Almost all babies, toddlers and children will get common childhood illnesses like chickenpox, colds, sore throats and earache.
Some of these are easily treated at home with advice from your pharmacist, your GP or your health visitor rather than a trip to your surgery or A&E.
If your baby cries suddenly and often, but they otherwise appear to be happy and healthy, they may have colic. Colic is common and although uncomfortable it is not serious and usually affects babies only in the first few months of their lives. The most common symptom of colic is continuous crying, which typically occurs in the late afternoon or evening. Other signs include a flushed appearance, drawing their legs to their chest, clenching fists, passing wind and trouble sleeping.
Colic is a common problem and usually gets better by itself by six months of age. If your baby's crying seems different in any way (such as a very high-pitched cry or a whimper), then seek medical advice.
You can also seek advice about excessively crying or sleepless children from the support group Cry-sis, which has a website (available at www.cry-sis.org.uk) and a national telephone helpline (0845 122 8669).
It is common for babies to be sick in the early weeks as they get used to feeding and their bodies develop. Bringing up small amounts of milk is known as possetting. When your baby vomits there will be a much larger amount. It can be frightening for your baby, so they are likely to cry. Lots of things can cause your baby to be sick.
Make sure your baby is positioned correctly when breast or bottle feeding. Incorrect positioning can cause a baby to be sick. Ask your health visitor for advice about positioning.
Being sick often or with large amounts may be due to gastric reflux where acid from the tummy can come up again. Babies can be grumpy and it can sometimes lead to poor feeding. If your baby is feeding well but doesn't seem themselves, you may just need to change the baby's position during a feed to make them more upright. Feeding smaller amounts and more often may also help.
If a young baby cannot keep any milk down, stops wetting his or her nappies or develops green-yellow forceful vomiting speak to your GP straight away.
Sticky eyes are common in newborn babies and young children while their tear ducts are developing. You may see some sticky stuff in the corner of the eyes or their eyelashes may be stuck together. It normally clears up on its own, but you may have to clean your baby's eyes regularly with damp cotton wool. Use clean, cooled boiled water.
Wipe each eye from the corner by the nose outwards. Use a clean piece of cotton wool for each wipe. Remember to wash your hands before and afterwards and avoid sharing towels to prevent spreading infection.
The signs of sticky eyes can sometimes be confused with an infection called conjunctivitis. With conjunctivitis the signs are yellowy, green sticky goo which comes back regularly. If you notice this and it continues for more than 24 hours, contact your health visitor or GP. Conjunctivitis can be passed on easily, so wash your hands and use a separate towel for your baby.
It’s normal for babies to develop rashes early on as their skin adapts to a different environment. If your baby develops a rash and seems unwell contact your GP. Most rashes are nothing to worry about but do be aware of the signs of meningitis.
Nappy rash is very common and can affect lots of babies. It is usually caused when your baby's skin comes into contact with wee and poo that collects in their nappy. A nappy rash causes your baby's skin to become sore.
Most nappy rashes can be treated with a simple skincare routine and by using a cream you can get from the pharmacist. With a mild nappy rash, your baby won't normally feel too much discomfort.
A baby’s skin is thinner and needs extra care. Dry, flaky skin, some blemishes, blotches and slight rashes are normal in newborns and will naturally clear up. If your baby is otherwise well but has a rash and you are worried about it contact your health visitor.
Cradle cap is the name given to the large greasy yellow or brown scales that appear on your baby’s scalp. Sometimes they may flake and the skin may be red. It should not cause your baby any discomfort and should settle over time. It is important not to pick at the scales as this may cause infection.
- Massage a non-cosmetic moisturiser (emollient) which is oil based, or liquid paraffin, into the scalp (not olive oil) and leave to soak in.
- Gently wash the scalp and use a soft baby brush or cloth and gently remove any loose scales.
If this does not settle, the redness spreads, or your baby is itchy, then seek medical advice.
- Preparing for pregnancy
- Your new baby
- Your post-pregnancy body
- Changing nappies
- Child Safety
- Mental and emotional health
- Soothing your baby
- Teething and tooth care
- Washing and bathing