My daughter has always been an easy going kid, but at 3 months, Ria was acting really cranky. I called the paediatrician and the nurse said it sounded like teething. I could differentiate from her hungry sobs and I’m-so-sleepy wails and I knew it was something else. Turns out, she had an ear infection, one we were able to catch and treat early.

Indeed, parents can help diagnose the child properly. To understand when a baby is sick, the parent must know how the child is when he/she is well and that’s something only a parent knows best.

Here’s a quick guide to taking care of your baby before calling a doctor. However, it’s advisable to check with your health practitioner about home remedies since certain food items could be inappropriate.

The common cold

A runny nose and sneezing, sometimes a cough and cold? Usually lasting more than 2-3 days. Babies can fall ill primarily during winter and fall.

How to treat

Avoid cough or cold meds. Dry air could worsen the congestion hence run a humidifier in the baby’s room while he/she sleeps. You can also drain the sinus (if needed) by elevating the child’s head. If your baby refuses to drink lots of breast milk give him/her water or an electrolyte drink, like Pedialyte.

When to call the doctor: If your baby is a newborn or is running a high fever.


Feverish kids are very irritable and lethargic. It can be related to a cold or infection. Sometimes it could be a reaction to a vaccine.

How to treat: Few parents take their children to the doctor as soon as there is a rise in the temperature, but fever below 101 degrees aren’t dangerous. Undress your baby and wipe his/her body with a warm towel. Encourage your baby to drink lots of fluids. This could help reduce the fever to a certain level.

When to call the doctor: If your baby is a newborn (younger than 2 months) and has a low-grade fever. If your baby is younger than a year and has a fever of 102 degrees or more. If the fever is lasting more than 3 days or if your child is becoming more irritable and there is a drastic change in the behaviour are also a call for concern.

Ear infection

Infants are more prone to an ear infection. The body language of your baby might be a bit tricky because when kids are sleepy they often rub their ears, but it becomes a concern if they are irritable and have a runny nose or a fever as he/she keeps tugging the ears.

How to treat: Certain infections subside on their own but a doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to relieve the pain. Baby infants could be given Tylenol to help them sleep. Do not overuse antibiotics.

When to call the doctor: If your baby has been showing irritable symptoms for more than 2-3 days. If you suspect an infection in the ears. A severe and untreated infection can lead to the ruptured ear drum and if isn’t treated well could lead to hearing loss.


Changing diapers every now and then? Isn’t this the joy of parenting? Frequent bowel movements are often caused by a virus, a bacterial infection, food poison or allergy could also be to blame. Sometimes medicines could be the culprit.

How to treat:

During diarrhoea, dehydration is the main concern. This could last 5-10 days. Give your baby lots of fluids. If there’s vomiting wait until 30 minutes after he/she throws up and offer small frequent doses of electrolyte drink. Start with a tablespoon and increase the dose over time.

When to call the doctor: If your baby has a high fever or the symptoms get worse.

The flu

An infected baby will act cranky and also lose interest in eating or playing since flu is very common and can pass on quickly from day cares or families, it’s easy to get infected. The child can develop a fever followed by a runny nose and a cough. The flu can last from 3-7 days.

How to treat: Treating the flu is as similar as a cold or a cough. Give your child plenty of liquids and watch out for severing coughing or breathing issues. It’s recommended to get a vaccination to prevent future infections.

When to call the doctor: If your baby is a newborn, or if symptoms don’t improve after 5 days.


This condition makes your child’s eyes appear red and swollen. It’s due to the inflammation of the eye’s mucous membranes and usually starts in one eye. The cause can be a viral or bacterial infection: if there’s a yellow or green discharge it signals bacteria; no tearing or pus indicates a viral infection. Both the infections are contagious and can spread quickly from one eye to the other or to another family member.

How to treat: If it’s a viral infection, it usually clears up on its own in a week. Keep your baby’s eyes clean by gently washing it with warm water. An antibiotic eye drop is used to treat bacterial infection.

When to call the doctor: Consult a doctor as soon as these symptoms appear. 

All contents used here is for information purpose only, this cannot be considered as a specific diagnosis. Hence always seek advice from your health practitioner regarding your baby’s health before treatment.

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