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Colief Expert Panel
We have a wealth of helpful content to support you as you navigate the often challenging early weeks and months of parenthood.
On this page, you can find information on a wealth of topics discussing newborn babies all the way to toddlers. We cover off a range of themes including, crying, behaviour, nutrition, child development and more. All of the advice comes from a selection of experts on the Colief Expert Panel.
We hope you find the information helpful and please do not hesitate to get in touch with any other questions you may have via our Facebook page.
The Colief Expert Panel comprises child psychologist Maggie Redshaw, paediatric dietician Judy More and health visitor Dawn Kelly.
Expert Panel Q&As
Newborn: The Early Days
Question: This probably sounds irrational, but I keep worrying that my baby will just stop breathing in the night. My husband is getting annoyed and tells me to relax but sometimes I just can’t sleep and stay awake just checking I can hear his breathing. How can I calm down?
Answer: You would be surprised how common a worry this is especially for first-time parents. Keep in mind that all babies have somewhat irregular breathing in their first weeks of life. Your baby may seem to stop breathing for long periods, but almost always those pauses last just a few seconds before normal breathing resumes. There are monitors that you can try out if you wish. If you are concerned talk to your health visitor or GP for further reassurance.
Answer: A new addition to the family is always a major change for everyone, especially older siblings who may be used to having you all to themselves. There are a few things you can do to make sure the arrival goes as smoothly as possible for you and your toddler such as keeping previous routines and activities (where possible!), this will reassure your older child that not everything will change. Try and encourage your son to take an interest and be involved with his little brother or sister, but don’t push him if he isn’t interested. You can let him help you when bathing your baby such as passing you things you need, this will make him feel more involved. Some parents choose to give the older sibling a little present from the baby. Also, some girls (and boys) enjoy copying mum & baby and love having a baby doll of their own to play with.
Question: My 3-month-old baby spits up milk all the time. Is this normal?
Answer: Babies passively spitting up milk or whatever they have swallowed is known as reflux, and usually stops when a baby reaches 12-14 months of age. Reflux is completely normal and is a result of your baby’s oesophagus not yet being fully developed. To try and help your baby’s reflux, avoid overfeeding them as some babies prefer to feed little and often, burp your baby regularly throughout the feeding and make sure
you hold your baby upright for a while after finishing the feeding.
Question: This is not a nice question but my baby’s poo has recently changed colour. It was a yellowy colour but is now a lot darker. Is this normal?
Answer: All babies’ poos can be different, and generally a change like this is likely to be a result of a change of diet. You don’t mention if you formula or breastfeed, but it’s possible that you have recently switched from breastfeeding to formula feeding and this is a completely normal change for your baby to be going through. If you notice a big change of any other kind, such as the poos becoming very smelly, very watery or harder, particularly if there’s blood in them, you should talk to your doctor or health visitor.
Question: When can I start expressing my breast milk? I want my partner to be able to give my breast milk in a bottle sometimes to give me a chance to have a break!
Answer: You can begin to hand express as soon as your baby is born, but this can be very difficult, and many mums choose to wait. I would suggest breastfeeding for the first two weeks or so then once your breastfeeding is well-established, you can begin to use a hand pump, a battery-operated pump, or an
electric pump, whichever you prefer and find easiest to use.
Question: My baby is two weeks old and his umbilical cord is still attached. Do you think it should have fallen off by now? My daughter is three now but hers came off in less than a week.
Answer: Shortly after a baby is born, the midwife will cut the umbilical cord and clamp it with a plastic clip. The cord can then take anything from 5 to 15 days to drop off naturally, so your little boy’s may just be at the longer end of the time scale. Make sure you are keeping it clean and dry, and don’t fiddle with it to try and pull it off at all. If you notice any redness, swelling or discharge from the area, tell your health visitor or GP.
Question: How often do I need to bathe my new baby? I’m trying to do it every day but it takes so much time and I’m exhausted!
Answer: You don’t need to bathe your baby every day, but you should wash their face, neck, hands and bottom carefully every day. This is often called “topping and tailing”. It is enough to then fully bathe your baby every other day, so roughly 3 times a week. When you do bathe your baby, don’t do it straight after a feed or when they’re hungry or tired. Make sure you have everything you need before you start and
make sure the room is warm.
