Recently I was lucky to MC at the Children’s Panadol Baby Brunch in Sydney. 45 mums turned up to the stunning Grounds of Alexandria with their babes in arms, eager to hear from the extremely knowledgeable (over 35 years’ experience!) Dr Howard Chilton talk through some of the key conditions of pain and fever in children and how we can best manage them. We (Dr Chilton and I) also discussed what it means to be an imperfect parent (fave topic!)
I must say I thought after having been through a lot of pain and fever with my boys Jack and Max, I was pretty certain I knew everything when it came to managing this subject… I was wrong! I learnt a lot and Dr Chilton is not only an expert but he is so inspiring and captivating when he speaks. The whole room was listening to his every word and remarkably the babies all behaved (what are the chances!) it must have been his soothing, delightfully British voice. You can check out the full presentation here.
I sat down with Dr Chilton for 5 minutes after brunch to re-cap some of his points, and to ask a few of my own questions.
In his presentation, he spoke to us about immunisation, teething, cold and flu and ‘good enough’ parenting. I was keen to re-visit these subjects.
Cold and Flu
J: Well this is something I am familiar with! My boys have a revolving door of snot at the moment. One gets better and then the other gets sick and gives it back to him.
DHC: When your child has a cold you can try saline drops, give them plenty of fluids, get them to inhale steam from the shower and if they still seem in distress, then you should consider giving them pain relief medication such as paracetamol.
J: That’s really useful information. What about the flu symptoms, how are they different?
DHC: Flu like symptoms are more severe - fever, shaking chills, aches and pains, lethargy and headaches. You would need to take their temperature and make sure they are suitably clothed. If they are hot, then make sure you peel off a layer of clothing so they are comfortable – don’t over wrap them. You would consider giving paracetamol with flu like symptoms, to bring down their fever and relieve pain.
J: Wow, well this topic shocked me. I was certain my boys were whinging due to teething. You mentioned we all teeth from the age of 6 months to 18 years old (interesting!) and that teething generally only causes teeth and nothing else.
DHC: Yes, there was a large study in the US[KNB1] which showed that at most, a day of ‘mild discomfort’ may occur but it doesn’t cause fever, rashes or diarrhoea, those symptoms are actually caused by viruses.
J: I suppose the boys did always seem to have a cold at the time and I hadn’t connected the two – I straight away blamed the runny nose on teething but it was probably a virus!
DHC: That’s right, it could’ve been. You can also help manage teething by rubbing your baby’s gums or by using a teething ring. Of course, if you think your baby is in pain, consider giving them paracetamol.
J: You mentioned that babies and children don’t always require pain relief after their immunisations. I found this really fascinating as I always give my children Children’s Panadol after their immunisations. Can you tell me more about that please?
DHC: The routine use of paracetamol[KNB2] before or at the time of immunisation is not recommended for all routine immunisation. The majority of issues believed to be related to immunisation are actually not due to the vaccine itself – it’s usually coincidence. Since most of the vaccinations a child receives is in the first year of life, they can coincide with many other health related events which can cause pain and fever.
If you are concerned about possible immunisation side effects, speak with your family doctor or pharmacist regarding the use of paracetamol.
Good Enough Parenting/Imperfect Parenting
J: I really enjoyed hearing you speak about ‘good enough’ parenting. This is something I am really proud to talk about on my Instagram and give mums comfort in knowing it’s ok not to be perfect. So, I guess there is a lot of added weight to the subject coming from you – a professional and expert in the field!
DHC: Yes, you should definitely read what Donald Winnicott has to say about the concept of a ‘good enough mother’. He wanted to help people be ‘good enough’ parents and the reason being is that babies who are brought up by robot mothers, who always get it right and anticipate the baby’s every need, never gives the baby the opportunity to learn the abilities to re-connect with his mother when she gets it wrong.
J: Well that is reassuring as I am definitely far from perfect in my approach to parenting… it’s too unrealistic. Do you have any examples of how you were a ‘good enough’ parent?
DHC: I was far from a perfect parent when my two girls were growing up. I was working very long hours with babies in my newborn intensive care unit but I had an amazing wife – she’s the best. She is one of those mums and now a Grandmother who is present and in the moment. This is extremely important for children. Put down those smartphones and practice conscious presence!
J: (I was teary at this point and was taking in that advice!!) I am so guilty of being on my phone and will make an effort to put it down and be more present…. Advice I’m sure we could all follow!