Infants health problems refer to the health issues of a child from birth till twelve months of age. Newborn babies (navjat shishu) are most vulnerable just after birth because they make the transition from the mother’s womb to this world. Babies have a weak immune system; it is difficult for them to cope up with the new world. They pick up infections easily; or it may also be possible that they born with certain congenital conditions. Therefore, It is very important for parents to recognize the problem and plan for the care of the newborn (navjat) in case of sickness.
After the birth of a baby, there will be many moments when a mother panic about her baby’s health. Many of these problems are not serious and common among all the infants (shishu). But it is important to know, how to handle these problems and take care of your baby. There are few tips which can help the first time parents about caring of their infants.
Infants Health Problems:
Common health problems in infants (shishu) include cold, cough, fever, loose motion, constipation, vomiting and skin problems etc. Though many of these problems are not serious but can disturb the parents. Therefore, it is important that parents should know how to deal with these problems. Every new mother needs to know what to look out for and when the condition of the baby is serious. Here is a guide regarding the most common health problems of infants that may appear during baby’s first year.
1. Cold as Infants Health Problem:
Cold is extremely common among infants; it is a type of viral infection that affects baby’s nose and throat (upper respiratory tract). Nasal congestion (stuffy nose) and a runny nose are the main indicators of a cold. Virus of cold are transmitted from person to person. In case of newborn baby, viruses normally comes through mother. An infant can catch a cold easily at any age because its resistance is not developed. Baby’s immune system will take time to fully mature. If the baby is around older children, chances of cold infection is increased.
Usually, this cold is not dangerous and goes away within 7- 10 days. If the baby is below 3 months, consult your paediatrician because there is a risk of pneumonia. If your baby is healthy and there is nothing serious, you can use some home remedies because use of medicines can affect infant’s immunity development.
For the newborn babies, do not give any home medicine except mother’s milk. There are some home remedies that you can apply on your baby if she is introduced to solid food –
(a) Carom seeds or Ajwain for Cold:
Heat some carom seeds or ajwain on a pan and make a swag (potli) with a soft cotton cloth. Now rub this swag lukewarm over chest, back, palm and sole of your baby. You can put it near nostrils, so that the baby inhale its smell. It is good to clear blocked nose.
(b) Mustard Oil with Rock Salt for Cold:
Another remedy for infant’s cold is use of mustard oil with rock salt powder. Heat few spoons of mustard oil (sarson ka tel) and mix 1 tsp of rock salt (sendha namak) in the oil. Now, gently rub over the chest with this oil and cover the baby with a comforter to keep warm.
(c) Nutmeg or Jaiphal for Infants:
Rub a nutmeg or jaiphal with water on a rough rolling (flat) surface and collect this water (nutmeg mixture) in a spoon. Then apply this water lukewarm over the chest of the baby and cover with a comforter; it gives relief by loosening mucus.
2. Coughing as Infants Health Problem:
Cough is very common in babies. It can be the result of a respiratory tract infection such as cold, bronchitis, pneumonia etc.; infants less than 6 months old are easily affected by this type of infection. Changing weather can also cause a cough and cold in your newborn. Generally, cough among infants is due to the common cold and may lasts up to two weeks; if it persists, there is something serious. Cough is a healthy and important reflex that helps to protect the airways in the throat and chest. The baby may have a mild fever; it may vomit mucus while coughing. The baby can have trouble falling asleep but once asleep will not cough.
Dealing with cough in infants becomes easier if you are aware of some natural remedies. These remedies are far better than over the counter drugs.
(a) Saffron or Kesar for Infants Cough:
If your baby is above 4 months of age, give him 1-2 strands of kesar or saffron mixing with lukewarm water. Kesar or saffron helps to remove mucus associated with cough.
(b) Ginger Juice with Honey:
Another remedy of cough is use of ginger juice with honey. It can be applied for the baby above 6 months of age. Take a small piece of ginger, peel it and grate to extract its juice. After extracting juice of ginger, mix ¼ tsp of ginger juice and 1 tsp of honey and ingest to your baby. Ginger is a good expectorant and cures cough successfully.
