Category Archives: Health and Hygiene

These foods are a choking hazard, do not give them to your children

It is reported that around 2,600 choking accidents in the UK each year involve children under four years of age. That’s over 7 children per day, everyday. It is likely that this statistic is considerably lower than factual incidents due to the amount of choking incidents that go unreported. Children choke on small toys and on food that is too big and too difficult dislodge. A study in the journal of the American Medical Association 30 years ago concluded a child every five to six days chokes to death on a food. This study has not been repeated but Smith, who conducted the study says says “I have no reason to think those numbers have changed because there haven’t been major changes in surveillance or protection.” Here is our guide on the food you should avoid giving your children and the things you can do to make them a little safer if you are going to give them.

Peanuts
Peanuts are often avoided anyway due to the risk of an allergic reaction, however, they also pose a choking risk; it is possible they may block the lower airway so should be completely avoided.

Chewing gum
According to the international chewing gum association, Chewing gum can be a choking hazard. The gum base, which is a component of the gum that makes it stretchy and tough, is more difficult to swallow than ordinary foods. Older children should always spit gum out to prevent choking and also prevent a build up of gum in the rectum (if large amounts have been swallowed).

Popcorn
Popped, half popped or not popped at all, popcorn is a choking hazard and should be avoided. It doesn’t dissolve, is jagged in shape and is hard to dislodge if stuck, your child’s trachea (windpipe) is the size of a drinking straw – imagine trying to suck air through a straw with a piece of popcorn wedged on the end if it. Due to popcorn being so lightweight, there is also a risk that it can be ‘sucked’ down accidentally by your child, this could result in choking (as stated) or the popcorn sitting on one of your child’s lungs (this is likely to cause an infection if not medically removed).

Chips
For the same reasons as popcorn; chips are hard and light so difficult to dislodge and easily swallowed accidentally (before chewing).

Round slices of hotdogs or sausages
Whether cut into a round shape or eating whole, the shape forms a perfect ‘plug’ over the trachea and is very difficult to remove. If you are giving your child sausages and hotdogs you should always cut them length ways as well as chop long ways.

Carrot sticks or baby carrots
All vegetables should be steamed (preferably) or boiled, grated or chopped into thin matchstick shapes before giving to your child. This makes them softer, easier to chew, easier to cough up if swallowed accidentally and less likely to cause a choking incident.

Tough meat and meat with gristle and bone
It is heavy and can easily slip to the back of your child’s throat. You should remove all fat, gristle and bones and chop into small pieces. You can further mitigate the risk by slow cooking, mincing or shredding.

Hard candy
An 8 year study between 2001 and 2009 reported more than 16,100 children aged 14 and younger visited the A&E because they were choking on hard candy. It is the number one food for causing choking incidents in children and should be completely avoided.

Whole grapes
Don’t be fooled by their nutritional value. Grapes are a huge choking risk. Whole grapes should be completely avoided for as long as you can and cut up grapes (you should cut into quarters as a minimum) only given once you are confident your child can sit up properly and chew foods well. Babies should not be given grapes at all ; even when they are cut up they can still result in a choking episode if not chewed properly.

Cherry tomatoes
Avoid cherry tomatoes as you would grapes. The size and texture are similar and the outcome of not chewing (or not being being able to chew) properly will be the same.

Large pieces of raw fruits and vegetables
Raw fruit and vegetables can be very hard and difficult for your child to chew, particularly if his/her molars (back teeth) haven’t cone through yet. You could cook them slightly to soften them or grate them (such as carrots and apples). Soft pears and bananas don’t need to be avoided but you should, of course, never leave your child unsupervised when eating.

Every precaution should be taken to avoid choking episodes, if you are using the baby led weaning technique you should still take the above precautions as these are the highest risk foods. There is never a substitute for supervising your child when eating and it is recommended you learn basic first aid for children. Encourage your child to sit up whilst eating and never allow them to play as this will also increase the risk. If you have any questions, please ask.

The Pros and Cons of Changing Tables

If you think a changing table is a necessity, think again. However, it does have its advantages, mostly being comfort for you. This post looks at the pros and cons of changing tables.

