By Dr. Erika Schwartz
Unlike older children, babies have fewer resources to deal with illness. When a baby gets sick, you want to be on the alert and careful. While you don’t want to call the doctor all the time, most doctors prefer you call them earlier rather than later. For a physician, it is easier to provide guidance earlier in the course of a baby’s illness. The help will likely protect you and the baby from having to make a trip to the emergency room or the doctor’s office.
You Are What You Eat
Other Important Tips/Signs:
1. Fever. 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 measured rectally, a doctor should be contacted. Fever dehydrates newborns very quickly, so focus on keeping your infant well hydrated.
2. Cough. 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 caregiver. Call a doctor if an infant has a cough.
3. Change in appetite. Infants should be hungry and eat well at feeding time. If the baby doesn’t eat, skips meals, or sucks poorly, call a doctor.
4. Cranky. Babies 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.
5. Vomiting. While it isn’t unusual for infants to spit up after they finish a meal, it is unusual for them to vomit. Projectile vomiting is vomiting that shoots out across the room; it is associated with digestive problems and congenital narrowing of the digestive tract. If the baby projectile vomits or just starts vomiting, call a doctor. Infants get easily dehydrated, and dehydration is the most common cause of children requiring hospitalization.
6. Colds. 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.
7. Rash. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. Crying. It is rare to have a baby that doesn’t spend much of her awake time crying. Usually crying is not a sign of illness or of concern. For the most part babies sleep most of the time so crying is reserved for feeding and changing time. If however, your baby cries all the time, doesn’t sleep and is inconsolable, do call your doctor.