Baby health tips from our health visitor

From immunisations to nappy rash, our health visitor gives you the low down on baby health issues

Watch out for the symptoms of nappy rash

Summer sniffle solutions

  • Raise the head area of your baby’s cot to help him breathe more easily.
  • Try saline nose drops or sprays, as salt water helps clear a snotty nose.
  • Keep him away from flowers and plants if the sniffles seem to worsen when you’re outside.
  • Pop a few drops of baby decongestant on a tissue and waft near him.
  • Offer sips of water often, as babies can get dry mouths when they’ve got a runny nose in the heat.

Keeping your baby safe in the sun

  • Follow the six-month rule. Babies less than 6 months old should be kept out of direct sunlight.
  • Dodge it. Between 11am and 3pm the sun is at its strongest, so try to stay in the shade during these hours.
  • Up the factor. Even on cloudy days you need to cover your little one’s skin in sunscreen. A minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 is recommended.
  • Put a hat on. Always use a sun hat with a wide brim for your tot. Try to find one with neck cover, too.
  • Cover up with cotton. Loose, cool, cotton clothing on arms and legs gives an extra layer of protection without overheating worries.

Your baby’s temperature

  • In between is best. Don’t go over the top with thick clothes. Your baby needs to be warm, not hot.
  • The nape of the neck is the best place to test his temperature with your hand. He should be warm, the same as you feel when you are comfortable.
  • Thin layers are better than thick. This way, you can add or take away cardigans, blankets, hats and gloves if you need to.
  • Follow your lead. If you need to wrap up in a coat, hat and gloves, then so will your baby.
  • Layer down when you go indoors, so your little one can cool off.

Ease your baby’s fever

  • Give your baby liquid paracetemol or liquid ibuprofen (not aspirin), following the recommended dosage carefully.
  • Remove some layers of clothing to help cool him down.
  • A little one suffering from a fever can become easily dehydrated. Make sure you offer him plenty of fluids, including milk.
  • Gently sponging him down with water may be helpful. Make sure it’s lukewarm rather than cold.
  • Regularly monitor his temperature and contact your GP if it goes above 39ºC.

How to get the most out of baby clinic

  • Always bring your baby’s health book so the health team have up-to-date records.
  • Jot down any worries you have before you go and make a note of any tips or advice during your appointment.
  • Ask if you can have more time at the end of clinic or at home if you need it.
  • Be prepared to have a long wait. Always bring a nappy change, feeds for your baby and something for you to do.
  • If you’re planning on weighing your baby, dress her in easy-to-remove clothing so you can listen to any advice at the same time.

Baby immunisation tips

  • Read up beforehand on what immunisations are recommended and possible side effects so you can make informed choices for your tot.
  • Take your child’s health records with you. It’s vital you have a record of any treatment your child receives.
  • Say how your baby has been recently, especially if she’s had a fever or been ill. You may have to postpone until your tot is feeling better.
  • Be aware your baby may feel ill afterwards. He may have a fever or be irritable and there may be redness or swelling at the injection site.
  • Monitor your tot for a couple of days after her vaccination. For side effects, give children’s paracetamol or ibuprofen in the correct dose.
  • Bringing someone with you helps relieve your worries and is another pair of arms to offer a cuddle.
  • Try feeding while the jab’s happening. It can calm babies as it produces oxytocin, the pleasure hormone.
  • Be prepared for side effects. To help, have a thermometer and some baby paracetamol ready at home.
  • Don’t plan anything afterwards. Your baby could feel a bit ropey for 48 hours following his injections.

Nappy rash – symptoms

  • Increased salivation. Can lead to concentrated urine, and a sore bottom.
  • Illness. Sick babies are susceptible to nappy rash, as they often change their feeding and drinking patterns.
  • Antibiotics may upset your baby’s digestive system causing diahorrea that can lead to nappy rash.
  • Changes from breast to formula milk may alter your baby’s bowel habits, leading to skin irritation.
  • The introduction of solids can sometimes trigger nappy rashes.

Nappy rash – what to do

  • Change nappies frequently. The mix of wee and poo produces ammonia, which quickly damages skin.
  • Keep skin creases clean. Just use water as it won’t irritate sensitive skin.
  • Give your baby nappy-off time. After a change fresh air will help dry the skin.
  • Look out for thrush If your baby’s being treated for oral thrush, check for small red-crusted spots in the nappy area.
  • If your tot’s on antibiotics there’s a chance of more frequent or looser stools, making nappy rash a greater risk.

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