Common infant ailments

There are number of issues that a baby may face. Here are some simple remedies for them

Mother with infant“Mummy, he just doesn’t stop crying!” exclaimed Smita, almost in tears herself. “I have tried feeding him, giving him gripe water, applying some asafoetida paste around his navel, but nothing is soothing him.” Smita, the mother of a three-month-old was feeling quite helpless by now.

In your newly acquired role of a parent, there is an endless list of things to be done and to be aware of, while time is at a premium. So, to help you deal with the most important worry of your life, your child’s ailments, we have listed a few ways.

Common cold

Common cold is quite common in infants. Since it is a viral infection, and it takes a few days for the virus to leave the body, antibiotics and antihistamines are not recommended to treat it. Though it may seem like a petty thing, a cold can give your baby a lot of discomfort as a blocked nose may prevent him/her from suckling.

  • Clear your baby’s nose by using saline drops.
  • Clean the nose if the secretion dries up by using a swab of cotton dipped in warm water.
  • Give steam inhalation. Usually doctors advise the use of a vaporiser which can be switched on and kept near the child’s bed. It becomes a continuous source of steam and soothes the baby’s nasal passage and throat.
  • Try and give plenty of fluids to your infant, which include water and fruit juices [especially citrus fruits, which are an excellent source of vitamin C, a vitamin which is said to prevent colds]. Guava and tomato juices can also be given. However, if your baby is totally on breast feed, s/he doesn’t require having any extra fluids.
  • Don’t allow anyone to smoke near the baby.

If your child’s breathing rate increases, discharge is thick and yellow, refuses to eat or drink anything or gets an acute earache, consult your paediatrician immediately.

Loose stools

Loose stools may be caused due to a viral or bacterial infection, an allergic reaction or even due to medication.

  • Give oral rehydration solution to your infant with passage of every stool and every time s/he throws up. To make up for the lost water and salts, it is absolutely essential.
  • If s/he can eat, give your baby freshly prepared yogurt.
  • You should also give small amounts of food containing fibre [banana, cereals, and oatmeal].
  • Dr Anup Agarwal, a leading paeditrician stresses on the need for hygiene. Your baby’s toys, teething ring and almost everything around that is likely to be picked up and put into his/her mouth should be washed thoroughly, regularly, as it is a major cause of infection.

If vomiting becomes frequent or shows traces of blood or if the stools become bloody and there is high fever or abdominal pain, take your baby to the doctor immediately.

Lower Respiratory Tract Infection [lrti]

The Respiratory Syncytial Virus causes LRTI in infants. The symptoms are cold, fever, cough and breathlessness .and result in an infection in bronchial passages causing diseases like bronchiolitis [in infants below three months] and bronchitis [in infants above three months]. This may also cause wheezing and result in spread to lungs causing viral pneumonia.

  • Giving steam to your baby [as described above] is really helpful.
  • While your baby sleeps, keep the head elevated for better breathing.
  • Keep your infant away from a room cooler as humidity creates a conducive environment for germs to breed.
  • When s/he wets the bed, change the nappy immediately to avoid wetness.
  • Clean your child with a wet towel instead of bathing him/her.
  • Avoid dusting and cleaning your baby’s room while s/he is in as dust may cause him/her a lot of discomfort.


Rashes can be allergic or infectious. Dr Agarwal has identified the most commonly found ones in infants.

Infectious rashes

  • Ring worm rash: these are raised spots with a clear rounded border like a ring, caused due to ring worms and are found in babies above the age of six months.
  • Fungal rashes: these are small, red, inflamed and sometimes with a watery discharge. All infectious rashes should be treated in consultation with a doctor.

Allergic rashes

Heat rashes: are seen as tiny red spots and keep appearing and disappearing during the summer and rainy seasons. Making your baby wear soft, loose, cotton clothes helps.

Milk spots: are small white irregular patches on the face and keep appearing and vanishing. They happen due to milk allergy and go on their own.

Nappy rashes: are bright red and the most commonly occurring. They can be avoided if diaper use is reduced and the baby’s skin is exposed to air and its dryness maintained.

Rashes caused by a product: are rose pink rashes caused by using a certain product. They disappear when the use of the product is stopped.

Urticaria: This is an allergic reaction due to change of weather and shows red raised spots with an irregular margin, again disappearing with the weather.

The allergic rashes generally don’t require medication, says Dr Agarwal, but sometimes antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent a secondary infection in your baby.

Proper handling of your baby during an illness can lead to a quick recovery. Simply remember the four important mantras – breast feeding, maintaining good hygiene, avoiding self-medication and loving and caring that extra bit. Your child will definitely get well soon!

Priti Salian
Priti Salian is a teacher by profession and a writer by choice. Her interests include yoga, health, parenting and social awareness. She lives in New Delhi.


  1. dear doc, my baby is just one and a half months old. He started having cold since last friday. I am giving him saline drops. He has no fever. Yesterday he passed loose motion twice. Once he gets up from his sleep his nose is blocked. How long will this last? Pls help. Thank you.


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