(c) Carom seeds Water for Infants:
Carom seeds (ajwain) water is also good to cure baby’s cough. Simply boil 10-12 seeds of carom (ajwain) in a cup of water for 5-8 minutes on low heat. Give 1 tsp of this water to your baby by every two hours gap. This home remedy can be applied on the infants who have started to take solid food.
However, consult your paediatrician first and take proper care of your baby.
3. Fever in Infants (shishu):
Like cold and cough, fever is also very common among infants. Fever happens when the body’s internal “thermostat” raises the body temperature above its normal level. This thermostat is found in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. Usually, this fever doesn’t indicate anything serious but it makes the baby uncomfortable and restless. Many infants develop a high fever in minor illnesses. Therefore, it is better to consult paediatrician immediately in case of fever.
Simultaneously, for reducing a high fever-
- Put your baby in a tub for lukewarm bath; it will bring his body temperature down.
- You can also give sponge bath to your baby; wet some soft cotton cloths and wipe her body.
- But don’t use cold bath or ice stripes in any case; it may worsen the situation and cause shivering.
- Don’t cover up your baby with layers of clothing. If she is shivering, cover up with a light blanket.
- Keep the baby indoors in a cool place.
4. Loose motion in Infants (Shishu):
A baby can pass 5-6 stool in a day or can pass stool once in 2 days; it is quite normal. As per doctor’s opinion, chances of infection is very rare among breast fed babies. If your baby is looking active, feeding well, playful and passing loose stools more than 5-6 times in a day, there is nothing to worry. But if your baby has been passing stools frequently throughout the day and the stool is watery, stinky and different in colour, then it definitely raise concern. Frequent bowel movements can make your infant irritated, & restless. It may be due to teething problem, introduction of new solid food, infection, poor hygiene and strong medication.
There are various home remedies of loose motion; you can choose any of them for your infants. These remedies work best when you understand what is the cause of your baby’s motions.
(a) Banana for Loose Motion in Infants:
To control your baby’s loose motion, you can give mashed banana, if your baby has started to take solid food. It is one of the best home remedies; you can also use banana with a little amount of curd.
(b) Sabudana (sago) for Infants:
Sabudana or sago water is another home remedy for controlling loose motion of infants. Firstly wash 2 tbsp of sabudana with clean water 2-3 times and soak into water for 3-5 hours. Boil it into a cup of water; steer continuously till the sabudana became transparent. Then put it off from the flame and sieve it into a cup. Now ingest the water to your infant after cooling. You can apply this remedy if your baby has started to take solid food. For the infants above 7 months of age, you can give sabudana with water after mashing thoroughly.
(c) Walnut or Akhrot for Infants:
Use of walnut or akhrot is another home remedy which works amazingly to cure loose motion. Simply take a walnut (akhrot) and remove its outer layer. Then grind its kernel (giri) with water to make paste. Now apply this paste around the naval point of the baby; it is a traditional home remedy of controlling loose motion that you can apply for over 3 months old baby.
(d) Fennel Seeds Water or Saunf for Infants:
If the loose motion is caused due to indigestion, you can try fennel seeds (saunf) water. Boil 1 tsp of fennel seeds or saunf in a cup of water for 5-10 minutes on low heat. Sieve the water for removing the seeds and let it to be cool. Ingest 1 tbsp of water 3-4 times in a day.
One more important thing to be careful about, increase the fluid intake of your baby during loose motion. Offer the food at regular intervals but if he is not accepting the food then don’t feed forcefully.
5. Constipation as Infants health Problem:
Constipation (kabz) is a difficulty in passing stool; sometimes the baby does not poop for days. Symptoms of constipation in infants are different from adults. The baby strains more than 10 minutes while passing stool; he became fussy and her face became red. Stools are hard and passage painful. Generally, babies who take only breast milk almost have rare chances of constipation in comparison to formula fed babies. Formula-fed infants either passes stool 3-4 times in a day or after few days. Problem of constipation begins when we started to give solid food to infants.
