My Take on Raising Multilingual Kids

I grew up trilingual: Indonesian, English and the Javanese dialect. I later spent two years learning Japanese at school (and forgot them all), two years of Mandarin (and forgot most of it other than very basic conversation), and two years of Spanish (which I still speak today).

Now I have a two year-old daughter exposed to three languages at home. So I get a lot of questions on how to raise a multilingual kid. Here’s a list of things that work in my situation:

1. Immersion

The four languages I still use are the products of immersion, not in-class learning. My parents never missed an opportunity to host an exchange student from overseas or entertain a foreign guest. Then they would occasionally leave me to entertain the guest. Ha! ☺

The result: I was already holding up hour-long conversations with English native speakers when my friends were learning “How are you?” in Grade 4.

And while I learned Spanish in a classroom as an adult, I spent a month living in Paraguay after one year of learning and I have friends in Latin America whom I continue to stay in touch with. They use me to learn English, I use them to practice Spanish.

2. Songs

Most people are not lyrical listener of songs, meaning they don’t pay much attention to the full lyrics. I do. Growing up in the 90s, I listened to songs while reading the lyrics until I could sing them by memory. I memorized all NKOTB’s songs to Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby”. Yes, including the rap bit.

I learned a number of bad words along the way, but most importantly I learned how to use words in various context, how words become sentences, sentences become stanzas, and how beautiful it is when sentences rhyme. Through songs, I also learned that Roxette’s lyrics are really poor English.

3. Bed-Time Stories

My mom read me stories since I was little. When she got bored reading the same books over and over, she made up her own stories or told me something about the family. My mom, an English lecturer, passed on her passion for language and literature to me. She never “taught” me to read, but nevertheless I could read at age 5, even before my friends started learning “ini ibu budi”.

4. Story-Telling

My mom and dad were really good about giving me opportunities to tell a story. Their questions were mostly open ended, like, “Why do you think that’s an elephant and not a tiger?” And I would blurt out sentences like because the “nose” is long, it’s grey, it’s huge, and the ears are floppy.

As I grew older, their questions would be more like, “What do you think?”

To them, language skills are never just about vocabs and memorization of greetings. It’s about being able to use it to communicate.

In addition, I should say that my dad only learned English in his late forties and he had no chance of passing an English exam. But he could deliver formal presentations and engage in day-long discussions on serious matters in English. If I’m an employer, I’d hire my dad over someone who gets A in English exams but is a terrible communicator.

5. Less is More

When I was a child, there was only one TV channel. So my dad recorded, like, 10 half-hour cartoons and I watched them over and over and over again. Eventually I remembered the dialogue line by line, and unconsciously learned sentence structures as well as proper (and improper) responses to questions.

There are so many content and materials these days, it’s really tempting NOT to stick to one set of materials or methodology. My advice: continue to use one set of materials that appeals to your child until he/she masters them before moving on.

6. Internal Motivation

I flunked Japanese real bad and managed to learn nothing in two years simply because I HAD to learn it as part of high school graduation requirement. I had no desire of learning it.

On the other hand, I really wanted to speak Spanish and I was conversational within a year even though I only spent two hours a week in a classroom. The rest was me happily and willingly doing my own practice, from listening to Gloria Estefan to chatting to Spanish-speaking friends.

In summary, what I could say to other parents is that my parents never forced language on me. They simply made sure we grew up in a home where good books are aplenty and the use of multiple languages is the norm. The love of linguistics and literature came later, unforced. And they never used flash cards!!!

