Top Tips for when your Baby is Sick

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The babies in our family were sick this week, and it reminded me of how scary and stressful it can be for new parents when their baby gets sick for the first time. 

Like adults, babies can have a variety of illnesses and obviously the advice for how to manage a baby with diarrhea will differ from the care of a baby with respiratory congestion.  If you want more specific knowledge about common childhood illnesses and how to respond, consider taking our parental first aid course!

Here some general tips to help you handle your first sick day with your baby.

1.      Breastfeed as much as possible

Spend all day with your baby latched if you can.  The hydration is very important, but amazingly your body will also identify the pathogens present in your baby’s saliva and immediately start producing specific antibodies for your breastmilk to help fight the infection.  If you are not breastfeeding, offer plenty of fluids like pedialyte and/or formula (depending on age).

2.      Sleep close to your baby

Even if your baby was previously sleeping in their own room, consider changing that arrangement temporarily so that you are more in tune with them during the night.  You want to be able to hear if they are congested or otherwise distressed and be able to respond easily.

3.      Use a rectal thermometer

Don’t waste your money on fancy ear or forehead thermometers because nothing is as reliable as a simple rectal thermometer.  Its much easier to use then you probably think, and its worth learning the skill.  It is important to keep a close eye on a baby’s temperature if they have a fever to ensure it does not become dangerously high.

4.      Incorporate some skin-to-skin time

Kangaroo care is not only for newborns, infants and very young children benefit from skin-to-skin cuddles when they are sick.  It reduces stress, helps them to relax, releases calming hormones, and has even been known to help break a fever by helping to regulate body temperature.

5.      Call your pediatrician

If your baby is sick, call your pediatrician or family physician to give them a heads up that you might need an appointment.  They will usually be able to give you some general advice and will be ready to fit you in should you need it.

6.      Trust your instincts

Every baby is different, and in order to tell if a baby is sick, you must know how that baby behaves when they are healthy.  You, as the parent, know your baby and their baseline better than anyone else.  If you feel like something is off and you are concerned, trust your instincts and follow-up with your health care provider.

Jordan StansburyCallaBaby