If your baby has mild constipation, there is nothing to worry about it. It will be cured within few days. However, you can try some home remedies to release constipation, if your baby has started taking solid food.
1) Water Therapy for Infants:
Fill a tub with lukewarm water and sit your baby in the tub for few minutes. It will help to ease constipation in the best possible way.
2) Raisin or Kishmish Water for Infants:
If your baby is above 6 months, you can give raisin water for constipation. Simply soak 10-12 raisins or kishmish in boiled water for 5-6 hours. Then, mash the raisins with finger tips and ingest this juice to your baby. Raisins are highly safe and beneficial for baby’s health. Initially 1-2 tbsp of dry raisin water per day is sufficient for the babies. You can gradually increase it to 2-3 tbsp per day. Once the baby cross the age of 12 months, you can give him 2-3 tbsp of mashed raisins per day.
For better results you can give dry black currants water. Juice of pear, apple or prune is also good to treat constipation among infants. For other home remedies, go to ‘6 Remedies for Baby Constipation’.
Moreover, if your baby is less than 6 months, mother can eat food like papaya, spinach (palak) to get rid of baby’s constipation. Because it will transfer through breast milk to baby and cure constipation in the best possible way.
6. Vomiting or Spitting up in Infants:
Vomiting or spitting up is another common problem among infants. It may be due to different reasons and may vary according to age. Vomiting is very common among babies during early weeks as they are not adjusted to feeding. During the first few months, it may also be due to overfeeding, that means when your baby’s tummy is full, food and stomach acid can flow back up his food pipe. Spitting may also be due to stomach infection such as- gastroenteritis.
However, vomiting is very normal among babies and doesn’t require any medication. You can control it by applying some simple home remedies. But if there is any sign of abnormal spit up such as yellow or green vomiting etc., you should go to your paediatrician immediately.
Home Remedies for Vomiting:
- If your baby is above the age of 6 months and vomit after feeding, give him few drops of lemon juice mixing with water. It will control vomiting after feeding.
- You can give rice water to your baby (over 6 months of age) for controlling vomiting. Boil 100 gm rice into 250 gm of water till the rice is cooked. Then strain the excess starch and give it to your baby.
- Fennel seeds water is another effective natural remedy for vomiting. Boil a teaspoon of fennel seeds (saunf) in a cup of water for ten minutes over low heat. Sieve the water and give 1 tbsp of water to your baby 3-4 times in a day. You can apply this remedy for the babies over 6 months of age.
(Note: Though vomiting is very normal among babies and can be cured at home. However, it is advised to consult your doctor before applying any of the above mentioned remedies on your infants.)
7. Diaper rash in Infants:
Diaper rash is one of the most common skin problem among infants. Though the basic causes for this infection are still under active debate of experts, but usually it is believed to be the result of an irritation, infection, or allergy. In some cases, it may be due to fungal infection also. Rashes can make a baby’s skin sore, red, and scaly. Studies show that the most common period of these rashes is between the age of 9 months to 12 months. It is generally caused because of irritation of skin due to contact with urine, stool and detergent. So, to prevent diaper rashes, you should keep your baby clean and dry. It is better to check your baby’s diaper often and change it timely. Better to use some topical cream before you put on another diaper.
Some babies are sensitive and get allergic while changing to a new brand of diaper. In that case, it is better to use diaper free of fragrances and dyes. Wipes can also cause rashes; therefore simple cleansing with water and soft cloth is good for your baby’s health.
Home Remedies for Diaper rash in Infants:
(1) Air Exposure for Diaper rash:
In most of the cases, rashes clear up with simple care and changes in diaper. You can also try some home remedies for rashes, such as- air exposure that means not using diaper for some time. Because there would be no diaper rash without a diaper.
(2) Petroleum Jelly for Diaper rash:
You can also cure diaper rashes by applying topical barriers to the diaper region like- Petroleum jelly or Vaseline or any other soft ointment; coconut oil is the best option because of its anti-fungal and anti microbial properties. But use of powder is not good for the diaper region.
