A Parents’ Guide on Common Childhood Illness
How can I tell whether my baby has a fever?
Kiss or touch your baby’s forehead. If you think he feels hotter than normal, you’re probably right.
A fever is usually a sign that the body is waging a war against infection. Taking your baby’s temperature can confirm your suspicions and help you and your child’s doctor figure out the best way to get your baby back on the road to health.
Most doctors – and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) — agree that a normal body temperature for a healthy baby is between 97 and 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (36 to 38 degrees Celsius). If your baby’s rectal temperature is above this range, he has a fever.
How can I tell if my baby’s fever is serious?
A temperature reading isn’t the only indication of whether a fever is serious.
Age is a factor: Fever is more serious in babies under 3 months.
Behavior is another factor: A high fever that doesn’t stop your baby from playing and feeding normally may not be cause for alarm.
Keep in mind that everyone’s temperature rises in the late afternoon and early evening and falls between midnight and early morning. This natural cycle of our internal thermostat explains why doctors get most of their phone calls about fever in the late afternoon and early evening.
When should I call the doctor?
If your baby is under 3 months old and has a temperature of 100.4 degrees F (38 degrees C) or higher, call the doctor immediately. A baby this young needs to be checked for serious infection or disease.
If your baby is 3 months old or older, the most important thing is how he looks and acts.
If he appears well and is taking fluids, there’s no need to call the doctor unless the fever persists for more than 24 hours or is very high. Ask your doctor for additional guidance: For example, the doctor may suggest calling right away if your baby’s fever reaches 104 degrees, regardless of symptoms.
Tips from HappyAha: Call your kid’s doctor if you’re worried, no matter what his temperature is. Prepared to tell the doctor/nurse when the fever started, how high it went, and if you have given the child any medication to reduce the fever.
How can I tell if he has a cold and not the flu or some other illness, or even allergies?
It can be tricky. If your baby has a cold, she might have a runny nose with clear mucus that may thicken and turn gray or yellow or green over the next week or so. She might have a cough or a low-grade fever.
If your baby is running a fever, watch her when her fever comes down. If she plays and eats normally (or almost normally – she might eat a bit less and drag a little), then it’s probably a cold. If she acts ill even when her temperature drops, though, she may have something more serious than a cold.
Also, a flu or other illness is more likely to have an abrupt onset, and is more likely to be accompanied by diarrhea or vomiting. On the other hand, if congestion or coughing shows up before any fever, it’s more likely that your child has a cold.
Itchy, watery eyes and nose are hallmarks of an allergy, as are repeated sneezing attacks and itchy skin that lasts for weeks or months. Also, the mucus coming out of your baby’s nose will continue to run clear, rather than thickening and turning yellow or green as it tends to in children with colds. Allergies won’t cause your child to run a fever.
How should I treat my baby’s cold?
Cold virus usually goes away in 7-14 days, but you can help your baby feel better and prevent the infection from getting worse by making sure he gets plenty of rest and liquids. For babies under 4 months, that means breast milk or formula. At 4 months your baby can also have a little water, and at 6 months he can start drinking juices. Below are some of the natural remedies
Use saline and suction. Tip your baby’s head back and squeeze over-the-counter saline (salt water) drops into his nostrils to loosen up the mucus. Then suction out the liquid and mucus a few minutes later with a rubber bulb syringe or nasal aspirator.If your baby is having trouble nursing with a stuffy nose, try this tactic about 15 minutes before a feeding. He’ll then be able to breathe and suck at the same time.
Apply calendula cream to the outside of your baby’s nostrils to reduce irritation. (Don’t use nasal sprays on your baby unless his doctor says it’s okay. They may work temporarily but can cause a rebound effect, making the congestion worse with continued use.)
Moisten the air. Use a humidifier or a cool-mist vaporizer to moisten the air in your baby’s room. Or take your baby into the bathroom with you, turn on the hot water, close the door, and sit in the steamy room for about 15 minutes. A warm bath can accomplish the same thing.
Try homeopathic medicines if you kid is over 2 years old . Homeopathic medicines are safe for kids and have no side effects. Consult with a doctor if you kid is below 2.
Your baby may sleep better in a car seat in a semi-upright position, and this is probably okay for a few hours during the day. But experts generally don’t recommend letting your baby sleep in a car seat, bouncy seat, or swing – even strapped in – because these products have not been studied for that purpose. They may have padding or inserts that pose a suffocation risk, and the baby could move enough to flip a car seat over when it’s not installed in a car.
Never use a pillow or a sleep positioner to prop up your baby since they could cause your baby to suffocate. And don’t put anything under the legs of the crib because that could make it unstable.
