Thursday, 19 July 2007

Sun safe

Picture courtesy of Baby Banz

Hints and tips to protect your child in the sun.

1. Keep babies under 6 months out of the sun altogether.

2. Stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm when the strength of the sun's rays are strongest.

3. Use shade whenever possible eg trees, umbrellas, etc.

4. Dress your child in loose baggy clothing eg an oversized tee shirt. Natural fibres are better. Don't let them run around all day naked or just in a swimsuit.

5. Protect your child's neck, shoulders and tops of arms as these are common areas for sunburn.

6. Use a floppy hat with a big brim to shade their face and neck.

7. Use sunscreen even if it seems overcast or cloudy. Re-apply frequently. The higher the sun factor the better. Try never to use one that's less than spf 30 and spf 50 is better.

8. Protect toddler's eyes with sunglasses preferably with an ultraviolet filter.

9. Use waterproof sunblock if your child is swimming or playing in water.

10. Make sure you offer cool drinks at frequent intervals.

Flat head shapes.

(Picture courtesy of Neurographics)
Positional plagiocephaly - this is when the shape of the head is flat in one or more spots.

Q. What causes flattening of a babies head?
A. Sometimes it's caused by lack of room in the womb, so twins, or a small pelvis or womb can be contributing factors.
Wryneck or Torticollis is another cause. This is when one or more of the neck muscles is tight so the head is restricted in it's range of movements.
Prematurity can contribute as the bones of a new baby increase almost tenfold in firmness in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
Back sleeping. Since it's recommended that baby's sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of cot death there has been an increase in the numbers of infants seen with flat heads.
Carseats, carriers and swings. In these devices the back of the head is resting against a very firm surface. If infants are allowed to spend a lot of time in them eg sleeping it accentuates the problem.

Q. Is there anything else that can cause a flat head?
A. There are a small number of other, less common causes eg premature closure of a fontanelle. Always ask us or your GP if you are worried about your baby's head shape.

Q. What can I do to prevent or treat it?
A. Frequent repositioning of your infant's head will help. Alternate the position of toys in the cot and the direction you lie your baby. Do not let them sleep for too long in a carrier seat or swing.
Regular tummy time when your baby has supervised time lying on their stomach. Ask us for the tummy time leaflet.
If you are worried at all ask us for advice, we may refer your baby for physiotherapy if we feel this is appropriate.

Q. Will it resolve?
A. Yes. The vast majority of infants will have the problem resolve on it's own over time if parents follow the suggestions and advice. Sometimes a head shape may be inherited. A flattening of the head in positional plagiocephaly doesnot affect the growth of the babies brain.
If you ever have a concern about the shape of your baby's head please ask us or your GP

Blues and Postnatal Depression

Baby blues often occur the first week after having a baby. Mum can feel emotional, tearful, touchy, depressed or anxious. These feelings are all normal and usually only last for a few days. It's thought that the hormonal changes within the body following childbirth are responsible for these feelings.

Q. If that's the blues, then what is postnatal depression?
A. Postnatal depression usually starts two to eight weeks post delivery and 1 in 10 women are thought to be affected. It can occur six months to a year after the babies birth. In some cases the baby blues don't go away or become worse. For other women the symptoms include, tiredness, irritability, poor appetite, lack of concentration or disinterest, anxiety, panic attacks, crying and feeling hopeless.

Q. Am I a bad mother if I feel like this?
A. No. It is an illness like any other and there are a lot of things that can help you and support you during this time.

Q. What should I do if I feel like this?
A. Talk to us. The health visitors offer a listening service and we can help support and advise you during this time. It's often easier to talk to an outsider than a family member. Remember anything you say to us is confidential.
See your GP and tell them how you feel. They work closely with us and it may be that medication can do a lot to help you on the road to recovery.

Q. I'm worried about taking medication?
A. Modern medicines for post-natal depression are not habit-forming. Your GP will prescribe the one thats right for you and we can offer support.

