, Hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)

Diphtheria / Tetanus / Whooping cough booster Human papillomavirus – some cancers and genital warts

not receive doses of this vaccine at the scheduled times of six weeks, three months, and five months are five times more likely to be hospitalised with whooping cough than babies who were vaccinated on time. Around half the babies under one year who catch whooping cough will end up in hospital. One or two in 100 of those hospitalised die from pertussis infection. Babies can temporarily stop breathing and their brain does not get enough oxygen. In around 2 in 1,000 children, whooping cough leads to permanent brain damage, paralysis, deafness or blindness. Pneumococcal vaccine protects against pneumococcal bacteria. Invasive pneumococcal disease occurs if the bacteria pass into the blood, resulting in a severe form of pneumonia, blood infection and meningitis, and can infect other normal germ-free sites around the body, including the heart, joints and abdomen.

As they grow Your child will receive booster doses of some vaccines to increase their immunity when they are 15 months and four years old. They will also be protected against measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox viruses. By the time your child starts secondary school they have a high level of protection against 14 serious, but preventable diseases. That includes diseases like HPV and hepatitis B which can cause cancers later in life.

About vaccine safety Like all medicines, there are benefits and risks when using vaccines. Because we give vaccines to healthy and very young children, it’s completely understandable to have initial concerns about them, especially when the risk of catching a disease might appear slim. All vaccines undergo many years of extensive testing as part of clinical trials before being used in immunisation programmes. These trials follow all participants to see if those who had the vaccine experience adverse reactions. Even after a vaccine is approved, any negative health events following an immunisation are reported. These are collected around the world and analysed to see if they might be caused by the vaccine. In this way, the safety of all vaccines is continually assessed. All vaccines available in New Zealand are safe to use. As with all medicines, there is a risk of an extremely rare allergic reaction which can occur after immediately having a vaccine and where baby’s breathing becomes restricted by swelling. This occurs approximately one dose in a million, and all nurses/doctors are trained to look out for and treat it, should it occur within a few minutes of receiving the vaccine. This is why you’re asked to wait 20 minutes before going home after immunisations.  Find out more at Article supplied by The Immunisation Advisory Centre

Protecting your baby starts before birth When you’re pregnant, free vaccines can help protect you and your new baby before they are fully immunised. IMMUNISATION DURING PREGNANCY Influenza and whooping cough (pertussis) immunisations are recommended and free for all pregnant women in New Zealand. These types of vaccines are used internationally during pregnancy and are a very safe way to protect both mother and baby. Immunisation during pregnancy causes the mother’s immune system to make antibodies. The antibodies circulate in her blood stream to help protect her from getting sick. They also travel across the placenta into her baby’s blood stream and help protect the baby after birth, before baby has completed their first three immunisations.

IMMUNISATION AND BREASTFEEDING Mothers pass some antibodies to baby in their breast milk – these don’t interfere with baby’s own immunisations and in fact may help them work better. You can continue your usual breastfeeding after baby receives immunisations, including the rotavirus vaccine. Mothers can be immunised themselves while still breastfeeding.

visit or speak to your doctor or practice nurse for more advice. TAPS approval number: NA 8613

The magazine of Parents Centre


Off to

a solid start

Baby-led weaning When our daughter Maia was about five months old, wellmeaning people suddenly started enthusing about introducing solids. It came as a bit of a surprise to me initially simply because we’d had a tricky start to breastfeeding and it felt as though things had only just settled down. I was in no hurry to give my baby ‘alien matter’ as I thought of it. But other people were. And when she continually pushed spoons away and showed no real interest in mushy bowls of baby rice well past six months, I couldn’t help hearing the other voices even though I knew she was thriving on my milk. This went on for several months. I tried all sorts of mushed-up homemade concoctions to no avail. I wish someone had told me then about the advantages of letting a baby eat appropriate food from a parent’s plate; this is called “baby-led weaning”. To this day Maia doesn’t like sloppy food, in fact she likes to see exactly what she is eating, and she doesn’t like things touching. Looking back, I feel I could have saved myself a lot of time and energy. Over the decades the age at which health professionals have recommended solids be introduced has varied greatly. During the first half of the last century it was about six weeks! Can you imagine? When I was born, yes, 50 years ago, it was about four months. The World Health Organisation says: “Infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter,




Tip: Buy a cheap tarpaulin

to pop under baby's highchair; it makes for a quick clean up after meals as it catches any dropped food.

to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond.” By and large, most other leading organisations in the US, UK and Canada agree that six months is the time to start solids – but it’s not an exact science. Even at an early age, babies sometimes watch eagerly as your fork goes from your plate to your mouth. And this is one indicator that your baby is starting to be interested in eating like you. But there are a lot of other signs that can help you know when your baby is ready. If your baby is sitting up unsupported and can reach your plate, grab a handful, put it in her mouth, chew, swallow and reach for more – they are ready for solids. One of the best bits of information I’ve seen is in the wonderful Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. “Maybe you’re thinking that other foods would help your baby sleep through the night. Not according to research. In fact, your baby might sleep less well because of the indigestion that too-early solids or formula can cause. Babies sleep through the night when they are able to, which sometimes happens

at around six months, but not because of the solids. His insides are designed to be ready for solid food once his outside has developed enough for him to eat it on his own.” Of course, this doesn’t mean that some things won’t end up in baby’s mouth sooner. But if you’ve noticed they are pushing things back out with their tongue, that’s a defence mechanism to protect his digestive tract from anything foreign in his mouth.


If you’re worried about choking, be reassured that your baby’s gag reflex is an effective defence mechanism, designed to eject food pieces too big to swallow. Your baby’s pincer grip (the ability to pick up objects with thumb and forefinger) naturally develops at about eight months, so the chances of her putting tiny things like raisins in her mouth before she is able to handle them are slim. Nevertheless, you’ll want to be close at hand during early meal experiences anyway. Waiting until six months also allows your baby’s digestive enzymes to be up and running, thus reducing the risk of allergies. So, if they can eat by themselves as well, it makes sense that around six months is the time to start. If I’m honest, I wish I’d waited longer with Maia. All that fuss about baby cereals, which after all have little nutritional value, would have been avoided. If I’d just let her eat from our plate, when she was ready, I’m sure it wouldn’t have been so stressful for me.

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So what starter foods can your baby eat from your plate? Most soft or stewed fruits, avocado, cooked vegetables, hummus, slivers of

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chicken or fish (watch for bones obviously!). Very quickly it’ll be much of what you are cooking for the rest of the family; a well-balanced and varied diet with foods as close to their natural state as possible. It sounds easy enough but if you need some good ideas, check out the 50th anniversary edition of La Leche League’s Mothering Time Cookbook. It’s packed full of some easy to prepare and nutritious meals and snacks. Oh, and a word about iron and breastfed babies. I repeatedly heard that Maia needed solids because she wasn’t getting enough iron from my milk. True, breastmilk doesn’t contain a lot of iron but it isn’t supposed to because it is very readily absorbed. Feeding your baby too much iron will end up feeding the wrong bacteria in his tummy.

Recent research from the University of Otago has found the BLW infants in our study were more likely to show they were enjoying their food and were less picky eaters. We also found no evidence for previous suggestions that infants following a baby-led approach may not eat enough food, and no sign that they were underweight. Professor Rachael Taylor Edgar Diabetes & Obesity Research Centre

Is baby-led weaning a good fit for your family? Do as much reading and research as you can before starting baby-led weaning (BLW) to make sure that it is the right fit for you and your baby. To begin with, it might seem as though not much will go into baby's mouth (most of it will seem to end up on baby – and everywhere else), however, more goes in than you realise. If you answer yes to these questions, then your baby may be ready to begin BLW. C an baby sit, holding their head up, with very little or no support? Are they six months or older? I s baby able to pick up objects and bring them to their mouth? I s baby reaching for your food when you are eating?

Lisa Manning Lisa is a former TV journalist and presenter. She is married to the British actor John Rhys-Davies with whom she has a daughter Maia.



There are many advantages to BLW, including not having to fuss around with purees, baby gets to practise their skills in hand-eye coordination and baby eats more or less what you eat right from the start. It also encourages baby to learn about tastes, textures and that food is fun.

There are disadvantages – it is very messy, and you might get comments from other people who wonder why you don’t have baby food on hand. Your baby can also gag on their food and this is very scary. The gagging is normal as baby's gag reflex is a built-in safety measure and is not the same as choking. Gagging sounds more like a cough, whereas choking the baby will either be struggling to breathe or will not be breathing at all due to food obstructing the air passages.

sweet potato, pumpkin and carrots in to chip shapes, or offer whole green beans. Simply steam or boil veggies so they are soft but still holding their shape. A good guide for size is baby's hand, as in the early stages they cannot open their hand to get at the food. You might also try things like:

First foods that work well are foods that are easy to grip, like florets of cauliflower and broccoli or the end of a banana (chop banana in half, peel skin down on the stalk half about three-quarters of the way and then trim it off). Cut vegetables like

w ell-cooked red meat or chicken cut in to strips

Free “Organic Birth” Labour Check-List Guide

Avoid foods high in salt and sugars, as they are low in nutrition and aren't good for baby.

cucumber avocado slices of ripe pear

sticks of cheese breadsticks. 


