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Feel Better, Baby!

Physician Thomas J. Vento, M.D. gives tips for treating your sick baby & the main signs that your baby needs to see a doctor.
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It’s hard to tell who feels more awful when a baby gets sick: parent or child. But there are ways to keep kids more comfortable (and help you worry less). Family physician Thomas J. Vento, M.D., in Reisterstown, Maryland, answers the top questions about how to make baby feel better—STAT!

What’s the best way to treat my baby’s fever?

Stay calm: A fever in itself is not dangerous—it’s a sign that your child is fighting an infection.But if the fever is 102 degrees or higher, you’ll want to bring it down so baby is more comfortable. Call your pediatrician, who will likely advise you to give your child Infant Tylenol or Infant Motrin, or their generic equivalents. (Never use aspirin, which is linked to a serious illness called Reye’s Syndrome in children.) Always use the dispenser that came with the medication to be sure you’re giving your baby the right amount.

Is it okay to give my baby cold medicine?

The Food and Drug Administration advises against giving any over-the-counter cough and cold medicine to babies younger than 2 due to potentially dangerous side effects. "For a cough, I typically recommend a teaspoon of honey as long as the child is at least 1 year old," says Dr. Vento. (You should never give honey to a child under 1.)


What can I do if my baby is stuffed up and having trouble breathing?

First, rest assured, your baby is still getting the oxygen she needs, even if she’s snorting up a storm. It takes infants a while to learn that they can breathe through their mouths. Keep your baby upright, in a baby carrier or car seat, to make breathing easier. Dr. Vento also recommends administering saline drops, then suctioning with a nasal bulb to clear the nose. Other measures that can help: Using a cool-mist humidifier in the bedroom, especially at night, or bringing baby into a steamy bathroom for 15-minute intervals.


What’s the best way to keep my baby hydrated if she’s vomited?

Offer small amounts of breast milk or formula at a time—use a baby spoon or a clean eyedropper. With babies older than 1, try offering an ice pop made from apple juice or Pedialyte. Signs of dehydration include fewer tears when crying, fewer wet diapers, and dry mouth. 

What are the main signs that my baby needs to see a doctor?

  • Rapid or labored breathing (baby might flare his nostrils, and you might see the skin between his ribs get sucked in with each breath)
  • Increasing sickness (your baby becomes more quiet, limp, or pale, and appears more miserable instead of getting better)
  • A rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher in a baby 2 months or younger; 101 degrees or higher in a baby 3 to 6 months old; and 103 degrees or higher in a baby older than 6 months
  • Your intuition tells you something is wrong. If your child looks and acts extremely ill and it’s making you anxious, pick up the phone. "When in doubt, make an appointment," Dr. Vento says. "We would rather see you and tell you nothing is wrong than have you assume everything is okay when it isn’t."

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  • Rated 0 out of 5 by 2reviewers.
    Rated 0 out of 5 My kids rarely get sick, but when they do they knock down the whole family. I make sure to keep them hydrated, give them medicine( if necessary) and let them rest. If I have any questions at all, I call my pediatricians office and ask to speak to a nurse. They can usually answer my questions or give me suggestions on what to do. They have saved me countless trips to the doctors office. December 29, 2012
    Rated 0 out of 5 by Something that works with our little guy is giving him a vapor bath. Johnsons and johnsons has a "bubble bath" called vapor bath and it really helps clean our sons nose out when he is stuffed up. You make a bath like normal and pour some of the vapor bath in. then pour the water over their head and it will cause the mucus in their nose to drain. It may be gross but it works wonders!!!! December 6, 2012
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