Being first time parents are simply just too overwhelming, as now you have this great responsibility over another tiny helpless human being. You want to be assured that you’re making the right decisions when it comes to her well being and upbringing. It’s just so distraughting when the tiny one runs a fever, or has rashes on her face (the horror!). Do we take the lil one straight to the A&E every time she is unwell? Or hits her head on the floor/ wall?
So I figured, why don’t I list down a few of the things we need to know before we turn into some crazed lunatic each time our precious presents us with some new unpleasant shock and surprises.
1. It’s not always eczema
Yes. Their skin is so smooth it’s almost translucent. And once we see any red dots or rash on their face/ body, we freak out big time. It could be heat rash. It could be baby acne. It could be so many things, so before we jump to conclusion, do read up all there is to know about baby rashes. M started having heat rash (she’s such a sweaty baby!), which developed into eczema-liked patches. Brought her to the doctor, gave her steroid cream. I didn’t use it except for one small tiny dab. Just once. I decided to instead use oatmeal bath and virgin coconut oil. And it was effective. The rashes went away after a couple of weeks. So please don’t jump the gun so soon.
2. It’s not always colic
Yes, babies cry all the time. Sometimes, a lot. Without reason (or so we thought). You’ve changed them. Fed them. Carried and cuddled. Sang songs. Danced with them. And yet they still won’t stop crying. They have colic, your wise elders will tell you. Please, it’s not always colic. There’re signs to see if your baby is colicky. A baby with colic cries excessively, often at the same time of day (usually in the late afternoon or evening). If your baby is colicky, you may notice that his cries at this time are louder and higher pitched than his normal crying and that the episodes start and end suddenly. Otherwise, it may just be a bad case of wind, which M had. Plain old good fashioned gripe water saved the day.
3. It’s not always an A&E situation
Well, this third point is going to be a long one. Be patient now.
Your child gets a fever. Started out probably at 38 degrees Celsius. Then sky-rocketed to 39 degrees. Yes, I’m guilty of this one. Took M straight to A&E when she hit 39 degrees. Gave her baby paracetamol and placed a kool fever patch on her forehead before we head out. By the time the doc saw us (after close to 45 minutes wait!), she was fine. Fever gone! And we ended up paying the bill for something that was easily self-managed at home.
The next time she fell ill, this time with dry cough and cold (mostly the sniffles and blocked nose), I decided to instead rely on natural remedies; breastfeed as often as I can (I piled on my multi-vits, especially Vit-C), placed a humidifier in our air-conditioned room, and used baby saline nasal spray to clear her blocked nose and mucus. No meds. No antibiotics. No clinic/ hospital bill. The power of breastmilk, I tell you! She recovered in no time, and I believe she built herself one heck of an immune system against colds now.
One day, she fell off the bed. Cried a massive storm. Hubs freaked out big time, asked to rush her to the A&E, less she suffered brain damage. Guys, I know everyone will freak out. I’m super worried myself. But before you scream at each other and bolt to the nearest hospital (and accusing me of being a total nutcase for not sending M to one), again, please be calm and know the signs to look out for when your baby hits ground zero. First, if your child is crying up a storm, it’s the first sign that she’s ok. If she’s unconscious, please don’t move her. Call 911. Second, after crying for a good 10-20 minutes, she’s consolable and willing to breastfeed, she’s ok. Third, if she falls asleep right after she’s calmed down, check for her breathing. If it’s normal and regular, she’s ok. If the incident happens near her nap/ sleeping schedule, wake her up after 2 hours to check on her activity level and response. If she responds normally like how she would on any given day, she’s ok. Lastly, if she doesn’t vomit after the incident within the next 24 hours and plays like how she normally does, SHE’S OK! Follow your gut feeling, mums. It’s almost always right.
4. It’s not always a poop SOS
Your baby’s poop a funny color? Color depends on what she eats. Unless if it’s diarrhea (which won’t happen to a fully breastfed baby), there’s pretty much nothing to worry about. Or she didn’t poop for 2 days? At one point, M didn’t poop for a week! But hey, nothing to worry about. If your baby is a fully breastfed baby, they can go without pooping for days! Breastmilk is so wonderfully packed with nutrients that the baby’s digestive system adsorbs every single bit of its goodness, leaving almost nothing behind for her to exit from her behind (excuse the pun, couldn’t help myself!). Only when your baby has started to take her solids, do you need to look out for foods that might make her constipated. And look out for signs whether your baby’s indeed constipated. If she is, prune juice (1:4), papaya (1 tablespoon will do) and “baby cycling” would do the trick! I realized rice cereal made M all “stuck”, so I changed to oat cereal, and she’s pooping fine now. Yay.
5. It’s not a hunger strike. Your child is not famished.
You go to work, you send your baby to the babysitter and she refuse to take the bottle. Ok, probably just enough to stave off the hunger till you pick her up after work. And you’re worried sick that she’s not feeding enough, that she’s gonna starve herself silly. Hey, relax! Your baby knows more than you think. She wants to feed from you, her most favorite person. It’s called reverse cycling, where baby compensates her “loss” of daytime nutritional intake by nursing more frequently at night from the mother. My 8-month old M, till today, only takes 4-6 oz of breastmilk from the bottle during the day while I’m away at work, and compensates through frequent night time feedings, on average, every 2 hours! And she weighs a good 9kg, with thunder thighs mind you. I’m so used to sleep deprivation, to the point my body somehow adjusts itself to survive on 1.5-2 hours sleep intervals, and yet able to perform like a perfectly normal person the next day. I think it’s just called being a zombie. LOL.
Lastly, it’s not going to last forever. Whatever that you’re facing now – the incessant crying, the frequent feedings, the not-sleeping-through-the-night, the clinginess, the fussiness, it will one day end when your little precious grows up and goes to college! So, enjoy your baby while it lasts folks. I know I will.
Have a great weekend everyone!