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Parenting solutions for you this summer

This month we ask the experts for advice on travel queries - sedatives, in-flight tantrums and stomach complaints

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Parenting Solutions

Q. I am travelling back to Australia for the summer holidays and friends have suggested I give my six-month-old daughtera sedative for the long flight. Is this wise?

Joanne Francis isa midwife at Health BayClinic (04-3487140, She says:

A "I would not recommend the use of sedatives for babies during a long-haul flight as the medication can cause the opposite of the desired effect and make your child ‘hyper' and unsettled. Even having a sedative test-run prior to the flight cannot guarantee the same effect during the flight.

"Taking a young baby on a flight can be a worrying and stressful experience. However, our priority is to keep the baby healthy, and the administration of sedatives may cause extra stress that can be avoided.

"My tips to parents include feeding the baby on take-off and landing to reduce ear-pain; taking your baby's favourite toys to occupy her; and taking her own blanket so she is comfortedby familiar smells of home. Be organised with changes of clothes, nappies, wet wipes and hand sanitiser. Finally, remain calm on the flight and enjoy your summer trip."

Q. My 20-month-old is going through a stage where he screams to get his own way. We use times out at home but how should we deal with this on an aeroplane?

Therese Sequeira is a parent educator and workshop co-ordinator at KidsFIRST Medical Centre(, 04-348KIDS). She says:

A "Your child is at a good age to start learning how to communicate his needs in ways other than throwing a tantrum.

"Once he has calmed down from his tantrum, calmly ask him to point to what he wants. Use an appropriate sound or action and then use your own words to describe his needs.

"Also, name the feeling he is displaying. Ashis vocabulary develops, remind him to usewords rather than screaming, which can becomea learned habit carrying through into his older years. Practise these strategies consistently over the weeks prior to your flight and you should see some improvement.

"Time out is a useful strategy to use at home as a last resort, which teaches children to calm down. Remember not to bring him out until he has calmed down or the strategy won't work. If you overuse times out they will lose their effectiveness."

Q. My six-year-old seems to have a very sensitive stomach. How I can protect her from getting ill while travelling and what stepsshould I take if she gets an upset stomach?

Dr Ravi Gupta is a specialist paediatrician at Welcare Clinic Qusais(,04-2586466) He says:

A "Children's digestive systems are very sensitive. Upset stomachs arise mainly when an infection is present, caused by a virus, parasites or bacteria. These microbes enter the body through food or water and cause irritation inside the stomach and intestines, which results in vomiting and loose stools. Other symptoms include stomach cramps, fever, loss of appetite and weakness. Diarrhoea usually lasts up to five days but the weakness may last longer.

"One remedy is water and Oral RehydrationSalts (ORS), which is the best natural solution available. When properly mixed with safe water, ORS drinks can help rehydrate the body. Also give your child plenty of water (boiled or mineral) to flush out the toxic substances and prevent dehydration. Maintain strict hygiene, particularly the washing of hands. Also, contact a paediatrician if there is persistent vomiting or diarrhoea."