There are a few different types of changing tables available, all of which have their own advantages and disadvantages. The three main types are freestanding, over the cot and fold away. The freestanding changing tables are a furniture unit on their own, they often have 2 or 3 shelves for storage and come in a variety of styles, these are generally the most expensive. The over the cot changers simply secure to the sides of your baby’s cot or cot bed, it makes them much easier to store and doesn’t take up additional room in your littlest ones nursery. There are 2 different types of fold away tables, one which is fixed to the wall and folds up out of sight (much like the ones you get in public changing rooms) and the other can be fully folded up and stored away. Now you have a brief outline of your choices, let’s take a look at the generic pros and cons:

Pros

  • You have a designated area at home that is strictly for changing nappies, your baby will come to recognise this.
  • You can carefully store all nappy changing equipment in one place.
  • It will, without a doubt save your back – it is much easier than bending over or being on your knees.
  • On some models you can also place a baby bath on it, making those early baths much easier on your back too.
  • Cons

  • They are not cheap – you shouldn’t really use a changing table once your child is able to roll over so you don’t really have that much time to get your money’s worth.
  • They can take up a lot of room – depending on the model, you may find you can make better use of the space in your child’s nursery.
  • The products can be a bit too easily accessible – once your little one starts grabbing at things you will have to move your nappy changing products to a higher shelf or off the changing unit altogether.
  • I hope this has helped you decide on whether you need a changing table/changing unit and also on which type of model best suits you if you do want one. Let me know what you decide!

    Disposable or Reuseable – The Big Nappy Debate

    Disposable or reusable? The choice is entirely yours. Your decision will most likely be based on cost, convenience, babies health and hygiene and environmental concerns (not in any particular order). You may want to figure out what your priority is before you decide and make a decision from there. This post will help you with that decision!

    Cost

    Despite the initial outlay costing more, reusable nappies work out much cheaper to use than disposables. If cost is a big factor in your decision then consider the fact that newborns need changing approximately 12 times a day. Depending on the brand of disposable nappies used to compare, it is estimated you could save anything between £150-£1000 per year. Most reusable nappies are able to be used again for 2nd children so if you plan on expanding your family in the future, the savings double!

    Convenience

    Without a shadow of doubt, disposable nappies are more convenient than reusable. They are available in pretty much every shop (be it a big supermarket chain or a local grocery store), they are more absorbent and once they are dirtied you simply throw them away. If all you had to consider was convenience then you would most likely choose disposable. With that said, there is no reason why you can’t use a combination of both (such as disposables at bed time and when out of the house for long periods and reusables for any other time).

    Babies health and hygiene

    There have been concerns that disposable nappies have harmful chemicals and reusable cloth nappies cause nappy rash. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest reusable nappies produce nappy rash. Nappy rash is caused by a number of factors such as friction, moisture, urine and faeces. Sometimes, the culprit is infection from yeast, such as candida albicans. Disposable nappies are generally more absorbent than reusable ones which may reduce moisture but the key to avoiding Nappy rash will always be to use a good protective cream and to change your baby regularly. The concerns regarding harmful chemicals dates back to a case over thirty years ago involving tampons. The same super absorbent ingredients are used in nappies (Sodium polyacrylate crystals) and there were fears these caused or were linked to toxic shock cases. It was later discovered it was misuse of the tampons that caused this. You should also remember that nappies don’t enter the human body so any risks are likely to be perceived rather than factual. Another unproven concern regarding disposable nappies is that they cause the temperature of the scrotum to be higher than the boys who wear reusable cotton nappies. A study in Germany in 2002 found this information to be incorrect and concluded the temperature was the same in boys who wear either disposable or reusable.

    The Environment

    Surprisingly enough, the environment agency found little difference when comparing disposable or reusable nappies in terms of environmental impact. The fact is they both affect the environment negatively, just in different ways. Disposable nappies take over 100 years to degrade and make up 4% of our total landfill waste (which is huge)! Reusable nappies need to be washed regularly meaning they use water and electricity. Not to mention the delivery service some companies offer which of course consume fuel and pollute the air. If you do decide on reusable nappies, washing them on a full load at a lowered temperature (perhaps 60 degrees instead of 90) and not using a tumble dryer will help to lower the impact they have on the environment.

    I hope this has helped you reach an informed decision. Please let us know what you decide on and why?

    Which bath seat and when?

    Bathing your baby is easy if you know how. Particularly if you are using the correct equipment to assist you. Here is a quick guide on which bath/bath seat to use and when:

    It is likely you are going to need 2-3 bath seats (depending on your preference) as your baby grows. The first being for newborns, the 2nd for little babies who can’t yet sit and the third for those who can sit but still need a little support. No baby bath is designed for a child to be left alone, you must supervise your child at all times.

    Newborn – Baby bath tub

    The baby bath tub allows you to bathe your baby in the room of your choice, preferable one that is warm and with no draughts. It can be a little difficult to fill up and empty if you are on your own and can be a drowning hazard if you have other children in the house so ensure your routine doesn’t involve leaving a tub full of water unsupervised. It can be awkward holding your baby and washing him at the same time, particularly if you also need to lean over the sides if a bath, the baby bath tub allows you to place the bath on a raised surface for easier access. You must obviously check the surface is stable, not near anything electrical and the tub/baby is not at risk of falling. The baby bath tub will last for the first month or so. If you would prefer to bathe your little one in the bath, there are a number of products suitable for newborns, most notably the angelcare soft touch baby support.

