Baby Care & Child Health Problems

Part II
CHILD HEALTH PROBLEMS

 

V
General Care

Achild needs close loving care with due attention to food, clothes, hygiene and environment. While taking day-to-day care of your child, it is extremely important for you to be alert and to keep a close watch for any early signs of the disease or discomfort.

1. Caring for a Sick Child

Parents love to bestow love and care on their children, but when it comes to looking after their sick child, they find themselves at a loss about the correct way of handling the child. The daily chores for the child like feeding, bathing, clothing, personal hygiene, etc., become tedious chores for them as they feel unsure about their abilities to make simple observations accurately.

Tips for Caring for a Sick Child

 Keep the child's room at a comfortable temperature. Provide proper ventilation by keeping the windows slightly open.

 Use clean cotton sheets on the bed which should be changed periodically.

 Dress the child in loose comfortable clothes.

 Cleanliness and hygiene are very important but do not insist on giving full body baths to the sick child. However, in hot and humid weather, a quick bath would induce a general feeling of freshness.

 When sick, most children have a poor appetite. Do not try to force-feed the child. Let the child eat as much as he/she wants. Avoid fatty and spicy foods. Milk, fruit juices, thin soups, etc., may be given as they are light and nutritious.

 It is not necessary for the child to always lie in bed. Take the child in another room for a while. This change will make him/her feel better. When not in bed, provide the child with a comfortable chair with soft cushions to lean on.

 During illness, most children tend to cling to their mothers. They cry for no particular reason and want to be fed more frequently. So stay calm and give your time and patience to the child. Remember sick child needs your love, company and a sense of security besides your care.

A child with mother attending to her lovingly

2. Safeguards Against Accidents

By nature, children are inquisitive. They love to explore everything within their reach. In the process, they get hurt. Every year, accidents cause a large number of serious injuries to children. It is, therefore, very important for parents to understand the cause of accident and prevent them. Constant vigil and adherence to basic safety precautions should be strictly followed by parents. Here are some tips to safeguard your child from possible hazards:

 Keep anything hot like teapots, tea cups, etc., out of the reach of the child. Do not drink anything hot with the child on your lap.

 Remove tablecloths hanging at the edge, which, if pulled by the child, may bring things down on the child.

 Do not leave the baby unattended on a table or in high chair. Carefully watch the child in baby walker as they can trip over steps or get caught in other things.

 When the baby begins to crawl, make sure he/she does not have the access to staircase, balcony or open verandah.

 Cover all unused electric sockets and keep all electric appliances out of their reach.

 Small objects like coins, beads, safety pins, etc., should be kept away from small children so that they do not put them in their mouth and choke.

 Store all the medicines, phenol, kerosene oil, batteries etc away from children.

 Always keep the bathroom doors bolted.

 Clean any spilled water or oil from the floor immediately.

 Remove carpets and mats which are torn or folded.

 Keep glass objects out of the reach of children. Preferably do not use glass furniture or crockery till your child is small.

 Do not let children play with stray animals like dogs. Do not leave small children alone with pets.

 Always put safety belt while taking the child out in the pram. Also lock the wheels when it is not being moved around.

 While travelling by car, keep the children secure with belts. A special baby seat with belt may be fitted in the car.

Do not leave the baby unattended on a table or in high chair

Do not let children play with stray or pet animals like dogs

Store all the medicines away from children

Open verandah should not be accessible for small children

 Discourage the children to laugh or play with food in their mouth.

 Do not allow them to play with polythene bags else they may suffocate because of being unable to remove the bag from their heads.

 Ensure that the children's fingers do not get jammed while closing the doors of your house or car.

Always keep the bathroom doors bolted

While travelling by car, keep the children secure with belts

3. Dealing with Medical Emergencies at Home

In every household with small children, emergency situations like burns, choking or swallowing a poisonous thing or accident take place. The life of the child depends upon the quality of emergency aid given immediately before a doctor can be reached. Here are some basic rules for handling emergencies.

 Be calm in an emergency situation.

 Act logically and firmly after assessing the problem carefully and quickly.

 Reassure the child that all would be well if he/she cooperates.

 Do not cry or let others cry in front of the child.

 Assess the nature and severity of the problem.

 Take the child to the doctor as early as possible.

Managing Emergencies

Here are some tips to manage some common emergencies which you may have to face sometimes:

 Bleeding Nose

 Picking the nose or blowing or sneezing may lead to bleeding nose. Some blood disorders also lead to nosebleed.

 First of all establish the cause for bleeding nose. Bend the child

 S head over a basin and grip his/her nose between your thumb and fingers over the soft part of the nose just below where the bone ends applying firm pressure to both nostrils to stop the bleeding. Do not allow the child to put the head back during nose bleed because the blood is then likely to drip down the child's throat to his/her stomach causing vomiting later.

Bleeding nose

 Burns
In case of burns, immerse the affected body part in a bucket of cold water or in running cold water. Ice packs may also be applied locally to cool the small area of burn on the parts which cannot be immersed in water like neck, face etc. When the burning subsides, put some burnol or toothpaste on the burnt part.