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This is how I plan to use my one vote for Pemilu Legislatif 2014 :-)

Lima tahun lalu saya golput karena malas daftar Pemilu di kedutaan Indonesia. Tapi tahun 2014 berbeda – KBRI Singapura secara otomatis mendaftarkan tiap orang di database mereka untuk ikut Pemilu. Saya juga bisa memilih via pos. Jadi saya nggak ada alasan untuk nggak milih lagi 🙂

ImageSo I plan to use my voting right. But I only have one vote, and this is how I plan to use it:

  1. Background check para calon (legislatif maupun eksekutif) di daerah pemilihan (Dapil) saya. Dari kedua belas partai. Yep!
  2. Saya tidak mau nyoblos partai. Saya tidak percaya satupun dari kedua belas partai di tingkat nasional. Di tiap partai, so far, saya lihat ada caleg yang crooked dan credible. Hanya menyoblos gambar partai berarti menyerahkan hak suara anda kepada partai tersebut untuk menempatkan “anak emas partai” di kursi DPR / DPRD.
  3. Saya akan menyoblos individu yang loyal pada prinsip dan misinya, bukan yang loyal pada partainya. Darimana kita bisa tahu hal ini? Tidak terlalu sulit. Orang yang setia pada “panggilannya” biasanya punya track record yang konsisten dalam memerjuangkan hal tertentu, tidak peduli jabatan atau partainya.  Dalam beberapa kasus, orang-orang seperti ini mungkin pernah berpindah-pindah partai, atau lebih dikenal sebagai non partisan, karena mereka ingin bernaung di partai yang mengakomodasi misi mereka. Kalau partainya tidak lagi mendukung misi dan prinsipnya, mereka bisa saja cabut.
  4. Saya akan nyoblos nama yang menurut saya punya kans untuk menang. Walaupun saya tergoda untuk coba-coba gambling dengan nyoblos kandidat yang fresh, muda dan belum diracuni sistem politik kita yang acakadut ini, saya realis – kalau mereka tidak dapat kursi, vote saya “terbuang” percuma atau dialihkan oleh petinggi-petinggi partai untuk memasukkan jagoan mereka, yang hampir pasti adalah “loyalis partai” (see point #2 dan #3).
  5. Tentunya saya ingin kandidat yang bersih dari KKN, berpendidikan, punya visi yang jelas, komunikator yang handal, bisa dibanggakan di level nasional/internasional, tapi tetap hands-on dan merakyat. I know, I know … needle in a haystack, dan sangat susah cari tahunya 🙂 but that’s why I start researching now!

Kalau ada yang mau ngasi bocoran tentang sepak terjang Caleg u/ Dapil Luar Negeri (DKI Jakarta II / Jakarta Pusat dan Selatan), monggo komen di sini! 🙂

Tentang Hasil Tes PISA Indonesia yang “Jeblok”

Saya memutuskan u/ blogging disini u/ menjawab artikel dari Esther Lima di blog Kompasiana yang mengatakan bahwa Indonesia meiliki “Sekolah Terbodoh Di Dunia vs Sekolah Juara Olimpiade Internasional”. Artikel lengkap ybs. bisa dibaca di sini, tapi komen saya nggak pernah bisa ter-upload.

Artikelnya secara eksplisit menyebut SMUK1, almamater saya. Jadi, sebagai alumni SMUK1 yg juga orang tua murid yang  sekolahnya diikutsertakan u/ PISA tes (mewakili Singapur), izinkan saya meletakkan “glorification” of SMUK1 dan hasil tes PISA dalam konteks yang benar:

Tentang SMUK1 – kurikulumnya tidak spesial. Yang spesial dr SMUK1 adalah mereka super selektif memilih anak yg bisa masuk ke situ. Rata2 ujian nasional di bawah 8, terutama untuk math english science? Jangan harap bisa masuk – berapapun uang yg anda punya. Jadi SMUK1 dipenuhi anak2 yang pada dasarnya sudah pintar, rajin, ambisius, berbakat dan biasanya punya nilai bagus di standardized test semacam PISA ini. Yg spesial di SMUK1 bukan kurikulumnya tapi bibit awalnya yg sudah unggul, sehingga SMUK1 punya “privilege” untuk bisa memberikan materi2 yang lebih challenging, seringkali dengan mengadopsi materi universitas terutama di subject2 Science, Math and Technology, u/ diberangus anak2 SMA.