Question: My baby has developed what I think must be cradle cap. Is there anything I can do to get rid of it other than keeping the area clean?
Answer: Cradle cap is a very common and isn’t caused by poor hygiene, but by overactive sebaceous glands on your baby’s scalp. Although it usually clears up on its own in a few weeks or months, there are a couple of things you can do to treat the area and most importantly not let the oil build-up. A good method is to apply an oil such as Colief Baby Scalp Oil and to gently massage this into your baby’s scalp to loosen any flakes, then gently brush the scalp with a soft baby brush to further loosen the flakes but do not pick them. You can then gently wash your baby’s hair and scalp with baby shampoo to prevent a build-up of scales and remove the oil. You can do this every other day or when you bath your baby. If you suspect your baby’s cradle cap has become infected at any point, make sure you speak with your GP who can provide treatment.
Question: I had never heard of baby acne, but my health visitor told me my three-week-old baby has it. What is it and what can I do to get rid of it?
Answer: Pimples can sometimes develop on babies’ skin and generally, these have to get worse before they get better. Baby acne is often caused by a surge in hormones passed to the baby during delivery, and as the hormones settle so will the acne. Avoid using any harsh chemicals or treatments intended for adult acne on your baby. Instead, wash your baby’s face with water to help soothe the area and keep it clean.
Question: I think my little girl has started to develop nappy rash but I’m not too sure. There are some spots forming but I thought nappy rash was just a redness of the area. Could this be a symptom of nappy rash and what can I do to help it?
Answer: Most babies get nappy rash at some point, and usually it is nothing to worry about. It can be caused by a number of factors including prolonged exposure to a wet nappy, sensitive skin or rubbing and chafing. The best thing to do is to try to avoid these irritants as much as possible. Steps to avoid these may
include changing wet or soiled nappies as soon as possible, using a barrier cream, and allowing your baby as much time as possible with their nappy off to let fresh air get to the skin.
Question: My baby cries all the time, he is 10 weeks old now and never cried this much before. Friends of mine have said it sounds like colic but how would I know for definite? Please help!
Answer: When it comes to colic, health visitors often refer to the rule of threes: colic is defined as a baby crying for more than three hours a day, three days a week, for three weeks. Unfortunately, the cause is not known and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating it. There are a number of things you can try to calm your baby such as swaddling him tightly in a thin blanket, tummy massaging, classic back-patting and winding, and taking him for a walk in the buggy or a drive. You may find that none of these methods work as the inconsolable crying is a classic sign of colic, which can be caused by temporary lactose intolerance. This means baby is unable to digest the lactose in their milk properly, causing them bloating, trapped wind and discomfort. If this is the case, you can speak to your pharmacist who may recommend a colic treatment such as Colief Infant Drops, which help to break down the lactose in the milk to make it easier for babies to digest.
Question: Is my baby eating too much? I’m feeding her 9 or 10 times a day at the moment – and it feels like even more than that!
Answer: Breastfeeding babies usually feed around 8 times a day, so a couple of times more throughout the day isn’t anything out of the ordinary. Although this may seem like a lot to you, it will be giving your daughter everything she needs to grow in this important time in her development. As long as she is putting on weight well and is satisfied after every feed then there is nothing for you to worry about.
Question: My baby doesn’t seem to like tummy time but my health visitor told me it is important for his development. My friends’ babies seem to like it – what am I doing wrong and what can I do to make him enjoy it more?
Answer: You’re not doing anything wrong; it’s true that some babies just aren’t that fond of lying on their tummy. However, it is important to encourage it. Lying on the tummy with a toy you have placed just within reach will encourage whole-body movements and reaching and grasping activities and it will help to develop these physical skills. To pique your little boy’s interest, try using a colourful toy that he has not seen before to attract his attention, as well as ones you know he already loves.
Question: My little girl is nearly 1 but isn’t walking yet. Is this normal and how can I encourage her to try and do it on her own?
Answer: with so many things, children start to walk at varying ages, and this – along with when children start talking – is one of the most common questions I get asked. Children generally start taking their first steps anywhere between 10 and 18 months, though they may be cruising around holding on to the furniture before that. As you can see, the variation between children is significant. Babies normally begin to sit without support from 6 to 8 months and try to crawl from around 6 to 9 months, and both stages lead to those first steps. If you are concerned about your little one’s progress, talk to your doctor
or health visitor.