(3) Cornstarch (makai ka atta):
Cornstarch (makai ka atta) is very good to treat rashes as it helps to reduce diaper friction. After removing the soiled diaper, wash the bottom of your baby with lukewarm water and dry the skin carefully with soft cloth. Then, lightly sprinkle the corn starch on the skin directly just like baby powder before using new diaper. Repeat it till the skin completely heals.
(4) Vinegar for Diaper Rash:
If you are using cloth diaper, it is better to use mild detergent for washing and run an extra rinse to remove traces of soap or detergent. You can rinse them in a vinegar solution; use half cup of vinegar in half bucket of water to rinse the diaper. It is very good to remove stains of soap as well as urine smell too.
But if your baby has severe diaper rashes and they don’t heal or get worsen day by day, consult your doctor immediately.
8. Cradle Cap in Infants:
Cradle cap (shishu ke sir par safed ya pili papdi) is a type of skin rash that appear on the scalp of newborn babies (navjat shishu). It looks like yellowish, greasy patches of scaling which feels hard, thick and rough to touch. Cradle cap is mostly occurs between the first three months after birth but it may also occur later. Though, these greasy patches are not itchy and does not bother the infant but it may cause hair loss in some cases. Cradle cap is often prominent around the ear, the eyebrows or the eyelids and raises in little clumps on your baby’s body. It generally appears in mild form and extremely common among newborn babies. Severe cradle cap is rarely found.
Cradle cap is an inflammatory condition and caused by fungal infection and over-active sebaceous glands in the skin of newborn babies. The glands release a greasy substance that makes old skin cells attach to the scalp. If these greasy patches became severe like- itchy, irritating and spreading over on the other parts of body, consult your doctor for medical treatment.
However, in mild cradle cap, you can apply some home remedies to remove the scaly skin from the baby’s scalp. If the dry skin does not disappear after repeated attempts, you must consult a doctor.
Home Remedies for Cradle Cap in Babies:
In general, cradle cap is not a serious problem and normally it will clear up by leaving it alone as it is. As a parent, you can easily overcome this problem by applying simple home remedies.
- To remove these greasy patches, you can gently massage with coconut or olive oil over baby’s scalp with fingers.
- You can also use brush gently over scalp to remove patches but do not use too much force to remove patchy scales.
- After oil massage, wash the baby’s hair with mild baby shampoo or anti-fungal baby soap.
- Petroleum jelly is also good for cradle cap.
- Apply Vaseline on your baby’s scalp at night and leave it overnight.
- Wash the hair with mild baby shampoo in the next day morning and wipe with a soft towel.
Baking soda is another ingredient that will help to remove the scales over your babies head. Mix few spoons of baking soda with equal amount of water, apply over the scalp and leave it for 5-7 minutes. Then comb gently to remove the scales. You can use coconut oil instead of water and massage over baby’s scalp. Remember, don’t apply too much force to remove cradle cap, it will take time.
9. Baby Acne:
Baby acne is a collection of small red bumps, develops normally on newborn baby’s skin. It develops generally within the first two to four weeks after baby’s birth. It can appears anywhere on the face of the newborn, but usually on the cheeks, chin or forehead. Although there is no known cause of this acne according to doctors but it is completely harmless and temporary. Baby acne clears up on its own but if it doesn’t clear up, contact your paediatrician.
However, you can try some natural remedies to clear acne early. In the earlier days, baby’s skin is quite soft and delicate, therefore gently wash baby’s face and dry with soft cloth. But you should avoid excessive washing and over dressing. Simultaneously, apply breast milk on the affected area.
10. Neonatal Jaundice:
Newborn baby jaundice (Navjat shishu me Piliya) is a yellowing of eyes and skin. A degree of jaundice is very normal among newborn babies that occurs due to high level of bilirubin in the blood. Normal neonatal jaundice typically appears within two to four days of life. Yellow skin and yellowish eyes are main symptoms of jaundice. It may start in the face before spreading down across the body. The infant or shishu sleeps longer than the usual sleep. If the jaundice is mild, it clears on its own in 10 days of time. However, it is mandatory to consult a doctor.
