The task of caring for a baby goes beyond the provision of food, shelter and warmth. Parents worry about the provision of education and the cost of health care. While no parents will compromise the health of their baby because of cost, many parents often wonder if the trip to the doctor is necessary or are they over reacting .It is normal for parents of young babies to be unsure and constantly worry about their baby’s health. Many are also frustrated and feel helpless that despite visiting the doctor, their baby still appears to need many more days to recover.
A visit to the doctor is needed when baby has a temperature of 38C and above, has diarrhoea and /or vomiting, have a chesty cough, is lethargic and not feeding well.
Having been to the doctor, there are tips that you can use to make your baby more comfortable. It will also give you a sense that you are able to ease her symptoms and comfort your baby.
Regurgitation is the back flow of milk from the stomach out of the mouth. It is common in newborns and young babies. It can occur while burping or shortly after a feed when baby is arching, stretching and generally being active. Some babies regurgitate more often than others do while some may continue until they are 6 months of age. While the amount regurgitated will vary from baby to baby and from feed to feed, it is, important to ensure that baby is gaining the expected amount of weight for her age. If you are concerned about your baby’s regurgitation, do consult your doctor.
What you can do …
You may want to start by checking on the feeding technique. Always hold baby in your arms with her upper body higher and neck well supported when feeding. If you are formula feeding your baby, you may want to check the size of the teat to ensure that the size is appropriate for baby. Baby drinking too fast or gulping down her feeds will tend to regurgitate her feeds more often. If you are breast-feeding and the flow of the milk is very fast, you may want to lean backwards while feeding your baby to slow down the speed of the milk.
As regurgitation usually occurs due to the baby stomach being shallow or the sphincter to the stomach being immature, a baby with a stomach full of milk is more like to regurgitate. Offering baby smaller feeds at regular interval are usually helpful.
Try burping baby half way through a feed. If baby does not like being burped half way through a feed, avoid sudden or jerky movements after baby has been fed.
Hold or keep baby in a semi -up right position for few minutes after feeding will reduce the incidents or amount of regurgitation. This should be done even after baby has burped.
Diarrhoea is described as having very frequent watery stools that maybe mucous and greenish. It may even occasional have streaks of blood in the stools. Breast feed babies are less likely to have diarrhea although breastfed babies has loose stools. A visit to the doctor is necessary when baby has diarrhea but it may take a few days before the stool returns to normal.
What you can do…
Keeping baby well hydrated is the main concern when baby has diarrhea. Continue to breast feed baby frequently and if baby is formula fed and is not very interested in her feeds, encourage her by giving her small frequent feeds. Sterilising all feeding utensils thoroughly and ensure that hands are washed properly with soap and water after changing diapers and before making feeds. Clean baby’s buttock with wash and cotton balls and dry properly before applying a generously layer of diaper rash ointment to prevent the buttock from getting sore. Gentle tummy massage is helpful as baby tummy maybe distended with ‘trapped gases’ due to the diarrhea.
Sneezing and Blocked nose
Parents are usually alarmed whenever baby sneezes. Many instinctively think that baby is either coming down with a cold or is not warm enough. Sneezing is very common and normal among babies. The dust particles present in our environment often irritated and block up the narrow nasal passages in her nose. This can cause a snorting or ‘wheezing’ sound when baby is feeding or sleeping. In order to clear these mucous from her nose, baby has to sneeze. Sneezing dislodges the mucous and helps clear the nasal passages. Occasionally, the mucous may dry up and is thus more difficult to clear.
What you can do..
Normal saline (sodium chloride 9%) is usually helpful in softening the mucous and clearing the narrow nasal passages. Your doctor may prescribe the normal saline nose drops for your baby. Normal saline nasal sprays are also available in the pharmacies. Removed the softened mucous with the tip of a rolled up piece of tissue paper.
Mention colic and parents shudder at the picture of a crying baby for hours day after day. Although colic is very common, it can and does cause many parents hours and days of worry. About one in two babies are colicky; it affects baby boys more than baby girls and it tends to occur when baby is about three weeks old and last until she is 3 months old. While one of the causes of colic is the baby’s immature digestive system resulting in trapped gases in the abdomen, an over tired or over stimulated baby, who is unable to unwind also tends to have more crying. This maybe due to baby’s inability to unwind resulting in her being frustrated. Whatever the cause or causes maybe, colic usually causes more distress to parents than to the baby.
What you can do…
If you think that, your baby is crying a lot and maybe in pain, do seek medical advice on the situation. Your doctor may prescribe colic drops to help ease the discomfort in baby’s stomach. This may cause her to burp and fart more often.
Besides giving baby colic drops, you can also massage baby’s tummy daily in a clockwise direction to help dispel the trapped gases. A gentle tummy massage with warming oil will help sooth and calm baby. . Holding your baby upright with her tummy gently pressed against your chest or straddling her on your arm with her face looking down are two positions that are helpful in soothing a crying baby. Gentle rhythmic movements like swaying or carrying her and walking around are also helpful in calming baby. Beside gentle movements, monotonous sound like a hair dryer or washing machine is also useful to calm a crying baby.
Often there is no one single method that may calm a crying baby. Many parents use a combination of methods to calm their babies. Whatever that works on one day may not work the next. The stress of coping with a crying baby together with exhaustion is sufficient to reduce the confidence of any parent. Many parents have been known to blame themselves or are being blamed for baby’s colic It is however important to remember that colic is not the parents’ fault. Often, the parents need as much support as the baby. So if all else fail, hand baby to another person for a few minutes while you have a drink and a visit to the washroom. You may be pleasantly surprised how that few minutes rejuvenate your strength and spirit.
Parenting Educator/ RM
This article was published in Baiboo Magazine in April 2008