Question: My daughter is 3 months old and does not seem very alert or responsive to my voice. My son is now 4 but when he was her age he was much more responsive, should I be worried?
Answer: Babies are individuals and I always encourage parents not to compare their children to others. I would expect her to be able to recognise sounds including your voice, but it may be that she is easily distracted by what she is looking at, or that her older brother is being quite noisy. Having a quiet time to talk to her face to face and letting her take her turn in the ‘conversation’ may encourage her to respond. If you are concerned about your little one’s hearing or any other aspect of her progress talk to your doctor or health visitor.
Question: My husband works a lot and doesn’t feel that he bonds with the baby as much as I do, what can I do to help him feel involved and connected with our baby?
Answer: This is a common question as generally after the birth of a baby – one parent, typically the dad, returns to work before their partner. Having skin to skin contact with your baby early on is great for dads as their contact before birth has been limited. Bonding is something that takes place over time in building the first relationships – it doesn’t happen automatically. Newborns can recognise dad’s voice, having been exposed to it during pregnancy; they quickly learn dad’s smell in their first few days of life and they respond to faces, touch and being talked to. Gentle physical contact and positive social interaction, whether in the bath or on the floor, even with a young baby can be great for both.
Question: When should I start potty training? Friends of ours have a little girl who was fully trained by 18 months but my son is nearly 2 years old and we haven’t started yet, should we get cracking?
Answer: Potty training can be done at any age between 18 and 30 months, so there’s no need to rush or to compare your son to others. As children get older they generally want to potty train themselves as they will want to feel clean and dry. By the age of three, it’s estimated that 9 out of 10 children are dry most days, so there’s little need to worry about your son not being dry yet. Think about leaving a potty where he can see it, and talk to him about what it’s for. As soon as you see that your son knows when he’s going to pee, encourage him to use his potty. It may take a while for him to succeed so persevere, and praise him when he does so.
Question: I had always thought toddler tantrums were a myth, but my 2 and a half year old has recently started throwing tantrums when we are out such as at the supermarket. Why has this only just started and how can I deal with this?
Answer: Oh, the terrible twos! When children get to this age they have developed and grown in so many ways, but still cannot do so many things or express themselves well. Tantrums are usually a result of frustration. The best thing to do in such a situation is to ensure that your child is safe, and then let them calm down on their own. Tantrums usually stop by the age of four, but in the meantime try and understand why the tantrum is happening. If you think this about to occur, find something to distract and divert your child’s attention. Finding something positive that they can do or help with often works.
Question: My daughter has been potty trained for the past year or so and is fine most of the time apart from at night. Does it normally take a lot longer for them to be dry through the night than in the day?
Answer: Even when children are potty trained during the day, it can sometimes take a lot longer for them to gain control in order to be dry through the night. In fact, it is estimated that 1 in 5 six-year-olds still wet the bed. Try limiting liquids in the evening and make sure she goes to the toilet just before she goes to sleep. The most important thing is to continue to encourage your daughter.
Question: I’ve always been very tidy and take pride in having a clean and organised house. I get very stressed when my twin boys play and make a mess but my husband tells me it’s good for them to do this sometimes. Am I right that they don’t have to make a mess to have fun?
Answer: It’s important for children’s development to be able to play with each other and on their own. And, while cleaning up isn’t much fun, don’t be tempted to discourage your little one from making a mess. Play helps to develop children’s social and physical skills, as well as stimulating problem solving, so is very important for them as they grow and learn. Why not try having a certain area where the kids are free to play however they want to (within reason!) and encourage them to be messy with paints or other toys on a plastic sheet or outside in the garden, limiting mess but still giving them the opportunity to experiment.
Question: Why do babies love to drop things on the floor over and over again?
Answer: Children first learn about gravity usually when sitting at a high-chair or table and dropping their toys, accidentally at first, but then intentionally as they experiment. Then they may watch your face to see how you react. Although it may seem silly and even frustrating at times to you it is important to pick their toys up and join in the game, helping them to continue experimenting and learning.
