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Baby Basics : When your Baby is Ill - Take your baby’s temperature, Check for signs of dehydration

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Even minor illnesses  can be alarming for new parents, but knowing what to look out for will make you much more confident and help you to remain calm when symptoms appear.

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Fever

  • Unusually long periods of sleep

  • Weak or excessive crying

  • Failure to smile when she normally would

  • Irritability

  • Lack of interest in usual feeding patterns

Be prepared

  • Keep your doctor’s phone number by the phone, and in your mobile phone

Take your baby’s temperature

  • Be aware that body temperatures vary throughout the day; as a rule of thumb, 100.4°F (38°C) is considered hot for a baby under three months

  • Any baby under the age of three months with a fever should be seen by a doctor; if your baby is older than this, use your judgment

  • Do not use mercury thermometers

  • Buy a digital thermometer: they are fast, accurate, and inexpensive

  • Rectal thermometers are most accurate for babies and are quick to use

  • Underarm thermometers are comfortable and accurate, but can take up to 10 minutes to give a reading—use for babies older than three months

  • Oral thermometers are reliable but, because they take up to two minutes to give a reading, you can end up struggling with a fidgety baby

  • Ear thermometers are fast, accurate, and easy to use

  • Temporal scanner (strip) thermometers are placed on your baby’s forehead and allow you to take her temperature when she is asleep

Check for signs of dehydration

  • Vomiting and diarrhea are common causes of dehydration—watch out for these symptoms: listlessness; sunken eyes; dry eyes, mouth, and lips; pallor; fewer wet diapers; darker urine; and a depressed fontanelle

  • Breastfed babies will need increased feeds, and possibly some additional oral rehydration solution (ORS)

  • Bottle-fed babies will need ORS with a little formula in between; you may need to continue to offer water and ORS for a few days

And don’t forget…

  • To keep your baby warm, but not overheated—layers are a good idea

  • Keep a close eye on her—a baby’s condition can deteriorate quickly

  • When in doubt, call your doctor

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