    1-4 months (or until sitting) – Soft mesh bather

    There are a number of different mesh bathers, they attach to the base of your bath using suction cups and allow your child to lye at a comfortable angle with a good view of you and the bath water. Some come with raised sides and adjustable incline whilst some are simple and simply offer a comfortable place for baby to lye. Once your little one is able to roll over, you will have to be in your guard to make sure she doesn’t roll off, those with sides don’t offer that much protection against children who can roll so be sure to keep a hand on or near your baby at all times.

    Once baby can sit up – A bath seat!

    once your child is able to sit, he will be able to experience bath time from a whole new perspective, initially you may want to use a seat that surrounds your child to protect against falling. They are also secured to the base of your bath using suction cups and will have a recommended water level indicator. You can pick one up for around £20(ish) and it will last you longer than the two previously mentioned items. Some come with side support and a recline option if you have a particularly fussy prince or princess.

    Personally I went for all 3 of the above, I chose the baby bath tub because it allowed me to bathe my newborn in our much warmer living room and include my older daughter in her little sisters bath time. Once my little one was old enough they shared a big bath together, firstly with the mesh bather, then the bath seat and then once she was sitting confidently and never tipping forwards or backwards, with nothing. Bath time is just as enjoyable now as it ever has been. Except for the washing hair bit.

    Baby Hair Loss – What, When and Why?

    It is completely Normal for babies under 6 months to lose their hair. If your child is over 2 years of age and is experiencing hair loss, this could be due to a medical reason, a life event or even tying hair bands too tightly. This post explains the reasons, timescales and if necessary the treatment in more detail.

    Hair loss in the first 6 months

    It is completely normal for healthy newborns to lose baby hair in the first 6 months of life. The baby hair falls out before the mature hair grows. There is absolutely nothing to worry about. You will probably notice that this hair loss occurs at the back of your child’s head where he is in contact with the mattress when sleeping, if your child has developed a habit of banging or rubbing his head on furniture, hair loss may also be more prominent in those areas. This still is completely normal and nothing to worry about. Hair grows at varying rates so don’t be worried or surprised if you little one has some bald patches. In some very rare cases, babies are born with alopecia, this can be a medical condition on its own or as part of a medical condition also affecting teeth and nails. If you are concerned about your child’s hair loss, speak to a medical professional.

    Hair loss after 24 months

    If you notice your child losing hair after around 24-26 months, it is likely to be due to one of the following reasons/conditions:

  • Tinea capitis – This is often explained to parents as being ring worm on the scalp. It is a fungal infection and often results in round or oval scaly patches of hair loss. If you suspect your child has tinea capitis, you should contact your GP who will arrange for further testing, this usually involves a microscopic examination. It is treated with an anti fungal medication, you may also be advised to use an anti fungal shampoo. Ringworm is infectious so you need to be sure your child doesn’t share any objects/items that are in contact with her head such as pillows and hats etc.
  • Alopecia areata – This is a non-contagious condition and is caused by the body’s immune system attacking the hair follicles. It often results in round or oval shaped hair loss but unlike tinea capitis, it is smooth rather than scaly. There is currently no known cure for this but treatment can result in hair growth after around 12 months. Unfortunately, this means it is also likely to return at a later date.
  • Trichotillomania – This is usually caused by stressful life events such as a bereavement, divorce, moving home or even birth of a sibling. Your child may be pulling his/her own hair as a result if this stress. Counselling and therapy are recommended for this.
  • Traction alopecia – This is caused by wearing hair bands or ribbons too tightly. Hair will grow again once you stop doing this.
  • Telogen effluvium – This is where the hair follicles stop growing prematurely due to a stressful event or medication/surgery. It takes approximately 26 weeks for this to become visible through hair loss and around 12 months to grow back once the stressful event is over.
  • Nutritional deficiency – this is very uncommon but hairless can be due to a deficiency in essential vitamins/nutrients such as vitamin H or Zinc. If you suspect fair loss due to nutritional deficiency, speak to your GP first before deciding whether to give any supplements.
  • Hypothyroidism – An under active thyroid can result in hair loss. This is due to the thyroid not regulating a sufficient amount of metabolism. Diagnosis is made through blood tests and possibly a scan a medication options discussed which will vary from child to child depending on age, general health, extent of the disease and other factors.
  • Resources: AAP http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/skin/Pages/Hair-Loss-Alopecia.aspx

    Webmd http://www.m.webmd.com/children/guide/hair-loss-in-children