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This is the forum where you can ask our professional Health Visitors any questions you may have on babies and children and good enough parenting.


Dont think that any question is a silly question - I can guarantee that someone else has already thought about it  and if they havent, they will do. The answers we give here may well be enough to reassure and answer the question - enough to give peace of mind or encourage more fact finding.

 These are answers given to questions which parents and carers have asked via the forums.

 • To make the service accessible to client groups who don't access or prefer not to access traditional health visitor services - particularly dads, parents of disabled children, parents from lower socio-economic groups and young parents.
• To work towards the Every Child Matters outcomes - in particular ‘Be Healthy and Stay Safe'.
• To work alongside other government initiatives like ‘Change4Life' and the ‘Five a Day' campaign.
• To support parents in all aspects of parenting and safeguarding.
• To support and advise mothers, fathers and carers on the prevention and management of post-natal depression and other illnesses which may occur around  child birth.



We welcome you to this forum.


Is Smoking bad for my Baby?

I don’t smoke but my partner does. Will this have an effect on my baby?




Over 17,000 children in the UK under the age of five are admitted to hospital every year with illnesses linked tto passive smoking. That is smoke being in the air - in the same room as they are  - even though the smoker has left. Babies and young children who are exposed to passive smoking at home are more likely to develop chest, ear, nose and throat infections, which can then progress into more serious conditions such as bronchitis and pneumonia.


Exposure to smoke is dangerous because children are more vulnerable to infections, but also because they may develop chronic conditions like asthma, which will stay with them for the rest of their lives which will continue to have problems for them as they are growing up.


Smoking is also a major risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) commonly known as cot death. Smoking should be avoided around your baby at all costs.


There is help and support available, for advice and help on how to quit smoking call the free NHS Smoking Helpline on 0800 022 4 332 (open Monday-Friday 9am-8pm and Saturday-Sunday 11am-5pm).


Take it a day at a time and cut down one cigarette at a time and be a none smoker in no time. It is so, so worth it for your husband's health as he needs to be alive and healthy for your new baby.


Good luck and best wshes with this.

My Breast Fed Baby Will Not Take The Bottle

My baby is now coming up to 4 months old and I have breast feed  her sucessfully.  I am due to return to work soon and I have been trying to change her to formula milk, but she is refusing point blank- what do I do as I am worried she will starve when I go to work.




This a such a common issue with babies who have been totally breast fed from the start and those who have enjoyed it so much. Your baby is used to your teat and the rubber teat just doesnt feel the same as she is used to. Take a deep breath and try to stay calm as she will take on your stress levels and she will play off this.


take a break, ask someoe else to feed her the bottle as she may well associate breast feeding with when she is in your arms, and she will also smell the breast milk from you which will whet her appetite. 


She may only take a small amount to start off with but she will build on this. Do nt let her become distressed about feeding, just take things easy and be possitive. Start thinking about weaning, but start this very slowly and only with such as baby rice.



2 Year Speech and Language Development Issues


2 Year Speech and Language Development


My daughter is now nearly 3 years old,  and we are trying not to be too worried, but we are a little bit concerned about her language development. She does seem to understand what we are saying to her and she will follow most instructions - if she chooses to-  however, she can only say a few single words and they are not clearly spoken.  Most of the other children we meet at toddler group who are a similar age to our daughter sound as though they are able to say a  whole lot more and some are even putting a couple of words together.







All children develop at their own pace and all at different rates to each other. There is a wide variation in what is considered as being within normal limits. You say that daughter seems to have an idea of what you are asking of her - so her understanding is growing well- This is wonderful. It would be a good idea to make sure your daughter has her had her 2 year development check - where her speech will be listened to and her pronunciation and tone. She may also need to be referred to the speech and language department - be prepared to wait for at least 6 months as this department is usually over subscribed - unless you choose to go private.



Make a call to your Health Visitor and she or he will be able to make a referral to speech therapy for an assessment.  Your Health Visitor will also be able to give you some direct information and advice on things you can be doing whilst you are waiting for the appointment so you can help your daughter with her speech development. By the time the appointment comes around, you may find that your daughter is speaking in long sentences with a good list of words.


Make sure you talk to your daughter, read to her and encourage her dialogue. songs are good as well as stories and picture books - all help with language development and sound formation.





What Is Colic?

Colic is a condition that drives parents a bit crazy. The baby cries for hours because it has gas and indigestion. Technically a baby is diagnosed as having colic if it is crying for more than three hours a day.