Now tentang PISA. Peringkat PISA jelek bukan kiamat kalau kita lihat konteksnya. Pertama, negara peserta PISA cuma 60-an, yg semuanya adalah OECD members yang adalah negara2 maju dan emerging market. Gak heran Indonesia peringkatnya jelek kalau dibandingkan Singapura, USA, Norwegia dsb. Kalau kita peringkatnya di bawah Honduras, Uganda dsb baru saya heran …

Kedua, tes PISA bisa dimanipulasi dalam pelaksanaannya. Satu contoh. Anda lihat peringkat Shanghai yang sangat tinggi? Kenapa tidak seluruh China diikutsertakan? Karena Shanghai jauh lebih kosmopolitan dan berpendidikan tinggi daripada the rest of China. Kalau the rest of China diikutsertakan dalam tes PISA, saya rasa peringkatnya akan jauh dari Top 10.

Lalu, negara partisipan bisa saja memilih sekolah2 berprestasi untuk ikut serta tes PISA supaya peringkatnya terdongkrak, walaupun mestinya tes PISA mengikutkan representatif sekolah berprestasi, sekolah rata2 dan sekolah yang kurang berprestasi. At the end of the day, sampling-nya bisa dimanipulasi oleh negara partisipan dan tidak ada kontrol atas akurasi “representative sampling” ini. Misalnya: sekolah anak saya diikutkan tes PISA untuk Singapura, dan nilai rata2 PISA di sekolah anak saya lebih tinggi dari nilai Singapur, sehingga rangking Singapur terdongkrak karenanya. Important to note bahwa sekolah anak saya hampir tidak ada warga negara Singapur dan kurikulumnya bukan kurikulum Singapur. Menurut saya, tidak semestinya Singapur mengikutkan sekolah anak saya dan mengambil kredit untuk hasil yang keren yang bukanlah hasil kurikulum dari negaranya sendiri. 🙂

Satu lagi contoh “manipulasi”. Tes PISA seharusnya diambil tanpa persiapan. Tetapi Stephen Martin dari The Daily Telegraph menulis bahwa beberapa peserta dari negara yang rangkingnya tinggi mengaku bahwa mereka melakukan persiapan supaya hasil tes PISA-nya lebih bagus.

Ketiga, there are no instant results. Tidak adil kalau kita hanya memaki2 sistem pendidikan Indonesia ketika nilai PISA 2012 kita jelek. Yang justru lebih penting adalah melihat data per sekolah, year-on-year improvement, dan data angket di belakang hasil tesnya. Misalnya:

  • tahukah anda bahwa rata2 peserta PISA dari Indonesia jumlah hari bolosnya lebih banyak dari anak2 di negara yang rangkingnya tinggi? Selain itu, makin banyak bolosnya, makin rendah nilai PISA-nya. So … bagaimana kita menciptakan environment di sekolah (dan di rumah) yang membuat anak tidak ingin / tidak bisa absen sering2?
  • tahukah anda bahwa walaupun nilai Reading, Math dan Science Indonesia jeblok, anak-anak Indonesia adalah student yang paling happy di sekolah? Sementara yang paling stres adalah anak2 Korea Selatan yang rangking PISA-nya cukup mentereng. Pelajaran apa yang bisa kita ambil dari sini? Bagaimana kita improve prestasi tanpa membuat anak2 ini jadi stres seperti anak2 di negara2 Asia lain yang high achiever tapi kurikulumnya terlalu fokus di ujian2 standardisasi?
  • Selain itu, Depdiknas juga perlu melihat sekolah2 mana di Indonesia yang skor PISA-nya lebih tinggi dari rata-rata nasional. Apa yang bisa dicontoh dari sekolah itu untuk perbaikan kurikulum nasional? Depdiknas punya hasil tes PISA yang detil per sekolah dan bisa menjawab pertanyaan ini kalau mereka mau menganalisa datanya dengan seksama. Darimana saya tahu kalau data ini tersedia? Karena saya tahu hasil tes PISA Singapur overall dan hasil tes PISA khusus u/ sekolah anak saya. Kalau Singapur punya, tentunya Depdiknas punya.

Masalahnya, kalau melihat tren nilai PISA Indonesia dari tahun 2000 sampai sekarang yang selalu jongkok, saya ragu kalau data yg berharga dari PISA tes ini benar-benar digunakan u/ perbaikan kurikulum nasional …

I Delay Sending My Daughter To Pre-School. Here’s Why.

