8 ways a pharmacist can help new parents in the first three months

By Jo Hartley

4 minutes

01 March 2019

8 ways a pharmacist can help new parents in the first three months

In your baby’s first three months, there may be some health concerns or queries that you’d like professional help with. Your GP or health nurse are valuable resources, but your local pharmacist can offer advice too.

The bonus is your local pharmacy is accessible and convenient with no need for an appointment.

Dad Matthew Taborsky, pharmacist and owner at Friendlies Stirling, explains eight common problems your pharmacist can help you solve in the early stages of parenthood. 

1. Constipation

Constipation is fairly common in babies, particularly if they’re formula fed. While breastmilk is more easily digested, formula can cause constipation if it’s not prepared in the right way.  

However, it could also be the type or brand of formula that your baby disagrees with. 

"We stock a range of formulas and can advise on which may be the best to try for your baby," says Taborsky.

"For breastfed babies we can recommend other options, such as Coloxyl drops which can be put directly into your baby’s mouth."

2. Fever

Symptoms of a fever can include flushed cheeks and sweating, and/or a temperature over 38 degrees. To diagnose a fever, you can use a thermometer on your baby’s forehead.

Try to avoid over-dressing your baby or using too many cool compresses on their skin.

"A pharmacist can rule out anything serious, and then look at other symptoms such as a runny nose or even teething, which can start really young," says Taborsky.

"Under one month you can’t do much, but after that you can give Panadol,” he says. “After three months, Nurofen is really good, especially for teething."

3. Colic

Colic is caused by a baby swallowing air when feeding. While it doesn’t affect a baby’s health overall, it can be quite painful and cause them to cry, bring their knees to their chest and grimace. It can also be stressful and upsetting for parents. Luckily, it’s something they grow out of.

"We can look at the type of formula or bottles being used, and we can recommend products such as gripe water or colic drops," says Taborsky.

"We can give advice as well, such as offering your baby regular little feeds rather than larger ones."

4. Nappy rash

Nappy rash is the appearance of redness, swelling or spots on your baby's genitals, thighs and bottom, and it is one of the most common things that pharmacists see.

Taborsky notes that it’s only a worry if the skin is broken.  

"If you’re concerned, we can have a look to determine if the skin is broken and if it needs an anti-fungal cream," he says. "These creams are only available at the pharmacy.

"Otherwise it’s a good idea to use a nappy rash barrier cream at every change, and we have plenty of products that are ideal."

Pharmacist Matthew Taborsky and his son at Friendlies Stirling
Pharmacist Matthew Taborsky and his son at Friendlies Stirling

5. Cradle cap 

Cradle cap is the formation of yellow scales on a baby’s scalp, almost like cirrhosis. It only affects some babies,  and it will naturally go with time. You can help the process by softening the cradle cap. 

"You treat it as you would really dry skin," says Taborsky. "We have products that are specifically made for babies that will soften it, such as egozite lotion. 

"You never want to forcibly remove cradle cap as it will take the skin off," he adds. "It doesn’t look very nice, but it won’t harm the baby and they will grow out of it."

6. Dry skin

Taborsky says that gentle cleansers should be used on your baby, instead of soap, to prevent dry skin.

"Most baby products should be soap free and if you get them from a pharmacy you can guarantee this," he says. "It’s best to look for products that are fragrance free too."

Taborsky notes that you don’t even need to use a cleanser. A regular bath should be enough with only a little cleanser needed for the nappy area. 

"Moisturising is more important than cleansing because, after the bath, skin can get dry and irritated," he says. "We can direct people to what we have and offer individual advice."

7. Feeding issues

Pharmacists can help determine why your baby may be having trouble feeding, particularly if they’re formula fed. 

"Feeding issues can be caused by colic, the wrong sort of formula or a bottle teat that’s not providing an appropriate flow," says Taborsky. "We can help advise on how to resolve these things."

Pharmacists can also help breastfeeding mums, especially those who may be concerned about their milk production and need to top up with formula or express.  

"We have breast pumps for hire and hold weekly baby-weight checks so that parents can be reassured that their baby is gaining weight," says Taborsky. "We can also recommend lactation nurses."

8. Reflux 

Reflux is common among babies and can be caused by eating too much. It’s seen more frequently in breastfed babies as they can’t control their milk intake. 

"Reflux doesn’t normally cause pain as a baby will just vomit," says Toborsky. "It gets serious when the baby is in pain and we can help to identify this."

Toborsky notes that common signs of reflux include a baby arching their back or pulling their knees up to their chest. No weight gain can also be a sign.

"Colic and reflux are quite similar so it’s important to identify which it is," says Toborsky. "We can help parents do this and refer to a doctor if necessary."

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