With over 40 years’ experience as a neonatal paediatrician, Dr Howard Chilton aka ‘Baby Doc’ has de-bunked common baby myths and helped take away some parental stress during COVID-19.
Best known for his baby books ‘Baby on Board’ and ‘Your Cherished Baby’, Dr Chilton ran a successful practice in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs for decades and now resides in Northern NSW where he runs a clinic.
WaterWipes recently hosted a Facebook LIVE seminar with Baby Doc to connect parents with professional advice during COVID-19 with our followers submitting questions for him to answer in real time.
The highly respected paediatrician outlined practical tips on feeding that were easy to follow, whether you are breastfeeding or formula feeding.
“The basic fact to understand is that human milk is a ‘continuous contact ‘ milk, so it is designed to be fed frequently. It is not a 4-hourly milk. So a rule of thumb is to feed your baby on demand whenever she is hungry – on some days baby will be hungrier than others and will eat much more than the day or the feed prior. This is the perfectly natural way for either breastmilk or formula.”
“Babies regulate how much milk they need and take, and the mother is not meant to know or intervene. However a good way of knowing if your baby is getting enough milk is to keep track of wet nappies. On average you should be looking at five or six wet nappies a day - any less would be unusual and your baby could be little dry and need more feeds.” he said.
Don’t worry, you can now rest easy when it comes to your baby and colic, with Dr Chilton explaining just how common, and normal, it is.
“Colic is actually very common in young infants. Most babies, particularly at about six weeks old tend to be more unsettled and cry more than before. After that peak the irritability tends to improve gradually until massive improvement at 3 months. This is for all babies to some degree. So–called ‘colicky’ babies are those in the top 10% for the amount they cry. They are completely normal but are more sensitive to the immense changes they have to cope with after birth.”
“Colic symptoms are based entirely on the stress babies feel as they adapt to their life outside the womb. They therefore include tenseness and tightness of their abdominal or back muscles, which causes the baby to draw their knees up to their stomach or arch their back.
“Remember that your baby is not unwell or in pain, his gut is normal, and he is not ‘suffering from wind’. Importantly, it is not your fault that he is doing this,” he said.
“So the way to deal with the issue is to first, make sure he is not hungry by feeding him (also the act of sucking acts as a calmative) and then cuddle and calm him against your (or another carer’s) body. All in a low stimulation environment. Continuous calming is the key. “
And we all know that sleep is the one that keeps us parents up at night (literally!) and here Dr Chilton has great insight.
“The idea that babies should sleep for 8 - 9 hours is, while extremely attractive, highly unnatural. Babies sleep patterns are quite different to older people; they sleep lightly and in short phases (they tend to wake every 50-60 minutes in the early months). They also prefer to have a carer nearby as this makes them feel safe”, he said.
To those who dare to tell you to wake your baby to feed, Dr Chilton has this advice: “Generally, you should never wake a sleeping baby unless they’re unwell or underweight. All other times - just tiptoe away!”
Babies don't need toys. They need you the most.
Though if you want to get them a toy, babies do love stripy, curved, patterned toys. They love toys with eyes – to stare at which provides stimulation E.g owl toy with big eyes
And finally some good news about dummies…. busting the myths that they are addictive, bad for babies and cause problems with teeth.
“I have no problem with dummies at all as they are perfectly safe. Often there are negative preconceived ideas around dummies, but it’s a fact that babies love sucking so if your breast is not available, it’s perfectly okay to give your baby a dummy. Sucking has a naturally soothing and settling effect on babies and can help some babies calm and sleep
“And one last thing, dummies do not alter teeth growth – this is just a myth!”
This blog has been written based on Dr Howard Chilton’s recent Facebook Live. WaterWipes always recommends readers consult with their own GP or specialist for any concerns or issues they have with their baby.