In kiasu Singapore, some parents send their kids to pre-school as young as 18 months, supposedly for them to learn languages, arts and crafts, music, etc., as well as social skills. Unless you’re a Singaporean citizen or enroll in a pre-school run by a religious organization, these schools can charge around SG$1,000 for half day programs and $2,000 for full day programs.

I can understand dropping off the kids at pre-schools when both parents are working and there are no alternative child care arrangement.

But if you do, OR if you’re a stay-at-home parent like me, how much value are you getting from these expensive pre-schools? I’m convinced that you don’t get value for money. Here’s why.

1. You can teach the same skills at home.

By now I have seen more than 10 early education centers, from church-run kindergartens, name-brand schools, Montessori schools to full-scale international schools. They do pretty much the same arts and craft projects that I give my daughter at home. Story telling was pretty much the same as what I do at home. They spend half hour a day doing it, while my daughter and I do this all day! They do excursions. Guess what? I do that too! They do music and movement, and I do a whole lot more of those at home than the daily allocated time at any pre-schools. They do puzzles and building blocks. Yeah … we do that everyday too, by the way.

There is NOTHING that these schools do that I can’t do at home, with the exception of teaching Mandarin by immersion plus REGULAR social interaction with other kids. Not to say that my daughter doesn’t interact with other kids … just not as long or as often.

Anyhow, in one particular school visit today, the program director of the center observed my daughter throughout the one-hour tour -where he allowed my daughter to join the Nursery 1 classrooms (supposedly for kids turning three years). My daughter is the youngest of the lot, having only turned 2 a few weeks ago. And the director said, “Her skills are very well developed for kids her age. Good manners too.”

I tried not to smirk in pride. We have obviously done some things right, and it’s good to have that feedback from a seasoned educator 🙂 His feedback convinced us that our daughter doesn’t need pre-school until at least another year.

2. The cost is prohibitive.

Seriously … $1-2K a month for stuff that you can mostly teach at home?  By doing casual home-schooling using online or DIY materials, organizing play dates plus sending her to weekly sessions of play that I can’t give at home, I spend on average $350 instead of $1-2K a month on her education. She goes to a weekly gym class where she does tumbling, swinging on monkey bars, and obstacle courses. She’s now about to start a weekly music and movement class. Now … to some people, even $350 a month can be a lot. Don’t worry – your kids won’t be scarred for life if they don’t have these state-of-the-art gym classes. Just as long as you take them to public playgrounds every now and then. And sing with them!

3. Once starting school, they get sick a lot

I’m not saying this from experience, but EVERY mom tells me so. I’m not overly worried about it … my kid is super healthy, but for some parents this may be a consideration for delaying enrolling in a school.

4. I value individualized learning experience

I believe I know best how to motivate my child to love learning. I use the principle of “muchness” with her … whatever she happens to be interested in, I use that A LOT to engage her in learning experiences. She’s now obsessed with scribbling. I use that to introduce different drawing mediums, colors, shapes, opposites, animals, etc. She likes seeing me cooking, so we use that to introduce different fruits and vegetables, different movements like chopping, peeling, stirring, sprinkling; and the names of utensils we use. With me, she progresses at her own pace, learning new things using familiar tools that she has already found fascinating. If I can’t get her to engage in 5-10 minutes, I use another tool to introduce the same concept, or let her learn other things first. Simple as that. In a pre-school, unless it’s fully Montessori, she has to follow the class schedule, move on at the same pace as others, using tools that she may not totally find interesting. Would you pay $1-2K a month for such a thing? 🙂

5. What my child lacks in regular social interaction, I can make up through other means.

My daughter is more clingy than other kids, the typical fallout of not sending her to pre-school early. But is this issue worth spending $1,200 a month for daily half-day pre-school program?  I think not. There are ways around it …  play dates, signing up for church’s kids programs, or invite more visitors to the house! The interaction may not be as regular or extensive as spending 3-8 hours a day with the same teacher and groups of friends everyday, but I’m a firm believer that when a kid is ready for school, they will be over the separation anxiety in a few weeks. Max. Regardless of how clingy they originally were.

