A Parent’s Guide to Dealing with a Sick Baby

A Parent’s Guide to Dealing with a Sick Baby



Babies are confounding little creatures when they’re perfectly healthy, so the arrival of an illness can send a parent’s worry-machine into overdrive. Is that fever too high? Could it just be gas? Is that color of vomit normal? Should the baby be taken to the doctor? Fear not, parents. We’re here to break down how to handle the yuckies like a pro—and give you some peace of mind.

You Know Best

Believe it or not, paternal instincts are real. You and your partner are with your child more than anyone, and you’ve been there from the beginning. You know her temperament. If she’s acting in a way completely outside the norm of anything you’ve seen before, don’t ignore it. Listen to your body and your child’s–they’ll tell you more than you ever could imagine.

Watch the Temperature

Babies get fevers for a number of reasons. They are constantly fighting off bad germs and infections, so a fever showing up is completely normal. However, there are indicators something else could be going on. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, here’s when it’s time to head to the doctor:

  • Under 3 months old: Any fever over 100.4 F, even if there is no other symptom of illness
  • 3-6 months: Any fever over 101 F
  • Over 6 months: Any fever over 103 F

Fevers don’t need to be the only symptom to send you to the doctor, though. Difficulty breathing, extreme lethargy or difficulty swallowing are all warning signs that something more complex could be going on.

Strip Search

If your baby is suddenly inconsolable and crying for seemingly no reason, don’t immediately press the panic button. Quickly remove all of your baby’s clothing and check him from head to toe. Look for simple solutions, like Cheerios stuck in an unsavory location or a diaper that was on too tight.

Know What’s Typical

First and foremost, if you’re unsure about a symptom your baby is exhibiting, it’s never wrong to call the doctor to check. However, getting to know some common indicators can give you a little peace of mind—your baby’s body may just be dealing with some to-be-expected challenges.

  • Vomit – Babies spew. It happens. Many times it’s because they’ve eaten too fast (milk is yummy!) or too much. Clean up the mess for what seems like the 100th time, but keep an eye out for additional occurrences that seem much too frequent. You could be dealing with acid reflux, in which case a doctor visit is necessary.
  • Gas – One culprit of discomfort that disguises itself as something much more serious is gas in Baby’s tummy. Gas causes extreme crankiness and sometimes tears. Make sure during feedings you’re stopping to occasionally rub your baby’s back to release that excess air. If she seems especially gassy, you could try some gripe water drops in her milk.
  • Teething – If your normally fantastic sleeping baby suddenly wakens every three hours, covered in drool and a pool of tears, he’s probably teething. The teeth hurt most right before they break through, so don’t be surprised if the worst night is the one right before those chompers show up.

The likelihood that you’ll end up at the pediatrician’s office more than a few times while your baby is young is likely, so don’t get down on yourself if your doctor greets you with, “Back so soon, eh?” The fact that you’ve shown up means that you care and you’re concerned. Over time, you’ll feel more comfortable diagnosing what your baby is going through. Until that time, keep the Tylenol handy and the extra baby snuggles coming.  After all, nothing soothes a sick baby like a parent’s presence and love.

Kim Antisdel is a freelance writers and interior design sales rep for KC and surrounding areas. She lives in Liberty with her husband, stepdaughters and toddler son.

As always, please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns.

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