Mother and Baby

Wednesday Lunch Club Q+A With GP Dr Ellie Cannon

Missed our Wednesday Lunch Club with GP Dr Ellie Cannon? Don’t worry, you can read all of the advice she shared here

Every week at Mother&Baby we bring you the Wednesday Lunch Club – a chance to get brilliant advice for your fertility, pregnancy and parenting questions from a top expert. 

This week, GP Dr Ellie Cannon was on board to answer questions.

Family GP and mum-of-two Dr Ellie Cannon has helped thousands of families adjust to life with a new baby. She can advise on sleep issues, feeding, your baby’s development and all manner of health conditions. In addition to working in an NHS practice, Dr Ellie frequently shares her expertise on television and the radio and has also just launched her first book about parenting – Keep Calm: The New Mum’s Manual.

If you missed the chat, here’s what happened…

My little boy is eight months old now and from when he was six weeks old his health visitor noticed he had flat head syndrome. We've done everything we can by distracting him when he's playing with his toys (when he's lying on his back) and adjusting the way he sleeps, but nothing seems to be working! Is there anything else we could do? It seems to be getting worse.

Dr Ellie Cannon: As you say it seems to be getting worse, I do think you should speak to your GP. But most cases of flat heads are completely harmless and cause no problem with a baby's brain development.

Once children spend the majority of their time upright rather than on their back, and roll around more in their sleep, it tends to correct itself. There is a huge trend now to use helmets to correct baby's head shape but for most babies this is unnecessary.

Most cases of flat heads are completely harmless and cause no problem with a baby's brain development

My little girl is 17 months old and still not walking. Is this normal? I'm worried that she's a slow learner or I've done something wrong!

Dr Ellie Cannon: You have not done anything wrong so please don't feel guilty. While we are at the centre of our babies' world, we cannot make them into early-walkers or late-walkers! 17 months is still not late to walk and ‘normal’ can be up to 20 or even 22 months especially if the baby is a bottom-shuffler rather than a crawler.

At 18 months I'd see the GP just for a quick check to make sure the rest of her development (like speech and social skills) are up to speed, but most likely she'll be just fine.

My three year old is quite highly strung and can get grumpy and refuse to do what I ask. How can I help him accept that I have the authority but without making him hate me?

Dr Ellie Cannon: I really believe children need boundaries, not rules and discipline, but boundaries so they know where they're at and feel confident in their little world. You create those boundaries and he's not going to hate you for that. You are in charge of feeding him, clothing him, and loving him and likewise you're in charge of what's right and wrong.

So firstly, stop feeling guilty about being in charge – it’s your job! Secondly, I'd have a good look at what and how you chat to him and I want you to try one thing: as well as telling him off or giving him instructions, make sure every day you're telling him about the good stuff he does. Not just ‘you're a wonderful boy’, but really specific stuff like ‘it is great you that you went and got your own shoes’. So a large part of your dialogue becomes positive.
I think that way, children accept the negative stuff or the boring instructions much easier.

I'm worried I'm coming down with flu and am scared my 18 month old will get it too. What can I do to make sure he doesn't? I'm a stay at home mum so am his sole carer.

Stop feeling guilty about being in charge – it’s your job!

Dr Ellie Cannon: Honestly, there is not really anything you can do and that is absolutely fine. Our babies get our germs and that is nothing to feel guilty about. If your child was not with you but at nursery, he would have had a few coughs and colds by now.

Our kids pick up viruses and other germs from us and that is how their fabulous immune system develops. Going through minor ailments like coughs and colds is how our babies develop antibodies to protect them when they are older. You can help yourself to recover quickly by getting as much sleep as you can. So when he's napping, you should be too as well as getting some early nights. Get well soon!

My daughter trapped a part of her skin on her fingertip in a door hinge last July and still has a lump. It's quite dry in the top and fluid filled inside. My GP said two months after it would go but it still hasn't. Any advice?

