Your Baby: 3–6 Months - Childhood Illnesses

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Even young babies can come into contact with childhood illnesses, and experience full-blown symptoms. It can help to be aware of what your baby could catch, and what to look out for. Breastfeeding moms who are immune will likely pass on their own immunity, and if your baby has been vaccinated, he will also have some immunity of his own.
Childhood illnessIncubation periodSymptomsTreatmentNotes
Measles10 daysFever, runny nose, cough, sore and reddened eyes, followed by a red-brown rash that usually starts on the face and spreads down the body about 3–7 days after the first symptoms appearPainkillers and plenty of liquids; antibiotics for any secondary infection; plenty of fluids; keep your baby in a darkened room, since measles can cause sensitivity to bright light 
Mumps2–3 weeksFever, headache, swelling of the main salivary glands producing a “chipmunk” appearance affecting the jaw, cheek, and neckPlenty of fluids, painkillers (acetaminophen), rest; use tepid water to sponge your baby down 
Rubella (German measles)14–21 daysA light rash of pink dots, low-grade fever, aches and pains, headaches, sore throat, swelling of lymph nodes (glands) in the neck, loss of appetiteAcetaminophen to bring down the fever; calamine lotion or mild corticosteroids to ease the rash; plenty of tepid baths 
Whooping cough (pertussis)About 7 daysFlu-like symptoms, runny nose, sneezing, low-grade fever, a cough that worsens over a couple of weeks and is worse at night, causing paroxysms that can make your baby’s face turn blue or red; sometimes vomiting with coughing spellsAntibiotics to clear the bacteria causing the infection; a vaporizer in the baby’s environment; admission to the hospital is likely for babies under 6 months, to avoid complications like pneumonia 
Chicken pox10–14 daysHeadache, fever, general malaise, spots starting on the trunk and spreading to most parts of the body, appearing as little pimples that fill with fluid to form blisters that then crust overCalamine lotion to ease the itching; acetaminophen to reduce fever and discomfort; plenty of fluids; keep nails short and clean, or use mittens to prevent damage from scratching 
MeningitisViral meningitis: 3–7 days Bacterial meningitis: 1–7 daysViral meningitis tends to appear most often in summer months and is generally less severe; initially vague flu-like symptoms occur with fever and aches and pains, which develop over a couple of days. Bacterial meningitis is more severe, and symptoms can develop rapidly, often within hours. In babies and small children they include: stiff body with jerky movements (or extreme floppiness), irritability or dislike of being handled, shrill cry or unusual moaning, refusal to feed, tense or bulging fontanelle, pale blotchy skin, rapid breathing, fever. In older children look for a rash that doesn’t fade under pressure (try pressing a glass against the skin)If you suspect meningitis, you must seek emergency medical attention immediately—bacterial forms will require intravenous antibiotics; there is no treatment for viral meningitis, although medication may be offered to control the symptoms 

Boosting immunity

Although regular immunization means that most childhood illnesses are no longer prevalent, you should watch out for signs, and, if you are worried, contact your doctor.

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