What Parents Need to Know
We offer you, as a parent, some general guidelines for various situations you may experience related to your child’s care at home.
Fever. If your child is less than two months old and has a fever (temperature of 100.4°F or higher), please seek medical attention immediately. A fever in an infant less than two months old can be a sign of serious infection. If your child has a fever and is unwell, has difficulty breathing, is lethargic, the fever lasts for more than three days, or you have other concerns, please call the office and speak to a doctor. If the situation seems more serious, please contact the local emergency room.
Learn more about Medicine Dosing for Fever or Pain Relief
Constipated infant. In babies (less than one year of age), we define constipation not by frequency of bowel movements (BM) but consistency. In the first year of life, the consistency and color of your child’s BM will change (yellow, green, and brown are normal). Your child’s BM should always be soft. Constipated babies often have stool with the appearance and consistency of hard pebbles.
In children of all ages, including infants, a sorbitol-containing juice (such as prune juice) can be helpful for constipation. Dilute half an ounce of prune juice with half an ounce of water (or breastmilk/formula) and feed to your baby up to two times per day. Please call us if you do not see improvement in a few days.
In children older than four to six months of age who have started solids, dietary changes can be helpful in addressing issues of constipation. Increasing water intake, removing rice (especially rice cereal) from the diet, giving your child pureed prunes/prune juice, and increasing intake of other high fiber foods can help. If your child seems to be in pain, is vomiting, if you notice in blood in the stool, or if you have other concerns, please call the office and speak to a doctor immediately.
Gassy, fussy baby. In babies less than 8 to 12 weeks of age, gassiness and fussiness are very common. If a baby cries for three or more hours a day three times a week, this may be colic. Many babies with colic have crying spells in the evenings, but persistent crying can occur at any time during the day or night and even may occur multiple times during the day. Symptoms of colic usually peak at six weeks of life and then improve dramatically. We recommend following the “Five S’s” of soothing:
- Swaddling. Placing your baby in a tight (but not too tight) swaddle can make him or her feel secure. Even if the baby wiggles out, the first few minutes can be comforting.
- Swaying. Try gently rocking up and down or side to side while holding your baby. This motion mimics the familiar motion of your body of the mother walking during pregnancy. Placing your baby in a bouncy seat or swing can also be very helpful and can give your arms a rest.
- Sucking that mimics breast or bottle-feeding is very comforting for babies. If it is not feeding time, and your baby is not hungry, you can use your finger or a pacifier to satisfy your baby’s need to suckle.
- Shushing softly close to the baby’s face or using other gentle white noise can help a baby calm down.
- Side position. Placing your baby on his or her left side can help ease gas pain and soothe fussiness. Remember: never place your baby on his or her stomach while he or she is sleeping, to avoid the increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, also known as SIDS.
If your child is vomiting, arching his or her back, feeding poorly, has blood in the stool, or if you have other concerns, please call the office and ask to speak to a doctor.
Cough and cold symptoms. The common cold (also known as an upper respiratory infection) is very common in children of all ages. The common cold is usually caused by a virus that we cannot cure with medication. Symptoms usually include runny nose, congestion, cough, and fever (anywhere from 100.4 to 104°F or higher). If your child is acting well, you can treat most upper respiratory infection symptoms at home.
We recommend these approaches to care for your child with a common cold:
- Encourage lots of fluid intake. While sick children may not feel like eating, it is important to ensure they stay hydrated. If they refuse milk/formula, you can try Pedialyte, which is available in your local grocery store/pharmacy. A properly hydrated child will urinate at least three times in a 24-hour period.
- Treat fevers with baby/child-strength Tylenol (older than two months) and/or baby/child-strength Motrin (older than six months)
- Try steam. Run your shower with hot water and let your bathroom steam up. Sit in the bathroom with your child for 10 to 15 minutes and let him or her breathe in the steam. Do not let the baby touch the hot water.
- Use nasal saline drops and gently suction out your child’s nose.
- Use a sterilized cool mist humidifier in your child’s room.
If your child is having any difficulty breathing (breathing very hard or very quickly), is in pain, is not acting well or the fever persists for longer than three days, please call the office and speak to a doctor.
Persistent cough. It is very common for a cough to persist after a cold gets better. A cough can be especially worse at night and disturb a child’s sleep. We do not recommend any of the over-the-counter cough medications as many of them have not been tested in children and have side effects. If your child is otherwise well and acting normally, try:
- Honey. After your child’s first birthday, you can give your child a small amount of honey. We recommend buckwheat (dark) honey. Give your child a teaspoonful a few times per day, preferably right before bedtime. It is not safe to give a child honey before his or her first birthday.
- Steam. Sit with your child in a steamy bathroom.
- Over-the-counter medicine. Baby/child-strength Motrin/Tylenol can be helpful. If your child needs these medications for more than two days in a row, please call the office and speak to a doctor.
If your child has difficulty breathing (breathing very hard or very fast), has a history of asthma, has a cough that has lasted longer than four weeks, or if you have any other concerns, please call our office and speak to a doctor.