Question: I’m really worried about my child starting nursery as she is very quiet and I don’t think she will mix with the other children very easily. Is there anything I can do to prepare her for this big change?
Answer: Firstly, remember you’re not alone: plenty of parents worry about their little ones starting this next stage of their young lives. Nursery school is a great opportunity for children to develop outside of the family home, while surrounded by children their own age. Most nurseries are happy to have a gradual arrangement for when children first start. If your daughter hasn’t had much contact with other children before starting it might be an idea to go to a parent and toddler group, so she can get used to playing with others while you are still there to reassure her.
Question: My daughter is just over 18 months and only has a few words and only says one word at a time. Is there anything we should be doing to encourage her to speak more?
Answer: Try not to worry. As I always say to worried parents there is no definite age for children to start doing anything, all we have are average ages. By 18 months children can generally start to form two word combinations such as ‘Mummy look’ or ‘Daddy gone’. However, while your daughter may not be producing word combinations yet, I am sure she understands a great deal of what you are saying to her. To help encourage your daughter’s speech to develop, make sure you are chatting to her as much as possible, playing games and reading simple storybooks with her joining in and turning the pages. All of this will help her understanding and her talking.
Question: I wanted to ask the expert regarding my 14-month-old. I know it’s too early but back home we all were fully potty trained by 2 years. I want to start my baby on some training too. I have bought a potty seat which attaches to our big toilet but all my girl does is to cry. I am a first-time mom and would like some tips on how to do it.
Answer: Potty training can be done at any age starting between 18 and 30 months, so there’s no need to rush just yet. As children get older they generally want to potty train themselves as they will want to feel clean and dry. Think about leaving a potty where your little girl can see it and talk to her about what it’s for. When she’s ready, as soon as you see that she knows when she’s going to pee, encourage her to use her potty. It may take a while for her to succeed so keep going, and praise her when she does so.
Feeding: Baby & Toddler Nutrition
I currently bottle feed my baby girl who is 10 months old. When should I switch to cows’ milk instead of formula? Do I need to use follow-on formulas or can I just go straight to cows’ milk?
Generally, when children get to about a year old, you can switch to cows’ milk for them to drink. Children under 2 years old need full-fat cows’ milk for the extra vitamin A. From about two years old onwards if children are growing and eating well they can have semi-skimmed milk but changing is not necessary. There is no need for you to use follow on formulas, as cows’ milk will contain the nutrients your daughter needs once she is 12 months old.
Question: Why can’t toddlers have high fibre foods? I thought they were really good for the digestive system.
Answer: Toddlers can have high-fibre foods and they are good for the digestive system. However, some toddlers get diarrhoea if they have too much fibre so see what suits your toddler. Give a mix of some whole grain foods and some white bread, pasta and rice. If your toddler has no problems then slowly increase the number of high fibre foods you are giving.
Question: I’m worried about my toddler getting enough iron as I have a history of being anaemic. What can I do to make sure she is getting enough?
Answer: Iron is important in helping to make red blood cells which carry oxygen around your body, and a lack of iron can lead to iron-deficiency anaemia. Most people can get all the iron they need from having a balanced healthy diet. Your toddler should have foods that are high in iron two or three times a day. The best sources are red meat, oily fish and dark poultry meat such as legs and thighs. Other good sources are eggs, chopped or ground nuts and nut products such as peanut butter and
almond butter (whole nuts can pose a choking risk), and pulses such as lentils, chickpeas and beans. Be sure to give your toddler a fruit or vegetable high in vitamin C with these foods to help her body to absorb the iron.
Question: Does my toddler need to take a vitamin supplement?
Answer: Even if your little one has a healthy balanced diet, the government recommends that all children from birth to five years take supplements containing vitamins A and D. This will help to prevent rickets (a bone disease), maintain a strong immune system, and to promote healthy growth.
Question: My toddler only eats a limited variety of foods and is really reluctant to try lots of new things. Is this normal and should I be firmer with making him branch out a bit?
Answer: Toddlers often need to try new foods several times before learning to like them. Some may even need to be offered a new food ten or more times before they begin to like it. At this stage the most important thing is getting toddlers to taste the new food, they don’t need to eat a lot of it. If a toddler will not even try the new food, then you just try offering it each time you are eating it.
