Baby's First Year: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
New parents tend to fret about lots of things: every fever, every early morning awakening when their baby still isn't sleeping through the night.
Elaine Donoghue, MD, FAAP, understands. She's the co-chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on Early Childhood. Her insights might help ease those jittery thoughts.
"There's a lot of fever phobia out there," says Donoghue, a pediatrician in Allentown, PA. But when your baby runs a temperature, it's not always a bad thing. "Fever is a sign that the body is fighting infection, so it can be a good sign," she says.
A very young baby with a fever might have a serious bacterial infection, though, she says. According to the AAP, parents should call a doctor if a baby younger than 8 weeks runs a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher (when measured rectally).
Beyond the first 3 months, as long as the baby is immunized, just watch him closely for any troubling symptoms.
Contrary to what many parents believe, erupting teeth won't make babies sick.
"Teething does not cause fever, diarrhea, or any other form of illness. Mostly, it just causes discomfort," Donoghue says. Most of the time, all your baby needs is something cool to chew on while you hold and comfort her.
The FDA warns against using topical pain relievers rubbed on the gums that contain benzocaine because of the potential for dangerous side effects. Benzocaine can be found in over-the-counter medications such as Baby Orajel.
When will your baby sleep through the night? "That is a perennial concern," Donoghue says.
Typically, babies will begin to sleep through the night between 4 and 6 months, she says. Bleary-eyed parents can help their infant reach that long-awaited moment by not making their child dependent on them for sleep.
"It's not good to rock a baby to sleep and then put him in his crib," Donoghue says. "Make sure all his needs are taken care of, and then set him down in his own safe sleep environment."
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