Dr Ellie Cannon: Go back to the GP and if you're not happy with the response, maybe you can see a different one? It should have cleared up by now but it sounds like a blister may have formed. I'm sure it's nothing to worry about but worth checking out.

My baby is seven months old and has been eating solids for a month. He is breastfed and we're doing a combination of spoon feeding and finger foods (baby led weaning). I'm worried that he's not enjoying solids – he eats small amounts and makes lots of unhappy noises as we're trying to feed him (better when he picks things up himself and with sweet things). He doesn't seem to be getting used to savoury flavours either. I’m feeding him solids approximately an hour to two hours after a breastfeed. I return to work part time when he's 10 months and want to keep breastfeeding but am worried solids won’t be properly established by then. Any tips on what I'm doing? When should I start worrying that he's not 'getting it'?

Dr Ellie Cannon: Firstly rather than worry what he doesn't like eating, make a list of all the things he does like – I bet there's quite a few things. This is the first step to relaxing about the issue.

Secondly, weaning is as much about learning textures as it is tastes.  Babies have to learn to cope with solid food through a process of mush to little lumps to big lumps. Have a think about the textures you are giving him as well as the flavours.

Thirdly, he loves breastmilk which is fab, but he could be full of milk when you're trying to offer solids, making him less keen. Mix up your timetable a bit! And finally, weaning is a long process – he won't be fully established on solids until well after 10months and that is just fine. It sounds like you're doing great – keep up the good work!

Rather than worry what he doesn't like eating, make a list of all the things he does like – I bet there's quite a few things

My son is one year old and he doesn't like eggs! I tried different methods (boiled, scrambled, omelette) of cooking but the result was always the same, he spits it up! Is it OK if he doesn't eat eggs? Although I believe he is on a good balanced diet and gets all kind of nutrients from other foods.

Dr Ellie Cannon: It's absolutely fine if he doesn't eat eggs. You said it yourself, his diet otherwise is balanced and nutritious so don't worry about the eggs. And don't forget, babies are very fickle with food – he may not like them now, but in a few months’ time he could quite easily change his mind!

My one year old has a very faint rash on his bum, legs and tummy. It's hard to tell if it a rash or if it's just his colouring, although we did notice it looked different. Could it be heat rash due to the warmer days we are having? He doesn't seem poorly and temp is normal.

Dr Ellie Cannon: He doesn't have a temperature and you think he's not poorly so it's unlikely to be of any concern. But I'm very strict with rashes and always think they should be seen by your doctor. As he's well perhaps wait a day to see if it develops at all, making it easier to diagnose?

Our baby is 10 days old and has some dry/flaky skin on his hands and legs. Is there anything we can use?

Dr Ellie Cannon: That's pretty normal so soon after birth. You can try and rub in a little bit of olive oil, but if you just want to leave it, you'll see it clears up all on its own. If it looks red, or angry, or weepy, pop down to your GP.

My nine month old has recently started waking twice in the night having previously slept through from three months. She naps normally during the day and settles herself to sleep at night as normal. She has just got her first two teeth through so we wondered if this is the reason and how long it is likely to last – it’s been two weeks so far. Is there anything we can do to get her back in a good sleep pattern? Could she be waking at this age because she is hungry or is this unlikely? I have been feeding her but don't know if this is just comfort feeding and I'm setting up a bad habit? 

Dr Ellie Cannon: Don't panic! I think it is unlikely she is hungry and your instinct sounds right to me: she's comfort feeding which is why she wants you not a bottle. Teething might be causing a pain which is why she's woken up. But as you say you don't want to develop a habit – sleep habits in babies are all about consistency.

Go back to whatever consistent approach you used in the early days. Lights low, no chatting, cursory quick feed or a cuddle if you can get away with it so she remembers night time is for sleeping. Choose one approach and stick to it so she get’s the message that at night time you want to be in bed. She's done it before, so she'll do it again.

You're right about setting up the habit, so wean her off it as soon as you feel you can. Always hard when this happens - but be strong and trust yourself.

Which topics would you like covered in our Wednesday Lunch Clubs? Let us know in the comments box below.


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