Q. What about specialist counselling?
A. Again, talk to us or your GP and we can refer you to a specialist service if you feel that is something that would help you.

Q. Is there anything else that might help me?
A. We know it can be difficult but meeting other Mum's really does help. Why not come to our Babyclub? Or use the Meet a mum service (see sidebar).
Try to get out and about as much as you can. Fresh air can help you and your baby.
Try baby massage or sing and play if you are worried about bonding with your baby. Ask Ruth for details.
Don't be scared to ask others for help. Ask your partner or a friend if they can help you with the baby or take time out just for you to relax or follow a hobby eg going to the gym or cross stitch, whatever would make you feel better.
Avoid alcohol, it is a depressant and may make you feel much worse.

If you ever feel that you might harm yourself or your baby seek medical advice or tell someone immediately.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Stork marks

Q. What are these?
A. These are also known as Salmon patches. They often occur at the nape of the neck, the forehead, the eyelids and under the nose of newborns. They are simply dilated blood vessels.

Q. Will they always be there?
A. No, they fade from the face during the first year of life. They are harmless and don't require treatment. The mark in the base of the neck may remain for life in some children.

Strawberry birthmarks

Q. What is it?
A. It's medical name is haemangioma. It's caused by a proliferation of immature blood vessels and forms a raised red mark resembling a strawberry.

Q. Is it always a red mark?
A. No, sometimes you can get other types which develop deeper under the skin and can look like bluish swellings. These can be called Cavernous haemangiomas.

Q. Are they more common in boys or girls?
A. Boys and girls can have them but they are more common in girls and pre-term babies. Some children can have several marks.

Q. How are they treated?
A. Most disappear by the time a child is five without any treatment. They often grow quite quickly until the baby is one they then become static and shrink over the next few years.

Because they are a collection of blood vessels they can bleed. Most bleeds can be dealt with by applying firm pressure with a dressing or wad of tissue.
If the birthmark affects the babies feeding or vision or breathing your GP may refer your baby for treatment. Treatments include, laser therapy, injected corticosteroids, or surgical removal.


Q. What is Cradlecap?
A. It's proper name is seborrhoeic dermatitis. It occurs soon after birth and is most common in the first two years. It's a build up of greasy white or yellowy brown scales on the baby's scalp or/and forehead.

Q.What causes it?
A. It's thought to be caused by an over activity in the baby's oil producing glands due to the hormones still circulating in the babies bloodstream.

Q. How do I treat it?
A. Loosen the scales by massaging warm olive oil or baby oil into baby's scalp. Leave it overnight then brush gently with a soft brush before shampooing out. If after repeating this a few times it doesn't improve you may want to try a cradle cap shampoo.

If baby's skin is red or inflamed or the cradle cap is very severe we advise you see your GP as a mild hydrocortisone cream may be needed.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Nappy Rash

Many babies get nappy rash in the first year or so.

Q. What causes nappy rash?
A. It's caused by the skin being in prolonged contact with amonia from urine (wee) or bacteria from stools (poo) which can burn or irritate the skin. Other causes include:
sensitive skin
diarrhoea or illness
change in diet eg weaning
bubble bath or soap
baby wipes

Q. What does it look like?
A. It looks like red patches. The skin looks hot and sore and there may be spots.

Q. How do I prevent it?
A. Change the nappy frequently as soon as it's wet or dirty. Clean thoroughly use mild soap or gentle baby wipes. If you use soap make sure you rinse and dry the skin well. Leave the nappy off when you can and let fresh air get to the skin. A barrier cream may help.

Q. How do I treat it?
A. Follow the steps to prevent nappy rash. Ask us about which barrier creams are suitable and how to apply them.

Q. The rash isn't getting better, now what?
A. If it doesn't improve after treatment or if there is a persistant red, moist rash with little red or white pimples which have also spread into the skin folds, the baby may have thrush. In this case a special anti-fungal treatment is needed. Ask us, your GP or chemist for advice.

If in any doubt seek medical advice.