Insect bites usually cause a reaction that makes your skin itch immediately. This occurs when the insect bites the skin and sucks a little blood from the body. The insects that can bite us include mosquitoes, fleas and bedbugs. The mosquito bite causes a small red swelling in the affected area. Fleas and bedbugs can cause inflammation or even a blister in sensitive children. Now, the good news is that these insect bites can be treated at home. Below are various treatments you can apply.
• Apply a mix of baking powder with water or calamine lotion on the swollen area.
• If it is a bedbug bite and it causes severe itching, ask your doctor whether you can apply 1% hydrocortisone cream (sold without prescription).
• Encourage your child not to scratch with distraction; scratching can hurt the skin and make it more prone to infection.
• Apply insect repellent moderately on exposed skin or on clothing when going out.
• Be sure to use a repellent containing 30% DEET or less if you’re applying directly on the skin. This type of repellent has been approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics to be used on children who are at least 2 months of age.
• Try not to apply it on his hands if your child sucks his thumb.
• Only apply repellent on exposed skin, but don’t apply it near his eyes or mouth.
• Don’t apply repellent on skin rashes or burns.
• If you have pets be sure they don’t have fleas, it will help to further prevent insect bites.
Insect stings instantly cause a skin reaction most of the time, causing painful red swelling on the affected area. A wasp or bee stings hurt because their venom is injected into the skin. Although the pain is uncomfortable, most of the time it can be treated at home with the exception of an unexpected allergic reaction. Find out how to treat and prevent these painful stings.
First and foremost, it is very important to know that for some children insect bites can cause allergic reaction. Contact your doctor or emergency number immediately if:
• Your little one cannot breathe or swallow (call emergency number).
• If he or she is covered, or starts to get covered with red bumps.
• Has 10 or more bites.
• The bee or wasp stung him or her inside his or her mouth.
• If you think your baby needs to be checked out.
• First, check to see if there’s a black dot in the wound; if there is, it’s the bee’s stinger. To remove it, simply pull it out with your fingers or tweezers. Just try to be careful not to burst the venom sac at the end of the sting, because more venom can be released. If after taking the sting out you still see some fragments within the skin, don’t worry, they’ll come out alone.
• The next step is to thoroughly clean the affected area with soap and water.
• Then, apply a paste of baking soda and water on the sting for 20 minutes.
• If the pain persists, apply a cold compress over the affected area for 10 minutes.
• Finally, if your doctor has told you that your child can take ibuprofen, give your little one a dose of this medication to reduce pain and inflammation.
• Teach your child to detect bees and wasps’ nests and let him or her know he or she should not approach them.
• Dress your little one in protective clothing in areas where you know there are wasps and bees.
• Make sure that your child wears shoes when playing outside.
Insect bites or stings, like those of ants, certain caterpillars, and centipedes cause the skin to swell and itch, it can be painful and uncomfortable. Find out how to treat and prevent these painful bites.
• Rub the affected area with a cotton swab and apply a mixture of baking soda and water for 10 minutes.
• If the pain and inflammation persists, you can give your child a dose of ibuprofen to reduce the symptoms, only if your doctor has indicated that your little one can take it.
Bite and Sting Prevention
• If you see an anthill, don’t let your little one near it, and make it clear he or she should not approach it.
• Also talk to your little one about centipedes and certain types of caterpillars that could be in your area, so that he or she learns they can sting and should not touch them.
• Remember to use insect repellent on exposed skin when you go outside. Apply a repellent approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics (these contain 30% DEET or less). Avoid applying repellent on your little one’s hands, eyes or mouth.
• You can also apply insect repellent on your little one’s clothes so that he or she is even more protected.
At this stage of development your baby’s life involves a lot of movement. Any space is like an amusement park and he or she is ready to play! Since his or her gross motor skills continue improving and that’s not going to stop him or her from exploring all around, bumps and bruises are very common, and hard to avoid. Here are a few tips to help you take care of your little one’s inevitable bumps and bruises.
How do I take care of a bump or bruise?
Most bruises are not painful and usually heal with time, on their own. With bruises, bleeding occurs under the skin and therefore there is no risk of infection, but it may require care in the early stages, especially if your little one is in pain. Bruises change color as they heal, and pain at its touch reduces. If it’s red it may be more painful to the touch, but as it becomes purple or blue, and finally transitions to become green or yellow, pain will diminish. If your little one is uncomfortable, relieve inflammation with the following steps:
1. Apply a cold compress, frozen product pack or an ice bag over the bruise for about 10-15 minutes. At the same time, distract your little one cuddling with him or her and even telling him or her a story.