I’m not a proponent of lifelong homeschooling. We’re definitely going to do 2 years of kindergarten (4-6yo).   I just don’t believe there are significant benefits in spending $$$$$ for a level of education that you can otherwise provide yourselves.

Notre Dame de Paris: Is It Worth the Money You Spend on It?

Back in the day when it was just the Esplanade plus a few smaller theatres (like DBS, Kallang Theater, etc.), my husband and I – both performing art lovers – watched just about every major show. Shakespeare play. Harry Connick Jr. Phantom of the Opera. Cats. Rock of Ages. Stomp. Chicago. Then came the theatres at Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World, which more than tripled the number of performances we could watch. At first, I thought this was great! A bit of competition between venues will motivate them to bring in better performances, right?

No. What I have seen instead is that these theatres probably settle on rather mediocre plays to keep their venues operational year round. Notre Dame de Paris, which we just watched last week, was probably a good example of this.

Now … Notre Dame de Paris, the story of Quasimodo and Esmeralda, was a headliner when it first started. It was the best-selling musical play of all time in its first year of performance. So we thought it can’t be bad. And to be brutally honest, it wasn’t bad. We still enjoyed it.

However, my husband and I are lyrical listeners. We want the songs to tell a story instead of being a compilation of songs concert-style. We enjoy strong, good plot and script. Worse, we are seasoned watchers of Broadway and West End musicals. And to us, Notre Dame de Paris lacks a few major items:

Live orchestra / band. The music was pre-recorded (probably the background vocals too!) and it lacks dynamic. In parts the music overpowered the vocals and my husband and I were left whispering to each other, “Whaaat? What was that about???”

A strong story and script. We did not read the play synopsis but kinda know the story of Quasimodo from the book. We thought we’ll figure out the rest from the song lyrics and dialogs. But alas … we couldn’t comprehend half the lyrics (other than the super repetitive  “Torn Apaaaaaarrtttt ….”), let alone figure out the story! And it was confusing at certain points. The scene of street protest looked more like a bunch of teenagers break dancing. We did not figure out that Frollo the priest was lusting over Esmeralda, thanks to the super loud background music plus the nondescript lyric. Phoebus, the keeper of public order, looked out of place dressed in white tunic top and glittery silver trousers that makes him look like a runway model. All the refugees looked like slum people yet Esmeralda, one of them, looked ravishing in emerald green dress. I understand they need to differentiate Esmeralda as the main character. But really, making her look like a rich princess in the midst of hobos?

Distracting choreography. The dancers were brilliant. The acrobatic choreography was something I have not seen before. For someone who is not a seasoned musical play audience, Notre Dame de Paris is definitely entertaining and out-of-this world wonderful. But to us, there were just TOO MUCH going on on the stage at any given moment. There would be 3-4 dancers climbing the wall of Notre Dame while the priest walking up and down the staircase of the monastery with a leading character singing a solo and 3 more dancers showing off their acrobatic skills. What do you focus on? Obviously the action, not the lyrics. The dancers appeared spasmic, almost epileptic, in many scenes. What was that about???? Then you lost sight of the story and wondered. To us, the best scene in the whole play was the Quasimodo solo when he confessed his love for Esmeralda yet knew that she won’t love him back. No choreography. Just Quasimodo with the follow spot on him, with Esmeralda sleeping a few meters behind. It was heartfelt, heart-breaking, emotional. Something that was missing in the whole first half.

Having three major shortcomings, I can’t fault the singers or the dancers. They’ve done their best bringing out a mediocre script, out-of-context choreography and less-than-stellar translated lyrics into something that is entertaining. Worth watching? Yes if you have not watched Phantom, Les Mis, Chicago, West Side Story and the like. If you have, you may still enjoy it for its art direction (the set is WONDERFUL!), lighting and almost Cirque du Soleil choreography. But don’t go because you want the story of Quasimodo brilliantly told in a musical. Because Les Mis it ain’t.

