If you are about to give birth or you have just welcomed your child into life, you might as well learn some basic information about sickness in babies.
During their first year of life, children usually suffer from several diseases, some of which can be alarming. It's tough for new parents to see how their little one, with such a fragile look, cries while dealing with pain and discomfort. These situations can make you feel anxious and frustrated for not being able to relieve your son or daughter's pain. Of course, taking your baby to the paediatrician is the right thing to do, but there are circumstances under which you may hesitate to do so because you are not sure about what's happening to him.
Getting some clues to detect common illnesses in babies may help you take action by either finding temporary solutions or visiting the paediatrician, depending on how sick your munchkin is. Down below, we want to present you the usual sicknesses in babies and what to do about them, so that you aren't caught unaware.
Sickness in babies: Constipation
Not being able to poo when you have the need to visit the toilet can cause a lot of discomfort, as we all know. Around 30% of babies suffer from it as well, especially when they start eating solid foods, which can make this transition way more difficult. A clear sign to detect baby constipation is firm and dry stool in your baby's deposition, above all if he doesn't have a bowel movement for three days or more. Don't freak out if you find blood on his nappy, as that could be caused by a little tear in the rectal area when passing a hard poo, some called anal fissure.
To treat baby constipation, try giving your little one high fibre foods, like barley cereal, and reduce the amount of those choices that can make it worse, such as bananas. If you are bottle-feeding, try other brands or add a daily teaspoon of linseed oil, which is a natural laxative, in the baby's bottle. When such measures don't work out and, if your baby can't poop for four days in a row, talk to your paediatrician, who may prescribe you a light laxative.
Sickness in babies: Colds
Is your baby sneezing quite a lot? Does he also have a low-grade fever, decreased appetite, runny nose and a cough? It does sounds like a cold, doesn't it? During their first year, babies tend to get several colds, caused by viral infections that provoke the swelling of the nose and breathing passages.
If you wonder how to deal with such a sickness in babies, here's some advice: try using a nasal spray to unblock your little one's nose, especially before putting him to sleep. Also, you could turn on the shower on a hot setting and close the door of your bathroom to create a steamy environment. Then, take your baby there for a few minutes, as the steam is proven to loosen congestions. In addition, you should give your baby extra fluids and avoid cold medicines unless you've previously talked to your doctor.
Sickness in babies: Diarrhoea
When your baby has liquid bowel movements that are more frequent than normal and happen all of a sudden, he may be suffering from diarrhoea. Viruses and bacterial infections are often responsible for diarrhoea, which can also be caused by allergies and intolerance to certain foods and medications.
Dehydration is a potential complication to prevent when dealing with a sick baby with diarrhoea. That's why you need to give him electrolyte solutions, along with monitoring his stools. If the watery poo is accompanied by fever, vomiting, dry eyes and mouth, it's time to call the doctor. Also, you can suspect of dehydration if his nappies don't get as wet as usual.
Sickness in babies: Ear infections
Here's another classic sickness in babies. It occurs when fluid accumulated in the middle ear gets infected causing an intense pain that may keep your child from sleeping, make him cry while being fed and be cranky and batting at the ear. Fever and fluid draining from his ear may be present as well.
To succeed in treating it, have your baby sit upright and place a warm compress over his infected ear. Of course, there are eardrops that you can use as pain relievers, and also warm oil drops, which can be very useful as long as your child doesn't have a ruptured eardrum. When the ear infection is severe, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to have it treated.
Sickness in babies: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
Among the common illnesses in babies, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) stands as one of the most dangerous ones. It causes infection of the respiratory passages and lungs, and most times it requires hospitalisation. It can be confused with a cold, as it starts with low fever, cough and a runny nose, among other symptoms, but it doesn't wear off in a few days. Instead, it can last several weeks, leading to complications such as bronchitis, bronchiolitis and viral pneumonia.
If your child is experiencing breathing problems, there's not much you can do but take him to the hospital. However, as a preventive measure, avoid smoking around him, because the smoke can set good conditions for infections in the breathing passages.
Sickness in babies: Gastroesophageal reflux (GER)
It's pretty common for babies to experience different symptoms related to gastroesophageal reflux (GER), which happens when acidic stomach juices regurgitate back into the oesophagus. The reason is that at such an early age, the oesophageal sphincter, a circular band of muscles between the stomach and the oesophagus, isn't fully developed yet. GER causes a burning pain, vomiting and spitting up, but such a sickness in babies can be easily confused with a colic, since it's not easy to diagnose what is hurting the baby.
A practical way to treat a sick baby with GER is by giving him smaller and more frequent meals, rather than big portions, which can worsen reflux. Also, by feeding him more times, you'll stimulate his production of saliva, which can reduce the effect of stomach acid. Don't put your baby down after feedings, because that will trigger the acid to flow back into the oesophagus easily, so keep him upright instead.
To sum up, keep in mind that this list of sickness in babies covers the most common and reported ones, but there are more; from fever that may hide underlying conditions to visible skin problems. The best advice is to keep your eyes peeled for any 'baby sick signs', as that's going to allow for a quick response, and have some preventive measures like measuring your little one's temperature from time to time. The sooner your child is treated, the faster he'll heal.