As an (Emergency Room) ER nurse and a mom of 3, I care for my own sick babies and many others. I also teach parents how to comfort and support their baby through short illnesses. My children are 10, 9 and 3 – I would consider them generally healthy. But there were many nights my usually happy babies and children would fuss through the night, and my efforts to comfort them were met with more crying (from both of us).
I want to share with you the most effective interventions we use in the ER for helping the fussy baby or exhausted toddler relax and rest – allowing you to do the same. This information is straight from our patient discharge instructions and guides the nurse-parent teaching we do in my hospital.
1. Check all clothing for pinching or scratchy points, sick children (and adults) are more sensitive to irritants. Take all clothes off and look for any red, irritated areas on the skin. If your baby is having diarrhea or teething*, frequent diaper changes are important. Diarrhea is more acidic than normal stool and can cause a red, painful rash. Treat the rash with an ointment like A&D or nipple balm, like Milkies Nipple Nurture Balm (click here to learn more - http://www.mymilkies.com/node/63), which helps heal and creates a barrier on baby’s skin.
* Teething can cause excessive saliva production leading to drooling and diarrhea. Diarrhea occurs when your baby swallows the extra saliva and then passes it in the stool.
2. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen. These medicines are pain relievers and fever reducers, if your child is fussy or uncomfortable give the proper dose as long as they don't have an allergy to the medicine. Make sure you have eliminated all other possible causes of fussiness before medicating. Is your baby cold, hot, needs to burp, hungry or wants to be held? Consider all these possibilities first but don’t be afraid to medicate your baby after talking with your pediatrician.
3. If your baby has a fever, strip clothes off down to the diaper to not contribute to a higher temperature. A light sheet is fine to cover him. A fever is the immune system trying to fight off the pathogen; talk to your doctor about the right time to medicate your feverish baby or child. When in doubt, give a fever reducing medication.
4. Continue breastfeeding. Your child may not have an appetite, but continue to offer the breast. If your breasts feel full, use your breast pump to relieve the pressure and keep your milk supply strong.
As a parent you know when your child isn’t feeling well. If your baby is vomiting/has diarrhea or fever, see your doctor. Your child may need more treatment than you can provide at home.
Minor illnesses are part of a normal childhood, with a little comfort and support from you, your child will be back to their smiling self in no time!