Tara, new mother of a three month old baby boy, is given to pressing the panic button at the slightest sniffle or cough from her baby, which although quite unnecessary, is yet understandable. Most young parents tend to walk the tightrope when it comes to their infant’s health and well-being. In most cases however, a caring parent will know when something is really wrong – so if you’ve been very keenly observing your baby’s usual patterns of sleeping, feeding and wailing since day one, your early experiences will help you to know when your baby needs a doctor.
It’s important to stay alert so you don’t miss some of the vital signs that tell you that all is not well with your little one:
Breathing difficulties: It’s vital to get help immediately if your baby is having difficulty breathing, or turns blue, etc.
Upset stomach: Breastfed infants may have very soft or liquid stools, but if your baby has diarrhea (watery stool), she has a tummy upset. If the diarrhea lasts beyond one day, or if the stool has mucous or streaks of blood you should take her to the doctor.
Dehydration: If your baby is well hydrated, there should be a minimum of six wet nappies in a day. Make sure he is drinking plenty of water or juice, or is breastfeeding as usual.
High temperature: It is absolutely imperative to monitor a baby when she is feverish. Under no circumstances should the fever be allowed to go above 100 degrees F. Take her to see the doctor, but the immediate first aid that you can administer at home would be to wipe her body and forehead with a damp towel. This will immediately bring the body temperature down, faster than any paracetamol the doctor may prescribe.
Temperament: A good rule of thumb is that an active and smiling baby cannot be really all that sick. You may well assume that a smiling baby with a running nose is probably not as sick as a sluggish one with the leaky nose. But don’t neglect to check with the doctor if she has a fever as well.
Relentless crying: If your baby continues to cry for an unusually long time and can’t be comforted, or if her cry is high-pitched, she may be really sick. Also, if she seems unhappy and is unusually dull or inactive, call your doctor.
Loss of Appetite: A growing baby should feed vigorously when hungry. But if he is easily tired or loses interest in feeding, she is probably sick. Likewise, if he brings up food or if the posit is green, this is not a good sign.
Rash: Nappy rash or heat rash, are generally harmless, but if your baby is also having symptoms like fever, nausea, loss of appetite, etc., it’s best to see a paediatrician. If the rash seems to be spreading, it’s possible that the condition may be contagious, so you should have it checked.
Most babies fall sick at one time or another, but by taking a few simple precautions, you can keep your baby healthy:
– Try to continue with breastfeeding at least for a year.
– Keep the baby well hydrated with fluids.
– Keep baby away from people who are unwell.
– Keep to the immunization schedule prescribed by your pediatrician.
– Avoid taking very young babies on journeys to places where there’s a drastic change of climate.
– Don’t let smokers puff a cigarette around your baby.