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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 stressful time. 
  • 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 in  pain. 


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. 

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