Question: My toddler has just turned 18 months and has recently become a fussy eater, eating less than normal and refusing certain foods. Why do you think he would do this if he was fine before?
Answer: Fussy eating is really common and most toddlers go through it at some point but eventually pass through this phase. Although it can be frustrating at times for parents, it usually isn’t anything to worry about as long as toddlers are developing properly. However, if the problem persists or you have some concerns, speak to your health visitor or GP and they will be able to check your child’s growth and development. There are a number of reasons why toddlers may lose their appetite, including being tired, not feeling well, feeling pressured to eat more food when they have had enough or do not like the food, or being continually offered food throughout the day. Ensure meal times are happy social times with no stress, arguments, bribery or coercion. And don’t rush your toddler or force them to eat things they are refusing.
Question: My son refuses to drink water so I give him squash at the moment, is this okay and how much is too much?
Answer: Ideally you should encourage your son to drink water by drinking it yourself and offering it to him at the same time. However, if your son is not getting any liquids as a result, I’d suggest that you give him very diluted fruit juice (one part juice to 10 parts water) with meals. Serving it with a meal helps to reduce
the risk of tooth decay.
Question: I only have skimmed milk and other low-fat dairy items in the house for me and my family as they are healthier but my sister told me she only gives her son full-fat varieties as its better for him. Is this true?
Answer: Full-fat varieties contain more vitamin A which is important for the immune system. This is why full-fat varieties are recommended for children under two years. Although children can change to lower fat varieties from two years it is fine to keep them on the full-fat varieties. They will benefit from the extra
Question: How can I encourage my daughter to eat more and different types of foods? It’s really hard at the moment as she will only eat one or two different things.
Answer: You don’t say how old your little one is but rest assured that many toddlers can be fussy about what they will and will not eat. This is a normal stage of development where they are careful about only eating foods that look familiar to them. Toddlers pass through this phase by eating in social groups either with the family or with other children. With time they copy others and begin to eat a wider range of foods that they see other people eating. So remain calm and give her the foods she will eat but continue to offer the foods you would like her to eat. It is best to do this by eating with her and eating the foods you would like her to begin eating. She may try them from your plate before she is brave enough to begin eating them herself. Encourage her to feed herself and giving finger foods makes this
easier. Often fussy toddlers like plain dry foods that are all kept separate and not mixed together.
Question: I use jars and pouches when out and about with my twins but I know they’re not that healthy. Is it ok to have them occasionally?
Answer: Baby food in jars or packets can be handy when you are out and about. However, portion sizes are often too big and much of it has the same texture. This may make it harder for your baby to accept more varied textures and flavours and to move to family foods as they get older. You’ll already know that homemade food made from simple ingredients with no added sugar or salt is best, but it is ok to opt for pouches and jars from time to time.
Question: My little girl is six months old, but will still only use a bottle, is this normal? When should she be able to use a cup?
Answer: Cups can be introduced from around six months to offer sips of water with meals. Using an open cup or a free flow cup without a valve will help your little girl learn to sip and is also better for her teeth. I’ve read a bit about vitamin D but was never told anything about it by my doctor. My kids eat well already so is there any need for them take a vitamin D supplement?
Question: Should I insist my little boy eats broccoli even though he refuses to eat it?
Answer: Broccoli, like other vegetables, provides vitamins A, C and folate (naturally occurring folic acid). Just offer it to him when you or others are eating it and he may eventually learn to like it. Toddlers learn by copying so it is important that you eat it when eating with him and say you like it. However learning to like certain tastes takes much longer in toddlers than it does during weaning. If he eats other vegetables then it doesn’t matter that he doesn’t eat broccoli.
Question: What are the ideal first foods to start off feeding my daughter with?
Answer: Begin with some smooth mashed or puréed cooked fruit or vegetables or some baby cereal mixed with your baby’s usual milk. Cooked parsnip, potato, yam, sweet potato, carrot, apple or pear, all cooled before eating are ideal first foods. You could also try soft fruit like peach, melon, ripe banana or avocado
as finger foods or mashed.
Question: How can I tell when my baby is ready to start moving on to solids?
