Often times, you’re so concerned about your baby’s health that you wish there was something, perhaps magical, you could do to insulate him from falling ill. You are however realistic enough to know falling ill is inevitable and because your baby cannot speak, you find yourself looking out for warning signs or symptoms, freaking out at harmless discoveries or worse still, overlooking red alerts.
Find vital cues to identifying when your baby should see a doctor.
1. LOSS OF APPETITE & DEHYDRATION
If your baby refuses to feed, especially if he misses more than two meals in a row, he should see a doctor to avoid getting dehydrated and rule out possibilities of being infected.
You should also see a doctor if he doesn’t wet a diaper for 6 hours or longer, the soft spot on top of his head seems to sink, he cries without tears, has dry skin and discoloured hands and feet, strong dark urine, a dry mouth without saliva or experiences listlessness.
2. MOOD SWING
If your normally sweet-tempered baby suddenly becomes extremely lethargic, difficult to rouse, irritable or persistently cries inconsolably, he might be falling ill. Extended periods of these are more likely to be symptoms of illness or teething than just being tired, wet or hungry. See his paediatrician to be sure.
A mild fever below 40 degrees Celsius is usually not a cause for alarm, and could be treated at home with a lukewarm bath and recommended medication. High fever, however, could be an indicator of a serious infection and could lead to dehydration and convulsions.
Note that any fever in babies below 3 months needs to be referred to a doctor.
If your baby convulses for the first time, had one that occurred repeatedly or lasted longer than five minutes, it’s a big red alert. During a convulsion, your baby becomes stiff, his eyes roll back and he breathes with difficulty. He may have jerky movements and lose consciousness in the process. Move him unto his side and loosen his clothing without restraining him, making sure there are no harmful objects around. Your best bet when it stops is taking him to see a doctor immediately.
5. BREATHING DIFFICULTY
Watch your baby’s breathing closely. If his breathing is very fast or particularly shallow, he might not be assimilating enough oxygen to keep his cells functioning normally. It is best to promptly have the cause(s) of this checked out to aid appropriate remedies.
SEE ALSO:How To Treat Your Baby’s Diaper Rash
6. DIARRHOEA AND VOMITTING
Don’t hesitate to see a doctor if your baby’s stools become loose or watery and he spits up large portions of feedings repeatedly or vomits forcefully after feedings. These could be an indication of a serious infection. A visit to a doctor is particularly important if these symptoms are accompanied by high fever, blood in his stool or his vomit is green or bright yellow.
Remember severe diarrhoea and vomiting can lead to dehydration, especially if he is losing fluids faster than he can replace it.
7. BLOOD STREAKS IN STOOL/URINE
See a paediatrician if your baby has fewer bowel movements than usual for a couple of days or you notice blood streaks in his stool or urine. When your baby is constipated, he may strain to pass stools, causing small tears in his anus. However, there could be more serious reasons like food allergies, various forms of colitis and intussusception or other intestinal disorders.
Blood in his urine could be a sign that he has a urinary tract infection or a more serious kidney infection, so, you should check with the doctor. Infections of this kind left untreated could lead to kidney damage.