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10 Top Tips From a GP to Parents

11 min read | 01 May 2022

In this episode we are joined by Dr Preeya Alexander, a medical doctor and mum of two also known as @thewholesomedoctor.

Listen to Season 3, Episode 7 above or on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

We discuss the top 10 frequently asked questions from parents to a GP, with advice for parents along the way.

1. What are some of the most common injuries and illnesses for babies and children's?

The most common injuries and illnesses that we see are colds and upper respiratory tract infections, ear infections, nappy rash and cradle cap. In more recent years the climate has changed on this with COVID, it is now important to continue to test your children with even the mildest of symptoms to protect others in the family and community.

One important aspect to keep in-mind is the risk of these common illnesses is increased as your little ones start childcare. However, it’s important to remember it is normal for preschoolers to contract approximately 6-12 viral infections per year. Simple steps to support your little one's immune system by ensuring they are getting enough sleep, having a good diet high in fruit and vegetables and washing their hands will help, but illnesses are still likely to occur, so don't be too hard on yourself as parents.

In terms of nappy rash, simple ways to avoid this is to change nappies more frequently, allow for nappy off time and avoid wipes with fragrances or other possible irritants. Other minor injuries such as bumps or scrapes also become more common as your little one grows up and starts becoming more mobile.

2. What are the biggest baby developmental milestones in the first 12 months?

As a parent, whilst it’s important to have an idea of the different milestones at each age and what developments to look out for, be confident that your maternal child health nurse is there at the right times to check progress on all of these for you. Also, remember every baby is different and some might take a little longer to reach certain milestones, while others may get to certain ones faster - it is a spectrum.

It’s also important to understand it's not just the physical milestones like rolling or sitting unassisted, that are important, it is the social, emotional and cognitive milestones as well. If there is ever anything that concerns you, reach out to your GP, even if it is just to get some reassurance.

3. What is your advice when preparing babies/children for a hospital visit?

For parents, if it is possible, I recommend planning ahead. Obviously, if it is an emergency visit this can be a little harder. But pack a bag with enough to keep your little one as calm as possible, including dummies, comforters, snacks, bottles, enough wipes, nappies, etc. and extra in case you need it!

If you’ve got slightly older children, keeping them involved and preparing them for what a visit to the hospital is like and what the doctors and nurses will be doing, will help calm their nerves and reduce anxiety around the experience.

4. What is your advice for parents who have babies/children with allergies?

Allergies can be quite anxiety provoking for parents and children. The best advice is to maintain allergy checks and appointments or follow ups, and to ensure an allergy management plan is in place. This includes ensuring you have epi pens or antihistamines at all the places your child might need them, school, daycare, grandparents house etc.

It’s also important to educate kids that don’t have allergies to be aware that other children may have allergies and that's why it is important not to share food and be aware if someone appears unwell.

5. How do you go about finding a good GP or pediatrician that matches your values, needs & wants?

It’s worth noting in Australia, a GP is actually the first point of contact for any checkups, issues or illnesses with your children. A pediatrician is someone who specialises in children's health, but often in something specific like a special need or condition. Meaning your GP might escalate an issue you have raised with them regarding your child, to a specialist pediatrician.

Finding the right GP for you and your family can take time. I would say ask friends for recommendations, try a few and when you feel the right fit you will know. You want to feel heard in the consulting room and leave feeling reassured that your questions have been answered.

6. What are your top tips for providing the best nutrition for babies and children?

Where GPs are most involved in nutritions is when children are starting solids and parents are often confused as there is such a grey area. My top tip is to really wait until your child is ready. Whilst the guidelines are to start solids around 6 months of age, but not before 4 months, ensure you are getting the right cues from your baby. These include being interested in food, watching you while you're eating , good head and neck control, opening their mouth spontaneously for food and can sit upright. 

Another tip is to introduce allergy foods into your child's diet before the age of 1, in order to reduce the risk of food allergies. These allergy foods include sesame, wheat, dairy, egg, peanut protein and tree nuts. Iron rich foods are also very important to introduce when starting solids, keep in mind it can take up to 10-15 food exposures for your child to accept a food. So keep offering it and changing up how you serve it!

7. What types of exercise would you recommend for babies and children?

Exercise for babies and children is often not what we consider ‘exercise’ as adults. For newborns, it's tummy time, allowing them to use and strengthen different muscles in their neck. For older babies, it is mat time, rolling around or sitting up unassisted. For older kids, dancing, going for a walk or ride on their bike around the backyard are all really important for preventive health issues in the future. It is also important to break up screen time, especially for those under 2 year olds where possible.

In summary, the more movement you can do with your children the better and any movement is good!

8. How does a GP work as part of your birthing process, if at all?

GPs support women through preconception care, pregnancy and postpartum care. It is important to consult your doctor before conception to allow them to assist in optimising your health, getting you on the right supplements, checking your bloods and making sure vaccinations are up to date.

During pregnancy we might see people with varying issues including mental health concerns, pelvic pain, discharge concerns, etc. This is similar to postpartum care for both mum and baby, anything that is causing you issues post birth or with your baby can be raised with your GP.

9. If you feel something is not right with your baby/child, what is your advice with regards to steps to take?

If you have something you are genuinely concerned with regarding your baby you need to raise it with your maternal child health nurse or GP. This is why it is particularly important you find a GP that will make you feel reassured so that your concerns can be reduced. As a rule, have a low threshold and get anything checked that is worrying you!

10. What are your top tips for soon to be parents out there?

  • Go easy on yourself and be kind to yourself - there is no single right way to parent!

  • Ask for help when you need it and accept it - it’s not failure.

  • Surround yourself with people who will let you be you and share your realities.

Download the episode transcript here.

This article was written by Dr. Preeya Alexander and Purebaby in conjunction with Season three, episode 7 of Purebaby’s podcast, Pure Parenthood.

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