One of the strongest drives of any parent is the instinctual impulse to keep baby safe no matter what. If you’re a new parent, it can be quite a scary feeling, that first flush of anxiety when you have a concern about the health of your baby.
There might not be a guidebook that comes with being a new parent, but there certainly is information that can help you deal with the various health questions that might pop up. We’re going to look at some factors to keep in mind here.
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The First Checkup
If you haven’t had your child, then you might be wondering how they ensure that everything is alright before you leave the hospital. Most babies are born healthy and without issues and can be taken home with no problem after the first 24-48 hours.
However, to make sure that this is the case, or to identify any issues that might need to be treated, your birth team will carry out a host of newborn screenings that will check for dozens of conditions before they go.
Which tests your baby gets will depend on whereabouts you live, but in most cases they will take a quick blood test as well as heart screening and perhaps more.
Keeping Up with Their Vaccinations
Provided that your baby is fine and is able to go home with you, it’s also going to receive the first of its many vaccinations at the point of birth. The hepatitis B vaccine is the first one that it will get, but in the months following, they will be getting vaccines for over a dozen conditions.
You can take a look at the immunization chart and schedule to make sure that you’re keeping up with all of the shots that your baby needs.
Despite what grumbling you might have heard from ill-informed groups, these vaccines are a crucial part of why babies are so often raised to childhood without issue: because we are always working to eradicate the most potentially dangerous illnesses that threaten them.
Monitoring Their Growth
Measuring the rate of growth of your baby is done for more than the sake of sating curiosity by finding out how big they’re going to be. It’s to ensure that they are developing as expected and that they are getting fed as much as they need.
Usually, this will be carried out by a qualified health practitioner, who will be able to measure your baby and interpret the data for you. They will then let you know if they’re growing healthily or if perhaps they need to be fed a little more or a little less.
There are also baby growth charts that you can use to input measurements yourself, if you’re curious about what percentile they fall into and determine whether you need to talk to a pediatrician about it.
GERD and Acid Reflux
Now, we’re going to take some time to look at common health issues that can arise with babies. One of the most common is acid reflux.
Many of us experience this in adulthood, the sensation of acid rising in the throat and the heartburn associated with it is not pleasant.
In babies, spitting up is common, but if they also have other symptoms, such as poor weight gain, spitting up or vomiting more frequently, and they seem to be in pain, then it could be a sign of GERD.
Breastfeeding is thought to reduce the chances of GERD, as is better upright positioning of them while feeding, and proper after-feeding care, such as burping them and avoiding active play.
This term is often misunderstood. Colic is not a condition, a disease, or a diagnosis. It is a term used to describe a pattern of behaviors and, in particular, excessive crying in babies.
If your baby is crying more than three hours, over three days a week, and it persists for more than three weeks, then this is typically what we call colic.
There are ways to try and soothe it, such as soothing overstimulation and creating calm environments, but gastrointestinal issues (such as the aforementioned GERD) are sometimes thought to be at the root of it.
Many parents have success with other home remedies, such as swaddling your baby, providing white noise in the environment or keeping them close to soothe them with your presence.
A lot of babies can experience all manner of issues with their skin, be it due to irritation of the skin, dryness, changes in climate and environment, and more.
Diaper rash is the most common of these, but this is really a host of different common skin problems, such as eczema, impetigo, and basic chafing due to friction between the baby’s skin and diapers.
However, babies can also experience acne and other skin conditions, which can be treated with baby acne cleansing waters.
Our skin is a complex organ and many conditions affecting it can share the same signs, so it’s a good idea to have a child dermatologist on hand if your baby’s skin seems sensitive or reactive to ensure the right treatment.
Like all of us, babies are just as prone to catching the common cold. In fact, they’re likely to have them a lot more often because their immune systems aren’t fully developed yet.
If they have a cold, there’s not a lot you can do in terms of directly curing it, but you can help to keep them comfortable and safe. Keep them in slightly more humid environments, use petroleum jelly under their nose to ease the soreness that comes with colds and make sure they’re hydrated.
You should avoid calling the doctor about every common cold, but if they are seemingly especially different in their behavior, such as showing lethargy, not eating, or developing a fever, then you should get in touch.
For some parents, it seems like they can barely move for the risk of their child filling their diaper (providing they get it all in there).
This is much preferable to a child that seemingly can’t poop, although while constipation can be worrying, and isn’t overly common, it is very highly treatable in babies. It most often happens when babies start getting solids in their diet.
There are various ways to relieve baby constipation. Apple and pear juice have been found effective by many, as are high-fiber foods.
They may be dehydrated and need water in their diet. A little petroleum jelly on the baby’s rear opening can help smooth the process for them, too.
When Should You Call the Pediatrician?
A lot of parents worry that they might be a little too sensitive to the issues affecting their child, and they are not always wrong. In most cases, a cold is just a cold.
However, there are times you should be willing to err on the side of caution. For example, if they have a cough that’s dry, wheezing or produces mucus, or they seem to have trouble breathing.
If a baby has a runny nose lasting ten days or more or is streaked with blood, or if they have any blood in their stool, or they are experiencing diarrhea or vomiting frequently, you should call the doctor.
Aside from ensuring that you’re taking care of your baby, you have to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself, as well.
Investing some time in self-care and having someone to talk to can help you manage the mental health impacts of being a parent, which are not inconsiderable.
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