Free “Why They Cry” baby guide

NZ’s No.1 best-selling book on childbirth & infants since 2005! The magazine of Parents Centre


Save the


Our much-loved monarch butterfly is under threat and this National Gardening Week, Kiwis are being called upon to plant butterfly-friendly plants to help save the caterpillars when they hatch in spring and summer and provide nectar for butterflies.

Nectar-producing flowers that attract butterflies include:

Last year saw a national shortage of swan plants, which are the main diet of monarch caterpillars – this caused large numbers of the population to be wiped out.

Livingstone daisy

A national planting day will be held on 20th October. Families are encouraged to put a swan plant – or other butterfly-friendly plants, in their garden, their neighbour’s garden, at school, and in local community gardens – to help monarch butterflies flourish again.

godetia, satin flower, farewell to spring

National Gardening Week aims to foster a love of gardening, with a focus on growing not only plants but friendships, good health, strong communities and closer connections with nature. Whether it’s a few pots on the balcony, a small patch or an extensive garden, everyone can experience the joy of gardening. Yates is getting behind the drive to avert a similar crisis this year, by giving away various free butterfly-friendly seeds including Yates new Butterfly Field Mix seeds between 1st and 14th October. Register online during this time to receive your packet of seeds.



tickseed cosmos sunflower hound's tongue foxglove

fineflower gilia

baby's breath dame's rocket, damask violet, etc. candytuft tree mallow toad, blue, flowering and red flax baby-blue-eyes love-in-a-mist evening primrose shirley poppy Flanders poppy lacy phacelia, blue tansy 

In this section Committee meetings and teddy bears' picnics Honouring the contribution of Cheryl Macaulay Big Latch On

Supporting parents through the early years because great parents grow great children Parents Centres are renowned for their parent education programmes. What is not always so wellknown are the huge range of support networks and advice available to parents.

Spotlight on Baby and You classes Find a Centre

Photo: Big Latch On, Papakura

One of the most important sources of support can be your original antenatal group. These often stay together and form ‘coffee groups’ – better described as ‘counselling groups’ at times! We all go through enormous life adjustments with the birth of our first babies and the support and advice from other parents can be invaluable. Time and again we hear that these support networks have been a ‘lifesaver’ for many parents at what is a time of huge adjustment and uncertainty. These groups of parents often form firm friendships which can carry on for years – even decades! Strong support networks have helped the go-ahead Centres to make a difference in their own communities – pages 40–42 are full of stories of individuals and Centres who are achieving great things both nationally and locally. Even more impressive when you consider that most of this work is powered by volunteers. Volunteers are the lifeblood of Parents Centres around the country. We wouldn’t exist without the extraordinary enthusiasm and energy of so many generous and proactive people nationwide. Volunteering is rewarding, skill-building, good for communities and, let’s not forget, it can be great fun! It fosters a strong sense of belonging and community connection. Many of our volunteers are full-time parents, have paid jobs as well as other commitments, yet still manage to find the time to volunteer for their local Centre. Some go above and beyond that call when they keep serving their Centre long after their children leave the preschool years behind them.

So, to all our volunteers who have been before, who are with us now and will join us in the future, we are genuinely thankful for your input and honoured to work alongside you to help make parenting in New Zealand a little bit sweeter. Go to today to contact your local Centre and to find out more about support and volunteering opportunities offered in your area. 

The magazine of Parents Centre


Committee meetings and teddy bears’ picnics The Southern Alps were catching the first glimpse of sunlight on the snow as we circled down to land in Hokitika on a crisp mid-winter morning. When I put out a call to meet Parents Centre committees, I didn’t have in mind joining in a teddy bears’ picnic in Shantytown on the West Coast! Joining the committee over lunch after participating with more than 50 children in a Music and Movement session was one of the many highlights of the meetings I have had around the country. (As was travelling with Liz Pearce, our teddy bears tucked into our bags.) In every visit I have been so impressed with the time and commitment made by a small group of volunteers to support our mission – making great young New Zealanders by giving their parents the tools to become great parents. So far, I have met committees or their representatives in Wellington, Auckland, Greymouth and Waikato. Over the next couple of months, Liz and I will also be covering Taupo, Rotorua, Tauranga, Whakatane, Dunedin, Timaru, Ashburton, Christchurch, Marlborough and Kapiti. By the end of the year I hope to have visited each of our Centres.



The purpose is the same in each visit: to hear how the National Support Centre can better respond to the needs and challenges of our local Centres, and to share something of the vision we have for the next phase in the life of Parents Centre. Part of this is connecting and reconnecting to the many other organisations that support parents and their children. We want to see Parents Centre collaborate and work together positively with other organisations who have a similar purpose. And we also want to be more accessible – ensuring that parents, no matter where they live, are able to access high quality, scientifically supported childbirth and parenting education. Parents Centre has been a leading advocate for childbirth education and practices for nearly 70 years, and we plan to remain attuned to, and responsive to, the needs of parents in the more challenging and complex world in which we raise our young children.  Heather Hayden

Heather was appointed Chief Executive of Parents Centres New Zealand in April 2018.



Save the Date! Parents Centre NZ are holding their annual conference on 4 May 2019

Latching on to a good thing The Big Latch On gathers women together at registered venues to breastfeed and to offer peer support to the other breastfeeding women in their community. Family, wha-nau, friends and supporters from the community also attended the events to support and promote breastfeeding. This year, a Big Latch On was organised by Papakura Parents Centre – their ninth year of hosting. It was hosted at the Elizabeth Campbell Hall on 3rd August and had a successful 37 latch ons. “Our event was made successful with the support of local community organisations,” says Advertising & Marketing Coordinator/CoPresident, Papakura Parents Centre, Lily Chan. “We were also supported by great local businesses such as Sustainable Papakura, Papakura Toy Library, Plunket, Counties Manukau Kindergarten Association, Massey

Park Pools, Urban Soul Karaka, TNT Catering, Footsies Carfe, Tee Jay Photography, Amberbebe, My Little Prince Teething Jewellery, Baby on the Move Botany to name a few. The event was one of hundreds all over the country in celebration of breastfeeding for women and their families. Thousands of women from different cultures and backgrounds have simultaneously breastfeed their babies in public events all around New Zealand over the 3rd and 4th of August. Although the Big Latch On is part of the global World Breastfeeding Week celebrations, Women’s Health Action’s Maternal and Child Health Manager, Isis McKay, says they recognise that not every parent can – or chooses to – breastfed. “We want the Big Latch On to be a positive and inclusive event," Isis says. “It’s not just about celebrating breastfeeding, it is about support and recognising all the ways in which mums, dads, families, and wha-nau share the nurturing of our babies." 

Come along and connect with other Parents Centre members and committees, hear from some amazing speakers and learn more about new parenting initiatives.

Watch this space for more details

The magazine of Parents Centre


A colleague and friend who will be sadly missed

Cheryl Macaulay Parents Centres Board Co-Chair, Cheryl Macaulay, passed away peacefully at Auckland City Hospital on 4 August 2018. She was surrounded by family and friends and listening to her favourite song. Parents Centres Chief Executive, Heather Hayden extended deepest sympathy from all the Board, staff and volunteers at Parents Centre NZ to the family. “Cheryl was a highly respected Chairman and Board member over many years and we are devastated by your loss." After battling cancer for a year, Cheryl had thought she was improving, but developed terrible back pain. She was re-admitted to hospital to treat the pain, but tests showed that the cancer had spread. She was given just a short time, and spent that time with her husband, children and her family. “I really looked up to Cheryl,” says fellow Board member Win Mitchell. “She was successful on all accounts in life – especially as a parent. She was a true Kiwi mum and a great role model – her achievements always high. Strong, determined, passionate and giving, I hope that her husband and children will get the love and support they need to get them through this heartbreak.”

In 2000, Parents Centre moved from the old national executive to a new board structure and Cheryl became involved in the Board soon after as we negotiated rather choppy seas. She certainly didn’t fit any stereotype of either a traditional Parents Centre mother (which she wasn’t) or a hard-headed successful businesswoman (which she was). Blonde David Bowie-style hair, snappy “with-it” dresser, fingers adorned with funky jewellery – that was Cheryl. We quickly learned from her governance and business experience and Parents Centre has benefited so much from that over the years. She could, and did, make the hard decisions but also understood the emotion and passion that motivated Parents Centres people. But Cheryl was always more than a businesswoman and Board member – she loved her family, she was a great “connector”, had a loyal circle of friends and she was always fun. All of us who knew, worked with and loved Cheryl will miss her so much. Sharron Cole Past Parents Centre Board Chairperson

Staff at the National Support Centre were shocked and saddened by Cheryl’s passing. Strategic Partnerships Manager, Taslim Parsons, remembers Cheryl as a vivacious and vibrant person. “I worked closely with Cheryl over the last year or so. I found her commitment to the well-being of our organisation and its values inspiring. Cheryl worked with us at National Support Centre through some trying times and – whilst the situation was serious – she tackled it with her wicked sense of humour and straight-talking attitude. I'll miss having Cheryl on our Board – she was a great leader, a fantastic mother, and a successful businesswoman. Her loyalty, honesty and sense of fairness will stay with me.” Parents Centres Board and staff were represented at Cheryl’s funeral and held a memorial celebration for her in Wellington. At the Parents Centres conference next year, the organisation will present an award in her name to honour her many years of service to Parents Centres.  Kia Kaha, Kia Maia, Kia Manawanui



Each edition of Kiwiparent will profile one of Parents Centre's renowned parent education programmes.

