Three tips to help your child's wellbeing

We look at three areas of health which can make a difference to your and your baby’s health and wellness. 

There’s a lot to think about when you’re pregnant, and once your little one arrives there’s even more to think about, so we’d like to help by discussing three areas of health which can make a difference to your baby’s health and wellbeing: 

1. You’re only as strong as your support system

During periods of stress or major life transition (hello, having a baby), it’s vital to have good people around you to help support you. Friends, family, health care professionals and others can provide support in different ways: practical (like offering a lift or helping look after your bub); emotional (listening and providing comfort and reassurance) and informational (providing advice if baby isn’t feeding or sleeping, for example).
 
Support during pregnancy helps mum’s mental wellbeing, reducing the likelihood of stress, distress, depression and anxiety. This need is amplified when bub arrives. 

Dr Tim Moore, a developmental psychologist from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute says that while having (and raising) a baby can be a stressful time - many parents are able to manage stress so it doesn’t impact their child, all with a little help from their family and friends. 

“Plenty of people go through all sorts of difficult circumstances and manage to keep it in check and buffer the child,” he explains. “For example, often being a single mum can be more challenging than having a partner, but plenty of single mums do a terrific job with their kids. The main thing is to find people to support you - even just two or three others who care seriously about you.”
child covered in mud

2. Healthy from the outside in

It’s all about food and nutrition when it comes to growing a human, however some women see pregnancy as a time to ‘let go’ and indulge, after all they’re eating for two aren’t they?   

“The things that are bad nutritionally for [expectant] mothers are the same things that are bad for everyone else - ['bad'] fats, [refined] sugar and highly processed foods,” explains Moore. “Those affect your health, immune system and quality of your milk. It’s a demanding time on your body with baby competing for your resources, so focusing on eating well is important for you both.”
 
For more information on how to get enough of the basic nutrients in your diet when you’re pregnant read our article here on back to basics in pregnancy

3. Bacteria, allergies and being too clean

In an attempt to keep ourselves clean and healthy we sometimes also remove good bacteria, viruses and fungi that live in and on the body. Collectively known as the microbiome, these organisms thrive in the mouth, gut, nasal passages, ear canals and on the skin and play an important role in our health, immunity and ability to combat disease. 

“We’re intent on killing bacteria because we think of them as a negative but it’s not a good idea,” says Moore. 

Disturbing the delicate balance between good and bad bacteria happens easily, from the overuse of antibiotics, sanitisers and antiseptics, for example. As a result, children are at risk of not acquiring the full gamut of microorganisms they need for healthy development.

After birth, babies get an enormous influx of essential bacteria, stimulating the immune system and the processes that help prevent bad bacteria from taking over. The perfect balance of ‘friendly’ bacteria helps ensure their host (aka your bundle of joy) has a healthy immune system. 

Australia, compared to other countries has higher rates of childhood allergies, with the latest generation of infants experiencing increases in the rates of allergies that were less common in their parents and their grandparents generations. 

So, what can parents do?

Eat well, build yourself with a support team with the people you trust, and try not to overdo it on the cleanliness factor to help little ones build a healthy immune system.
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