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Having cool kids: Why it matters

Jul 04, 2023Jul 04, 2023

This article first appeared in The House of Wellness magazine.

It's every parent's worst nightmare. You glance at your child in the rearview mirror of the car, but instead of seeing them alert, you watch in horror as they slump in their car seat, their eyes rolling into the back of their head.

When it happened to Lucy Frost, she was just two minutes from home. Unaware that her young son Iggy was on the cusp of having a relatively common febrile convulsion, she panicked.

"When babies get too hot, they can't regulate their own body temperature, so their natural reaction is to have a type of seizure or convulsion," she explains. It wasn't a topic that had been covered in her antenatal class, and unaware these 'fever fits' are non life threatening, she took one look at his limp body and flushed face and immediately feared the worst.

"By the time we got home he had the first convulsion, which was just so scary. We kind of thought that he was dying, so we called 111." When they got to hospital it turned out that Iggy was suffering from a throat infection that had caused him to overheat and slip into a feverish state.

Once Lucy knew that getting too hot can trigger a febrile seizure, it was a wake-up call for her about the dangers of dressing kids in too many layers of synthetic fabric. She and husband Fran are keen snowboarders, and the frightening experience with Iggy made them reconsider the direct-to-skin relationship different fabrics have with the body.

"From snowboarding we had a good understanding of technical fabrics in terms of layering and keeping your core and body warm," she says. "We thought about it all the time when we were in the snow but we never thought about it from our kid's standpoint."

Lucy decided that when it came to Iggy's bedding and clothing, synthetic and polyester had to go. It was a decision she made for health reasons, but it also launched her into a business producing merino swaddles, baby blankets, sheets and sleepwear.

"Before Iggy had the febrile convulsions we were getting lots of hand-me-downs. One of them was a polar fleece baby-bear costume, which was super cute, but polar fleece is the worst type of fabric to put on your kid, because it doesn't breathe."

After doing a lot of reading, Lucy found that merino wool disperses heat when core body temperature gets too hot, and it also insulates if you get too cold.

"I don't know if there is any other natural fabric that can do that," says Lucy. "Cotton is good for breathability but it doesn't have the retention of heat that merino does. It's antibacterial, it's anti -microbial and there isn't a nasty, yucky coating on it to do this."

More than a decade after Iggy's seizure and the launch of her business, Little Flock of Horrors, Lucy has become a big advocate for educating first-time mums and dads about the health benefits of what she believes is "the best fabric in the world".

"I think that there is still a lack of information about merino. After what we learnt through Iggy, we know you really don't need a lot of things, but you do need to make sure that you've got merino, especially for winter babies like Iggy."

It's a message Lucy is also trying to get out through collaborative work with the Middlemore Foundation. "We're working with them to increase the knowledge of merino, especially in South Auckland, where we live. There are a lot of damp, cold homes around here, and for kids and babies, winters can be long and cold."

Febrile convulsions or seizures are a common childhood problem that can look alarming, but they rarely cause long-term issues. They are triggered by a fever, which is usually caused

by a viral infection. If your child experiences a convulsion, here are some things to be aware of:

• Stay calm and keep your child safe.

• Lie your child down on their side but do not put anything in their mouth (they will not swallow their tongue).

• Don't put your child in the bath or shower to cool them down.

• If any clothes are tight around their face or neck, remove or loosen them.

• Dial 111 if the seizure lasts more than five minutes, or if your child has trouble breathing.

This article first appeared in The House of Wellness magazine.The facts about febrile convulsions: