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The Most Common Health Problems for Newborns and Infants

January 24, 2019 • Kids Health LLC • Illness
Female doctor examines infant with stethoscope

New parents should familiarize themselves with these common infant illnesses.

It can be nerve-wracking to be a new parent, and understandably so. Many new parents have no idea what to expect during their child’s first year of life, but the illness is almost guaranteed to strike at some point, as infants are more vulnerable to infections or diseases than older children.

Fortunately, many of the illnesses that new parents run into are common and easy to treat at home. However, infants are at risk of contracting some more serious conditions that do require a doctor’s attention. This guide to common infant illnesses can help parents identify which conditions require a doctor and when it’s a good idea to call.

Colic

When a baby cries continually and for no apparent reason, the condition is called “colic.” Normally, the child is experiencing some type of discomfort but can’t express it. Colic can often be attributed to gastroesophageal reflux, which is when the acidic contents of the stomach painfully regurgitate back into the esophagus.

If your child is continually crying past the age of three months, it may be time to call a doctor. A doctor may recommend smaller, more frequent feedings, a different type of formula, or medication.

Cold and Flu

Infants’ delicate immune systems mean that they’re far more likely than adults to contract infectious illnesses from the world around them. Most babies will have several colds during their first year of life, which will come with coughing, sneezing, and runny nose.

It’s always a good idea to consult with a doctor if your infant is showing signs of a cold or flu, as these mild illnesses can easily develop into pneumonia in young children. The doctor may recommend cold medicine that’s safe for your baby to take. We don’t recommend administering cold medicine before consulting your pediatrician.

Ear Infections

If your infant is tugging at his or her ears, refusing to lie flat, and crying more than usual, it’s possible that an ear infection is to blame. Ear infections occur when germy fluid accumulates in the ear, pressing against the eardrum and causing intense discomfort. Ear infections require a doctor’s attention, as they can lead to permanent hearing loss if left untreated. Fortunately, as long as you catch the infection early on, your doctor can prescribe an antibiotic that will clear it right up.

Constipation

It’s not uncommon for children to have quite irregular bowel movements during their first year of life, especially as different foods get introduced to their diet over time. When babies first begin eating solid foods, they may experience constipation and be unable to pass a solid stool. Fortunately, there are a number of at-home remedies, including dietary changes.

For persistent constipation, a doctor may recommend suppositories or testing for an underlying medical condition. If you ever see blood in your child’s diaper, get in touch with your doctor right away.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is the opposite of constipation — babies with diarrhea have bowel movements that are too frequent and too watery. Diarrhea can be caused by a food allergy, a bacterial infection, or a medication, and it can potentially dehydrate your child. Like with constipation, a bloody stool is a sign that it’s time to call your baby’s doctor. Other signs that medical attention is necessary to include fever, vomiting, marked weight loss, or dry eyes.


Infant illnesses can be worrisome, but having a trusted pediatrician just a phone call away is a great comfort to every new parent. If your child is exhibiting signs of an illness, if you have a new baby on the way, or if you have yet to find a doctor that’s a good match for you and your children, contact Kids’ Health today. As a family-centric pediatric clinic, we’re committed to keeping your child happy and healthy through all stages of their life.