This month the spotlight is on:

‘Baby and You’ Early parenthood is a life-changing experience into which we all go unrehearsed. The ‘Baby and You’ programme follows on from antenatal classes and offers sound tips and strategies as you begin your remarkable journey into parenthood. In your newborn child, you have a very special little individual who will grow and develop with your care and guidance. Contributing to the growth and development of your child can be hugely rewarding. To see your baby smile, play and grow – so helpless and dependent – can be an extraordinary experience. You will have feelings of tenderness, closeness and a sense of awe at the miracles of ‘first milestones’ – smiling, crawling, steps and games. But with a new baby comes uncharted waters. Your tiny bundle may rule the entire household through his routines, sleep patterns and behaviours. This can be very challenging. Many parents, particularly new mums, find the information and support in the ‘Baby and You’ programme extremely helpful in managing the challenges, and making the most of the rewards, that a new baby brings into their life. Parents Centre believes strongly in the strength of support networks in getting through – and enjoying! – those early months. Firm friendships are often formed between course participants, through shared experiences and understandings.

Discussion topics include issues around post-natal realities, identifying physical, emotional and relationship changes. For example: what are some successful infant feeding practices? How do you handle other people’s often well-meaning advice about feeding? There are often very simple strategies for coping, and discussing issues as they arise is often the first step to successful feeding. Discovering that other new parents experience similar difficulties or have the same questions can be hugely supportive. Babies grow quickly, and they go through a variety of stages. ‘Baby and You’ explores the first three months of your baby’s life and gives practical information about stimulation for babies, age-appropriate toys and the key milestones of your baby’s growth. The programme also recognises the heavy demands babies have on parents’ time and attention. It is common for parents to feel a loss of independence, a huge lack of sleep, and worries around employment and financial changes. Included is a section on self-care strategies for parents – it’s a challenging time and let’s not forget to meet the needs of mum and dad! Participating in the ‘Baby and You’ programme will give you the much-needed tools over those first uncertain months to enable you to grow in confidence. Your baby, and you, will benefit enormously. 

The magazine of Parents Centre


Find a Centre near you Parents Centres span the entire country with 46 locations around New Zealand. Contact your local Centre for details of programmes and support available in your area, or go to:

North Island Auckland Region 1

Bay of Plenty





Bays North Harbour


Hibiscus Coast




Auckland Region 2

New Plymouth

Auckland East



South Taranaki


East Coast North Island


Central Hawke's Bay

Auckland Region 3

Hawke's Bay

West Auckland

Central Districts

Central Auckland

Palmerston North

East & Bays







Lower Hutt




Upper Hutt


Wellington North Wellington South

South Island Northern South Island Nelson Marlborough Greymouth Canterbury Region Ashburton Christchurch Timaru Oamaru Southern Region Alexandra Balclutha Dunedin Gore Taieri



Great parents

grow great kids

Arm yourself with knowledge as you grow as a parent alongside your child, by taking part in one of the Parents Centre programmes that run nationwide. Having a new baby is a time of significant change – your brain is working overtime with questions and your body is going through amazing changes. It's quite a journey. Parents Centre has been supporting parents for 65 years. Become a member of Parents Centre and we can support you too! You’ll get access to quality pregnancy, childbirth and parent education that will help you gain invaluable knowledge on your pregnancy, childbirth and early parenting journey. It’s a great way to meet other new parents who are on the same journey as you. They often become lifelong friends. You get support through coffee groups that meet on a regular basis, and ongoing education programmes to help you navigate the stages of pregnancy and parenthood. With 46 Centres nationwide, we provide many opportunities for social engagement for both parents and children. Many of our Centres offer playgroups and music classes, and these are a great way to learn with your children while you get to socialise with other parents at the same time.

You also gain skills and experience that will be a real asset when you decide to rejoin the workforce. We look forward to having you join our Parents Centre family and supporting you on your parenting journey! Early Pregnancy – a special programme tailored for your 12th to 24th week of pregnancy. Pregnancy, Childbirth and Parent Education (Antenatal) – essential information to prepare you for childbirth and early parenting. Baby and You – practical and sensible tips and advice for enjoying and making the most of those first months with your newborn. Parenting with Purpose – consciously focusing on how you want to parent and how your child ticks. Return to Work – advice for preparing and returning to the paid workforce. Magic Moments – strategies for positive communication and discipline with your child. Moving and Munching – exploring baby's first foods and developmental stages.

As a Parents Centre member you will receive loads of free giveaways and samples, as well as special discount shopping days, and discounted products and services exclusive to Parents Centre members. Who doesn’t love freebies and discounts!

Music and Movement – stimulating music activities for your baby and toddler.

Many of our members gain so much from being a Parents Centre member that they want to ‘give back’ and become volunteers for their local Centre, ensuring that new parents can continue to benefit from the skills, knowledge, friendships and support they’ve received. 

Tinies to Tots – positively encouraging your emerging adventurous toddler.

The magazine of Parents Centre



is marvellous

Enjoy the outdoors this spring



As the days are getting longer and new green shoots and flowers are starting to pop up around you, you know that spring is about to make its grand appearance. Spring is a beautiful season that invites us to make new beginnings and fresh starts. This is the season when Kiwi families can step outside, embrace the fresh air and begin to play outdoors again. The benefits of a childhood spent largely outdoors are vast and varied. When playing outside, children are free and unrestricted and can take charge of their own play, which promotes positive self-esteem, autonomy and confidence.

Our greatest teacher Outdoor play offers education in its broadest sense. Playing with different quantities of water, clay, plants or soil, will all introduce children to concepts in science, maths and language in an active and educational way. When children fill buckets of sand, for example, they explore notions of weight and volume. When describing the activity to you, or their friends, children build their vocabulary and learn to articulate their thoughts, which deepens their understanding of the world around them.

Healthy benefits Outdoor play has an immensely positive impact on children’s health. Interaction with natural elements such as soil and water help to build immunity and resilience. When children are exposed to harmless microbes, their immune response becomes stronger. This explains why children who grow up on farms, or who live in the country, often have fewer allergies than other children. Researchers also found that children with asthma and eczema benefited from going outside as it helped ease symptoms.

“And at the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy, and your eyes sparkling” – Shanti Continued overleaf... The magazine of Parents Centre


A sense of connection When children are outside, their attention is captured by the richness and diversity of nature. Their innate sense of discovery and exploration helps to establish an emotional connection with the natural world around them. This is important if we want our future leaders to hold a sense of responsibility and adopt sustainable behaviours as they grow up. Below are a few ideas on how to encourage children to play outside – no matter what the weather decides to throw at us.

Ideas your children will love! Take indoor activities outside Children all have favourite activities that they love and will choose to do over others. By bringing these activities outside, new creativity will most certainly bloom, keeping them enthralled for hours. Take your homemade playdough outside and encourage your children to create an amazing wildlife world by adding shells, rocks, leaves and flowers to their playdough creations. Get your homemade paint out and collect leaves to use as stamps. You do this by rolling paint directly onto the leaves with a small roller and print them on paper. Another idea is to simply paint the leaves and make a beautiful spring garland once the leaves are dry. Make a giant-bubble mix and use rope or twine so your children can create the biggest and most magical bubbles in the backyard.

Explore the wonderful things nature has on offer Going for bushwalks is a great way for children to enjoy what nature has to offer. Taking kids to a nearby park



or pond will also provide plenty of opportunities to explore the local “wildlife”. Give your children a magnifying glass and ask them to go on an insect-hunt, ask them to describe what they see and what the differences between the insects are. Why do some have wings? Are there some that don’t even have wings or legs at all? Bring a sketchbook and ask your children to draw what they see – be it a tree, bird, fish or flower. Observing and drawing an object helps children learn about space, movement, art and their creativity. Peppa Pig has done a great job in promoting muddy puddles and the endless fun children can have in them. Find some old clothes and just let them get as wet and muddy as they like.

Use the outdoors to get messy! Messy Play is fun! Follow the recipes on pages 50 and 51 for gloop, bubbles, play-dough and fingerpaint, and get cracking. Messy Play allows children to express their feelings and helps form neurological pathways in the brain. Because there is no right or wrong way, children can just relax and enjoy themselves, which is why it’s great for relieving tension and frustration. Messy Play activities such as driveway paint and chalk patterns have an added bonus – the rain will normally take care of the cleaning-up within a few days!

Why it’s so much more than Messy Play Messy Play improves children’s literacy – it helps develop language and the motor skills required for reading, writing and handling different types of matter.

Messy Play helps to develop numeracy skills – dividing up quantities, observing expansion and contraction, and creating and identifying patterns and shapes. Messy Play offers many opportunities for scientific exploration – children observe how different substances interact, and how different colours, textures and smells are created. Messy Play enables responsive and reciprocal relationships – joining in, sharing resources and ideas, laughing, chatting and making friends. Messy Play is a great way for children to build confidence and self-esteem – there is no right or wrong! The results are always original and different with no preset ideas.

Create an outdoor play area your children will love If you can, having a semi-covered and open outdoor area that your children know is just for them, where the rules are different and they are in charge of the activities, can often be enough of an enticement to spend most of their time there. It is also relatively easy and cost-effective to set up yourself. Have toys and resources that encourage a range of different movements such as jumping, hopping, climbing and balancing. Adding a dedicated area for sand, water or mud play will not just turn you into a very popular parent, it will also support the important brain development that happens when the five senses are activated.


