5 common baby health questions answered
Why does your baby keep getting colds? Is he getting enough milk? When can you start sleep training? Two doctors weigh in on all your burning questions…
The first year of your baby’s life is filled with sweet-smelling cuddles and adorable photo opportunities, but it also comes with its fair share of worries and concerns. When your little one is sick or upset, they can’t tell you what’s wrong. So, you try your best to follow your gut.
But there are times when you need a doctor’s opinion and you need it now. Step away from your phone – Dr. Google is an unreliable fella! Instead, we asked a family physician and an integrative pediatrician to answer some of your most common questions about your infant’s health.
In this article we will discuss the top 5 most common baby health questions about:
- Baby fevers
- Feeding and weight gain
- Recurring colds
- Sleep safety
- Sleep training
5 most common baby health questions
How quickly do I need to see my doctor if my baby has a fever?
“While we worry way too much about fevers in general, if your baby is less than eight weeks old and has a rectal temp over 100°F, you should call your doctor,” says Lawrence Rosen, M.D., founder of the Whole Child Center in Oradell, NJ, and author of Treatment Alternatives for Children. For babies over two months of age with temperatures of 101°. For higher, it really depends on how they’re acting and feeding. If your baby is feeding well, having plenty of wet diapers, not lethargic and not having any trouble breathing, you can likely keep them comfortable at home. If the fever last longer than two days, definitely contact your doctor. There’s almost no reason to treat a fever if your child is hydrated, comfortable and not in pain. Reserve the use of fever reducers for situations where your baby is not eating or drinking, or in pain. Try alternatives like lukewarm sponge baths first.”
How can I tell if my baby is getting enough milk and gaining enough weight?
“If you have any concerns about whether your child is getting enough milk or gaining weight appropriately, see your family physician or pediatrician for regular weight checks,” says Dr. Marc Price, a private practice physician in Malta, NY, and President of the New York State Academy of Family Physicians. “These can usually be performed as nurse visits and they can prevent underfeeding or overfeeding.”
Why does my baby keep getting cold after cold? Is there anything I can do to boost her immune system?
“It’s estimated that babies can have 10 to 12 colds in the first year of life,” says Dr. Rosen. “If the colds are routine – runny nose and slight cough without any breathing distress or dehydration, and they last typically under a week – that’s likely normal. It’s how they build a healthy immune response as they age. Boosting’ the immune system isn’t really the right word. What we really want to do is to ‘balance’ it – ensure that it doesn’t underreact or overreact to immune triggers. A few things that can contribute to a child’s well-balanced immune system include breastfeeding, eating plenty of fruits and veggies from four to six months on, consuming healthy fats like omega-3 oils found in fish and flax, avoiding processed and sugary foods, and getting plenty of sunlight and fresh air.”
Do I really need to put my baby to sleep on her back? She sleeps so much better on her tummy!
“The best current evidence supports placing your baby on her back to sleep for the first year of life,” says Dr. Rosen. “While some babies might seem to sleep better on their tummies, it’s not worth the increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).”
Is it OK to start sleep training at a young age or can leaving a young baby to cry cause emotional damage?
“Usually, when a child can sleep through the night without needing to wake to feed – and that’s been proven on more than one occasion – it’s OK to start sleep training. I usually recommend to parents who start sleep training to check on their baby when they cry to make sure that they don’t need to be changed or fed, that they aren’t too hot or cold, or that there aren’t any other concerns. You can pick up your child, calm them down, and then place them back in their crib and walk out for a few minutes at a time.”
For more of Dr. Price’s wisdom, read 7 things your doctor wish you knew about your child’s health.