parent opinion

'I'm an emergency doctor and mum of 3. Here are my 9 game-changing parenting tips.'

Being a mum is the hardest job in the world, just ask Dr Katie Hunter.

The 37-year-old is a Melbourne emergency doctor and is days away from having her third child. 

She's been updating her 282,000 TikTok followers about all things parenthood as she prepares for life with three-under-three, and is the mum-guilt antidote you need to send to all new mums in your life. 

Because yes, even Dr Katie Googled "how many wet nappies should my baby have?" in those first few weeks.

Watch: For a laugh, here's the horoscopes as new mums. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia

And now months and years in, yes, even Dr Katie lets her kids have regular screen time, pre-packaged food and mountains of (bribe) snacks just to get through a Tuesday.

"I thought, being a doctor I would be a great mum because I know everything," she admits to Mamamia. "But actually, it's becoming a mum that's made me a better doctor."


Even with 15 years of medical experience under her belt by the time she and husband Tim welcomed Amelia, who turns three in May, Dr Katie found herself taking advice that she looks back on in horror.

She was told not to look her baby directly in the eye while feeding overnight, because it will stimulate them too much and "for the first one or two months of Amelia's life, I did just that". 

"I am so annoyed it took me so long to figure out that this advice is rubbish," she tells me. 

"You'd think as a doctor you would think I would know it's not accurate and not evidence based. But as a first time mum, you're desperate and you'll believe anything when it comes to baby sleep."

As a new mum myself, I've found myself using Dr Katie's tips IRL on more than one occasion. So I've rounded up her top nine, so you can be in the know too. 

1. One word: suppositories. 

For us non-doctory types, the idea of inserting our child's anus with medication is a little gross/scary/traumatising for all involved. 

But if you're trying and failing to get your squirming baby to take a syringe orally, Dr Katie says this is a no-brainer. In fact, it's the preferred way most medical mums give their own children pain relief she insists. 

As she tells Mamamia," if you want to avoid the spitting out, the vomiting, the trauma - just pop it in. They don't care!"

@dr.katie.h What do you think about this? Is it available where you are? As doctors we give rectal medication all the time ☺️ #fever #covid #toddlerhack #paracetamol #tylenol #panadol ♬ FEEL THE GROOVE - Queens Road, Fabian Graetz

2. Just buy the bigger bottle....

Dr Katie may be exposing a few marketing managers with this one, but you know how the various painkiller brands have different sized bottles for different aged babies and children?


Well... they're all the same. If a brand of paracetamol, for example, suggests a different bottle for your babies and toddler, Dr Katie suggests checking the concentration of medicine. It'll likely be the same in both bottles.   

"It is very sneaky," she says. "But you can absolutely give your six-month-old baby some paracetamol from the box that says from two to 12 years old."

@dr.katie.h Did you know about this already? #sneaky #parenting #marketing #clevermarketing #marketingstrategy #babies #toddlers #emergencymedicine #paediatrics #tricked #drkatie #toptips #paracetamol ♬ original sound - Dr Katie

3. How to tell if a baby rash is serious.

While Dr Katie suggests getting to a doctor if your baby develops a rash, she does have a little tip to help you determine how serious your child's condition might be. 

Press your baby's skin (and rash) with your finger. If the colour changes from red or purple to white, it's what's called a 'blanching' rash and is less serious. 

If the rash colour remains, it's more worrying. 

@dr.katie.h Alexander has had a runny nose for 3-4 days prior to this but luckily he is eating and drinking well, happy in himself, has plenty of wet nappies and no fevers, so I’m not worried and I expect this rash will disappear over the coming days. If he becomes more unwell or if I have any concerns, I’ll be taking him to see a GP #rash #blanchingrash #virus #viralinfection #drkatie #babyalexander #babyboy #firsttimemum #viralillness #doctorsoftiktok ♬ original sound - Dr Katie

4. Feed your sick baby more often.

A sick baby can be equal parts sad and stressful. The poor little things can't blow their noses and it's just so hard seeing your little one poorly. 

This might seem like common sense, but if you're anything like me (a rule follower... who in the early days followed the 'feed every three hours' to a tee), then you need this reminder. 

"Smaller amounts but more frequently," says Dr Katie. 

"This is often advice I give to parents when they bring their little ones into the emergency department with either respiratory tract infections or gastro."

It's hard work for babies to feed when their noses are blocked. So giving them time to catch their breath and just have little top ups, is the better way to make sure they're getting their calories in says Dr Katie. 

