Snot Suckers and Other Sick Baby Must-Haves
Any parent can tell you that life can be turned upside down by a sick child. Sleepless nights, lots of crying (you and the baby!), routines that are thrown out the window — it's just for the birds. And to make matters worse, at the first sign of sickness, you are often playing a guessing game as to what is specifically ailing your child.
I have learned from experience (four ear infections, a stomach bug and RSV resulting in at least five trips to the emergency room and two hospital stays) that earaches, vomiting and fevers hit in the middle of the night nine times out of 10, and at least the first time you are GROSSLY unprepared. I hope my mom-to-mom advice can help better prepare some new parents out there.
The first super-important thing to know as a parent of a germ-collector is the appropriate dosage for infant pain and fever reducers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. The dosage is based on weight, so it is of course helpful to know what your baby weighs! There is nothing more stressful than trying to look up the dosage online while you have a screaming baby in your lap at 3 a.m. Just TYPING that sentence gave me high blood pressure.
Most medications list dosages on the box or bottle, but knowing your baby's weight and checking with your pediatrician or the ER doc will give you additional peace of mind.
Other helpful tips
- Stock up on diapers and ointment. Sick babies often poop a lot more (frequency and amount) and diaper changes can be painful and stressful for mom and baby.
- The best way to determine if your baby has a temperature is based on her age. While there are several methods, pediatricians are increasingly recommending temporal artery (forehead) or axillary (armpit) approaches due to the risk of injury with the traditional rectal method.
- Keep your baby hydrated and ask your care provider to recommend an oral electrolyte solution to replace lost fluids and minerals.
- Get a cool-mist humidifier. Don't wait until you are awakened by an upset, snotty, stuffy baby! We got one for our baby's room, and it has been turned on every night since, illness present or not.
- Two words: snot sucker. The typical nasal aspirator can be hard to clean and sometimes difficult to use. With just the right angle and amount of suction — ahh … success! I like the aspirator that uses mom's (or dad's) powerful inhale to clear baby's stuffed-up nose. You've seen it and maybe even been grossed out by it — the one with the mouthpiece, tubes and disposable filter. Give one quick spray of saline in each nostril, then use the aspirator to suck everything out. Once you get past the mental visualization of sucking snot into your mouth and just do it, you'll thank me! Works like a charm.
- Consider a breathing monitor. It just makes you feel better to know that your baby is moving around and breathing okay in her crib when you're not standing over her watching. (I know I am NOT the only parent who does this!)
- Most important, know when to take your baby to the ER. Here are a few symptoms to look for:
- Tummy ache – tummy trouble can be a regular occurrence with infants and toddlers with sensitive bellies. Watch your baby's movement. Does she appear uncomfortable or uneasy? If vomiting or high fever come along with a tummy ache or your baby is inconsolable, have her checked out as soon as possible.
- High fever – if you get a forehead or rectal temp of 100.4ºF in babies under three months, forehead or rectal temp of 102.2ºF in kids three months to four years or armpit temp of 99ºF in kids three months to four years, see a doctor right away. For older kids, take note of additional symptoms and behavior.
- Trouble breathing – a little cough or cold is probably nothing to worry about, but irregular breathing, wheezing, severe coughing or crackly sounds could be serious.
No. 1 rule is to trust your intuition, and whenever in doubt take your child to the ER.
If you do need to take your baby to the ER, Medical City Healthcare has 17 emergency locations with FastERTX average wait times posted online as well as six Medical City Children's Urgent Care locations in Allen, Dallas, Flower Mound, Frisco, McKinney and Plano specializing in pediatric care. Visit FastERTX.com to find the Medical City Healthcare ER nearest you.
Tara Boyd, North Texas mother of three, to Beulah ("Boo"),Lucy ("Lu") and little brother Jacob, dishes practical advice on marriage, motherhood and munchies with humor and southern charm in her blog, Boyd Meets Girl.