Jangan Lupakan Bahasa Indonesia

VH4rAlBeberapa waktu lalu The New York Times menulis artikel tentang ortu2 Indo yang hanya mengajarkan bahasa Inggris ke anak mereka, sehingga anak mereka tidak bisa berbahasa Indonesia (lihat artikelnya di sini). Saya lihat sendiri fenomena ini … saya punya kerabat yang lahir dan besar di Indonesia tapi tidak bisa berbahasa Indonesia.

Now … banyak ortu2 ini ingin bahasa Inggris anaknya bagus karena itu bahasa internasional … bahasa Inggris yang bagus akan membuka banyak kesempatan bagi anak. Dan saya setuju. Sebagai anak yang dibesarkan dalam lingkungan trilingual (saya fasih berbahasa Inggris, Indonesia dan Jawa ngoko), saya mendapat banyak pengalaman berharga yang teman2 saya tidak bisa dapatkan karena pada saat itu jarang anak2 bisa berbahasa Inggris.

Tapi tidak dengan mengorbankan bahasa Ibu. Kalau saat itu orang tua saya lebih mementingkan bahasa Inggris, saya tidak bisa berkomunikasi dengan oma opa, banyak tante om dan sepupu saya. Hubungan saya dengan keluarga besar tidak mungkin sedekat sekarang. Saya nggak bisa tanya jalan kalau nyasar (and believe me, I get lost A LOT!), saya nggak bisa berantem sama polisi yang suka nilang sembarangan lalu minta uang pelicin. Saya nggak bisa komunikasi dengan pedagang kaki lima, tukang bakso, tukang ojek … what’s the point in living in Indonesia if all your life is sheltered in shopping malls, a bilingual school and a close circle of friends and family who only speak English? What sort of life experience are you getting out of it?

Pengalaman paling berharga saya tentang tinggal di Indonesia adalah ketika saya camping dengan anak2 jalanan … sama2 tidur di kardus bekas lalu ngobrol2 tentang aspirasi mereka sambil makan nasi bungkus. Atau tinggal di rumah2 penduduk di desa2 di Lampung dan Lombok, belajar cara hidup mereka. Atau nongkrong di studio lukis pendatang baru … sambil ngobrol tentang inspirasi mereka. Dan nonton Teater Koma, lalu duduk makan ayam bakar bareng sesama pecinta seni, membahas arti satire politik dari pertunjukan yang baru kita tonton 🙂

My childhood and teenage years would have been a sheltered and shallow one without my ability to speak bahasa Indonesia.

But here’s the thing … kemampuan saya berbahasa Indonesia tidak hanya membuat saya sangat menghargai orang Indonesia dan budayanya, tapi juga melicinkan karier saya di Indonesia. Kemampuan berbahasa Indonesia orang2 seusia saya (dan orang2 yang lebih muda dari saya) pun sudah cukup memprihatinkan, tidak banyak orang yang bisa menulis dan berkomunikasi dalam bahasa Indonesia yang lugas. Kemampuan saya menulis dan berkomunikasi lisan dalam bahasa Indonesia melicinkan karier saya, BIG TIME!

Tanpa bahasa Indonesia, saya nggak bisa bekerja sama dengan pejabat-pejabat pemerintah karena kebanyakan dari mereka bahasa Inggrisnya memprihatinkan (maaf ya Pak … but it’s true!!! 🙂 )

Dan saya nggak akan bisa jadi konsultan komunikasi senior dari banyak perusahaan ternama yang beroperasi di Indonesia … karena yang mereka butuhkan adalah orang yang betul2 bilingual, yang mengerti bahasa dan kultur Indonesia secara penuh, bukan sekedar bisa ngobrol dalam bahasa Indonesia.

So … apakah anda memfokuskan diri mengajar anak bahasa Inggris tapi akhirnya anak anda akan bekerja di Indonesia? Kalau ya, switch your focus back to bahasa Indonesia. Apakah anda rela anak anda tidak punya hubungan baik dengan keluarga besar anda hanya karena keterbatasannya berbahasa Indonesia? Kalau tidak, switch your focus back to bahasa Indonesia. Apakah anda yakin anak anda bakal sekolah di luar negeri dan kemudian bekerja di sana? Kalau tidak, switch your focus back to bahasa Indonesia.

