Babies and young children are by nature prone to illnesses due to their compromised and weak immune systems. That is why doctors recommend that mother’s breastfeed their baby to help them fight disease and infection.
Infants who are not breastfed are more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome, get diseases like diarrhea, respiratory illness, meningitis and are more likely to be hospitalised says the American Academy of Pediatrics – which recommends breastfeeding.
Formula-fed babies tend to have constipation, gas, colic and intestinal illnesses more than breastfed babies. These problems can range from infections to digestive problems. Fortunately there are a number of ways to prevent or cure these ailments.
As a parent, your instincts are your guide. You know your child better than anyone else and you should always trust that you can make a good decision based on that. However, it can sometimes be difficult to know exactly when to call an ambulance or go to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department at your local hospital.
Is a part of the body’s natural defense mechanism to fight infection — by creating an environment unsuitable for the foreign virus or bacteria. It is okay not to immediately rush to the doctor once fever sets in — provided it stays within an acceptable temperature range. It is essential to keep the fever below 39.4 degrees Celsius by leaving your baby naked to cool down or by constantly rehydrating your child by feeding him liquids.
If the fever lasts more than 24 hours it’s also advised to seek medical help.
Fever induces dehydration and if not treated properly, dehydration can be fatal. There are herbs that can help to cure fever; they include angostura bitters, gentian, catnip, yarrow flowers, belladonna, pulsatilla, and peppermint. Paracetamol should be used as a last resort. Also consult with your doctor to make sure.
Is usually caused by viral or bacterial infections. You can recognise that your baby has diarrhea if his or her bowel movements suddenly change — such as having more watery stools than usual and if it’s much more frequent. During this time, you should avoid feeding your child any milk products as it might cause lactose intolerance.
Most cases of infant diarrhea will go away on their own, although if it goes on for long, might cause dehydration. Also check if the stools do not contain blood or pus. It’s advisable to consult with a medical professional to find out exactly what to do. Foods that help slow down or cure diarrhea are: toast, crackers, breads, pretzels, rice, mashed potatoes, banana, carrots or squash.
A constipated baby is usually cranky. Suitable foods to help alleviate constipation include foods such as prunes, plums, peaches, pears, peas, apricots, spinach, ground oatmeal, millet and brown rice. These can be added into babies’ food (if the child is older than 6 months). For young infants, breast milk will do the trick.
Coughs and colds
It is highly unlikely that your baby will not get a cold. The average child gets six to ten colds a year especially when they in day care. Colds are especially common in autumn and winter and are a cause for little worry.
Symptoms of a cold are very common and usually known. These include a runny nose, sneezing, and possibly a cough or low fever. A child who has a cold is likely to be less energetic and crankier.
Ways to soothe the discomforts that come with a cold include rubbing your child or baby with Vapour Rub on the chest, back and under bay’s feet. For nose congestion — pour some salt water in the nostrils to help unblock the nasal passage.
Baby Allergies & Asthma
The symtopms of allergies and asthma are wheezing, sneezing, runny nose, itching, and coughing. It may also cause some difficulty in breathing and swelling which can be life threatening. A doctor should be consulted immediately once these symptoms are visible.
Colicky babies cry constantly without any visible reason, even after feeding. The cries usually span 1 to 4 hours. Some causes include reflux, gas, or immature nervous system. You can try to relieve the symptoms by changing from cow’s milk to soy formula or a predigested one. Try stimulating your baby in different ways especially through massages which work wonders for a colicky baby. Do not give baby herbal tea or use anti-gas drops. Always consult with your doctor.
It is advised not to bottle feed as babies almost always swallow more air when drinking from a bottle rather than from their mom’s nipple. But we all know that this is not always possible. Always burp baby, massage baby’s belly and keep baby warm by always giving baby a warm bottle, warm bath, and warm water to help relax baby — which will ultimately help baby pass gas.
The structures of your baby’s ears make him more prone to infections. Infection can cause irritability in babies and some pain. A baby with an ear infection is usually fussy and constantly pulls his ear. It may also cause the baby to vomit and result in a poor appetite.
Placing a warm water bottle over the ear can be used to relieve the pain. It’s advisable not to feed your baby while on his back, as this can lead to regurgitation through the middle ear. Recommended drops include garlic oil, onion water, mullein oil, tea tree oil, lavender oil and chamomile oil.
Jaundice is common in newborns and makes newborns very sleepy. This is usually a harmless condition that causes yellowing of the skin and the whites of their eyes. Symptoms include dark urine, pale coloured faeces instead of the usual bright yellow or orange coloured stools. Symptoms usually develop three days after birth. The treatment of jaundice usually requires a diagnosis of the specific cause of the jaundice, and treatment is directed at the specific cause, for example, removal of a gallstone blocking the bile duct.
Meningitis is caused by infection, viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. Early symptoms of meningitis may be similar to a cold or flu (fever, vomiting, irritability and restlessness, red or purple spots as well as shivering. It can be difficult to diagnose the illness since symptoms are not the same for everyone. Early treatment is crucial. Your baby can receive a shot against Meningitis, but even then, this does not mean your child will not get infected.
It crucial that babies and young children get the daily recommended nutrients they need to fight off diseases and infections.
Ways to ensure proper nutrition include added vitamins given through pill or syrup form. Or via fruits and vegetables. Make sure that your child eats a balanced meal that includes little if no junk food.
Other basic measures to eliminate diseases include: washing hands with soap, avoid smoke, dust, mould as well as avoiding contact with sick people.
Should I be alarmed?
Below are some instances where you should be alarmed. But also always remember to get advice from your doctor.
- the soft spot on a baby’s head is bulging
- neck stiffness
- high temperature over 39 degrees or with cold feet and hands
- fits, convulsions or seizures
- blue or very pale appearance
- difficulty in breathing
- unusual drowsiness and confusion
- not waking up
- a spotty, purple-red rash anywhere on the body
- continuous vomiting especially green vomit
- have severe abdominal pain
- a cut that won’t stop bleeding
- a broken leg or arm(experience extreme pain)
- swallowed poison or medicine
- continuous crying maybe high pitched or weak
If you believe there is a problem, there usually is. It can become confusing when it seems like your little one is getting better, but always remember to trust your instinct.