Understanding common baby ailments
It didn’t take too long for you to figure out their hungry cry from their tired and mad cries. And you know when they’re just fussing and when they mean business. The problem, though, lies in what to do to help them. You can tell they are uncomfortable, but why they are uncomfortable…well, that’s a job for Sherlock Holmes (or so you think). Read about the common baby ailments and how to comfort your crying baby.
Babies are sweet, precious bundles of joy. But knowing how to care for your baby can be as easy as trying to do a crossword puzzle in the dark…without any clues.
It didn’t take too long for you to figure out their hungry cry from their tired and mad cries. And you know when they’re just fussing and when they mean business. The problem, though, lies in what to do to help them. You can tell they are uncomfortable, but why they are uncomfortable…well, that’s a job for Sherlock Holmes (or so you think).
Don’t call Sherlock yet. As a mom, you know our baby better than anyone. With a bit of time, the information you’re about to read and a lot of patience you’ll be able to soothe and care for your baby like no one else can.
Baby ailments: What makes baby uncomfortable
There are a number of ‘baby ailments’ that can cause your baby to be out of sorts or in pain. Some are a bit more obvious, but others are less so-it will be up to you to deduct why they feel the way they do. Some of the most common baby ailments include:
- Diaper rash
- Teething pain
Colic is the condition of a baby whose stomach is puffed up with gas. The symptoms of colic are easy to ‘read’; bouts of crying and the drawing up of the legs to the stomach. Babies with colic are generally inconsolable unless you can help them pass the gas. And the ‘kicker’ in it all…the more they cry the more air they suck in and the more air they suck in the worse they feel. YIKES!
Unfortunately there is no sure-fire prevention or cure for colic. If there were, the 75% of babies who experience colic to some degree or another during their first few months of life would be doing a happy dance (so would their parents). But don’t despair, there are ways to decrease the chances or at least the number of times your baby is plagued by this painful tummy ailment.
- If nursing, you need to eliminate caffeine, spicy foods and foods that cause gas (beans, cabbage, broccoli, etc.) from your diet. You may also want to consider limiting your dairy consumption, as the colic may be the result of lactose intolerance.
- If bottle feeding, consider switching to a soy-based formula.
- Give your baby a pacifier to suck on so they don’t suck in so much air.
- Don’t allow your baby to be over-stimulated. Too much excitement can cause babies to be colicky. This usually fixes itself by the time your baby is 4-5 months old, so leading a more relaxed home-based lifestyle may be the key.
None of the above solutions are fool-proof. In spite of your best efforts, your baby is likely to experience at least an occasional bout of colic. When this happens, you can try any or all of the following to bring relief and comfort to your baby.
- Burp your baby. If the traditional over-the-shoulder method doesn’t work, lay baby over your lap (face down) and massage their back gently but firmly starting at the tail bone and working up to the shoulder blades.
- Swaddle baby securely in a blanket.
- Rock your baby, massaging their back and/or stomach
- Give your baby simethicone drops. These drops are effective, but shouldn’t be given regularly.
- Give your baby a warm bath. The warm water relaxes the stomach muscles and allows the gas to be released.
- Do the bicycle with your baby’s legs. Working their legs in this motion works gas out of the stomach.
Diaper rash usually occurs for no other reason than the sensitivity of your baby’s skin to pee and poo. The solution…don’t let their little bottoms be overly-exposed by keeping their bottoms clean and dry. It’s really that simple.
You can further reduce their chances of a sore bum by using baby corn starch at each diaper change. If, however, your baby does develop a diaper rash (it’s practically guaranteed to happen at least once), use an ointment specifically for diaper rash. There are numerous products on the market, so try a few to see what works best for your baby. FYI: The products containing zinc may cause allergic reaction so use with caution.
If your baby is on antibiotics for an extended period of time they may develop a yeast infection in the creases of their legs and around their bottom. This will require a prescription-strength ointment you will need to get from your pediatrician.
Teething is as much a part of life for a baby as breathing is. And it hurts. Teething babies are often fussy, chewing on any and everything in sight, but at the same time not wanting to eat much. Some babies even run a low-grade temp when teething, suffer diarrhea and break out in a rash around their mouth. Dealing with teething pain is a matter of offering relief until that tooth pops through. And then start over again for the next one and the next and the….
To help your baby (and you) survive the pain of teething…
- Let them chew on whatever textures feel good to the as long as what they are chewing on is safe.
- The cold and frozen teething rings are great for babies. The cold numbs their gums, offering a temporary relief, and the firmness of the frozen toy works to bring the tooth to the surface.
- Pain relievers and numbing agents are helpful, but should be given with care-especially the pain reliever. There are all-natural teething tablets that dissolve in baby’s mouth on the market. You might want to give them a try.
An earache is oh, so painful. If you’ve ever had one, you know just what I’m talking about. It makes me hurt just thinking about it so just imagine how it makes your baby feel.
If your little one is fussy (or worse), pulling at their ear, holding their hand over their ear, has redness around and in their ear and/or has discharge coming from their ear you need to seek medical treatment immediately. Your pediatrician will likely prescribe antibiotics for infection and regular doses of children’s pain reliever for the pain. But we all know that these things don’t usually hit during regular office hours, so in the interim, treat your baby’s pain and discomfort by:
- Giving the recommended dosage of pain reliever
- Place a heat pad set on the lowest setting OR a warming pillow or animal (one filled with barley or rice) that has been warmed in the microwave on the ear. BE CAREFUL NOT TO LET IT GET TOO HOT.
- Hold your baby close. But be careful not to rock. The rocking motion tends to worsen the pain.
- Resist the urge to clean the inside of the ear with a swab or to put drops in the ear. These treatments should be left to the doctor.
The treatment for gas is basically the same as it is for colic. The difference between gas and colic (I know you’re asking yourself this about now) is often in the eye of the beholder. But most of the time ‘gas’ is the name given to an occasional occurrence that passes quickly while ‘colic’ is more chronic.
Constipation in babies is a common ailment. The many changes in their diet over the first year of their life lends itself to the problem. But what is constipation in a baby? Is it the lack of bowel movements? Is it the consistency of their bowl movement? Yes, yes and maybe.
Every baby is a unique individual and that include their pooing habits. While it is true that breast-fed babies will normally have several bowel movements a day and will usually be looser and seedier looking than bottle-fed babies, bottle fed babies should have several bowel movements a day, as well. But what if that’s not the case? Is your baby constipated?
- Hasn’t had a bowel movement in over 24 hours
- Stomach is hard
- Fussiness and thrashing of legs
- Straining when going to the bathroom
- Hard pellet-like stools
So what’s a mom to do?
- Take it slow-changes in diet, that is. Offer new foods one at a time.
- Add an ounce or two of diluted apple, prune or grape juice to your baby’s diet each day until the situation has corrected itself.
- Give your baby warm baths to relax the intestinal muscles.
- Add fiber to your baby’s diet if they are on solid foods. Limit bananas and other foods on the BRAT diet.
- Change formula to a soy-based formula over milk-based.
You’ll get the hang of it
More than a few new mums feel as if they’re not getting the hang of this ‘mum thing’ when their babies experience any or all of these common ailments. But remember…the operative word here is COMMON. So hang in there and keep on loving your baby. You’ll get the hang of it-don’t worry.
Related: What your baby’s cries mean
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