mother cuddling with her newborn child

By Associate Professor TAN Thiam Chye Head & Senior Consultant, Dr Michelle LIM Associate Consultant, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, KK Women's and Children's Hospital

Caring for a newborn can be blissful and rewarding. But it can be a little challenging at times, especially if you're dealing with a crying or sick baby. Here are a few common issues that many babies go through and how to manage them.

man and woman with their newborn child

It's advisable to consult a doctor if your baby has these symptoms:

1. Cold

Your baby may have a temperature and show symptoms like a blocked and runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing and coughing.

What to do: Keep your baby hydrated with plenty of milk.

Related: 7 Reasons Why Your Baby's Crying

2. Fever

For babies, a fever is a body temperature above 37.5 ̊C. Most fevers with viral illnesses range between 38.3 ̊C and 40 ̊C, and may last three to five days.

What to do: See your doctor, especially if your baby is younger than three months old.

Related: Common Childhood Conditions — Fever

3. Cough

Coughing is not always a sign of illness — your baby could just be trying to clear mucus and irritating substances from the airways.

What to do: Ensure your little one gets plenty of rest. Consult your doctor if there's vomiting or if your baby has a high fever or difficulties breathing.

Related: Common Childhood Conditions — Coughs and Colds

4. Bronchiolitis

This is an infection of the small airways of the lungs, which causes wheezing and rapid or difficult breathing.

What to do: See a doctor, especially if breathing gets laboured or if your baby becomes listless and refuses to eat.

5. Constipation

baby crying because of constipation

Younger babies don't usually get constipation, and some babies may not have daily bowel movements.

What to do: Monitor your baby's bowel movement and if the stools are harder than usual or if your little one shows any sign of discomfort, do see a doctor.

Related: Common Childhood Conditions — Diarrhoea

6. Diarrhoea

This is when your baby passes watery stools.

What to do: Keep your baby hydrated with plenty of milk and consult your doctor if symptoms persist.

Related: Diarrhoea (Child)

7. Colic

If your infant cries more than three hours a day in the late afternoon or evening, more than three days a week for more than three weeks, it could be due to colic. Your little one may also have clenched fists, tense abdominal muscles and may curl up the legs. The exact cause of colic is not known. Some possible contributing factors include excessive swallowing of air, milk allergy and an immature digestive system.

What to do: Give your baby small but frequent feeds, and ensure your little one burps well. Cuddle and talk or sing to your baby. Consult your doctor if the crying doesn't stop, or if there's a change in your baby's feeding pattern.

These issues can be easily dealt with at home:

Related: Colic

8. Spit Ups

It's normal for your baby to spit up a small amount of milk.

What to do: Feed your baby in an upright position. Burp your child frequently during and after each feed to keep air from building up in the stomach.

Related: Care of the Newborn

9. Heat Rash

These are clear or red spots that usually appear on the forehead, face and folds of the neck, chest, and arms.

What to do: When the temperature gets too warm, keep your baby in cool, lightweight clothing. Turn on the air-conditioner or fan. The heat rash should usually resolve by itself.

Related: 7 Reasons Why Your Baby's Crying

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Sources:

The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth 2008, World Scientific

Healthy Start for your Pregnancy 2012, Health Promotion Board Singapore