When is baby’s problem just something you can deal with by applying a cream, and when should you call an ambulance?


It’s tough on a parent when you realise that your baby isn’t feeling well. And it’s worse when you don’t know what is causing their discomfort. Certain health issues are common in bubba’s first year — they’ll likely experience one or more of the problems we’ve listed below. The good news is that you can take simple steps to treat the symptoms and ease your little one’s distress...

Coughs and colds

Since your sweetie’s immune system is still immature, it’s easy for her to catch one of many airborne viruses that can cause a cold. The average grown-up gets two to four colds a year, but the average child gets six to 10. If they are attending a childcare facility, they may experience up to a dozen! And since your mini-explorer is set on exploring their surroundings — especially when they start crawling and walking — they’ll get their hands on everything and put them in their mouths, which simply gives cold viruses countless chances to infect...

Look out for Sneezing, a runny nose with clear or yellowish to greenish mucus, coughing and maybe a low fever. In baby’s first three months, any fever should send you two to a doctor, but after that, you can consider home remedies.

What to do Plenty of rest and liquids. If junior is above 4 months, keep them hydrated with breastmilk or formula, plus a little bit of water. If bubba is fussing because their nose is blocked, use a nasal aspirator or a spray to ease the congestion. You can also sit with them in a steamy bathroom after turning on the hot water. See your doctor if it doesn’t clear in a few days, or if their fever rises.

Diaper rash

Even the baby who uses the most absorbent nappy and has the most diligent diaper-changing parent will get a nasty rash around their bottom at some point. This is because the bacteria in urine and stools can wreak havoc on your baby’s delicate skin.

Look out for A few red spots in a concentrated area or tender red bumps that spread to your tyke’s tummy and thighs.

What to do See your doctor if it looks infected (blisters, pus or open sores). Otherwise, just keep the area clean by swabbing with cotton wool dipped in cooled, boiled water and patting it dry gently. Every time you change bubba’s diaper, use a diaper-rash cream. If possible, keep them diaper-free for as long as possible — exposing the rash to air will speed the healing.


Heat, sweat, as well as irritants from scratchy clothes or substances in soap and baby wipes can trigger this dry, itchy skin condition. Junior can also inherit eczema from mum or dad, but most outgrow it before they are of school-going age.

Look out for Patches of red or dry skin that are always itchy, rough and dry. It can appear anywhere on bub’s body, but are most commonly found on her cheeks and in the folds of the joints of his legs and arms, where sweat accumulates.

What to do Applying a good fragrance-free cream will lock in bub’s natural moisture and offer lasting relief from itchy skin. Apply several times a day, especially after a bath. A lukewarm bath will also help hydrate and soothe skin. If it’s severe, speak to your doctor.


If your munchkin hasn’t pooped after five days or is passing hard stools, they might be backed up.

Look out for A strained face when your little one is trying to pass motion, fussiness, or a firm belly that’s painful to touch.

What to do Change the type of formula you’re giving them or your own diet if you’re breastfeeding. If it happens right about the time junior started taking solids, give them some pear purée or prune juice to help move things along. If you’re worried, see your doctor who might prescribe glycerin suppositories to ease the process.

Read on for more alarming situations — brace yourselves (but be prepared)…




If there is bleeding, use a clean towel to apply direct pressure on the wound until it stops. If the cut is on their arm or leg, raise the affected limb on a pillow. Once the bleeding stops, check for glass, dirt or any foreign objects inside the wound and use cool, running water to clean it out. After washing the wound with soap and warm water, pat it dry, then cover with an adhesive bandage. If debris is embedded deeply in the wound or the bleeding doesn’t stop, see your doctor at once.


Hold bub face down along your forearm (supported by your thigh). Keep their head lower than their bottom. Use the heel of your hand to give up to five blows between their shoulder blades. If it doesn’t work, turn them on their back and use two fingertips to push inwards and upwards on their chest. Check their mouth after each thrust and remove the obstruction if you can see it. If three cycles of both techniques don’t work, call 995.


If the burn isn’t too serious, cool the area quickly by submerging it in cool water or apply a cool compress for 15 minutes. Dry the area, then cover with a sterile bandage. If the burn starts to blister, apply an antiseptic ointment. If you notice signs of an infection (severe pain, swelling, pus or fever), see your doctor immediately.

Stops breathing

Call 995 at once and administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately: Place your baby on a firm, flat surface and tilt their head back with one hand, while lifting their chin slightly with the other. Check for signs of breathing. If there’s none, cover your tot’s nose and exhale gently into their lungs until you see their chest rise. Don’t breathe too hard or fast. Do this twice, each breath lasting just one second. Follow with 30 chest compressions (placing two or three fingers in the centre of their chest and push down about 4cm). Continue until help arrives.

Photo: iStock

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