Occasional fevers and infections are common concerns as your baby grows. However, even with some experience with sick babies, it’s natural to worry when your baby is unwell. It can be hard to tell typical fussiness and mild illnesses apart from severe problems.
As you look forward to that day when they outgrow this stage, you need to stay alert for warning signs of severe sickness. Your baby cannot verbalize their feelings, and knowing how to manage an illness from home is as crucial as knowing when to call your baby's doctor.
6 serious symptoms in babies never to ignore
There are several serious symptoms you should never ignore in your baby. Although there may be no cause for alarm, it is better to be on the lookout. Among these signs are:
Fever: in itself is not a disease, but it's a sign of an underlying infection. These include respiratory illnesses like croup and pneumonia, as well as colds, stomach bugs, and urine and ear infections. Fever could also be because of viral diseases.
To check your baby’s temperature, use a mercury-free glass rectal thermometer for the most accurate reading. If your baby is less than three months old and the fever is over 100.4°F, that's an emergency case that requires immediate medical attention. The cause of the fever may be hard to establish, and other signs and symptoms may also be challenging to detect.
Poor feeding: within the first two days, most newborns can eat every three to four hours. They will show signs of hunger by crying, sucking their fingers, and making rooting motions. If your baby’s appetite changes and they refuse to feed and push food away several times, it could indicate that they're unwell.
Vomiting: vomiting is one of the common reactions to bodily upsets. In the absence of other signs and symptoms, it may not be a cause of alarm. When accompanied by diarrhea, it could be a sign of bacterial or viral infection in the intestine or an obstruction.
If you suspect your baby is in pain, it is okay to give them the recommended dose of infant ibuprofen or acetaminophen, provided they are within the age bracket. Avoid giving anti-nausea medicines unless recommended by your baby's health care provider.
Keep the baby’s fluids up to protect them from dehydration. If the baby breastfeeds, offer them extra feeds throughout the day. Take your baby to the hospital if the vomiting is:
- Green or greenish-yellow
- Frequent and forceful
- Causing the baby to be dehydrated
- Inhibits feeding
- Persistent and lasts for more than a day or two
Irregular stools: if your baby has a hard and dry stool, it indicates they need more fluids. After you wean them, hard stool could be because of a change in diet. On the other hand, it could be that they're losing too much water to heat, illness, or fever. If it causes you to worry, take the baby to the doctor.
Umbilical cord infection: pus or red skin around the stump of the umbilical cord in a newborn baby could be a sign of infection. It could also have an unpleasant smell. Talk to your doctor about it.
Urination irregularities: a baby that feeds well throughout the day should wet approximately four diapers a day. Look out for signs of distress when urinating, as this could signify an infection in the urinary tract. The color and odor of the urine also tells a lot.
A pinkish or dark yellow stain on the diaper could be a sign of high concentration in the urine and is no cause for alarm. If the staining goes on for a long time or you notice bloody spots, talk to your baby's doctor. Another sign to look out for is less-than-frequent urination.
What to do
To keep your baby in as good health as possible, breastfeed them as much as possible. This provides them with antibodies to protect them against illnesses. If you don't breastfeed them, use commercial infant formula. Don't allow people who smoke to be around your baby. If anything seems off about your baby, talk to your doctor.
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