BLAISE TAPP: From ball pits to Calpol, today's parents have it made

Modern parents have it easy right? It is a fair claim when you consider that never before have mums and dads had so many tools at their disposal as they do today.

Thursday, 31st May 2018, 8:10 pm
Updated Monday, 18th June 2018, 11:53 pm
A baby being given Calpol.

If you are not sure why your little darling is off colour or doesn't fancy that second helping of smashed avocado or sweet potato then all you need to do is either ask Siri, type it into Google or, if you are feeling particularly retro, flick through one of the countless parenting books most of us acquire these days yet never get around to reading.

Then there are all the options we have at our fingertips when it comes to entertaining tiny rabble rousers: there can't be a town in the land that doesn't have at least one soft play centre or a trampoline hub.

I cast my mind back some 30 years ago when any kid in our part of south Manchester regularly pestered their folks to visit the local carpet showroom, which was also home to the only ball pit within a 25-mile radius.

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And if you are still in any doubt as to whether 21st century parents have been dealt a winning hand, then look at the home entertainment options available: television packages with 20-odd channels dedicated to younger viewers '“ when I was growing up all we had was a pre-silver haired Phillip Schofield goofing around with Gordon the Gopher for two hours before Neighbours came on.

If the flat screen babysitter in the corner of the front room doesn't do the trick then there are always the myriad devices every home seems to possess. Kids will always have something to keep them occupied.

But the one thing which most modern parents won't do without is Calpol '“ the paracetamol-based medicine which is the best-selling children's drug in the UK, with a staggering 5.2 tonnes of the pink stuff being consumed every day.

Last week a television doctor, Chris van Tulleken, caused millions of parents to drop their smartphones into their skinny lattes when he warned some had become over-reliant on Calpol. He warned we are in danger of creating a generation to whom the 'response to any problem will be to take a drug'. Although accepting that Calpol is a good, safe product, Dr Chris argues many of us are misusing it on a regular basis. 

I stand guilty as charged. While always religiously sticking to the recommended dose, my default position when dealing with off-colour children (always my own, I hasten to add) has always been to reach for the distinctive purple box.

My youngest, who is more of a pointer than a talker, isn't yet able to properly articulate what his ailments are is always delighted to see a syringe full of the strawberry flavoured syrup heading his way. Mrs Tapp not so much.

My tendency to opt for Calpol, particularly when he shouts the house down in the middle of night, is the subject of much, ahem, debate Chez Tapp. 

You could argue the problem modern parents face is there is perhaps too much information out there '“ ask the internet what it thinks about Calpol and you will get a hugely varied set of answers. Maybe we don't have it that easy after all.