Baby Illness – Reading the Signs
There’s a lot to be said for parental instinct. When your baby cries at night, or is grizzly during the day, you can usually tell if it’s a bit of trapped wind, or the evidence of being overtired, or whether your little one is just being grouchy just for the sake of it.
But, sometimes, you have a hunch that there is something wrong; but how can you be sure that your child is ill? Keep an eye on these vital signs, and if things get worse, call your doctor, ring NHS Direct, or take your baby to hospital straight away.
You can’t rely on simply feeling your baby’s skin to assess whether they have a temperature; the best thing to do is use a thermometer to check whether your baby has a fever.
There are a number of different thermometers available. Scan strip thermometers are widely used, but aren’t really accurate enough. Aural thermometers are also on the market, but can cost upwards of £40. If you don’t feel like prodding your baby’s various orifices, then digital thermometers are your best bet. They are relatively cheap (around £10), and can be placed under the armpit to give an accurate reading. Research states that the most accurate reading you can get is by inserting the tip of the thermometer inside your baby’s back passage; but this is a bit weird, and you can guarantee you’ll forget and pop the thermometer in your mouth the next time you’re feeling a bit peaky. Plus, good luck with getting your baby to lie still for long enough to take a reading…I know I’d be squirming like a fish out of water!
Monitor how well your baby is feeding; if he or she is refusing feeds or not taking on very much in the way of fluids, there may be something wrong.
When you change your baby’s nappy, take note of how wet it is and whether there is any blood present. Small amounts of blood are not unusual, as small tears can form after a tough stool; but a lot of blood will indicate that something is wrong.
Chances are your baby has puked down your back at some point, or – even better – all over your mother-in-law’s new shirt. This is normal, and so you shouldn’t be too alarmed if it happens. However, if they are vomiting large amounts after each feed, you may want to ring your doctor as your baby could be unwell. It is important that you keep your baby as hydrated as possible, even it the fluid intake is just one or two ounces at a time.
Drowsy or Floppy
No, I’m not naming dwarves. If your baby seems drowsy all the time and is sleeping for a lot longer than usual, there could be something wrong.
If your baby becomes ‘floppy’, then seek medical attention immediately, as this can indicate a serious illness.
(Also a good name for a dwarf, incidentally.) If your baby develops a rash suddenly, or if the rash covers a large area, seek medical advice – especially if the rash is accompanied by a fever.
Keep an eye out for these tell-tale signs of illness, and you’ll be able to catch any illnesses early. In the meantime, I dare you to take your partner’s temperature in the most accurate way without warning them beforehand. Guaranteed laughs…
Do have any tips for dealing with a poorly child? Share your experience here in a comment below and we’ll select one person to receive a Twist N’Pop Cup on Friday 22nd Oct.
Update 27/10/10 Congratulations to Kelly B, you have won the Twist N’Pop Cup. Thanks to everyone who left a comment