Gather materials that you no longer need and upcycle them into activity hubs such as a swing, a balancing bridge or a STOMP-style band rehearsal corner.

The benefits of outdoor play Allowing children to explore the outdoors, take risks and get messy are some of the best things you can do for children. Several studies have pointed to the health and educational benefits that come from outdoor play, and recent research has also found that children who are allowed to take part in independent activities in nature, such as climbing a tree, will gain important skills related to persistence, entrepreneurship, self-knowledge and problem-solving.

Continued overleaf...

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Because we aren’t all able to spend lots of time outdoors with our children, choosing a childcare centre like New Shoots, which has great outdoor areas, that sees the value in messy play and exploring what nature has on offer, can make a world of difference. When children get to play with each other outside, magic happens. Through play, children can experiment, solve problems, think creatively and cooperate with others. All of this helps children gain a deeper knowledge of themselves and the world around them. As a fresh start this spring – go and play outside!

Try these ideas from 'Recipes for Messy Play':

Basic bubbles pohu- / burst For instant bubble mixture, use dishwashing liquid, diluted with a little water if desired.

Ingredients 9 Tbsp dishwashing liquid 1 Tbsp glycerine

Method Stir together carefully so that the mixture doesn’t froth up too much. The glycerine will make the bubbles stronger and last longer. Tip the mixture into a large flat dish to allow a variety of bubble wands to be used.

For home-made bubbles try the following: Wire or plastic twisty ties bent into the required shape. Shapes cut from the lids of plastic containers. Cotton reels or other plastic tubes such as wool cones. Plastic rings held with a spring clip peg. Your fingers.

Scratch and sniff paint Ingredients 1 cup white PVA craft glue 1/3 cup water 1/3 cup jelly crystals (different flavours optional)

Method In a container mix together glue, water and jelly crystals. The colour of the jelly crystals will make the ‘paint’ a vibrant colour. Repeat this recipe for each colour and use a different flavour of jelly to get a different colour. Children can now start painting. Once the painting is dry, rub each colour gently and enjoy the divine smelling artwork!



because home-made is best for your baby

2 compact baby food freezing trays with lids. 1.2L capacity for maximum storage

Pavement paint Pani / smear or spread

recipe e-guide with 27 recipes


for starting solids and beyond

½ cup cornflour ½ tsp powered dye ½ cup water

Method Combine all ingredients and stir until you have a smooth consistency. Make different colours and invite children to paint it onto concrete. The mixture goes on wet like paint and dries like chalk with vibrant colour. Thanks to Kyla Rigby, Kumeu Village Kindergarten. 

Michelle Pratt Michelle is the founder of New Shoots Children’s Centres, Curiate and Child Labor Free. She has over 25 years’ experience in the commercial and not-for-profit education sector. With a history of owning and operating a range of early childhood centres, including the creation and development of New Shoots, Michelle has a strong interest in positive outcomes for children and families across all cultural contexts. A finalist in the 2014 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Michelle has also lectured at Auckland University in a range of subjects, and regularly writes for international journals and magazines about children’s issues.

The magazine of Parents Centre


With an eye

to the future



Common Children’s Eye Conditions A Squint A squint occurs when a child’s eyes don’t look in the same direction as each other. While one looks forward to focus on an object, the other eye turns inwards, outwards, upwards or downwards. This can cause blurred vision, double vision and lead to lazy eye. Around 1 in 20 children have a squint and usually appears before the age of five.

Did you know that children learn mostly with their eyes? Babies and children who struggle with their vision will inevitably be at a disadvantage if their problems are not picked up early and treated as soon as possible. At birth, your baby is screened for several serious eye conditions and, if any problems are found, they will be referred to an eye specialist. Your little one’s vision (and hearing) will also be discussed with you during Well Child checks until your child turns four – but it is important that you take your child for an assessment if you have any concerns. Good vision includes seeing clearly at a distance as well as for close work. If your child does have a vision problem, finding it early is good for their learning and development. The New Zealand Association of Optometrists says there is a clear link between a child’s ability to see well and their ability to learn and succeed in school. “Reading, writing, blackboard work, computers, playtime and sports are all hard work if you cannot see clearly.“

Astigmatism Astigmatism is an eye condition that can cause blurred or distorted vision. It occurs when the cornea or lens isn’t a perfectly curved shape. Many people who wear glasses have some degree of astigmatism suggesting that it is very common. Left untreated, astigmatism can cause headaches, eye strain and tiredness, particularly after doing tasks that involve focusing on something for long periods, such as reading or using a computer. In most cases astigmatism is easily corrected with glasses or contact lenses.

Long-sightedness Children who are long-sighted find it easier to focus on things which are further away than those which are close to them. Long-sighted children may experience blurred vision or tired eyes when reading.

Shortsightedness Being short-sighted means you can focus on objects when they are close up, but those further away will be blurred. Short-sightedness affects about one in three people, with diagnoses usually occurring at around the age of 12. In children, short-sightedness is easily corrected with glasses.

Amblyopia (or lazy eye) When a child is diagnosed with an amblyopic or lazy eye, it usually means that one of their eyes is weaker than the other, causing them to rely more on their ‘good’ eye. Early treatment of lazy eye is important as it is not possible to correct after about the age of five and can result in permanent loss of vision from one eye.

The NZ Association of Optometrists recommends that children have their eyes examined: at 6 to 12 months old at 2 to 3 years of age before starting school through their school years as indicated by vision screening or school performance.

Continued overleaf...

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Earmuffs Sunglasses Sunhats and more for Babies and Children

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Infographics: Specsavers

Straining their eyes or tilting their head to see better

Complaining of headaches or tired eyes

Frequently rubbing their eyes

Consistently sitting too close to the TV or holding a book too close

Losing their place while reading, or using a finger to guide their reading

Overly sensitive to light and/or experiences excessive tearing in bright conditions

Avoids activities which require near vision, such as reading or homework; or distance vision, such as participating in sports or other recreational activities

Closes one eye to read, watch TV or see better

Some tell-tale signs that children may be having trouble with their sight and should be booked in to see their optometrist for a free eye exam: H ave difficulty learning or reading A re clumsier than usual for their age S quint or tilt their head to see or focus A re not interested in drawing or have poor handwriting T hey bring reading material close to them or move their head close to their book S it too close to the television or other electronic device

Falling behind in school

Many everyday tasks for children involve seeing quickly and using visual information. Parents need to understand the basics of children’s eye health, so they can detect problems early and address them before they become serious. Good vision depends on good eye health and good eye function. Good eye function involves visual integration and visual skills such as using the eyes together, focusing the eyes properly and changing focus appropriately, and moving the eyes when needed. Recent research reveals that 225,000 children across New Zealand could be suffering from an undiagnosed eye condition. Some eye conditions that can be detected during a comprehensive eye exam may have no visible symptoms at all and the



Avoids using a computer or tablet because it ‘hurts their eyes’

recommended age for a first eye exam is three years old. Almost half the parents surveyed that have never taken their child for an eye exam think there’s nothing wrong with their child’s eyes, 37% admitted they’ve never really thought about getting their child’s eyes tested and one-third believed their child was too young. Common eye conditions such as myopia and lazy eye, which may have no obvious symptoms, can be identified and treated with early detection but there is a critical window of opportunity, before a child is five years old. Specsavers optometrist, Sima Lal, says, “It’s concerning that more than 450,000 children have never had an eye exam because vision and eye health can have a major impact

R ub their eyes or have frequent headaches

on a child’s development – not just on their education but on sports and social interactions as well. With no visible symptoms, many parents assume their child’s eyes are healthy, but this may not be the case. This is why many eye disorders, mostly vision problems like myopia, go undiagnosed.” Most young children find it hard to explain the difficulties they are experiencing or may be completely unaware they have a problem at all. It is important that even if parents aren’t concerned that their little one has a vision problem they should still take their child for an eye exam – just to make sure there is no cause for concern. Launched in 2015, Specsavers’ ‘Kids Go Free’ initiative provides a free comprehensive eye exam

to all New Zealand children aged 15 and under, every two years. When it comes to taking children for an eye exam, optometrists are specially trained to make the test room as welcoming as possible. This includes using specially designed charts that allow children to recognise shapes or pictures, so even children unable to read can have their eyes tested. Sima firmly believes that prevention is better than cure. “An eye exam will not just check for any potential vision problem but also detect potential abnormalities or diseases before it’s too late.” Article prepared with the assistance of the New Zealand Association of Optometrists and Specsavers. 

Conscious parenting – want to know more? Check out upcoming programmes at your local Parents Centre: Browse through the resources here: Join ‘Conscious Parenting’ pages and groups on Facebook Research online and read, read, read!

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Sowing the


Sow the seeds of a lifelong love for nature by introducing your sprouts to these playful and rewarding projects with plants. Kids will get a kick out of completing these tactile, all-season activities that merge imagination, creativity, botany and a little bit of practical magic. You also don’t need acres of garden to dig in – if you have a sunny windowsill, you’re good to go. With an emphasis on upcycling and sustainability, each of these easy projects is designed to encourage children to engage with nature, not tech. As well as the fun of getting their hands dirty, the bigger reward lies in watching something grow that they have nurtured themselves, thereby encouraging them to care for and appreciate all forms of life.

