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Common Baby Health Concerns

Everything You Need to Know

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a doctor smiling while listening to a baby's breathing

Sickness is a part of life when you have a baby. Infection of the ear and eye as well as a few other illnesses are extremely common in babies and young children. Here’s the lowdown:

Ear Infections

Your baby’s middle ear can become clogged very easily, most commonly when he has a cold. This causes a painful buildup of pressure and leaves your child in quite a lot of pain. Symptoms include a fever, lack of appetite, and diarrhea. Don’t inspect your baby’s ear yourself, as this will cause unnecessary pain and achieve nothing. If you suspect an ear infection, take your child to a pediatrician as soon as possible. They will be able to determine if the ear is infected and prescribe the necessary antibiotics.

If blood or pus is leaking from the ear, your baby’s eardrum has likely burst. Visit your closest ER immediately.

Eye Infections

If your baby’s eyes are red and inflamed, they are probably infected. Your child’s pediatrician will give you eye drops to clear this up. If you are having trouble getting your baby to lie still enough to administer them, try to do it when his is about to wake up, but still sleeping, or just as he is falling asleep. You will be able to ease his eyelid open and get a drop of medicine into the corner of his eye. He will instinctively close his eye again, thus distributing the liquid across the entire eye.

If your baby’s eyes have a discharge, wipe it away using warm water and a soft cotton ball. Swipe the cotton ball just once, and then discard it. Do not use the same cotton ball on two eyes, as you could spread infection.

Some babies develop blocked tear ducts, and their eyes will water more than average. Your pediatrician will advise you on this, but babies usually grow out of it. They will sometimes awaken with crusty eyelids, but this is nothing to be concerned about, unless there are other signs of a baby infection.

Baby Is Vomiting

First, assess whether your baby is vomiting or just spitting up. A lot of babies spit up milk (or pureed baby foods) and this is perfectly normal. It’s a grind on your washing machine, but your baby should grow out of it. It’s also possible that your baby is suffering from acid reflux, which can be quite successfully treated with the appropriate medicine. If, however, your baby is vomiting violently, it could be a condition named pyloric stenosis, which affects the muscle from the stomach to the intestines. For some reason, it affects more boys than girls, and they will begin to show symptoms a few weeks after birth. It causes constipation and dehydration, and your baby may need an operation to fix it.

These two ailments aside, any time your baby is vomiting blood (or the vomit is green), you should contact your child’s doctor right away. Also watch out for green or particularly bad-smelling diapers, an increase in the amount of spit-up, or any general signs of feeling unwell.

Seizures

It’s important to note that not all seizures are caused by epilepsy, as some convulsions in babies are triggered by a high body temperature. If your baby has a seizure, he will become rigid and his limbs will jerk for many minutes. In addition, his eyes may roll and he won’t be able to interact with you. He will be exhausted afterwards and quite limp. This can be extremely frightening for parents and babies alike, but try to remain as calm as possible and proceed to your nearest ER immediately.

Croup

Croup is easily recognizable by its deep, barking cough and is caused by an infection of the larynx (or voice box). Since it can make breathing quite difficult for your baby, it’s important to visit your child’s doctor or closest ER as soon as she shows symptoms. Your baby will probably be quite distressed because of the difficulty breathing, so try to calm her in your lap. Don’t lay her down, as this will restrict breathing even further. For less serious cases, it might help to sit with her in a steamy bathroom, or take her into hot, dry fresh air.

 
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