Experts estimate that almost half of all infants have colic and it most commonly occurs between the third and sixth week after birth. How long it lasts is an individual matter but some babies can have colic every night until they are about four months old. If your baby is still constantly crying  all the time after that then it is time to consult with your doctor to see if there is some other underlying health problem to blame.  Otherwise there is no need to call the doctor unless your baby is lacking a strong sucking reflex or is not eating well at all. If you’re baby is vomiting, rather than spitting up and is crying all of the time then the problem may not be colic.

One way to comfort a colic stricken child is to cuddle them and also pat them frequently on the back to burp to help relieve the painful gas they experience all of the time.

There are lots of theories about what causes colic, the most common one being that the baby swallows too much air while crying. New theories suggest that the child is intolerant to cow’s milk or something that the mom is eating and dispensing to the child through her breast milk.

What Is Post Natal Depression?

Post natal depression is quite a common condition that is estimated to affect as many as one quarter of all women after childbirth. The symptoms of this temporary syndrome include feeling low, fatigue, sadness, lack of libido, anxiety, irratbility,reduced sex drive, over-sleeping or insomnia as well as as overeating or a lack of appetite.

Post-partum depression usually creeps up on the mother about four weeks after childbirth and it has been known to last as long as a year.

There are some predisposing factors that can cause a new mother to become more prone to this type of depression and these include being a single mother, being unable to cope with an infant with colic, financial problems that threaten the welfare of the baby, cigarette smoking, feeding with formula rather than breast feeding, anxiety and having the baby that is the result of an unwanted pregnancy.

The reason that this condition is such a concern is that women who develop it tend to be inconsistent when it comes to caring for the child and in extreme instances may become so frustrated with herself and the infant that violence is the result.

In the United Kingdom doctors use a questionnaire called The Edinburgh Postnatal Scale to determine if a new mother is suffering from the syndrome. Doctors these days are also trained to look for the signs of depression in a mother before the child is born so that they can help with the condition before it happens. Treatment and prevention of the condition can include medication, attendance at a support group and psychotherapy.

How Do I Get MY Baby To Sleep Well?

Baby Sleep Tips

If you want your baby to sleep as long as possible so that you can get some shut-eye too here are some tips –

Make sure the room is warm yet airy enough so that your child is comfortable and sleeps soundly’. Babies sleep best when the temperature of the room is between sixty and seventy degrees.

It also helps to use dimmer lights.  Put them on a timer and have the lights slowly dim as your child falls asleep. That way he or she does not become afraid of the dark.

If your baby will not sleep, try adding some white noise. Turn on the television, the washing machine or the dishwasher. Babies are soothed by rhythmic noise because it is similar to the sounds they heard in the wound.

Babies wake up because they are hungry. Be sure to feed your baby on demand or at least 2-3 hourly or so in the evening so that you put the child to bed well fed.

If you are breast-feeding then stop drinking coffee, green tea and cola. The caffeine in these beverages might be in your breast milk and making your baby jittery.  Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that keeps human beings awake!

A little known tip is to not indulge your child if she is crying by making eye contact with her. Babies are stimulated by eye contact with their mother and this hard-wired reaction can keep them up for hours.

Some babies sleep best in a swing. If you cannot get the baby to snooze in her crib then swaddle her tightly, buckle her into the swing and watch her fall and stay asleep for a while.

Is Breast Really Best For My baby?

Is Breast Feeding is Better?

Breast milk is more nutritious for your child than formula. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the British Medical Association and the World Health Organization all claim that breastfeeding  produced a healthier child. That is because breast milk contains colostrum which is a substance that helps your child develop immunity against infection and disease. Babies who are fed colustrum also tend to have fewer allergies and are less anxious in general.

The antibodies passed on from mother to child can help prevent ear infections, diarrhea, meningitis, diabetes, obesity and may ease your child’s digestive process. The process of breast-feeding also helps your baby develop a taste for solid future as the different flavors of foods that the mother consumes are passé on through breast milk.

The British Academy of Pediatrics says that an infant should be breastfed for at least six months but ideally a minimum of one year. Some alternative practitioners recommend nursing your child until three or four years old if you want to maximize your child’s immunity.

However there are some situations where breastfeeding is not recommended. Sometimes if the mother is ill and can pass a disease onto a child it is not a good idea to breast feed.  Mothers addicted to nicotine, alcohol or street drugs or prescribed certain drugs might pass on the side effects of those drugs to their nursing infants.

One of the main benefits to breast-feeding your child is that it is free. A good balanced baby formula can cost as much as £7 for a can. 

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