Even though newborns don’t have any teeth, it’s a good idea to wrap your index ﬁnger in some gauze or a dampened face towel and start cleaning his gums. Particularly after the last feed of the day. Also, the exchange of saliva — from mouth kisses — can infect them with cavity-causing bacteria. Start to practise good oral hygiene.
Anyone who has herpes can pass it easily to your newborn through direct contact. So, bubba’s play date or a relative may spread it either from a sore or saliva (kissing or sharing of toys). A life-long disease, herpes can cause severe brain, lung and liver disease in newborns. Symptoms include mouth sores and swollen lymph glands. Call your paediatrician immediately if he develops a rash, or has swollen eyelids or eyes.
Go to the Health Promotion Board website for a checklist of the jabs junior needs, and then talk to your doctor about them. You can track his immunisation records by visiting the National Immunisation Registry website (www.nir. hpb.gov.sg), which maintains the vaccination records of all Singapore residents aged 18 and below.
These are abnormalities of the lower leg — it curves inwards and his knees touch each other, but the ankles don’t. It’s because your baby’s legs were folded inside your womb. Don’t worry, this condition is normal in newborns and will usually start to straighten out by ages 4 or 5.
Every baby is of a different shape and size because of muscle-tone differences. Smaller babies have tight, conditioned muscles, while plumper babies are, simply put, mushier. The latter tots will lift their heads up, sit up, and walk a little later than those in the former group. Unless your tyke is diagnosed with congenital hypotonia (low muscle tone and delayed milestones), you shouldn’t worry as he’ll develop at his own pace.
4 more health worries to note (and when to run for your paedi)…
Commonly known as spitting up, this occurs when your baby brings up the milk he’s just taken. When he’s full, the acid in his stomach that’s supposed to break down his milk, mixes with it and causes discomfort. It’s very common in babies and is similar to heartburn in adults. Prevent this by not over-feeding him. Also, hold him upright after each feed, burp him, and keep the pressure off his tummy.
Urinary tract infections (UTI)
This is a bacterial infection in any part of the urinary tract, and when under age 1, is more common in boys than girls. Since kids below the age of 2 may suffer serious damage like permanent kidney failure, it’s necessary to watch out for any UTI symptoms. These include an unexplained fever along with vomiting, strong-smelling urine and irritability. UTIs tend to go undetected in babies.
Look out for the colour of your baby’s vomit as this is a telling sign of problems. For instance, coffee-like or green vomit indicates blocked intestines, while the presence of blood means he’s swallowed some blood from a cut in his throat, or has had a nosebleed in the last six hours.
Infants under 6 months shouldn’t be given water as he’ll get all the hydration he needs from breastmilk. Water dilutes the sodium concentration in his body, so this imbalance of electrolytes can cause his tissues to swell. It’ll prevent his body from absorbing nutrients in breastmilk and formula, as well as make him feel full and curb his desire to feed (use the exact amount of water on the instructions when you make his formula). In extreme cases, feeding baby water causes water intoxication, leading to seizures and even coma.