Baby health tips from our health visitor

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


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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