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When Baby Is Sick

Here are some tips on soothing baby’s cold and your fears.

It’s inevitable: cold winter temperatures bring a season of sneezes, runny noses, and coughs.

We all suffer from an occasional cold and are able to take care of ourselves. But when baby gets sick, it’s up to mom and dad to restore the little one back to health. This can be a scary thing for new parents. Just remember that most illnesses can be handled with plenty of fluids, rest, home remedies, and tender loving care.

Before running to the doctor the next time your little one is under the weather, consider the following advice for four of the most common illnesses in babies.

The Common Cold

Cold symptoms include a stuffy or runny nose, a cough, and an occasional mild fever. Colds are caused from one of over 200 viruses so it’s not surprising that young children get infected so easily. How common are colds in little folks? Infants are expected to experience about seven colds a year.

To soothe your baby’s cold, use a cool-mist humidifier or sit with your baby in a bathroom while running the shower to help him or her breathe easier. If your child is so congested that sleeping or eating is difficult, use a bulb syringe to suction his or her nose, or use infant saline drops in each nostril. If a fever greater than 101.5 degrees (Fahrenheit) is present, you can administer Acetaminophen. With fevers lower than 101.5, let your child’s immune system fight the infection by itself.

Babies younger than three months who have a cold should be monitored closely. If the cold worsens or last longer than three days, see a doctor. Babies younger than four weeks with a fever greater than 100.4 should be taken to the doctor immediately.

You should also watch for new symptoms such as ear pain, eye redness, fever for more than three days, or loss of appetite. In these cases, the illness has developed into more than a cold and medical attention is needed.

Croup

The croup often starts out with a simple cold and later develops into whistle-like breathing and a barking, rasping cough that may sound like a seal bark. Babies are more susceptible to croup because of their narrow windpipes. When a virus causes swelling in the throat and your baby coughs, it has a very distinct sound.

Home remedies to relieve a croupy cough include a cool-mist humidifier, breathing in humid air, or breathing cooler air from outside or even at the door of the freezer. Be sure to call the doctor if you hear the whistle while the baby is resting, if your little one begins breathing rapidly, or if the skin around baby’s throat or ribs suck in when breathing. In this case, epinephrine or steroids may be required to reduce the inflammation.

Influenza

If your baby has a bad cold and is vomiting or experiencing diarrhea or suddenly gets a high fever, it’s probably the flu. This is a serious illness for babies since their immune systems have not fully developed. If the mother of the baby had the flu shot while pregnant, the risk of the baby getting the flu during their first six months is reduced by 41 percent.

The first day your baby has flu symptoms, get to the doctor. The earlier flu is diagnosed, the better antiviral drugs will work. The most common complication from the flu is pneumonia, and bacterial pneumonia requires antibiotics.

Bronchiolitis

Typically, bronchiolitis is caused by the respiratory syncytial virus, more commonly known as RSV. The virus causes inflammation in the bronchioles, the tiniest tubes in the lungs, causing them to fill with mucous. Symptoms include a bad cold, wheezing, wet cough, and loose stools. You may also see mucous in your baby’s stools since babies swallow mucus instead of spitting it out.

Now You Know!

No that you’ve educated yourself on the most common illnesses that affect babies, you should be prepared to take action the next time your little one starts in with that annoying runny nose. Home remedies not helping? Is baby’s misery making you miserable? Don’t wait around. Get medical attention to help everyone feel better fast.

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