@dr.katie.h Have you ever heard this advice before? Babies prefer to breath through their nose so when their nose is blocked, they can really struggle, especially when trying to feed and sleep #drkatie #parenting #sickbaby #poorbaby #babyboy #babygirl #bronchiolitis #covid #commoncold #asthma #gastro #doctorsoftiktok #toptips ♬ original sound - Dr Katie

5. Pregnancy and breastfeeding are completely different when it comes to alcohol consumption.

After nine months of no booze, sometimes you just neeeeed a glass of wine on a Friday night. But the rules around breastfeeding and alcohol are confusing, and sometimes it's just not worth the bother. 

Dr Katie admits to Mamamia, she kept this TikTok in her drafts for a while because she knew the topic was so controversial. But when she finally pressed publish it went off, because like me, women are confused!

So let's say you drink a glass of wine with an alcohol concentration of 12 per cent. It then gets metabolised and your blood alcohol concentration might end up being something like 0.05 per cent. 

"Blood alcohol concentration is the same as breastmilk alcohol concentration, and when you're breastfeeding that is what your baby is consuming... tiny amounts.

"Do you know what else has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 per cent or even more? Orange juice. Apple juice."

She continues that even if your baby drinks your 0.05 per cent breastmilk, they too metabolise that. So even less than that gets into your baby's system. 

In pregnancy, your blood alcohol concentration is the same as your baby and that's why Dr Katie says the two simply can't be compared. 

@dr.katie.h Replying to @sheryljax1 Whether you breastfeed your baby and drink a small amount of alcohol, or not, is a personal decision and is up to each individual person to make an informed decision about this themselves. Lets try not to judge others 🥰 There are also free apps you can use to help guide you if you are worried about this (Feed Safe, for example) #alcoholandbreastfeeding #breastfeeding #alcohol #drkatie #informeddecision #breastfeedingjourney #fyp #feedsafe #aba #firsttimemum #2under2 ♬ original sound - Dr Katie

6. How to survive multiple wake-ups.

Baby sleep. It's definitely mine and most new parents Roman Empire, and it's nice to know that even an emergency doctor doesn't have it all figured out. 

Dr Katie's advice for when you're in the thick of new baby sleep, is to stop checking the time. 


When your baby wakes up (again) overnight, don't even look at the clock and stop counting the wake-ups she says. (Easier said than done, I know). 

"Psychologically it just makes me feel so much better. I just accept it. It was a rubbish night, let's just move on with the day."

Her other tip is about screen time. 

Speaking to Mamamia, Dr Katie says in the super newborn days when you need to stay awake for longer to feed a baby "find something on Netflix to watch" to help you stay awake.

But once they're older, avoid screens altogether during those overnight wakes.

"It adds on another half an hour to get back to sleep."

@dr.katie.h Anyone else in the thick of it just now with sleep regressions?? Any other tips to share? #sleepregression #baby #brokenbaby #firsttimemum #parenting #exhausted #toptips #surviving #drkatie ♬ original sound - Dr Katie

Also, take it from an emergency doctor - overnight wakes are completely normal. 

"They're learning, they're growing, they're developing and it will pass," says Dr Katie. 

7. How to avoid mastitis. 

Mastitis. Most breastfeeding mums are terrified about it. It sounds horrible, and for those who've had it they'll likely agree it is.

Dr Katie says if you notice any large hard lumps emerging, you've likely got a blocked milk duct. But the good news is - you've got time.

Firstly, keep feeding your baby on demand. But start on the blocked side.

Next, gently massage the area while your baby is feeding from that breast.

Thirdly, take some painkillers! Dr Katie says ibuprofen will help decrease any swelling and inflammation.

And water. Drink lots of water. 


♬ original sound - Dr Katie

8. A tip on dehydration.

Dr Katie suggests placing your finger on your baby's sternum (upper central part of their chest), and pressing down for five seconds. 

If your baby is hydrated, it should take no more than two seconds for the skin to return to its normal colour. 

Any more than that, could be a sign that your baby is dehydrated. 

@dr.katie.h #newborn #babygirl #6weeksold #education #tipsandtricks #doctormom #dehydration #sickbaby #caprefill #besties #lifeisgood ♬ original sound - Dr Katie

9. You know your baby.

Lastly, Dr Katie knows how wild the world of parenting advice truly is. 

As a new parent it's hard to know what to take in and what to reject, but if your gut is telling you something is wrong - Dr Katie says push.

"Trust the medical profession, but also it's absolutely okay to ask for a second opinion," she tells Mamamia. "Or ask, have they discussed this with their senior doctor or the consultant?"

She admits that sometimes in emergency rooms, you might get a junior doctor on their first year out from university who unfortunately just hasn't seen everything yet. 

"Parents are the experts, especially in their own children," she says. 

"We will absolutely always take a parent's concern seriously and keep that person in for a few extra hours of observation or run an extra blood test. Parental concern is something that we are taught from a young age through training, to take seriously."

Feature image: Instagram @dr.katie.h

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