All about your baby

Our family GP gives you facts about your little one, as well as answering your questions

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A lot of babies get reflux

Fact or Fiction?

1) A soother could make my baby more reluctant to breastfeed

Fiction!

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Recent studies have shown that in healthy babies, offering dummies from 2 weeks of age does not affect breastfeeding. Dummies offer protection from cot death so provide other advantages too. Discuss the options with your health visitor.

2) If a 4 month old feeds more often, she must need solids

Fiction!

Until 6 months  your baby only needs breast or formula milk. He may start to wake again between 3 and 5 months, but he may be having a growth spurt and simply need more milk. Feeding solids before 6 months may increase the risk of infections and allergic problems such as eczema or food allergies.

3) My baby should poo daily

Fiction!

Each baby is different and may have several dirty nappies a day, or go a few days without a poo. As long as your baby is well, gaining weight and not in pain when pooing, things are probably normal, but if you’re worried, chat to your health visitor or GP.

Did you know…

  • Only 21% of mums are instructed how to bottle-feed before their baby is 2 months old
  • More than 50% of babies age 0-3 months have recurrent vomiting due to reflux
  • It’s thought that one in five cot deaths and 200 cases of bacterial meningitis a year are attributable to passive smoking.
  • More than half of all mums admit they believe their baby suffered from colic at some point but they never got a professional diagnosis. Instead, many of the mums questioned for a new survey said they turned to their own mums for help. Your parents can be a great source of emotional support when your baby is unwell, but I’d always recommend seeing your GP too.
  • Autumn and winter babies are more likely to be allergic to milk and eggs than those born in summer months.

Baby skin

Q. What is the best way to look after my baby’s skin?

A. When your baby is born, his skin has a greasy substance over it called vernix that’s usually wiped off. The first step, if you’re still expecting, is to consider asking for the vernix to be left on, as it may help your baby to maintain his temperature, and moisturise the skin. Don’t worry if you haven’t done that – there’s still lots you can do. Initially you need to use nothing more than plain water, for at least the first month. When you do start using something else to wash or moisturise, ensure that it’s suitable for sensitive skin and contains as few chemicals and fragrances as possible. Aqueous cream (available cheaply from most chemists) can be used instead of soap and is also a good moisturiser. Make sure your baby’s clothes are washed in fragrance-free non-biological washing powder or liquid and don’t overload your washing machine or residues left in the clothes can irritate sensitive skin. If you live in a hard water area, consider installing a water softener.

Is my baby’s growth of rate normal?

Q. I’ve been told that my 8 week old has failure to thrive. Can you explain what this means and what I can do about it?

A. It’s a strange term, but don’t panic – many babies have failure to thrive. It’s not an illness, but refers to a baby’s rate of growth.

All babies have their weight and height plotted on a special chart, along lines known as centiles which represent a zone within which your baby is expected to grow normally. A baby’s weight should stay along the same centile, but when it drops down across two centiles, it’s an indicator that he has failure to thrive. Lots of things can cause this, such as an infection that’s reduced his appetite, reflux or a mouth infection. Occasionally it might just be that he grew well in pregnancy and was born on a higher weight centile in the first place. Your doctor will help work out what might have caused your baby’s failure to thrive and, if his weight doesn’t stabilise, he’ll probably be referred to a paediatrician.

What’s that red mark on my baby’s face?

Q. My 2-week-old baby has a red mark on his face that’s getting bigger. What could it be?

A. It sounds as though your baby could have developed something called a strawberry naevus, which is caused by part of the blood vessels overgrowing.

These flat marks are either present at birth or develop in the first few weeks of a baby’s life and gradually enlarge over a period of five to 18 months. The mark may become raised, but over time it will gradually reduce in size and disappear. Be patient though, as this can take a number of years.

Because they go away on their own in time, strawberry naevus marks don’t usually require medical care. However, some near the eyes, nose, mouth or ears, or very large lesions may require treatment, which is done with steroids or lasers.

Occasionally large or prominent lesions can leave thin or excess skin which may need attending to. Your GP will be able to advise you.

Why is my son vomiting?

Q. My son is 6 weeks and feeds well, but keeps vomiting a lot. What am I doing wrong?

A. There are several reasons why this might be happening, and you should see your GP for a diagnosis. Certain illnesses and infections cause vomiting, but if your baby is otherwise well it could be a common baby ailment, such as possetting – which is bringing back a tiny amount of milk after a feed. Overfeeding can cause vomiting, too. Or, if he’s bringing up small amounts frequently, he may have reflux, meaning the mechanism for stopping food coming back up the food pipe is underdeveloped. Adding Infant Gaviscon to feeds can help settle reflux. If your baby is vomiting large amounts around 30 minutes after feeding, or it’s projecting across the room, then it could possibly be something called pyloric stenosis. This is where the muscle at the far end of the stomach gets thickened and stops the stomach emptying properly. A small operation can treat this.

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A baby’s first poo can be green

The first few poos a baby passes consist of meconium, a sticky and dark greeny-black substance that’s gathered in the baby’s gut during pregnancy. Once this has cleared, the colour of your baby’s poo may change depending on what he or she has eaten. Breastfed babies tend to have yellow, loose poo while those who are bottle-fed tend to have more formed, yellowy-brown stools. If an older baby has green poos, discuss it with your health visitor.

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