Tips for Caring for Your Child's Health

Safety, Injuries, Nutrition, Immunizations and More

Parents have many concerns when it comes to their kids—and rightfully so. Here is some information that helps answer the most common questions we hear about caring for a child's health.

  • Fever and Temperature

      A fever is the body’s way of fighting infection. It is when the body’s temperature is higher than normal. A child’s normal temperature ranges from 97ºF to 99ºF. If your child is healthy, a fever is probably not serious. Things like being overheated in warm weather can cause a fever. Different types of infection can also cause a fever.

      How to Take a Newborn’s Temperature

      The most accurate way to take a baby’s (under 24 months) temperature is in his bottom. Other methods are not as accurate. Always use a digital thermometer. Do not use a glass thermometer.

      1. Lay your baby on his stomach across your lap or in his crib. Keep one hand on his back to hold him safely. (You also can lay your baby on his back and lift up his legs like you do when you change his diaper.)
      2. Dip the tip of the thermometer in petroleum jelly.
      3. Turn on the thermometer.
      4. Put the thermometer ½ to 1 inch into your baby’s bottom. Hold it in place.
      5. Listen for the signal or beep.
      6. Remove the thermometer.
      7. Read the number and write it down.

      When to See a Doctor

      Call your baby’s doctor if:

      - He has a rectal temperature over 100.4ºF and is younger than 2 months old.

      - He has a rectal temperature over 102.2ºF and is 2 to 6 months old.

      Using Over-the-Counter Medicine

      - Aspirin is not recommended for children with fever. Use fever reducers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Do not alternate these medicines—give your child one or the other.

      - It may take 60 to 90 minutes for these medicines to work.

      - Check with your child’s doctor or pharmacist before giving acetaminophen or ibuprofen with other medicines. This includes over-the-counter cough and cold medicines.

      - Let the doctor know if your child is taking any vitamins, herbal products, supplements or home remedies.

  • Injuries and When to Visit at Doctor
  • Soothing a Crying Baby

      Crying is normal for babies. Babies usually cry when they are hungry, wet, bored, uncomfortable or when they just want to be held. Sometimes babies cry no matter what you do to console them. When crying continues for extended periods of time and does not stop, your baby may have colic.

      What is colic?

      Colic happens when a baby cries and is unable to self-soothe. Colic is not related to digestive problems, but gas or discomfort could make crying worse. No one really knows the true cause of colic. It is typically considered when your baby is healthy and well-fed, but cries for more than three hours a day, three days a week for more than three weeks. Most babies will outgrow colic by the time they are 3 to 4 months old.

      What to do when your baby cries

      When your baby cries, check to see if he:

      - Has a wet or dirty diaper

      - Is hungry

      - Needs to be burped

      - Is comfortable and isn’t too hot or too cold

      Your baby may just need you to hold and comfort him. Babies need a lot of love, cuddling and holding. See if holding or rocking settles him down. And, if you try to stay calm, it will help your baby calm down.

      When to call the doctor

      If your baby is crying for over an hour and none of these things seem to comfort him, call your doctor.

      Remember

      If your baby is crying a lot and you feel like you cannot cope with the crying, get help. It is important to remember that you are not alone—many new parents experience this phase of crying. Don’t feel bad if you need to take a short break. Have a spouse, partner, friend or family member watch him for a while.

      Never shake your baby. Violent or forceful shaking can lead to bleeding or swelling of the brain, blindness or even death.

      The Period of PURPLE Crying®

      The Period of PURPLE Crying program provides tips and helps parents understand the time of increased crying in their baby’s life, which is a normal part of every infant’s development.

      You may receive materials from Period of PURPLE Crying at your birthing hospital. This information can help you understand typical early infant crying. Remember, the letters in PURPLE stand for:

      - Peak of crying—Crying peaks during the second month, then decreases during months 3 to 5

      - Unexpected—Crying may come and go for no apparent reason

      - Resists soothing—Crying may continue despite all soothing efforts by caregivers

      - Pain-like face—Infants may look like they are in pain, even when they are not

      - Long lasting—Crying can go on for 30 to 40 minutes at a time, and often for much longer

      - Evening—Crying may occur more in the late afternoon and evening

      Visit PURPLEcrying.info for helpful videos and more tips about how to handle your baby’s crying.

  • Sleeping

      Always put your baby on his back to sleep. This is the safest way for him to sleep (unless your doctor tells you something different). Laying him on his back helps to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, also called crib death or SIDS. This includes when he naps during the day and when he sleeps at night. Use a firm mattress without anything else in the crib.

      Where should my baby sleep?

      Have your baby sleep in his own crib without any pillows or heavy blankets. Move your baby’s crib into your bedroom and place the crib within arm’s reach. This will make it easier for you to care for and feed your baby.

      Your baby should NOT sleep in the bed with you, other children or adults because he could:

      - Suffocate from the pillows or blankets.

      - Be injured from someone rolling on him.

      Your baby should also NOT sleep on a couch, chair, pillow, waterbed or other soft surface because he could:

      - Suffocate from sliding between the pillows.

      - Be injured from rolling onto the floor.

      Sleeping in the same bed with your baby can cause him harm if he is:

      - Younger than 2 years old

      - Premature or has a medical condition

      - Small enough that part of his body could become trapped between your body and the bedrails

      Do not use:

      - Pillows, blankets or quilts

      - Mobiles that your baby can reach

      - Toys or stuffed animals

      - Crib bumpers

      What temperature should I keep my baby’s room?

      Do not overheat the room where your baby sleeps. This may also be a cause of SIDS. Set the thermostat to a temperature that is comfortable for adults who are lightly dressed. This is usually between 68ºF and 72ºF, but NEVER over 75ºF. Instead of using covers in cool weather, dress your baby in a lightweight, one-piece blanket sleeper or sleep sack to keep him warm. Do not cover your baby’s face or head.

  • Common Conditions and Procedures
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Health Tips Based on Your Child's Age

See a summary of child development milestones, and select a button below to read about age-specific health information.

            
 
            

Additional Resources We Recommend

This is general information and is not specific medical advice for your child. Always consult your child’s doctor or other healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the care or health of your child.