Baby Care: Common Infant Conditions
Most babies do not get sick during the first 6 weeks. However, a few problems are common in babies this young. These include conditions called cradle cap and thrush. Babies can also get colds. Treating babies is not the same as treating children or adults. Talk with your pediatrician about suggestions to treat these problems.
Many newborn babies develop yellow skin when their liver cannot get rid of a substance in the blood called bilirubin. This is called jaundice. Jaundice usually appears on the second or third day of life in healthy babies who are born full-term. It is very common and may occur sooner in preterm babies. The yellow skin first appears on the face. It then moves down the body toward the toes. In most cases, the condition is mild and will disappear on its own without any special treatment.
If you notice your baby’s skin color becoming yellow, notify your pediatrician. A blood test to check your baby’s bilirubin level may be necessary. A small amount of blood is taken from the baby’s heel. If the jaundice requires treatment, a technique called “phototherapy” is often used. This treatment involves placing your baby under special ultraviolet lights, called “bili-lights.” Exposing the skin to these lights helps the body get rid of bilirubin faster. This treatment may be done in the hospital or in your home through a home care agency.
Cradle cap is a scaly, greasy-looking crust that forms on the head. You can prevent cradle cap by shampooing your baby’s head with baby shampoo each day. If cradle cap does occur, brush the head with a soft baby brush and apply baby oil. Let the oil soak into the crust. This will soften the crust. Then, gently scrub or brush the head and shampoo again. Do not put oil on the head after it has been washed.
If your baby is sneezing, coughing, or has a runny or stuffy nose, he may have a cold. If your baby has a cold, he may have trouble nursing or taking a bottle. To make breathing easier, add more moisture to the baby’s room. Also, suction mucus out of the nose using a soft bulb syringe. If your baby has fever (greater than 99.6°F axillary) talk to your doctor about how to control it. Never give your baby aspirin to bring the fever down. Aspirin may cause serious problems, including a disease called Reye’s syndrome, in children.
Thrush is a fungus infection. It causes white patches to form inside the mouth. These patches may look like formula or milk in the baby’s mouth. If the patches cannot be wiped away using a soft cloth, your baby may have thrush. Contact your doctor if you see these signs.
Newborns sneeze frequently to clear nasal passages. This is normal.
During or after eating, your baby may hiccup. This is normal and will soon stop. There is no cause for concern.