Baby’s first sneeze
FROM baby's first day out in the world, her body has had to deal with all sorts of unfamiliar foreign bodies. Her immune system is working hard to protect her from disease.
However strong baby's immune system is, catching the occasional cough or cold will be part and parcel of her growing up.
Knowing what you can treat at home and when you need to bring baby to the doctor will help you to take care of her health, while preventing unnecessary visits to the clinic where she may be exposed to other sick children.
How will I know when baby's ill?
In the first three months, baby has yet to develop the muscle tone and control to point to areas that hurt or are uncomfortable. You can detect her discomfort by paying close attention to changes in her breathing and feeding.
Of course, there are also obvious symptoms such as coughing and sneezing that will alert you to the fact that she's not well.
Breathing: Baby's breath should normally be quite silent, so pay attention to whether she wheezes or her breathing is labored.
Baby's breathing rate is normally faster than an adult's but you should not be able to see the spaces between her ribs during each breath. If you do, or there is retraction of the space below her rib cage, then she is using her accessory muscles to help her breathe.
Feeding: See how much baby drinks during feeds. If she takes less milk than usual, it could be that she has difficulty breathing due to excess mucous.
Feeding makes it more difficult because she may have been using her mouth to breathe, and this won't be possible while she's feeding.
Sleeping: If baby wakes more frequently and seems irritable, it could be that she can't breathe comfortably and thus can't sleep well. If baby sleeps much more than usual, though, this could also be a sign of illness.
Coughing: Even healthy babies may occasionally cough when their throats are irritated, but if the coughing is prolonged and baby seems like she can't catch her breath between coughs, this isn't normal.
Sneezing: If baby sneezes frequently and has a runny nose with clear, watery mucous, she probably has a cold. An occasional sneeze however is all right.
What can I do?
Although your first response may be to rush baby to the doctor, this isn't always necessary.
Bring baby to the doctor if?
Taking baby's temperature
If possible, use a digital thermometer rather than the conventional mercury type. When you first get the thermometer, bring it to the clinic to compare its measurement with that of the doctor's mercury thermometer.
Alternatively you can buy the type that measures baby's eardrum temperature.
Place the thermometer right under baby's armpit and hold her arm close to her body to ensure the thermometer bulb is completely covered. When using a thermometer that measures through the ear, pull the ear backwards to straighten the ear canal and insert the nozzle of the thermometer and press the button until you hear a beep. Baby's temperature will be recorded on the little screen.
Wait until the digital thermometer beeps or, for a conventional mercury thermometer, wait at least 90 seconds before you read the temperature.