Answer: Usually babies are ready for more than just milk feeds any time between 4 and 6 months of age. Signs that will indicate your baby is ready for solid foods include: being able to stay in a sitting position with support and hold their head steady, putting toys and other objects in their mouth, seeming hungry between milk feeds and watching with interest when other people are eating. Large baby boys are often ready for weaning sooner than small girls because boys grow slightly more quickly than girls.
Child Behaviour: Tricky Behaviour In Little Ones
Question: My two-year-old is being really difficult at the moment especially when we are out. Are temper tantrums a normal part of every child’s development?
Answer: As you probably already know, ‘temper tantrums’ are an emotional response and a way of expressing feelings. Hunger or tiredness may make a child more likely to behave in this way, but don’t worry, you’re not alone in this – very few children do not at some time express themselves in this way. I’m sure this is a really tough time for you and hope things get better soon.
Question: My first daughter rarely had tantrums, but her little sister has a lot of them… why do you think some toddlers are more prone to tantrums than others?
Answer: Some children are more likely to act out like this, but it’s usually linked with the developmental stage they are at. It’s fairly common with toddlers at ‘the terrible twos’. Children who are this age are still learning how to properly use language, reasoning and understanding to get what they need in a
different way. Temperament and individual differences have a part to play. Having a low threshold for responding to frustration can make tantrums more likely and being slow to recover from being upset can make them last longer. Children who like or respond well to a routine may react to changes by responding in this way.
Question: My toddler is having a lot of tantrums recently, especially when I’m out and about – how should I cope with this? I’m starting to feel a bit embarrassed and want to know if this was normal.
Answer: Coping with toddler’s tantrums is no fun for parents, particularly when in public. I’d suggest ignoring your toddler’s behaviour and making sure they are safe. Distraction sometimes works, but you may have to just take them away from the situation. Giving in can be a problem – having said ‘no’, stick with it or you may just encourage more tantrums in the future. As a parent, you’ll have to work hard to stay calm and not shout and behave in the same way as your child, though you may feel like it. When parents can’t manage their own feelings, this can make the situation more frightening for a young child and things are likely to escalate instead of calming down. Quite a lot later, it may be helpful to begin to discuss what happened. As they get older, children are able to express their feelings using language. Labelling their emotions can help and they will learn not to simply respond in this reactive way.
Question: As a parent, how can you best cope with the feelings of anger you can sometimes feel towards your child when they are having a temper tantrum?
Answer: A child who is crying loudly or shouting, thrashing about is not listening and who does not seem to want to be held or comforted, not surprisingly, can make a parent feel angry and upset. It is important to stop and think for a moment, be aware of the echoes from your own childhood and try to forget any embarrassment – most parents have been there. This is just temporary… your job is to help them to manage their feelings and remember that children recover more quickly than parents. I am going back to work soon and feeling anxious. How can I help my son who is still only 10 months, adapt to going to nursery for the first time? Get to know the staff with a gradual introduction over a number of days. Familiar food and toys will help. You are more likely to be worried than your son, but staying calm and relaxed with give him a positive message about the new place and give him a chance to enjoy the company of other children. Hope it goes well.
Question: I am now expecting another baby and would love to get my toddler of 20 months out of nappies by the time the baby is born. Should I try now or just wait until later?
Answer: Many children are ready to be out of nappies at around 2 years, but there are big differences between individual children. Having a new brother or sister can put the pressure on to be a bit more grown-up. For some children, this can be difficult and they may take a step backwards and so waiting may be best at this time. Just take the cue from your child’s behaviour. Good luck with the new arrival.
Question: My six-month-old baby really sucks her fingers and chews on toys all the time. When will she start playing with her toys?
Answer: This is a really important way of learning about the world. She is developing quickly at this age, and increasingly she will reach out and explore, doing different things with her toys. Remember, though when she is teething she is likely to go back to chewing everything.
Question: My young baby seems to like looking at faces, I have tried showing him his face in the mirror, though I don’t think he has worked out that it’s him yet. When will he do this?
Answer: Faces are really interesting to young babies. Older babies can take notice and touch a mirror and sometimes reach behind, but only later. By after approximately 18 months, they touch their own face while looking in a mirror, aware that it is themselves. Babies are curious about everything, especially people and other babies and children face particularly, but also lights and colours, edges and movement.