Six things Dr Google isn't telling you about your baby

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images 

When it comes to raising a child, parents now have access to a wealth of information online. 

New research has found that over 89 per cent of Australian parents are using online search engines to diagnose and treat their children's skin conditions.

With the research, by WaterWipes, also reveling some parents are delaying taking their child to a doctor or health specialist as a result of COVID-enforced lockdowns, we expect more parents will be jumping online to source information about their children's conditions.

While there are many incredible resources online, there is unfortunately also misleading, misconstrued, and even just plain false information that exists online.

As a specialist pediatrician, and mother myself, I understand the conveniences of using 'Dr Google', but wanted to break down some of the more confusing myths and misconceptions found online.

Myth: Testing food on your child's skin shows if they have an allergy

We regularly see this as a 'hack' across online forums, however, testing food on your baby's skin will not actually indicate if they'll have an allergic reaction to it when they eat it. It can even be harmful, with the potential to increase the risk of your baby developing an allergy to that food. 

If you're concerned about allergies for your baby, it is definitely safest to speak to a professional.

Myth: Breastfed babies don't get nappy rash

Advertisement

Nappy rash is, unfortunately, something that most babies experience. While it is less common in babies who are breastfed, because their poop is less irritating, it can definitely occur. The main difference would be that breastfeeding mothers also need to consider how their diet affects their child, and associated ailments - for example, if the mother is taking antibiotics, this can affect the baby. 

As nappy rash will affect most children, there are a few things you can try, before seeing a healthcare professional. It generally comes down to critically looking at what you are putting on your baby's skin.

Wash your baby's bottom with water and avoid any products with ingredients that could potentially irritate your baby's delicate skin including soap, bubble bath, and some lotions.

If using wipes, use gentle baby wipes. Check the back of the pack to ensure they do not contain alcohol or other unnecessary ingredients. 

When changing your baby, dry the skin thoroughly, patting instead of rubbing if the area is sore.

Apply a thin layer of barrier cream to dry skin, at every nappy change. Ask your paediatrician or local pharmacist for a recommendation.

If you aren't able to leave your baby's nappy off for long to let fresh air get to their skin, ensure dirty nappies are changed as soon as possible.

Bathe young babies three times a week. During the first three months you usually don't need to bathe your baby more frequently than this. A baby wipe can be used to gently and effectively cleanse in between bath times. As babies get older and more active a daily bath regime can become a part of your bedtime routine.

Myth: Natural skincare is best

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to eco-jargon, and what is best for your child, particularly around skincare. According to new research, 96 per cent of Australian parents can't explain at least one of the commonly used eco jargon phrases. 

When choosing skin care products for your baby it is important to consider gentle and appropriate care for your child, keeping in mind, "natural" does not always mean the best.

Many "natural" skincare products often contain known food allergens (such as goat's milk, cow's milk, peanut oil, almond oil, and oatmeal) which can expose babies to unnecessary risk. 

Look instead for products that are clinically proven to help.

Myth: If my child has green snot, they need antibiotics

Many believe that the first sign of green snot in their baby means a bacterial infection or contagious illness that needs antibiotics, but this isn't necessarily the case. 

Snot can be telling, but a particular colour of snot doesn't necessarily indicate that a child is sicker or more contagious. 

Myth: What I eat won't affect my baby

If you are breastfeeding, it is important to consider everything you eat and how it affects your child. While there isn't one 'special diet', your body does need extra nutrients, ideally from a wide variety of sources, when breastfeeding. It's also best not to consume alcohol, smoke or use drugs throughout this period.

Myth: Food allergies are the same as food intolerances

It's really important to differentiate between allergies and intolerances (also known as food sensitivities) because it can be life-threatening to miss an allergy. The biggest clue is looking at how your child's body responds. 

A food allergy is a reaction that occurs very soon after eating the food and that ranges from a skin rash (hives) to breathing problems and even anaphylaxis. This is usually very obvious and may need emergency treatment.

With an intolerance it may not be as easily recognised, but rather a more subtle reaction that can even be delayed for a few days after eating the problem food. The specific mechanism may be clear, other times it isn't. 

If this all sounds very vague or confusing, it's because it can be! And this means it's often missed. When introducing solids to your child, it's recommended to introduce the foods more likely to cause allergy slowly, so that you can determine the cause of any symptoms.

If you have a question about your baby, please speak to a healthcare professional. If you do need to utilise online resources, look to trusted websites and publications, and check multiple sources to ensure you can trust what you are reading! 

Research by WaterWipes referenced within this article was developed to celebrate the launch of its 100 per cent biodegradable baby wipe range. More information on the new range can be found at waterwipes.com.