Top 5 baby ailments and how to treat them
Health

Top 5 baby ailments and how to treat them

You will encounter many different conditions when it comes to your baby’s health, particularly in the first year. We look at the most common baby ailments and how to treat them.

1. Nasal congestion

It’s miserable seeing a baby with a stuffy nose. It’s important to help relieve her discomfort as it can help her to sleep and feed better. Stuffy noses happen when the tissues inside the nose swell or produce mucus.

Your newborn might snort when they breathe and sound snuffly, as they get used to breathing air after nine months in the fluid in the womb.

A baby’s congested nasal passages can make feeding difficult if they can’t breathe through their nose. It will be a few years before they are able to blow their noses by themselves, so you’ll need to help them.

How to treat

1. You can help to make your child’s breathing easier by raising the pillow end of your child’s bed or cot by putting books under the legs, or placing a pillow under the mattress (it’s not recommended to put anything under the mattress of a baby younger than one year old).

2. Keep the air in your child’s bedroom warm and moist by using a humidifier or run a hot bath or shower in the bathroom and keep the door closed. Then take your little one into the steamy bathroom for a few minutes to help clear the airways. The steam helps to open up the nasal passages and drain secretions.

3. Wipe her nasal passages frequently and gently and keep the skin around the nose well moisturised to prevent it becoming sore and dry.

4. You can use a special baby nasal aspirator to help suction the mucus out of your baby’s nose. Make sure you wash the aspirator after each use.

5. Saline solution drops can help to loosen up the mucus by thinning it out which helps your baby to clear it from her nose. You can buy saline drops from a pharmacist, who will advise you on how to use them. Use the drops before feeds. Make sure you are ready with a soft tissue to catch mucus that is drained from your baby’s nostrils.

6. If your baby continues to have problems breathing through their nose or with feeding, check with your GP to rule out any infection or condition that could be causing the stuffed up nose.

Causes of a baby’s stuffed up nose:
  • Dry air
  • The common cold
  • Irritants such as perfumes, dust or cigarette smoke

2. Colic

About one-fifth of all babies develop colic, a condition which is characterised by uncontrollable crying in an otherwise healthy baby. A baby with colic cries for more than three hours a day, for more than three days a week. Colic generally becomes worse during the evening and usually occurs between 6pm and midnight, although it can happen during the day too.

All babies cry sometimes, but a baby with colic will look really uncomfortable while crying. She might extend or pull up her legs and pass wind. There will be little you can do to comfort them. The causes of colic are unknown, but some researchers think that indigestion or wind may play a significant role.

Top 5 baby ailments and how to treat them

How to treat

There is no cure for colic but there are ways to soothe the tears and pain. Most babies improve significantly after three months and are over colic by the time they’re five months old.

1. Change the teat

If your baby is bottle fed, try changing the teats in case your baby has been swallowing too much air during feeds. You can purchase teats that help to ensure a natural flow of liquid, preventing baby from swallowing to much air.

2. Look at your diet

If you breastfeed, some mothers find that if they cut out certain foods, their baby’s symptoms start to improve. If you think this might be the case, then try avoiding these foods for a while and then slowly re-introduce them. This will make it easier for you to pinpoint the food that might be causing problems.

3. Try white noise

A continuous noise such as white noise (eg. washing machine or vacuum cleaner) can help to soothe your baby.

4. Always burp your baby after a feed

Make sure that you burp her before and after feeds because this helps to relieve the pressure that builds up when she swallows air. To do this, sit your baby upright, or hold them against your shoulder, making sure that you support their neck and head. Gently rub their back and tummy until they burp. They may bring up a small amount of milk when you do this, which is normal.

5. Have a cuddle

Holding your baby tight during a crying episode can sometimes help. Or wrap them snugly in a blanket.

6. Try an over the counter treatment

There are supplements that you can add to your baby’s bottle, or breastmilk before a feed. The drops are designed to help release bubbles of trapped air in your baby’s digestive system, so they may be of some use if symptoms of indigestion are contributing to their colic.

