When Baby Gets Sick: Part 3 – Treating the Symptoms

When baby gets sick, it is no fun for anyone. Watching your sweet baby struggle through a cold is heartbreaking for many new parents. Not only do you hate seeing your baby suffer, but you also feel helpless in making her feel better.

Earlier this week we discussed ways to prevent babies from getting sick as we head into cooler weather and the germiest seasons. But knowing that catching a bug this season is highly likely, we also shared the symptoms that warrant a call to the doctor. Today we’re talking about ways to treat symptoms when baby gets sick.

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is on our list again. We already mentioned how breastfeeding can help protect your baby from illness this season by over 60%. But it also helps your baby if she does get sick. That’s because the nutrients in breast milk will hydrate and nourish your baby with the best food on the planet for her.

When Baby Gets Sick: Part 3 – Treating the SymptomsChances are you were exposed to the same pathogens that are making your baby sick but your body is able to fight it off because you have a stronger immune system. By giving your baby breast milk with antibodies for the very thing that is causing her to be sick can help her get stronger, faster. And staying hydrated when battling a cold, flu or stomach bug is essential, especially if your baby is vomiting or has diarrhea.

Of course breastfeeding is also comforting so while your baby is muddling through being sick you can nurse and cuddle her as often as you like. If your baby is having trouble sleeping, breastfeeding may be the relaxation she needs to drift off to la-la land. You may need to find new positions if your baby is congested. Breathing with a stuffy nose while breastfeeding can be tricky so a more upright position or one where her nose is not restricted is a better choice.

Keep Baby’s Nose Clean

It’s so hard to watch your baby struggle to breathe when she’s sick. Keep her nose clean by using a bulb syringe or other baby-friendly gadget to suck out mucus. Saline spray is a terrific way to help loosen and thin out mucus so you can suck it up.  You can also sit with your baby in the bathroom while you let a hot shower steam up around you.

Use a Humidifier or Vaporizer

The dry cold air does not help matters when baby gets sick. Try to keep her sleep-time air moisturized with a humidifier or vaporizer. This will help relieve congestion and reduce coughing.

Take it Easy

If ever there was time to chill it’s when baby gets sick. Your baby doesn’t understand why she’s feeling so lousy and looks to you for comfort and security. She’ll need your TLC more than ever. Spend the days lounging, playing calmly and sleeping as much as possible.

Ask Your Pediatrician about Medication

Before administering any medication, speak to your pediatrician to make sure it is safe for your baby at her age and appropriate for her symptoms. Many doctors have different recommendations than pharmaceutical companies, especially about children’s cough medications.

We wish you and your baby the healthiest fall and winter possible!

Sources: Parents, Ask Dr. Sears and Baby Center

 

When Baby Gets Sick: Part 2 – When to Call the Doctor

Welcome back to our series When Baby Gets Sick. We’re helping you navigate cold and flu season with your baby. Yesterday we reviewed prevention so you can help protect your baby from the germs her immature immune system cannot yet combat.

But it’s inevitable that your baby will get sick at some point. Today we’re helping you determine when to call the doctor when baby gets sick.

Your pediatrician is there for a reason: to help you manage the health of your baby. Therefore, if you are ever in doubt when baby gets sick whether or not to call the doctor, you should call. Even in the middle of the night. Even on a holiday. Even during major sporting events. If you are seriously worried, you should call the doctor.

With that said, here are the standard guidelines for concern when baby gets sick:

Fever

When Baby Gets Sick: Part 2 – When to Call the DoctorAn elevated temperature is the body’s way of fighting off an infection. Although fevers can be scary, they are a sign that your baby’s immune system is working properly and doing its best to take care of the issue at hand. However, fevers can be dangerous in certain circumstances. Always call your pediatrician in these cases:

  • Your baby is under 2 months with a rectal fever of 100.4 degrees or more.
  • Your baby over 2 months has a fever with other symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, rash, extreme fussiness and refuses to eat.
  • Your baby over 2 months has a prolonged fever of more than a few days even if it is low grade.

When you call, be ready to provide information including how long your child has had a fever, her temperature throughout her sickness, and any other symptoms she may be experiencing.

Coughs and Colds

Coughs and colds can last for a week or more in infants and one may run into another. The problem is, you just don’t know if it is a really long cold or something more serious. Therefore, call your doctor if your baby is sick for more than a few days or if you feel your baby is getting worse, especially if a fever develops.