During the first few months many babies experience varying degrees of Acid Reflex, which occurs when the acidic stomach contents regurgitate back into the esophagus, causing pain. Acid Reflex is common in babies because the circular band of muscle that acts as a valve between the esophagus and the stomach is immature.
Symptoms: Unstoppable cry. Frequent spitting up or vomiting, movements such as throwing the legs up or arching the back, frequent wet burps, or throaty gagging noises.
Treatment: Smaller, more frequent feedings (feed your baby half as much, twice as often) can help because less food in the stomach at one time decreases reflux. Frequent feedings will also stimulate the production of saliva, which neutralizes stomach acid and lubricates the esophageal lining. Keep baby upright and quiet for at least a half hour after feeding to let gravity hold the food down. Breastfeed if you can since breast milk is digested faster than formula is.
When to call the doctor: With mild reflux, these simple home remedies are usually enough. If the GER is severe enough to interfere with weight gain and sleep, or is causing your baby a lot of pain, the doctor may prescribe medications that block the production of stomach acid. GER usually begins to subside around 7 months, when babies spend much of their day upright.
Diarrhea refers to having bowel movements that are too frequent and too watery. It is most often caused by a virus, but can also result from a bacterial infection, an allergy, or medication. The potential danger of diarrhea is dehydration.
Symptoms: Breastfed newborns may have up to 12 small bowel movements a day, but by three months, they may go a day without any. If your infant’s bowel movements become much more frequent and watery all of a sudden, he probably has diarrhea.
Treatment: Treatment of diarrhea is basically resting your baby’s intestines until they naturally return to normal. Keep track of your baby’s stools to report to your doctor.
When to call the doctor: If your baby has a high fever, bloody diarrhea, increasing abdominal pain, vomiting, or you suspect he’s dehydrated or losing weight, medical attention is needed. (Don’t be afraid to visit the doctor if you’d like to have your baby weighed.) Signs of dehydration are lethargy, dry eyes, dry mouth, and fewer wet diapers. Your doctor may suggest changing your baby’s diet and replacing lost fluids with an electrolyte solution.
When fluid accumulates in the middle ear, it can act like a culture for germs to grow in. The infected fluid presses on the eardrum, producing intense pain.
Symptoms: If your infant has an ear infection, she’ll probably be cranky, wake up during the night because of pain, be unwilling to lie flat, and cry during feeding.
Treatment: To treat middle-of-the-night earaches give your baby the appropriate dose of infant pain reliever or homeopathic ear drop. Keep her upright, which will allow the fluid to drain away from the eardrum and cause less pressure.
When to call the doctor: If you suspect an ear infection, have your doctor examine your baby’s ears. If the eardrum looks very infected, she may prescribe an antibiotic. It’s important to seek medical help, since repeated untreated ear infections may lead to hearing loss and consequent speech delay.
Prevention: Breastfeed your infant if you can since breastfed infants have fewer ear infections. Control allergens (such as cigarette smoke, dust, and animal dander) since they can cause fluid buildup behind the eardrum. If your child has a cold, suction her nose, as described earlier, to prevent germs from entering the ear. If your baby is bottlefeeding, feed her in an upright position to lessen the chance of milk or formula entering the middle ear from the throat.
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Diesease
What is it?
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by a coxsackie virus. It occurs mainly in the summer and early fall and is most common in children under 10 years of age. Signs and symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease usually start suddenly and may include:
Small painful blisters inside the mouth on tongue and gums (last 4 to 6 days)
Blisters may appear on the palms of child’s hands, on their fingers, and on the soles of their feet for 7 to 10 days
It is possible to have the infection and not have any symptoms.
Should I call the doctor?
Yes. Although your baby’s doctor won’t be able to do much, she can make recommendations for fever and pain relief. And if you’re not sure that HFMD is what you’re dealing with, the doctor can confirm it by taking a look.
If your baby is under 3 months and his rectal temperature reaches 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, call the doctor immediately. (A baby this young with a fever needs to be watched carefully.)
If your baby is at least 3 months old, talk with his doctor about when she’d like you to call. She may suggest that you call if your baby’s temperature reaches 101 degrees F or higher, or, once he’s 6 months old, when his fever reaches 103 degrees F.
One thing your doctor will be watching for is dehydration, because the mouth sores may make it difficult for your baby to drink anything. If your baby shows any signs of dehydration — such as a dry, parched mouth or going six hours or more without wetting his diaper — call his doctor immediately
Prevention: Take precautions such as washing your baby’s hands regularly, washing and disinfecting toys and other objects that might have germs on them, and trying to avoid infected children. Still, it’s impossible to guarantee that your child won’t catch the illness if he’s exposed to an infected person.