3. Reflux

It’s normal for babies to bring up milk during or shortly after feeding – this is known as reflux. It’s not the same as vomiting in babies, which is where a baby’s muscles forcefully contract.

When a baby has gastro-oesophageal reflux, the food and drink travels down the foodpipe as normal. However, some of the mixture of food, drink and acid travels back up the foodpipe, instead of passing through to the large and small intestines. As the food and drink is mixed with acid from the stomach, it can irritate the lining the lining of the foodpipe, making it painful. This is gastro-oesophageal disease.

It’s a very common condition in the first few years of life, as the sphincter (ring of muscle) at the base of the oesophagus has not matured yet. Many babies with reflux gradually improve as they grow, particularly when they start to eat more solid food and feed in an upright position.

How to treat

Holding your baby in an upright position for 20 minutes after each feed can help. You could also try offering smaller, more frequent feeds. Contact your GP if you concerned that your baby has reflux.

4. Nappy rash

Nappy rash affects up to a third of babies and toddlers. It causes your baby’s skin to become sore and irritated in the area around the nappy, and covered in pink or red spots or blotches.

Nappy rash is usually caused by your baby’s skin coming into contact with urine and faeces in their nappy. The rash usually develops when your baby is between nine and 12 months old.

Most nappy rashes are mild and can be treated with a simple skin care routine. Your baby will usually feel no pain or discomfort. However, some nappy rashes are more severe and can be caused by an underlying condition or bacterial infection. A severe rash is painful and distressing for your baby. It usually requires treatment with medication.

Mild nappy rash

If your child has mild nappy rash, a small part of their nappy area will be covered in a pink or red rash, usually made up of small spots or blotches. However, they should feel well and will only experience a stinging sensation when passing urine or faeces.

Severe nappy rash

If your baby’s nappy rash is severe, they may have more advanced and painful symptoms that make them distressed or uncomfortable.

Symptoms may include: bright red spots, dry, cracked and broken skin, swellings, ulcers and blisters on the skin. The rash will cover a larger part of the nappy area and may spread down the legs or up to the abdomen (tummy). Your baby may cry more often than usual and be irritable.

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How to treat
  • Change your baby’s nappy often.
  • Clean the nappy area thoroughly, wiping from front to back.
  • Airing your baby’s bottom after a bath or topping and tailing is also beneficial as it allows the skin to breathe and heal without being covered up.
  • If your baby has nappy rash, protect it with a thick barrier cream after every wash. There are also ointments that can help to seal in the skin’s natural moisture, without drying out baby’s fragile skin. Antifungal cream might be necessary if the rash is caused by a fungal infection.
  • Airing your baby’s bottom after a bath or topping and tailing is also beneficial as it allows the skin to breathe and heal without being covered up.

5. Cradle cap

Cradle cap is the name given to the yellowish, greasy scaly patches that appear on the scalp of young babies. It is very common and does not usually cause any discomfort to the baby. The scales start to become flaky over time so they will rub off easily, usually with bits of your baby’s hair attached.

Cradle cap is very common in babies aged under eight months. It tends to clear up by itself after a few weeks or months, although it can last longer in rare cases.

How to treat

Cradle cap requires no specific treatment, and will eventually clear up on its own. However, gently washing the baby’s hair and scalp may prevent a build-up of the scale.

To loosen the crust, massage a small amount of baby oil, olive oil or petroleum jelly into the scalp at night. This will soften the patchy scales. In the morning, using a soft baby brush or cloth, gently remove any loose particles, and then wash the hair with a baby shampoo.

If the cradle cap does not improve with treatment, or the baby has seborrhoeic dermatitis on the face or body, see your health visitor or GP for advice. It’s important not to pick at the scales as this may cause infection.

More like this:

Real mum tips on curing baby’s blocked nose
Common skin problems in newborns
Protecting skin in winter

ASK LUCY

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….

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ASK LOUISE

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….