You will need Dried beans (broad beans, sugar beans and butter beans will all work well) Cotton wool A glass container A sunny windowsill

Instructions 1. Place a layer of cotton wool in the bottom of a small Mason jar or other clear glass container such as an old jam or mustard jar. 2. Slip your dried beans in on the sides so that kids can have a clear view of the day-to-day changes. 3. Place another thin layer of cotton wool on top of the beans and gently press down. 4. Wet – but do not soak – the cotton wool. 5. Place on a sunny windowsill and wait for the magic to happen. The beans should start to germinate after about three days.

TIPS Water the cotton as and when it feels dry to the touch.

Bean there Germinating beans with cotton wool, water and a bit of sunshine is a classic project for budding horticulturalists. It’s an especially appealing activity for younger children thanks to how quickly the bean grows.



When the sprouts are around 20cm tall they can be transferred, cotton wool included, to a planter or into the ground. Beans love to climb: support them on a beanpole, trellis or bamboo or wooden frames.

9. Water with a spray bottle accordingly. 10. Once the seedlings are large enough, gently crack the eggshell containers and replant them into a pot or container in a place they will thrive. 11. Continue caring for the seedlings according to packet instructions until they bloom.

TIPS Once you’ve emptied the contents of the eggshell for use in cooking, rinse the shells and boil them up for a few minutes. This removes any remaining egg residue plus hardens the shells to prevent breakage * Make sure you have poked your small drainage hole in the bottom of the shell before boiling. Remove any small bits of shell before potting with soil so that the opening is not too jagged.

Stalking on eggshells This cracking idea recycles egg shells, transforming them from kitchen refuse into nutrient rich ecocontainers for growing flowers from seed.

Try broccoli, radish, carrot and tomato seeds for homegrown veggies.

Making a scene Inspired by the terrarium trend and museum dioramas, there’s great fun to be had in planting up a clear container with succulents, moss and plastic wildlife.

You will need Cleaned and dry eggshell halves

You will need

Potting soil

An assortment of glass or clear plastic/acrylic containers: terrariums, vases, medium to large Mason jars, as well as small fish bowls or tanks


Child-friendly, spike-free succulents

Spray-bottle filled with water

Spray-bottle filled with water

A long needle or pin

Small pebbles as well as decorative stones

Flower seeds such as marigolds, cosmos, cornflowers, nasturtiums, pansies and sweet peas

Potting soil


Plastic animal toys

Egg carton

Moss (available from nurseries)

1. Crack the eggs and pour the yolk and white into a bowl for cooking. 2. Rinse eggshell halves well, making sure to remove the fine membrane, and leave to dry. 3. Using a long needle, firmly but carefully poke a hole in the bottom of the shell from the inside. This is for drainage. 4. Lightly spray the eggshells with a fine mist of water. 5. Fill the shells about 3/4 of the way with potting soil using a teaspoon, and level out with your fingers. 6. Gently press a few seeds into the soil using the instructions on the packet as a guide to suitable depth. 7. Place each egg container back into the carton. 8. Place in a sunny spot and wait for them to sprout.

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Instructions 1. Place a generous layer of small stones or pebbles in the bottom of the container. 2. Top with soil, leaving a few inches of space at the top for plants (depending on their size) and small plastic toys. 3. Plant the succulents and create scenes using the toys and moss. 4. Spray with a fine mist of water as needed.

TIPS A terrarium makes a great DIY gift for little friends: pop a suitable container, several small succulents and a mini spray-bottle into a gift box along with soil, pebbles and plastic toys sorted into separate resealable bags. Don’t forget handwritten instructions. There’s no limit to how creative you can get: think colourful gravel, fairies and toadstools, and dinosaurs. Before assembling your terrarium, mark the inside of the jar with dots of glow-in-the-dark paint to up the cool factor.

Hair raising ideas Let kids decorate their own plastic pots with cute (or scary) faces and then fill them with succulents and indoor plants to resemble funky hairstyles.

You will need Plain white plastic pots Succulents or indoor plants Soil Permanent markers

Instructions 1. Give the kids their own pots and let them have free rein in drawing faces with permanent marker. 2. Help them fill the pots with soil and their chosen plants. 3. Leave the potty personalities indoors or on the balcony in a good spot and let them take care of the watering (and cutting back if necessary).

TIPS Avoid succulents with small thorns that can stick in little hands. Herbs such as chives, parsley, rosemary, thyme and basil also make for funny-looking hairdos and can be left on the kitchen windowsill for regular trimming to use in cooking or munching. Older children can use ceramic markers on terracotta pots to design pretty patterns or more elaborate drawings.



Growth spurts Let children observe the magic of a how a cutting grows its roots – a quick way to propagate plants for free and a valuable lesson in caring for appreciating just how awesome nature really is.

You will need A sterilised medium-sized glass bottle Cuttings from healthy plants that will root easily without nursery-bought rooting hormones – try species such as African violet, geranium, mint, impatiens and philodendron

Instructions 1. Help your kids cut a 7–15 cm section of stem from a healthy-looking plant by making a clean, angled snip above a leaf node. 2. Let them remove leaves from the bottom third or half of the cutting so you are left with a bare stalk and a few leaves on the top section. 3. Put the cutting in the bottle of water, submerging only the leafless stem. 4. Place the bottle in a place that gets partial sunlight and that is neither too hot or cold. 5. Once the roots are several inches long the cutting is ready to transplant into soil.

TIPS Keep the water topped up and replace once a week or sooner if it becomes cloudy. Let the kids feel like mini scientists by displaying their cuttings in test tube vases or beakers. Upcycled chutney, sauce and glass bottles filled with cuttings, displayed en masse from a metal frame, will create an eye-catching decorative element.

Roots and shoots Put your zero waste lifestyle aspirations into practice by showing kids that it’s entirely possible – and super-simple – to re-grow new organic vegetables from scraps.

You will need Small glass container, deep dish or a drinking glass / small pots Soil Garlic cloves / the thick base of a celery

Instructions To regrow celery: 1. Once you have used all the stalks on your bunch of celery, place the base in a container, deep dish or glass with clean, room-temperature water.

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2. Leave on the windowsill or somewhere that the base will get gentle sunlight. 3. New leaves should start to grow within five days.

In the initial stages of growing celery from the base, keep the water that it is in clear and fresh.

4. Once the leaves are a little bigger, you can transfer your celery base into a pot filled with potting soil.

The process of regrowth can be repeated indefinitely for both vegetables.

5. Plant the base in the soil with the leaf tips exposed and place in a spot that gets generous sunlight. 6. Water regularly. 7. After a week or two you should see stalks start to emerge. To regrow garlic: 1. Try to buy organic garlic to begin with. This should ensure that it has not been chemically treated, which often prevents sprouting. 2. Fill a pot with potting soil and plant cloves (sprouting or not) around 1–2 cm down so they are covered. 3. Leave on a sunny windowsill or spot on the balcony or in the garden.



Spring onions (also known as green onions) and chives can be regrown by cutting them about 10 cm from the base of the root and standing them in a glass of clean water on a sunny windowsill.

Spell check Kids can keep track of what they’re growing (and you get to slip in a little spelling lesson along the way) by crafting cute washi tape flags and jotting down plant names onto them.

You will need Rolls of plain washi tape Scissors Markers Wooden takeaway chopsticks or long kebab sticks

4. Water regularly but do not soak the soil or the cloves will rot.


5. Your garlic sprouts should start to push through the soil after about a month.

1. Cut a piece of washi tape to the length you’d like your flag to be.

6. After several months you should notice hard, grasslike leaves growing from the centre of the plant.

2. Wrap that piece of washi in half around the top of the chopstick or kebab stick.

7. Once these start to curl and brown, your garlic is ready to harvest.

3. Trim further if it’s too long and cut a small triangle out of the centre to make a flag shape.


Let’s be fronds You say kumara, I say beautiful indoor plant… The trailing, vine-like leaves of a kumara make for a whimsical and unusual addition to your collection of indoor plants. Kids will take pride in knowing that they have grown something so unusual and, quite frankly, cool.

You will need A few healthy, wrinkle-free kumara – even better if little sprouts are beginning to shoot out of the ‘eyes’. Clean glass jars and bottles with wide enough necks to place the kumara into.

Instructions 1. Fill the jars almost to the top with water and place the bottom of the kumara into it so that it is resting in the water. 2. Keep at least the top 1/3 of the kumara out of the water. 3. Place in a sunny or semi-sunny spot and wait for the magic to happen.

4. Write down the name of the herb or plant and stick the chopstick into the soil so that the flag sits above

4. Vines with stems will begin to sprout in a few weeks.

the top leaves.



If your child can’t yet read, come up with a colour

Maintain the health of your kumara vines and the mother plant by keeping the water in your container clean. Change once a week or when it becomes murky.

code together that will help identify the different plants: orange for rosemary, pink for mint, yellow for tomatoes, green for lettuce and so on.

Snip off any vines that have started to brown and wither. 

Vary the shapes of the flags for interest.

Mandy is a South Africa-based freelance writer whose chief areas of expertise are interiors, design, architecture, fashion and trends. The former deputy editor of two leading South African decor magazines, Mandy has also contributed as a writer on the book Eight Styles. Her biggest joy is being mother to Noah, Zoey and Toby.

