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To a mother, her baby is the world’s most prized possession, the most special gift. Our little ones keep us going with their giggles, innocence, and unadulterated love. But to stay hale and hearty, they need something from us too: caution. Babies are too little to be able to communicate their problems or discomfort in any way other than crying. This is why we, as parents, must watch out for any suspicious changes in their health or behaviour.
We have put together for you 6 changes in your baby that you must never ignore. They can be early warning signs of deeper health problems, and need immediate attention.
1. Your Baby Constantly Refuses to Feed
Feeding babies can be a big challenge for mothers – the little ones often fuss about food, either not eating enough, or refusing healthy food in favour of sweets. It is no reason for concern if your baby also fusses about food now and then. Sometimes, your baby may just be feeling hot and humid (very likely in the summer) and this affects his appetite. A growth spurt, teething or a digestive problem like constipation can also affect your baby’s feeding habits.
However, it is worrisome if your baby constantly refuses to feed and this goes on for over a week. Please check if your baby also shows other signs such as fever, vomiting, rashes or diarrhoea. If yes, this can signal an infection and needs medical treatment. Do not delay in visiting the paediatrician as your baby’s body is getting deprived of essential nutrients.
2. Your Baby’s Skin Suddenly Seems Dry/Scaly, Red, or Breaks into a Rash
Babies are born with sensitive and delicate skin. Their skin is also very thin at this time and easily affected by weather changes. In the summer season, the skin can sometimes develop prickly heat (caused by excessive sweating). It can also occasionally develop acne or spots. While these skin problems are not usually serious, there are some changes you need to guard against.
If your baby’s skin has suddenly turned dry/scaly, red, or has developed rashes, it can indicate an adverse reaction to a skincare product, a skin allergy, or early signs of eczema. As per doctors, it could also be due to application of heavy oils such as mustard oil during summer time.
To avoid this condition, it is best to stick to only natural and dermatologist-tested skincare products for your baby. Avoid massaging your baby with dense oils in the heat, opting instead for a massage cream like Palmer’s Baby Massage Cream. It is made with natural cocoa butter and has Vitamin E content, which is good to keep your baby’s skin soft and supple. This cream gets easily absorbed into the skin and doesn’t leave it feeling oily at all. If you prefer using oil, the Skin Therapy Baby Oil by Palmer’s is a light and soothing option. The best part is, since it is a multipurpose baby oil, it also softens cradle cap, and soothes eczema‑prone skin.
3. Your Baby Seems to Have Trouble Breathing Properly
It is natural for babies to “grunt” or catch their breath from time to time. After all, the outside world is new to them and their respiratory tract is still developing. However, please be careful if you notice that your baby’s breathing seems faster (more than 60 breaths per minute) or more stressed-out than usual. If he is making abnormal sounds during breathing, is using his chest muscles more, or his nostrils seem flared, see the doctor at once. It can be a sign of respiratory distress.
This can be caused by several factors, including flu, viral infection and cough. But it can also be due to asthma or pneumonia – serious ailments that need urgent attention.
4. Your Baby Keeps Crying Continuously, in a High-Pitched Tone
All babies cry, and cry a lot – this should be rule #1 in any parenting handbook! Crying is how your baby tells you he needs something, or that something is wrong. Usually, babies cry when they have a wet diaper, are hungry, or need mommy to give them attention. But if your baby suddenly starts crying in an extremely high-pitched tone, and just cannot be soothed, this is cause for alarm.
As per experts, high-pitched cries are usually associated with pain. Be particularly careful if your baby also arches his back while crying. In serious cases, this kind of crying can indicate muscle spasms, jaundice or a nerve problem.
Babies who have had a traumatic childbirth could be at a greater risk. We recommend an immediate visit to your paediatrician.
5. Your Baby’s Pee/Poop Look or Smell Different
No matter how ‘yucky’ they may have seemed to us before, baby pee and poop are something ALL of us obsess over as parents! This is actually a good approach: your baby’s urinary and bowel movements can be sound indicators of his overall health. While all babies will face problems with pooping (and peeing) now and then, there are some changes that can be worrisome.
If your baby’s poop has changed colour to green, it can indicate a gastrointestinal obstruction. Also watch out for red or black poop as they can signal bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. Odd coloured poop/pee can also be caused by a diaper rash or a urinary tract infection.
Note: Remember that your baby’s first poop (meconium) will usually be black. This is totally normal.
Paediatricians recommend exercising extra caution to look after your baby’s bum area in the summer time. The chances of your baby developing a diaper rash or a UTI are much higher now, due to the increased heat and humidity. Make sure you change diapers frequently (every couple of hours, even if not soiled) and keep the area hygienic and germ-free. Apply a generous coating of a moisturising nappy cream such as Palmer’s Nappy Butter. The natural cocoa butter helps provide a protective moisture-proof barrier that keeps wetness away from your baby’s sensitive skin. It also helps soothe irritated skin, bringing instant comfort in case your child has developed a diaper rash.
6. Your Baby’s Head or Neck Feel Stiff/Different
Do not delay in taking your baby to the clinic if you suspect any change in his head or neck region. Does his neck area feel stiff, or is he having trouble in turning the head? This could be a sign of meningitis – a serious disease that can lead to brain damage and even be fatal. Other changes that can alert you of this condition are: high fever, a purple-red rash that doesn’t disappear when pressed, and blotchy skin.
Also be careful about any changes in the head, particularly sunken fontanelles (soft spots on your baby’s head). They can signal nutrition problems and dehydration. Also, if your baby has suffered a fall or any head injury, please see the doctor even in the absence of any visible symptoms.
Caution is a mother’s best friend when it comes to her baby. Watch out for these changes, be on your guard, and you’ll be able to keep your baby protected from all harm. Take care.