As a parent or caregiver, it can be easy to worry when your baby is sick. We always recommended that you consult with your pediatrician when sickness hits your little one, but it’s also important to know that there are many common illnesses that can affect babies – and many of them can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription medications and/or a healthy dose of TLC.
Here’s a list of some of the most common illness that can pop up during the first year of life.
Respiratory illnesses appear frequently throughout the first year of life. In fact, one-third of hospitalizations that occur in the first year are due to problems in the respiratory system such as colds, coughs, the flu, croup, RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and bronchiolitis. These conditions are more prevalent during cold and flu season, but they can appear at any time of year.
Croup – a viral infection that causes inflammation in airways, making it difficult to breathe. Croup appears like a common cough or cold, but with signs of a dry “barking” cough.
RSV – is often mistaken as the flu, due to the similarities in the symptoms. RSV is a virus that affects the lungs and airways. Babies with RSV will sometimes wheeze when they breathe.
Bronchiolitis – many children will get bronchiolitis (a viral infection that affects the lungs) before they’re two. Signs of bronchiolitis include flared nostrils, fast, shallow breathing and wheezing.
Every parent and caregiver should be prepared for ear pain and ear infections during the first year. At first, an ear infection can be difficult to detect because you can’t actually see the infection, but often it will be accompanied by fever and appear on the heels of a cold. Ear infections can be pretty painful, so your baby may cry, tug or rub on her ear, or show other signs of discomfort. Ear pain is a main symptom of an ear infection, but it can also be caused by pressure from a cold or sinus infection, or little ears may ache due to pain shooting up the jaw when teething. If your pediatrician determines that it is an infection, antibiotics are usually prescribed.
Diarrhea and Vomiting
Diarrhea and vomiting is common in babies, but it’s still never easy to watch them suffer through it. One thing is for sure: When your baby has diarrhea, you’ll know it right away. Unlike the occasional loose stool, diarrhea is more watery, frequent, and stronger-smelling than the everyday dirty diaper. The same is true for vomiting. It’s true that babies will often spit-up, but it is noticeably different when a baby vomits. You’ll see that he’s more strained and distressed when he vomits. Spitting up usually doesn’t bother most babies, but vomiting will take its toll on him. Diarrhea and vomiting can be caused by bacterial infections, viral infections, food poisoning, or food allergies or sensitivities. Always check in with your pediatrician if your baby has diarrhea or is vomiting, but also keep an eye out for these signs of dehydration that can occur from diarrhea or vomiting:
- Dark yellow urine
- Sunken eyes
- Dry mouth
One of the most common conditions in babyhood is diaper rash. Thankfully, this isn’t a serious condition, and it’s usually easily to treat. When it comes to diaper rash causes, there are three common culprits: Infection, irritation, or allergy. Infection can occur in the diaper area if your baby is in a wet diaper for too long. There’s a substance in diapers that’s designed to stop them from leaking, but unfortunately, it can also trap in moisture, allowing bacteria or fungi to grow. Your baby’s skin may also become irritated from the diaper rubbing against his skin, causing a rash. Lastly, food allergies can cause a reaction resulting in irritation or a rash in the diaper area.
Having your pediatrician on speed dial during your child’s first year of life is completely understandable. It’s always smart to consult with your doctor when your baby is experiencing pain or discomfort, but being aware and prepared is the first step towards good health and happy babies!