A - Z on Caring for your Baby

As your baby’s on-call nurse, you’ll want to know when it's time to call for the doctor. Call or see your doctor is your baby suddenly seems lethargic, has trouble breathing, stops weeing or develops a high fever. Read this article for more signs of serious illness.

Signs of serious illness

Illness can quickly turn worse in babies. Call a doctor if you see any of the following signs in your baby:

  • drowsiness (your baby is less alert than usual)
  • decreased movement or lethargy (she’s less active than usual, and just wants to lie around)
  • breathing difficulties
  • poor circulation (he looks paler than usual – or even blue – and might have cold hands and feet)
  • poor feeding
  • poor urine output (fewer than four wet nappies in 24 hours).

Seek urgent medical attention if your baby does any of the following:

  • vomits green fluid
  • has a convulsion (a fit). If this happens, try not to panic – gently place your baby on her side, allowing her to move freely
  • stops breathing for more than 15 seconds
  • has a lump in the groin area (a hernia)
  • has a rash on his legs
  • has a high fever (a temperature of more than 38°C).

Babies Daily Care

By the time your newborn becomes a baby, you’ve probably got clothes, nappies and bathtime under control. But now there are teeth to think about. You can start cleaning them as soon as they appear.

Clothes

Although your baby is no longer a newborn, it’s still a good idea to keep clothes as practical as possible. Stretchy body suits, t-shirt tops, cotton elastic waist pants and tops with envelope necks that stretch over heads make dressing and undressing easier. Read up on dressing a baby for more ideas.

As she gets older and is sleeping less, you'll probably get out and about more. So make sure she has a hat and other sun smart clothes that will protect her from harmful UV rays.

Bathtime

Until baby is about six months, you can continue washing her in a little tub (or even the kitchen sink!). But as soon as she can sit up, you can move to the regular family bath. This is also when babies can become more adventurous so ensure bath safety is kept top-of-mind at all times.

You can bathe baby each evening or less frequently provided she has a daily top and tail. Stick with non-soap cleanser (it won’t irritate the skin like soap can) and follow the basic ‘wash order’ you used when she was a newborn:

  • Wash the face first
  • The body second
  • The genitals last

Nail care. To trim nails, you can use a small pair of ordinary nail scissors or child nail clippers. (You can try a nail file but beware of filing delicate fingertip skin.)  If you feel up to using nail clippers, then be careful to gently press and hold the fingertip skin away from the nail when clipping. And remember to stop as soon as baby protests or pulls her hand away and pick up again later or when she is sleeping. A treat or a favourite toy could help her get over a bit of anxiety. Even if you just want to press on with it, it’s not worth it if she is likely to develop a fear of it, which will make nail trimming almost impossible when she gets older.

Remember with toe nails to always clip straight across, never rounding the edges which can lead to ingrown toenails.
Teeth care. Most babies get their first teeth between six to 10 months, although a few don’t get them till about 12 months. You can start cleaning baby’s teeth as soon as they appear. You can use a clean washcloth to gently rub the teeth clean twice a day. After breakfast and before bed are good times to give it a go.Toothpaste, even the baby variety, is not recommended until baby is two years old.