First time parents are nervous every time a new baby coughs, sniffles or sneezes. How do they know if they should be?
Here are a doctor’s useful tips and advice for making sure you know when your baby is sick, and when they’re just being fussy.
Infants should not have high fevers. In the first 6-12 weeks of life, most infants carry mother’s immune antibodies that protect from common illnesses. If a newborn has a fever of more than 100.4 F rectally, a doctor should be contacted. If a child has a fever over 100.6F for more than 24 hours, the younger the child the quicker a doctor should be contacted. Fever dehydrates children, so focus on keeping kids well hydrated.
Infants should not have coughs. Sneezing is normal, but coughing is not. Keep in mind infants don’t move, so secretions will drip to the back of their throat and they have to be removed by a caregiver. Call a doctor if an infant has a cough. If an older child has a cough, put them in the bathroom and turn up the shower to get steam into the child. It will loosen secretions and help provide relief. If the cough is productive of green or brown phlegm and it sounds like a bark, call a doctor.
3. Change in Appetite
Infants and young kids should be hungry and eat well at feeding time. If the baby or young child doesn’t eat, skips meals or sucks poorly, call a doctor.
Babies and young children are usually in a great mood. They coo and giggle. If you see a change in your baby’s mood, it’s usually a sign he/she isn’t feeling well. Check to make sure they don’t have a fever, have belly pain, diarrhea or constipation. Do not ignore mood changes.
Infants suffer with belly aches and colic routinely. After they eat, their little bodies have to digest the food and sometimes the transit through the intestines is fraught with difficulty. If the baby is inconsolable, you may want to consult a physician and discuss the formula or your diet if you are breast feeding.
While it isn’t unusual for infants to spit up after they finish a meal, it is unusual for them to vomit. Projectile vomiting — vomiting that shoots out across the room — is associated with digestive problems and congenital narrowing of the digestive tract. If the child projectile vomits or just starts vomiting, call a doctor. Infants get easily dehydrated and dehydration is the most common cause of children requiring hospitalization.
Colds are uncommon in newborns. Sneezing is okay but if the baby starts having a cold that interferes with breathing by creating nasal congestion, call a doctor.
Rashes are unusual in newborns, so any rash that covers more than the diaper area should be looked at by a physician. Often formula allergies may cause the rash.
9. Eye Discharge
A rare occurrence but certainly something to keep in mind. If the baby has a discharge coming out of one or both eyes, you should consult a doctor.
10. Ear Problems
If a baby tugs on his/her ear or an infant rolls his/her head to one side associated with crying and often fever, you are probably dealing with an ear infection, so do take the baby to the doctor.
Dr. Erika Schwartz is the Medical Director of Cinergy Health.
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