Gastrointestinal Issues

You’re probably intimately familiar with your baby’s spit-up these days but vomiting is another story. If your baby vomits more than a few times and/or has diarrhea, call your pediatrician and do your best to keep your baby hydrated. If ever you see blood in stool or urine, call immediately.

Ears and Throat

Ear and throat infections are common in little ones. Often these occur after a cold because fluid drains into the ear canal. If your baby is tugging at her ears or if there is drainage coming from her ears, an ear infection is likely. If your baby is scratching her throat or refusing to eat, a sore throat may be the culprit. Your pediatrician will probably want to take a look.

Rash

Any rash that does not go away within a few days or seems to be worsening or spreading should be looked at by your doctor. Take note of your baby’s demeanor as well. If the rash is coupled with lethargy and fussiness, it could be more than meets the eye.

Sources: WebMD and HealthyChildren

 

When Baby Gets Sick: Part 1 – Prevention

When Baby Gets Sick: Part 1 - PreventionBrace yourselves, parents. Your baby is likely to get sick at some point this fall and winter. In fact, your baby may get sick several times before it’s all said and done. On average, infants have some type of infection around 6 to 12 times in their first year alone. And each could last a week or more. That’s a lot of sick days for your little bundle of joy.

The reason your baby is so incredibly attractive to those pesky microbes that cause infection is because her immune system is quite weak. She doesn’t yet have the antibodies necessary to combat the major germs that she’s exposed to on a regular basis.

Also, it’s not the cold weather that causes babies and children (and adults) to get sick. Rather, it’s that more people are staying inside and spreading microbes in small spaces. With runny noses and coughs spewing germs in every direction and leaving them on surfaces, plus contaminated air being re-circulated within a confined space, your baby is bound to pick something up at some point.

This week we’re helping you manage cold and flu season, from advice on how to prevent sickness, to ways to ease symptoms and when to call the doctor when baby gets sick.

Today is all about prevention so hopefully you can curb some of your baby’s likelihood for illness this season.

There’s no need to be militant about germs in your home but a few simple steps can cut back on a lot of sickness. It’s important to realize that some exposure to microbes is good for your baby’s immune system as it develops and strengthens.

Also, your baby is a baby and she’s going to crawl on the floor, put things in her mouth and do other things that you will find less-than-sanitary and downright disgusting. (Shoe licking, anyone?) Most germ exposures are not likely to land your baby in the hospital. It’s just a matter of doing what is reasonable to protect your baby as much as possible.

Here’s what experts say helps keep babies healthy during cold and flu season:

Breastfeeding

If you want your baby to be 63% less likely to have a cold, ear infection or throat infection this fall and winter, continue breastfeeding. Yes, your simple act of love and nourishment can help keep your baby significantly healthier, according to studies. Plus breastfed babies are less likely to get respiratory and gastrointestinal infections too. So nurse on, strong mamas!

Vaccinate and Flu Shot

Staying on top of recommended vaccinations for your baby and ensuring your baby gets the flu shot (if she’s over 6 months) are two excellent ways of keeping her healthy and preventing sickness. Without vaccinations babies may be at risk for serious and life-threatening illnesses that can be spread through coughing, sneezing, touching exposed surfaces and respiratory droplets.

Limit Exposure

Speaking of coughing and sneezing, keep your baby close and away from anyone who may be sick or spreading germs. Wearing your baby in public is one of the best ways to protect her from airborne exposure. If your baby goes to a daycare, ask about their sick policy and how they keep their facility clean to ensure germs are not repeatedly spread among the children. Also, for the health of your baby, ask friends or family to stay away if they are sick.

Wash Hands

It may not be your first instinct to wash your baby’s hands if she’s not eating solid foods yet but it’s a good idea to take a play break and wash every now and then. One good way to remember is to wash each time you are transitioning from one activity to another. Washing cuts down on an exorbitant amount of germs your baby may put in her mouth, eyes or other orifices, especially if she’s been outside your home.

Wipe Surfaces

Spend a few minutes daily wiping down the surfaces and toys your baby uses most often. Find a baby-safe cleanser and be sure to machine or hand-wash lovies and stuffed animals too. Germs can live on surfaces for many hours so wiping after company has been over is wise.

Sources: Parents, Ask Dr. Sears and Baby Center