Handling Baby's First Illness
You will be very lucky if you get
through the baby's
first few months without a minor illness -even though a breast
-fed baby is protected by your antibodies to illnesses which you
have had. New parents worry about their baby and the fear that
they might appear to be over - anxious can deter them
from taking the baby to the doctor. However, no doctor will mind
seeing a small baby, even if it turns out not to be serious. Your
need for reassurance is a very natural response.
- Almost all babies will pick up a cold in the early
months of their life, and occasionally something more
serious. A cold can cause problems in feeding if her nose is
very blocked and she cannot suck well. If this happens, the
doctor or clinic may recommend inhalant capsules to enable
her to breathe more easily. At night, try propping up the
head of the cot or putting some inhalant on the sheets or
side of the cot to aid her breathing.
- Many babies have a slight rash called a mild rash which
does no harm at all, and looks like tiny pimples on the
skin. A red, scaly rash, which may weep and irritate, is
more likely to be eczema. which can be caused or exacerbated
by an allergy.
- Nappy rash is caused by bacteria in the baby's stools
breaking down the urine into ammonia, which damages the
skin. A very red blotchy rash in the nappy area may be
caused by thrush ; this can only be cured by a fungicidal
cream which your doctor can prescribe.
- Many babies cry a great deal in the early weeks. Some have
a pattern of 'evening crying', others may have crying spells
at other times of the day of even all day long. Many
such babies are said to suffer from colic, although nobody really knows what colic is.
Sometimes colic seems to be related
to feeding and many mothers and dogtrots too - assume that
it is caused by indigestion-type pains in the gut.
However, many colicky babies appear to need very little
sleep and their crying seems to be related more to
lack of sleep than feeding. Colicky babies usually gain
weight well , are healthy and grow out of their colicky
spells by three to six months. The parents of colicky
babies are often more in need of help, as this can be a
- A baby who is really ill, surprisingly, cries little but
seems listless, off her feeds, may not gain weight well and
/or may have vomiting and diarrhoea. She will not be
interested in what is going on around her.
- Take your baby to the doctor if she runs a high
temperature, is breathing rapidly, vomits large amounts of
milk, has water diarrhoea, has a bad cough or appears
TAKING TEMPERATURE AND GIVING MEDICINE
You can take the baby's temperature with a thermometer
held under the armpit. Put the bulb of the thermometer in her
armpit and hold her arm against her side for two minutes.
You can do this while feeding to distract he If she struggles.
You can alternatively use a fever strip, which changes color
depending on the baby's temperature, though
this gives a less accurate reading.
Giving medicine by spoon can be tricky, both with a small
baby who is not used to spoons and with a larger one who
dislikes the taste. If you cannot get the baby to take medicine
off an ordinary spoon, try giving it in a special tube-shaped,
non-spill medicine spoon or a dropper which is sterilized.