Photographs Warren Heath/ Bureaux

Mandy Allen

The magazine of Parents Centre



not so fantastic

In August, our Government announced their intention to ban singleuse plastic bags within a year. At present, New Zealand is one of the highest producers of urban waste in the developed world, per capita. Alarmingly, almost 80 per cent of plastic waste produced now sits in landfills, dumps or in the environment. Nearly half of the plastic waste generated worldwide is plastic packaging. A huge amount of plastic ends up in the environment, where it can last for a very long time. Public concern about plastic is increasing around the world, including here in New Zealand, as there is growing awareness of the damage we are causing to our wider environment. Environmental lobby group Earth Day Network says there are five massive patches of plastic in the oceans around the world. These huge islands of plastic debris cover large swaths of the ocean – National Geographic estimates that one litter patch in the Pacific Ocean alone is estimated to be the size of the state of Texas. The level of concern has also led to an increasing number of companies producing and promoting plastics they claim to be environmentally friendly. These include biodegradable, degradable or compostable plastics. The science behind these products is very complex (think terms like oxo-degradable, microfragments and PLA), and the array of environmental claims being made about plastic packaging can easily lead to misunderstandings. Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, agrees there should be more clarity around the terminology relating to plastics recycling, and there should be standards for manufacturers to comply with when using the terms. "One can't simply toss these products onto the compost heap, or

into our recycling bins, and go away thinking 'job done'." For this reason, Commissioner Upton, initiated an enquiry to understand the nature of the claims being made and has produced an online question and answer resource. This material is designed to help concerned consumers navigate some of the terminology and the claims being made. "There are all sorts of supposedly environmentally-friendly plastics coming onto the market, but it is extremely difficult for consumers to make sense of their respective claims," Commissioner Upton says. He's written to the Government urging it to provide clear guidelines and regulation about biodegradable and compostable plastics, saying both businesses and consumers face a bewildering array of claims about plastic. Commissioner Upton says plastics are being promoted as biodegradable, degradable and compostable. “But if the terminology is not used carefully it creates a serious source of confusion and can lead to even worse environmental outcomes". Paul Evans, WasteMINZ Chief Executive, says there is significant confusion among retailers and consumers around terminology where words like biodegradable, degradable and compostable are used interchangeably even though

Continued overleaf... 62


Options for composting or recycling common plastics in New Zealand 1

PLA-lined certified compostable cup with PLA lid

Oxo-degradable single-use bag

Certified compostable bag

Soft plastic bag (polythene)

Plant-based PET soft drink bottle

PET bottle

Compostable in commercial facility



Compostable in home compost bin






~ ✗


Can be processed. Commercial processing requires suitable collection scheme and acceptance by facility. Success of home composting will depend on actual method used.

Generally cannot be processed in New Zealand. Collection bins available at some supermarkets. No option for kerbside collection.

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them in your car, so you have them on hand for your next trip to the supermarket.

Paper bags or reusable fresh produce bags Instead of using plastic bags for your fruit and veg at the supermarket, use a paper bag (you can usually find them by the mushrooms) to hold your fresh produce – or put the fruit and vegetables directly into one of your reusable bags. You can also buy purpose-made reusable fresh produce bags.

Use your own containers

they mean very different things. "At the moment there are a plethora of standards and manufacturers are creating their own labels, which only adds to the confusion."

What does this mean for families? We have been in the habit of using plastic bags for almost everything – food shopping, lining our rubbish bins, holding wet togs after a trip to the pool or beach, used disposable nappies and more. Here are some alternatives to make it easy to cut back on everyday plastic bag use.

Reusable shopping bags If you haven’t already done so, invest in some reusable bags – they aren’t expensive and come in a variety of sizes. Remember to keep



Take your own clean containers for the deli and butcher items. This isn’t always possible at big supermarkets, but there are already rumours of changes to come in the way that meat is packaged before sale – so this may become feasible in the near future.

Cardboard boxes Some grocery stores have cardboard boxes near the checkout for you to use to hold your groceries after you have paid. All you need to do is flatten the boxes and put them in your recycling bin when you are done or reuse them for your next supermarket shop. Or give the empty box to your preschoolers to decorate and play in – an instant rocket, pirate ship or truck!

Carrying the load If you don’t have a lot to buy, you can just put your shopping straight into your backpack. It is also a good idea to keep a foldable tote in your handbag as you may end up shopping when you don't expect it.

"No single-use option is a good choice. People should consider how they can reduce their plastic consumption and use more reusable products.” – Paul Evans WasteMINZ chief executive

Sometimes you won’t need a bag at all – if you are just buying one or two things, you can carry these in your hands. Just say no when you are offered a plastic bag. If you have forgotten your bags on your grocery shop, you can ask the checkout operator for no bags and load them straight from your trolley into your boot.  Leigh Bredenkamp

Find out more publications/biodegradableand-compostable-plasticsin-the-environment/ biodegradable-andcompostable-plastics-in-theenvironment

Let your ideas loose all over your walls with Resene Write-on Wall Paint.


! g n i t i r w

Simply apply over your existing light coloured wall paint. Then once dry and cured you can use whiteboard markers to write all over the wall without damaging the surface. And when it’s time to delete an idea just grab a soft cloth or whiteboard eraser, rub out the marker and start again. With Resene Write-on Wall Paint there’s no limit to your ideas.

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0800 RESENE (737 363)


Nailing it

as a stay-athome dad

On being a man in a woman’s world



I initially became a stay-at-home dad of three girls under two, but we recently added a boy to our brood and now have four kids under five! My wife works full time while I learn the ins and outs of kindy life, kids' TV, feeding schedules, coffee groups and a whole lot more. “What’s it like?” “Do you like it?” “Do you miss work?” I’m not sure if stay-at-home mums get asked these same questions, I’m guessing some do. But as a guy, the interest from people when they find out I’m at home full time can be quite intense. I’ve found there are three main reactions. At one end, there are those who are genuinely supportive – you can tell these people straightaway. At the other end there are some who look at you like you’re a little crazy. It’s the reaction from the ones in the middle who are the most irritating. The ones who say, “Oh, good on you,” but their tone, facial expressions and body language suggest otherwise. There are various reasons why a man may choose or need to be at home; financial, health related or other circumstances. It may be short term, or it may be for a few years, but whatever the reason, they should be treated and respected the same as a woman who is at home full time. Despite a push for equality with the sexes, there are some stereotypes that are inbuilt in our society, like the fact that men should be the breadwinner. For me, I’ve always seen my wife as my equal. I’ve never had a problem with her being at work full time. Sure, there were adjustments for both of us to make, but we made them and got on with it. To answer those questions I get asked, the truth is that is it hard being at home full time. It is especially a challenge moving from a corporate world, and yes, I do miss it. There are also lots of frustrating and tiring days. There are accidents, spills, poops and tantrums. But none of that compares to the joy of spending time with my children. Getting to bond with them in a way that most fathers don’t. Seeing all their firsts and being a major part of shaping their lives, a major part of guiding their path. I’ve learned to make the most of the moments I have at home. Soon they'll grow up and those moments will be gone. They won't want to sleep on my chest, they'll want to go play outside or with their friends or on their iPad. I won't be able to steal kisses whenever I want to. Eventually, I won't even be the most important man in their lives. It's a unique (and for me, once in a lifetime) experience. If another guy was contemplating it, I’d definitely recommend giving it a go. Work will always be there. Time with my kids won’t.

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My first playgroup experience Not long after I started my new venture as dad in charge, my friend Christina asked if I would like to bring the twins along to a playgroup she takes her triplets to. She told me there was singing first, then morning tea, then the kids had playtime. I was mostly excited (as it got me out of the house) and partially nervous because this was my first proper playgroup and I didn't know what to expect. We got there just as it was starting. The room was completely full. There was hardly room to sit but I found a space on the floor by the door. I placed my awesome baby bag on the floor, sat down and rested a twin on each leg. I looked around the room and there were probably about 50 kids from newborn to 4 years. There were probably 30 or more mums too, but I was more interested in counting the dads.

"Alright, on this side there's me, so that's one. I can't quite see over there..." I craned my neck to see over to one corner of the room.

"Ah nope, can't see anyone over there." I looked over to the other corner.

"Annnd that's a no again." Turns out I was the only dad in the entire room. To be honest, I'm not sure why I was surprised at that. I mean percentage wise, the amount of stay-at-home dads are very small. (Dads who have the day off are probably a small number too.) I looked around the room as a first-timer, observing this strange new world. As the kids danced, sang and jumped around, I looked at the mums. I reckon there were about three different kinds of looks on their faces. Some looked happy to be with their kids, singing and dancing along. Others looked happy just to be out of the house and in the company of a few other adults. And I'm pretty sure that there were a few mums there with a zombie-like look on their face that said, "I only had three hours sleep last night, kill me now." Luckily for me, my twins are basically an icebreaker. As a guy carrying two babies around, you can't help but draw attention to yourself. I found that there were a lot



of very friendly women who were willing to come up and talk to me and even take a baby off my hands to give me a break. It's women like this, and those in my multiple births coffee group that really make a first time stay-at-home dad feel comfortable. Because it really is a woman's world. There is still a perception in our society that it's "normal" for the mum to be the one at home. Our laws are even designed to promote the mum being the one at home. Dads only get two weeks of unpaid leave, while mums get 22 weeks paid leave (if she is eligible) and a year to think about if they want to go back to work or not. There are multiple groups set up with mums in mind, and not many (if any...thanks Scribe!) for dads. It's not something that's going to change much anytime soon but for any mums who see a dad out there at a playgroup with babies or small kids, we really do appreciate your help. Welcoming us into the group, having us over at your house, looking after our babies or even just talking to us are all things that make us feel more comfortable. I realise that not all guys are the same as me, but I'm very comfortable now talking about different things, from the ins and outs of birth, placentas, cracked nipples and poo explosions to post-baby sex, sleep deprivation or depression. I was able to have a conversation the other day with a woman who was breastfeeding. It didn’t seem weird, it was just normal. (Even babies deserve breakfast! And no, we're not checking your boobs out.) It may mean an adjustment for some guys and mums who aren’t comfortable at first, but it’s not a big deal really. For now, I’ll keep going along to as many different groups I can find. (If anyone knows of any great dads’ groups let me know!) And let’s continue to welcome with open arms all the new stay-at-home mums and dads that we meet! 