Perlengkapan Bayi yang Tidak Berguna

Perlengkapan bayi is a big business, dan seperti wedding, banyak pihak2 yang memanfaatkan momen ini untuk menawarkan produk2 dan servis yang kita sebenernya nggak perlu.

Bukan cuma nggak diperlukan dan mahal, tapi perlengkapan2 ini justru membuat baby care jadi lebih ribet dan makan waktu, padahal sebenernya kita bisa gunakan waktu itu untuk catch up on some sleep 🙂

Berikut adalah barang2 dan jasa yang, menurut pandangan saya, anda tidak butuhkan (in random order):

1. Bantal guling bayi, karena bayi dianjurkan tidur tanpa bantal guling sama sekali supaya tulang belakangnya lurus.

2. Sleep positioner (busa yang ditaruh di samping bayi supaya bayi kalau tidur tidak miring2). Selama bayi tidur di ranjangnya sendiri, anda tidak perlu ini. Anda hanya perlu ini kalau bayi tidur di ranjang anda dan anda tidak mau dia banyak bergeser dan tertindih badan anda.

3. Bottle sterilizer. Sterilizer harganya bisa sampai satu jutaan (more than S$100 di Singapur), dan fungsinya sebenernya sama saja dengan … panci air panas 🙂 Anda  bisa sterilize botol dengan merebusnya selama 5-7 menit. Kalau takut rebusnya kelamaan, ya tinggal beli kitchen timer yang murah itu.  Dan sebetulnya botol susu hanya perlu direbus sebelum dipakai pertama kali, dan setelahnya cukup dicuci dengan air hangat. Selama di Amerika saya tidak sterilisasi botol pun anak saya baik2 saja, tidak pernah sakit.

4. Baby sling / carrier. Saya beli Baby Bjorn yang super mahal itu, dan anak saya selalu nangis karena kepanasan kalau digendong di situ. Dia malah lebih senang digendong pakai jarik batik yang murah -_-

5. Mainan – bayi tidak perlu mainan, mereka jauh lebih perlu interaksi dengan orang tuanya. Anak saya punya banyak sekali mainan bayi (hadiah dari teman2, saya malah tidak beli sama sekali) dan so far dia hanya senang satu: playmat yang ada mainan yang bisa ditendang-tendang.

6. Bottle warmer – Saya suka bingung sama ibu2 Singapur yang bawa bottle warmer kecil kemana-mana, padahal Singapur khan panas! Anak saya minum susu formula dengan air biasa tanpa dihangatkan, sementara u/ menghangatkan ASI dari kulkas saya  pakai mangkuk sup yang diisi air panas dari kettle. Jauh lebih cepat daripada pakai bottle warmer!

7. Breast pump – kalau ASI anda keluarnya bagus dan anda tidak kerja, tidak perlu beli breast pump yang mahal itu. Saya bisa mompa lebih banyak susu dengan tangan saya daripada dengan double electric pump Medela (I’m not joking!). Kalau anda ternyata memang susah menyusui dan memilih u/ mompa, alternatifnya adalah beli electric pump second hand, lalu anda beli aja aksesorisnya (e.g. suction cup, valve dan membrane-nya) yang baru supaya lebih higienis. Anda akan irit banyak uang dengan cara ini.

8. Bedong super mahal – saya punya berbagai jenis bedong, mulai dari kain bedong biasa, Swaddle Wrap yang model kayak straight jacket itu, sampe Grobag (yang kayak karung, sekaligus u/ selimut). Yang berguna hanya kain bedong biasa … sekaligus bisa dipakai sebagai selimut tipis atau alas u/ main2 di karpet kalau anaknya sudah nggak mau dibedong. Anak saya kepanasan kalau pakai yang model Swaddle Wrap atau Grobag (padahal harganya jauh lebih mahal)

Hmmm … so far segitu dulu. Kalo saya berhasil nemu barang2 bayi yang useless lainnya, saya tambahin di sini 🙂