 Foreign Body in the Nose or Ear
If your child has pushed something up his/her nose, then DO NOT attempt to take it out yourself. Keep the child quiet and ask him/her to breathe through the mouth, rush to the nearest hospital casualty department. If the child has pushed something int hear or an insect has crawled into the ear and got trapped in there, then ask your child to set down and tilt his/her head to one side so that you can see inside the ear with the foreign body. Gently flood the ear with mildly warm water so the foreign body or the insect may float on it and come out on its own. If it does not then take the child to the doctor. DO NOT in any case try to remove it with a pointed implement.

 Head injury
If a child gets a minor head injury while playing, then observe the child for some time. If he/she resumes normal activities and shows no signs of distress even for 24 hours after the injury, then heave a sigh of relief. But if you find any of the following symptoms then rush the child to the doctor immediately:

 Unconsciousness

 Dizziness

 Vomiting

 Persisting headache

 Drowsiness

 Bleeding from ears or nose

Child burn

Foreign body in the nose

Head injury

Choking

 Choking
If your child has swallowed a foreign object like coin, button pin and it has suddenly slipped into the back of his throat, then this may either block the throat or cause acute contraction of muscles around it and cause choking. The child may not be able to speak and breathe. In such a case, act immediately. Hold the child firmly by his/her legs with one hand and turn him/her upside down. With the child hanging upside down with his/her head facing the ground, slap his/her back firmly with your other hand. All this should be done quickly to save the child's life.

4. Immunization Schedule

Immunization is important to protect your baby from those diseases that can be fatal for him/her. It is one of the most important things you can do to guarantee your baby's health. Childhood diseases, such as whooping cough, measles, diphtheria, chicken pox, small pox, poliomyelitis and yellow fever are common among babies. Through immunization, a chemical substance that has the causative organism of any given infection/disease is injected to the baby to reduce the possibility of catching the disease. Oral doses can also be given as in the case of Polio. Over the years, immunization has greatly reduced the mortality rate among infants.

Some infectious diseases have the potential to cause long-lasting health problems that are permanent in nature. Immunization helps to guard against such hazardous diseases. In the past two decades, vaccines have shown a tremendous ability in preventing serious illnesses, and averted death in millions of cases. They have proved to be one of the most effective tools ever created to help babies live a healthy life. The article lists the immunization schedule for babies, in infancy and later. Read on to know about the timings of important vaccines.

Immunization Time Schedule

Mandatory Vaccines

Other Vaccines

It is important to follow the immunization schedule accurately. If you miss an immunization date, you need to consult your doctor immediately to fix a new date. If the baby is very ill when immunization is due, it is advisable to consult the doctor/pediatrician and reschedule immunization. But if your baby has a slight cold or cough, then you can go ahead with vaccination. In case your baby has had an acute reaction to a dose of immunization, consult your doctor/pediatrician before you give him the booster dose.

A child getting vaccinated

FAQs

Q-l. My daughter is nine months old. Can I put the thermometer in her mouth to check her temperature?

Ans. Use a clinical thermometer to check her temperature. It is preferable to check the temperature by keeping it in the arm pit till your baby is at least 4-5 years old. When she can understand that she is not supposed to bite the thermometer, then put it inside her mouth. While placing the thermometer in the arm pit, make sure that the tip of the thermometer touches the skin and not the clothing.

Q-2. What should I keep in my first-aid kit?

Ans. A first-aid kit helps in giving immediate help to the victim before medical help reaches them. A first-aid kit should contain antiseptic lotion, sterile cotton and gauze, band aid, burnol. Some emergency drugs may be kept in the first-aid box as per doctor's recommendations.

Q-3. What should I do if I miss any dose of a vaccine for my daughter?

Ans. If you have missed any dose of a vaccine, then just start from the dose you missed and go ahead with rest of the vaccines in schedule. You do not have to repeat the whole cycle all over again.

Q-4. What are the general symptoms which tell me that my baby might be sick and I should consult a doctor?

Ans. Look for these signs in your baby and consult a doctor/pediatrician if you find any one of them in your baby:

 The baby has fever, cough and cold.

 The baby is sleeping more than usual.

 Baby is continuously crying and none of your efforts seem to placate the baby.

 Your baby is breathing faster with unusual sounds and appears uncomfortable while breathing.

 Your baby appears blue or very pale and feels cold to touch.

 The baby has not passed urine for more than 12 hours.

 The baby has not passed stool for past four days.

 The baby has diarrhea and vomiting.

 The baby is passing red/black stools.

 The baby is not taking the feed at all.

Q-5. My daughter received her BCG vaccination soon after birth, but she did not develop a scar even after three months. What should be done?

Ans. You need to repeat the vaccine before she is one year old. Keep in mind that BCG and Measles vaccines should not be given together. There should be a gap of at least one month between these two vaccines.