Nurture Article | The Portland Hospital Parenting Magazine
Spring Issue 2012
Summer holidays can take a downward turn if your child gets a tummy bug, sunstroke or a nasty insect bite.
Here Rachel Hall, a Clinical Nurse Specialist at The Portland Hospital, shares her tips with parents on preventing common holiday problems.
The natural reaction on a hot day is to strip babies off, but young children who aren’t capable of positioning themselves out of the way of a creeping ray of sun, or telling you if they are uncomfortable, are much better off in long-sleeved, loose-fitting, cotton garments. These protect the skin but don’t cling, allowing the skin to sweat while also protecting it from direct sunlight. Offer plenty of cooled, boiled water throughout the day, even to breastfed babies. Spoon the water into your baby’s mouth if he/she is reluctant to take a bottle or cup. Hats are also essential. You wouldn’t go out without your sunglasses would you? The same goes for your baby’s hat.
Young skin of all types – especially newborn skin – is very sensitive to the sun. Apply a Factor 50 all over your child before you leave the house; turn it into a soothing massage session as you dress them, that way you won’t miss a spot. Repeat applications as instructed on the bottle. Any buggy or pram should be fitted with either a parasol or sunshade, and a sunshade net (or a muslin over the hood if caught short) will keep your child extra safe. These are particularly helpful for front facing buggies. Keep your child in the shade at all times, especially between the peak sun hours of 11am – 3pm. If despite your best efforts your child gets burnt, apply cool compresses and give an infant analgesic (such as Calpol). If the skin should blister, do not burst them because the blister acts as a sterile dressing on the wound beneath. Seek medical advice if you are worried.
Its proper name is hyperthermia and can be a very serious condition. It happens where the body has heated to a level where its automatic cooling off mechanisms are unable to cope. In young babies, a depressed fontanelle on the head combined with fretfulness is a sign of dehydration. Offer plenty of cooled, boiled water and an infant analgesic (calpol) if required. If your child’s temperature does not drop, or he/she appears to be having a seizure, seek immediate medical attention.
Bacteria love it warm and wet, and let’s face it, that’s a very good way to describe a typical British summer. With a few handbag additions, and a bit of common sense, you can avoid tummy trouble both here and abroad. Antibacterial wipes for nappy changes on the move and for wiping the hands of crawling babies outdoors are an essential. If you are venturing abroad, be very careful with the water and refuse ice cubes in drinks. Even bottled mineral water should be boiled, as the high mineral content of some can be unsuitable for young babies. And don’t be tempted to dust off a dropped dummy and pop it back into your baby’s mouth. Take spares, it will save you so much trouble – and nappy changes – later on.
People do tend to get a bit anxious about wasp and bee stings. Yes they are nasty, but on the whole they don’t tend to do much harm. Allergic reactions to stings, however, are completely different and should be taken very seriously. If you or your partner suffer allergies, it could be that hypersensitivity runs in your family and you should speak to your health visitor about arranging a blood test to assess whether your child is affected. If your child is stung, wash your hands and remove the sting, if applicable, then apply a cold compress to help reduce swelling. An antiseptic cream may also help but antihistamine medicines are age restricted, and stick to the guidelines unless guided by your doctor. If your child starts suffering breathing difficulties dial 999 immediately. It could be they are suffering an anaphylactic shock, and need urgent, professional help.