Simultaneously, continue breast feeding; exposure to indirect sunlight is also good. Expose your baby to morning sunlight for 15-20 minutes before 8 AM; it may help to reduce bilirubin level.
11. Colic in Infants:
Colic is an attack of frequent, prolonged and intense crying in a healthy infant. It is very common among the infants of the age below 6 months. In simple words, if your baby, who is an otherwise a healthy child, is crying for more than three hours a day, for more than three days a week, for three consecutive weeks, that is known as colic. Cause of colic is unknown; it may be abdominal pain that appears during first few months after birth. It is usually at its worst in a baby’s second and third months, but the length of time colic usually lasts varies from baby to baby.
Main symptom of colic is intense, loud, and inconsolable crying, for no apparent reason. Baby has a red or flushed face while crying and sometimes seems to be in pain. Arching of back, clenching of fists and recoiling to touch are few other symptoms. These episodes usually occur in the evening. Colic is very frustrating for parents; they feel helpless and confused about what to do.
To control colic, you can try some home remedies such as-
1. Breast Feeding for Colic:
Feed your baby in smaller quantities at frequent intervals of 1½ to 2 hour by keeping him as upright as possible. Then burp (dakar) the baby by gently patting on the back after each feed.
2. Cuddling for Colic Pain:
Cuddling is one of the most effective remedies for colic. Keep your baby in skin to skin contact; when you hold your baby close, she feels secure and subsides crying. By rocking your baby gently in your arms , you can also make your baby sleep peacefully.
3. Create a Noise:
Create some noise to make feel like mother’s womb; noise can often refocus baby’s attention, and reduce crying overall.
4. Warm Compress for Colic:
Give a warm compress to you baby’s tummy with a hot water (not too hot) bag as colic is usually caused by problems in the digestive system. This can help to relieve the discomfort he/she has.
5. Use of Probiotics for Colic:
Use of probiotics for increasing good bacteria, will also help to improve the function of intestines and aid in digestion of food. Because it is believed that the root cause of colic pain in infants may be related to the stomach problems.
6. Massage with Oil:
Massage with mustard, coconut or olive oil can also help to subside baby’s crying; it will make babies feel relaxed and calm by improving blood circulation.
7. Asafoetida (heeng) for Colic:
Asafoetida (heeng) also good to relieve colic pain. Take a solid block, break off pinch of asafoetida (heeng) and make paste by adding a little amount of warm water. Apply this paste over naval area of the baby; it helps to release gas from the stomach.
If your baby’s excessive crying is not subsided after trying colic soothing techniques, you must visit your doctor.
12. Otorrhea or Middle ear Infection or ‘Kan ka bahna’:
Otorrhea, one of the most common paediatric ailment, means any kind of flow or discharge from the ear. It is an inflammation of the middle ear, located just behind the eardrum. It is generally caused due to the viruses or bacteria. Actually, the ears make fluid all the time that drains through the tubes (called Eustachian tubes) into the back of the nose. Nasal congestion of the baby blocked these tubes. Then bacteria enters into the fluid behind baby’s eardrum and spreads an infection.
Ear infection in infants (shishu) resolves on its own within few days, but if is not, you should go to your paediatrician. However, the mother should follow some precautions while feeding the baby, such as-
- Breastfeeding is the best for babies to keep them away from any type of paediatric ailment.
- Feed your baby in an upright position; if baby face is down, it can allow milk to get into the infection-prone areas of baby’s ears and lead to an infection.
- Don’t feed your baby when you are in lying position.
Infants health problems described above are not a exhaustive list of the health problems. It only refers to problems which are common in babies just after the birth. Moreover, use of medicines, especially antibiotics are not always needed for babies problems. Most of the health problems get better by themselves or by applying some simple remedies. But in case of newborn babies, it is advisable to follow doctor’s advice or consult the doctor before applying any of the home remedies.