Now that I've lived through my first "sick baby" incident, I thought I would share a few tidbits with you. (not that I'm a pro, but hey, shared what you know!)
This was a run of the mill "virus" that T man contracted that brought on a fever, diarrhea and some mild vomiting. But mostly (and most exhaustingly) it made T man Cranky!! Oh the whining! He was just so irritable and distressed. It both broke my heart and grated on my every nerve. BUT! I knew he didn't feel good, he didn't understand why and I knew this was going to end soon (hopefully) so I was able to maintain a calm, loving bedside manner even during his most ear piercing moments.
When I awoke that morning & put him to breast, I realized that he was radiating heat like a furnace. As soon as I was able, i took his temp and found that he was running quite a high fever. I immediately took him to the pediatrician to be checked out. I found out that it was in fact a virus & was instructed to "keep him hydrated, administer Tylenol as directed & wait it out" After a stop by the pharmacy, we came home to begin our 5 day "vacation" at home in our jammies.
As any responsible mother would do, I contacted the mom's that we had played with the day before to warn them of his fever. When I told our mom friend "J" of T mans fever & other symptoms, she asked me the most honest & logical question. "How did you know he was sick? How did you know to take his temperature?" It's such a innocent question, but also an incredibly relevant question. Because, honestly, how DOES a new mom know that she needs to take her babies temperature?
Okay, maybe this sounds silly to you. "he's hot, take his temp!" Duh! .... Not always. "J" asked me this because her little boy "W" always feels warm to the touch & he's a sweaty sleeper. I told her that T man was very obviously hot & I just ... knew! I hate to say it, and I really hate when people tell me this, but you will just know. You will! When you spend every waking (and some sleeping) moment with your baby, you begin to know every little piece of them. Physically, emotionally, vocally and medically. When your little babe is sick , you may not know exactly whats going on, but you definitely know that something is wrong. Follow your gut, trust your mom instincts and do what you "know" you need to do.
So besides that, here's a few tips to keep in mind.
>> Make sure your thermometer takes a reading in less than 6 seconds. Anything longer is an eternity with a newborn or infant. The ear ones work very well and are my favorite. If you don't have an ear thermometer, you can also use a forehead thermometer, a rectal (um, no thanks!) or an oral thermometer used under the arm pit. If you have to use the arm pit method (like I did that morning) make sure you do it correctly.
Have your baby sit on your lap facing to the side. (his shoulder into your chest)
Place the oral thermometer under his arm closest to you. (^^ that one)
Wrap your arm around him to keep him still & keep his arm pit closed (its harder than it sounds!)
Add 1* to thermometer reading (100.2 temp is actually 101.2)
>> Keep baby hydrated. Nurse frequently. T man would "snack" every 30-45 minutes. Sometimes he was actually eating, sometimes he was just comfort nursing. Either way he was getting a bit of B-milk on a near constant basis. When he wasn't nursing, he was sipping on some pedialyte and water. Keep him hydrated!
>> A room temp bath works wonders for temporarily cooling down the body. Not a "cold" bath (remember, he's just a little guy) so room temp is your best choice.
>> In the case of diarrhea, rash cream & petroleum jelly are a must. Keep that poor little bum protected from the harsh acidity of all that gross liquid squirting out his bottom. (yeah I know, that's gross! But hey, you're a mom. Deal with it!)
>> Depending if he's old enough for solids, as long as baby has a fever/vomiting/diarrhea he is on a strict liquid diet. Foods can actually dehydrate your baby while he's sick, cancelling out all the nursing & pedialyte sipping you've been doing. And NO JUICE! You shouldn't be giving your under 1year old baby juice anyway (but that's a different post) but definitely no juice while sick. The sugar in the juice will dehydrate him.
>> What's the difference between vomit & regular spit up? Volume. Spit up is anything from a teaspoon to a couple of tablespoons. Vomit on the other hand is large quantities, more like 1/4 cup or more. Depending on how soon after eating, it will be extra chunky where spit up is more phlegmy.
>> Sleep sleep sleep. Just like when you're sick, little guys need lots of rest to recover. Let him nap, go to bed early, sleep in late, etc. Whatever he needs, whenever he needs it.
>> Tylenol & Motrin (infant formulas) should be administered only according to your pediatricians directions. Infants are grouped into weight classes for medications, so make sure what your babies current weight is before giving any medications.
Follow your gut, call the pediatrician as often as you feel necessary (don't worry, they're used to it) and listen to your baby. If you pay attention to his needs, his body language & his cries, you'll be able to weather this storm and come out smiling =)
(My sick little T man, pictured below)