How have you found adjusting to life as a stay-at-home parent? Write in and share your experiences with us at

McKay (Macca) Turner A little bit more about me, I'll play or watch almost any sport; cricket, rugby and tennis being my top three. I have a hugely varied music collection (30.9 days’ worth!) and a diploma in film making. Hopefully next year I’ll start a degree in teaching primary school. This stay-at-home business was all pretty new to me, I had a lot of learning to do, and fast! I had no idea what I was in for. I searched the net for articles and blogs from a dad’s point of view that would be useful. There were lots from overseas, but I couldn’t find very many from a Kiwi dad’s point of view. So, I began my own blog – come along and visit me sometime!

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budding scientists Darwin and Newts is a new animated adventure show for curious kids who love to figure out how stuff works. Made for children from three to six years old, it encourages exploration, discovery, adventure and science. The creative force behind Darwin and Newts, Janine Morrell-Gunn and Emma Gribble, have created a range of children’s programmes. Janine is the owner of Whitebait Media and was former TVNZ Head of Children’s programming. Emma has spent two decades making shows for children aged three to 16 years old. Janine and Emma are both mums. Janine has four children aged between 15 and 27, and Emma has a five- and a two-year-old. They travelled New Zealand visiting an array of preschools and kindergartens, as well as carrying out parent surveys, to find out what pre-schoolers want to watch. The results led them to make a show for children that would increase awareness and understanding of early learning science concepts and encourage outdoor play. ‘Darwin and Newts’ has been created to motivate kids to move away from their screens to experiment with science and make crafts after they watch an episode. As well as the 40 eleven-minute episodes the show has a mobile app and 80 parent and child tutorial videos based around science, nature and crafting for parents and kids to do together.



Meet Darwin and Newts Darwin and Newts are brother and sister who – through their lively escapades – discover and experiment using early learning science and engineering principles, while exploring the natural wonders of their community. Joining the siblings is their neighbour He-ni and her pet Kea, Wapiti the big wise deer as well as a grumpy frog called Burpee and his girlfriend Croakette. Outdoor play, hands-on experimentation and fun are at the forefront as Darwin and Newts use their trike, zipline and waka to navigate their world, as they face each new challenge with imagination, perseverance and lots of giggles. The Play and Learn companion app lets little explorers discover Darwin and Newts’ treehouse and backyard with games inspired by the show. You can also visit the website for a range of crafts and science creations you and your children can do at home. Darwin and Newts Facebook and Instagram platforms provide social media platforms for parents to share, find parenting tips, enjoy a laugh and discover more inspiring activities to do at home. Darwin and Newts episodes can be found on TVNZ OnDemand. 

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Meal planning


It is fair to say I am passionate about nutrition, food and cooking education, especially when it comes to our children. They are our future and I think it’s vital to teach our little ones about healthy balanced diets and family eating.

My goal is to provide recipes and educate parents about all aspects of food WITHOUT crazy diet fads or non-factual information. I provide simple nutrition solutions for families… hints, tips and basic recipes as well as Skype, email or phone consultations for parents who are worried about their children’s eating or for mums needing a bit of help with planning and ideas. Meal planning can seem like a daunting task, but I can assure you, taking five to ten minutes to plan your family meals for the week ahead can really take a load off the stresses and struggles of a normal week. Each week prior to our grocery shop, I get my trusty meal planner out and



I write down five to six meals I like. It’s at this point I involve my family and partner. From there I look in the pantry, fridge and freezer and write the shopping list of things we need – along with the staples, of course – milk, eggs, bread, yoghurt, toilet paper etc.

use up meat from your freezer

Meal planning can help

Here are my top tips to help you plan

make the weekly struggles in a busy household a wee bit easier s ave time in planning, preparation and shopping (especially if you need to take children with you to the supermarket) s ave money as you won’t be buying unnecessary items

reduce food wastage ensure variety in family meals h ave an answer to the daily question from partners or children “what’s for dinner?” you to eat better as a family.

1. Sit down and look for six or so recipes, or meals for the week you know the family will enjoy. Keep it simple and remember to store the recipes or meal names that work for planning in the weeks ahead. Maybe try to introduce one new dish a week.

2. Get your children involved with meal choices. They are more likely to eat a wider variety of dishes and foods if they are involved in the planning and preparation process. 3. Plan and buy seasonal fruit and vegetables. By doing this your food will be as fresh and as nutrient-dense as possible – not to mention as cheap as possible. Click here for an NZ seasonality chart. 4. Grocery shop with your list in front of you or shop online – that way you will be more likely to end up with things you need in your trolley, therefore saving money. 5. Take into account the weather, no-one feels like a roast or soup on a hot blue-sky day. 6. Prepare your meals at any spare moment. If you can do some chopping and getting the meat out of the freezer early in the day, or when the children sleep, you are halfway there. I get my toddler to help me start to prepare dinner around 4pm. Him helping me makes it easier – because he is involved, he is interested.

Be in the draw to win one of three My Foodie Family meal planners

Winners must be received by Friday 2 November 2018. Winners will be published in issue 287.

This stylish 52-page tear off meal planner and shopping list attaches to your fridge and is the perfect way for busy families to plan for their weekly nutritional needs. RRP $16. Enter online at and follow the instructions.

Charlotte Chapman Charlotte is mum to Ezra and Ari as well as wife to Jamie. They live in Tauranga and life is busy. Charlotte completed her BSC in Human Nutrition. She worked for a large food company for many years managing the kitchen, which involved running all their product tastings and writing cookbooks. She also designed a programme that involved going out into the community and presenting cooking and nutrition sessions for college-aged children. Charlotte runs a nutrition consultancy service and shop.

7. As soon as you notice you need something or have run out, add it to your shopping list. This will save you wracking your brains come Sunday about that one thing you knew you needed but can’t for the life of you remember what it is. 8. Keep your plan flexible. You want to be able to have takeaways or unexpected people over for dinner if you feel like it – so don’t structure your meals too much. You can always use the meat you got out from the freezer the next night. Planning for just five or six nights gives you room to move or to have a sneaky pizza or eggs on toast night. 

The magazine of Parents Centre


Lunchbox favourites

It can seem a bit daunting having to fill lunchboxes for school or preschool every week day, but here are some favourites that are easy to make and are sure to please. Preparation is key – putting aside a little bit of time to do some baking on a Sunday will stop you having to scramble on a Monday morning before work and preschool. Our corn, spinach and bacon muffins are easy to prepare and is one recipe the kids, and you, will love. Sometimes it can be hard to sneak those veges in to your children’s meals, but with this recipe they won’t even notice they’re there. Prepare this on a Sunday night, store in an airtight container and you’ll have a few days of options for the kids’ lunchboxes. When it comes to going back to work and school, you want to make things easy. Our sticky apricot



and chocolate muesli bars take only 20 minutes to prepare and are absolutely delicious. These are perfect for the kids’ school lunchboxes or even work lunches. They’re a good source of energy for our children and make a tasty lunchtime treat. What’s not to love about frittatas? Our mini vegetable frittatas are a delicious variation for the kids’ lunchboxes. The great thing about frittatas is you can add any vegetables you like, so have a hunt around in the fridge for anything that needs to be eaten before whipping these up. Why not try our pork rice paper rolls? They are delicious, and they’re simple enough that the kids can help to make them too. A simple lunchbox variation to make lunchtime a real treat. The team at Countdown Food Hub

Corn, Spinach and Bacon Muffins Serves: 6 Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 35 minutes

Ingredients 2 tsp vegetable oil 3 bacon rashers, rind removed, finely chopped 150g baby spinach leaves 2 cups self-raising flour 1 tsp baking powder 1 cup grated tasty cheese, plus 1/4 cup extra 2 eggs, at room temperature 3/4 cup milk 125g melted butter 1 cup corn kernels, drained and rinsed

Method 1. Preheat oven to 200°C (180°C fan-forced.) Grease a 6-hole (3/4-cup) large muffin tray. 2. Heat oil in a medium frying pan over moderate heat. Add bacon, stirring for 2 minutes or until browned. Remove bacon and dry with paper towels. 3. Add spinach to pan and cook, stirring for 1–2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Remove from heat, cool slightly. Using hands, squeeze excess liquid from spinach, chop coarsely. Combine spinach and bacon in a medium bowl. 4. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add cheese, corn and the bacon mixture. Mix well to combine. 5. Whisk eggs, milk and butter in a medium jug. 6. Make a well in the centre of mixture and pour egg mixture into flour mixture. Using a large spoon gently fold together until just combined.

7. Spoon mixture into prepared muffin tray, Sprinkle with extra tasty cheese and corn kernels. Bake for 25–30 minutes or until a skewer inserted at centre comes out clean. Stand muffins in tray for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.

Pork Rice Paper Rolls Serves: 16 Prep time: 30 minutes

Ingredients 100g dried rice vermicelli noodles 150g cold cooked roast pork ¼ cup hoisin sauce 16 round rice paper sheets 50g snow pea sprouts, trimmed 1 medium carrot, grated 1 Lebanese cucumber, seeds removed, cut into matchsticks 1 small red capsicum, cut into thin strips 16 fresh mint leaves 1 Tbsp rice vinegar

Method 1. Soak noodles in boiling water in a medium heatproof bowl for 5 minutes, stir to separate strands. Drain and rinse under cold water. Use kitchen scissors to snip into shorter lengths. 2. Combine the pork with 1 tablespoon of the hoisin sauce. 3. For each roll, briefly dip a rice paper sheet in a bowl of warm water to soften. Place on a clean tea towel. Arrange some of the pork mixture along the centre of the sheet. Top with some of the noodles, snow pea sprouts, carrot, cucumber, capsicum and a mint leaf. Fold in the 2 ends, then roll up the sides tightly to enclose the filling. 4. Combine remaining hoisin sauce and vinegar in a small bowl. Keep rolls covered in the fridge until you're ready to serve. 5. Serve rolls with sauce on the side. Tip: You can also use cooked prawns, chicken or beef instead of pork. Or for a vegetarian option, use avocado instead of meat. These are great for the kids' lunchboxes.

Continued overleaf... The magazine of Parents Centre


Mini Vegetable Frittatas Serves: 12 items Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients Spray oil ½ kumara, peeled, cut into 1.5 cm cubes 1 potato, peeled, cut into 1.5 cm cubes 50g baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped 1 small red onion, thinly sliced 4 eggs, lightly beaten ½ cup cream 1/4 cup grated tasty cheese Salt and pepper for seasoning

Method 1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan forced). Spray a 12-hole muffin pan with oil. 2. In a bowl, combine kumara and potato. Cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 5–7 minutes until tender. Stir spinach through. Let cool. 3. Sauté onion in a lightly oiled pan over a medium heat for 2–3 minutes until tender. 4. In a large jug, whisk together eggs, cream and cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Divide vegetables into prepared muffin pan. Pour cream mixture over. Bake for 20–25 minutes, until firm and golden. Tip: You can use leftover roasted veggies. Add chopped cooked meat of your choice, if desired.

Sticky Apricot & Chocolate Muesli Bars Serves: 24 Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes


Method 1. Thoroughly grease a swiss roll pan, approximately 33cm x 23cm. Preheat the oven to 160°C. 2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and golden syrup, then stir in the brown sugar and vanilla. When the sugar is dissolved remove from the heat. 3. Stir in the oats, coconut, chopped apricots and sultanas and lastly the ½ cup of chocolate chips. Mix well then turn the mixture into the prepared pan.

100g butter 2 Tbsp golden syrup 1/2 cup brown sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract 2 cups rolled oats 1 1/2 cups fine desiccated coconut 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped 1/2 cup sultanas, chopped 1/2 cup chocolate drops or chips, plus a handful for sprinkling on top



4. Use wet hands to press the mixture into place then roll firmly with a clean can from your pantry to compact the mixture and neaten the edges (a can will fit in the pan – a rolling pin won’t). 5. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips on top and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Cool before slicing into bars. 


Congratulations to the lucky winners from issue 285

Crane digital humidifier Lisa Trang, Auckland

Nursery set Organic cotton bedding pack

Nicole Heron, Lower Hutt

Emma Taylor, Christchurch

Outfit from Cadenshae Stephanie McLaughlin, Auckland

Temptation Black nursing bra Anne Vindriis, Auckland

Philips Avent electric breast

Six Splash Mirrors

Julie Osborne, Lower Hutt

Nicole Funaki, Palmerston North Ngahuia Rolston, Porirua Renee Courtman, Whangerei Zahra Paiwandi, Auckland Julia Hudson, Wellington Lacey Suasua, Auckland

The magazine of Parents Centre


Our Partners Continuing partnership supports parents We are delighted to announce the continued partnership with PORSE. This is a longstanding partnership, which is very important to both our organisations. We work in a collaborative way that adds value to both our organisations, to our Centres and most importantly to our members. Parents Centre is proud to be associated with an organisation which provides stimulating and positive in-home education environments along with supportive relationships between the children, their educators and parents.

at preferential rates and the extensive wealth of knowledge of PORSE educators contributing at hot topic and community events. Both our organisations share the same values and we look forward to continuing our successful partnership as together we support parents on their lifelong journey raising a family. Taslim Parsons Strategic Partnerships Manager, Parents Centre New Zealand

This partnership with PORSE allows Parents Centre members access to low ratio in-home childcare

A word from PORSE PORSE is excited to announce a continued partnership with Parents Centres New Zealand Inc. We are proud to be aligned with Parents Centre as we have shared values on the importance of the first 1,000 days, which lay the foundation for a child’s life. We work with parents to ensure they have all the knowledge available to them in order for them to be the best parents possible. As New Zealand’s largest and longest-serving home-based Early Childhood Education and Care provider, we know the value in organisations such as Parents Centre that put the wellbeing of the family unit at the forefront of what they do. We share the same family values in supporting families on their parenting journey by finding the best childcare solution for their family. Like Parents Centre, everything we do is to help give children the best start possible. We’re looking forward to continuing our valuable partnership and will keep working with Parents Centre to give parents the tools they need to grow great children. Peter Tynan, General Manager, PORSE

Johnson & Johnson

Philips Avent

PC member benefits: All attendees of Parents Centre CBE and Baby and You get a J&J baby bath gift pack and information on science of the skin.

PC member benefits: Supply breastpads to our members and give a $30 discount on the purchase of breast pumps.

PC member benefits: All attendees of CBE get a Huggies gift pack, attendees of Baby and You and toilet training programmes get gift packs.

Phone: 0800 104 401

Phone: 0800 733 703


Huggies online pregnancy and parenting


Supporting Kiwi parents

0800 222 966 /

Baby On The Move PC member benefits: 20% off car seat hire for all members. Phone: 0800 222 966

The Sleep Store PC member benefits: 20% off selected items which are regularly updated content/parentscentre

Reckitt Benckiser Group

Life Pharmacy & Unichem

PC member benefits: $20 off when you purchase the Nurofen Feversmart Thermometer.

PC member benefits: Local discounts and offers for our Centres.

Phone: 09 839 0200

Au Pair Link New Zealand PC member benefits: 25% off placement fee for Parents Centre Members.

PORSE PC member benefits: Heavily discounted hourly rate for childcare. Phone: 0800 023 456

Resene PC member benefits: Various discounts on decorating supplies and paints with Parents Centre membership card.

PC member benefits: 30% discount on water safety package.

If you want to partner with Parents Centre, or would like to discuss how this may work for your business, contact Taslim on:


The magazine of Parents Centre


Win great giveaways Win a Maxi Cosi Nova 3 Wheel Stroller from The Baby Factory Enjoy the great outdoors with your baby and turn every future step into an adventure with Nova, the smartest crossover stroller from Maxi-Cosi. Press Nova's pedal with your foot and watch it fold automatically in seconds. Features: Bestin-class comfort and safety for baby. RRP $799

Enter online at and follow the instructions. Entries must be received by Friday 2 November, 2018. Winners will be published in issue 287.

Win a newborn carrier worth $219 from The Sleep Store The Beco Gemini Cool is filled with excellent features: c omfortable padded waist with storage pocket padded straps which can be crossed, with easy-to-use buckles attached, padded head support and leg supports for baby's comfort chest strap adjusts easily with a slide rail.

Be in the draw to win a Bio-Oil gift pack Go in the draw to win a pack of Bio-Oil to help keep your bump beautiful! Applied twice daily, it’ll help your skin retain elasticity to protect against stretch marks. It’s also important to continue using it once the baby arrives, your body will thank you for it! Prize includes a 25ml, 60ml, 125ml and 200ml bottle of Bio-Oil (RRP $104.)

Win 1 of 2 fabulous Hape beach prize packs from Roundabout Including everything a child needs to enjoy hours of beach play: Red rain shovel Blue rain shovel Red power paw Blue power paw 5-in-1 beach set Scoop & pail Grabber blue

Be in to win a copy of Messy Play Win one of three copies of Messy Play valued at $19.99 each. It is a recipe book published by New Shoots and Curiate that features original recipes developed in the 70s Playcentres, alongside the addition of new messy play ideas currently used at New Shoots Children’s Centres that are easy for parents, teachers and children to use. The book takes a modern and environmentally-friendly approach to messy play and is full of interesting and innovative recipes and images.



Spring is the time for change!

All new Educators who register before the end of 2018 will receive their own

Kick Starter Kit valued at

$500 With more families choosing in-home childcare, PORSE is looking for loving caregivers like you to become Educators. Enjoy working from home, while still being able to be around for your own children. We provide ongoing training and support to ensure you have the best time as you provide an authentic environment and create connected relationships. As a valued Parents Centre member, you’re also eligible for discounted childcare and other benefits with PORSE, so if you can’t be at home with your child, you can give them the gift of Natural Childcare - the next best thing to being at home with you.

Contact us today to find out more 0800 023 456

The magazine of Parents Centre




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