2. If after that your little one is still in pain, apply a little anti-inflammatory ointment over the affected area. Ask your doctor for an ointment recommendation, and keep it at home.
3. If the bruise is large, place a warm cloth over it 48 hours after applying the cold compress.
4. Bruises heal by themselves in about 2 to 4 weeks; after going through the entire range of colors that lead to healing.
5. Finally, keep in mind that children look towards us after a stumble to see our reaction. Try to remain calm and respond according to the situation. This way, your little one will feel safe and won’t be frightened. The best remedy for any bump or bruise is love; give your little one lots of hugs and kisses.
When should I contact my doctor?
Contact your doctor if your little one hit his or her head hard, if he or she fell from a particularly high place, or if the accident was of greater impact. Contact him or her if:
• The hit to the head has caused a bruise behind the ears or you think your little one might have a fractured skull.
• If the pain is strong and persists for more than 24 hours, even without touching the affected area.
• If your child has stopped using the body part where he or she hit him or herself and can’t move it.
• If the bruise seems unusual.
Finally, remember that tumbles are natural and most of the time harmless, so keep calm and trust your instincts to ensure your child’s well-being. Also remember that if the fall caused a scrape, it’s important to clean the area with warm water and then use soap on the area around the cut.
There are great myths that surround vaccines. So much information available at our fingertips can cause fear and confusion. However, doctors and health experts such as the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest that vaccines are safe and highly important.
Immunization protects our babies from serious illnesses which can lead to death. They are so efficient that their implementation has led to a dramatic decline in the emergence of infections. They work by creating immunity to various diseases; saving lives in this generation and the ones to come. Therefore, if parents don’t vaccinate their children, they can cause a disease outbreak that could have been easily prevented. Likewise, children who aren’t vaccinated can transmit diseases to other children who are too young to be vaccinated, to elderly people, or to those with weak immune systems.
Vaccinating your baby will help strengthen his immune system and protect him against diseases such as: tetanus, whooping cough, rubella, hepatitis B, polio and others. Thanks to vaccines, these diseases are now rare. Most are no longer longer known, even though they caused epidemics in the past. Furthermore, vaccines save you money as treating a preventable disease is very costly and if we avoid vaccination, diseases can reemerge and affect many people.
Many parents have doubts about the side effects that may occur after vaccinating their children. Side effects do exist, but they are most commonly mild such as: pain around the bite or fever. There is a possibility of developing more serious side effects but they are extremely rare. Now, despite side effects, illnesses are always worse than the collateral effects that vaccines bring. Therefore, we must not be afraid and be very conscious about what the media informs us and the myths that surround vaccines.
Ear infections, also known as otitis or middle ear infection, are caused by bacteria, viruses or allergies; causing a blockage in the Eustachian tube (part of the ear) that affects the middle ear. They usually emerge after a cold or other respiratory infection. These infections are highly common in children and are one of the reasons they often go to the doctor.
When babies have ear infections, the middle part becomes swollen and may fill up with fluid. This can be very uncomfortable for children. Most of the time, these infections get better on their own. Usually, the symptoms subside in a few days and in one or two weeks’ time, there are no symptoms or discomfort present at all. Sometimes there is even no need to administer medication, but occasionally doctors may recommend antibiotics to treat the infection.
On the other hand, chronic ear infections may lead to a hearing problem. Therefore, it is important to notify your doctor if your child has an ear infection, especially if you notice that it occurs frequently.
What are the causes of ear infections?
Infections are more common within the first two to four years of life. This is mainly due to the following reasons:
• The Eustachian tubes are shorter and more horizontal, which makes the entry of bacteria or virus easier. In addition, if the tubes are narrow and soft it favors the obstruction.
• The adenoid, or throat tissues, are large and can cover and clog a portion of the tubes.
• Attendance at daycare or preschool may increase the risk of infection.
• They are more common in boys than in girls, especially in ones who have a family history of infections.
What are the symptoms?
• Ear pain
• Trouble sleeping
• Unusual crying and restlessness
• Lack of appetite
• Leaking or accumulation of fluid in the ear
• Your baby doesn’t answer to quiet questions or sounds
• Your baby pulls at his ears
How can I decrease the pain?
• If you notice that your child has an ear infection, don’t hesitate to take him to the pediatrician.
• Place a warm cloth on the affected ear.
• Follow your pediatrician’s instructions, like taking prescribed medication or drops in the ear.
How do I reduce the risk my baby acquires an ear infection?
• Remember to wash your hands frequently and make sure that your little one’s hands are clean too.
• Keep up with vaccines, some of which help prevent infection.
• Avoid contact with people with an infection, especially of the respiratory tract.
• If you smoke, make sure that your child doesn’t inhale secondhand smoke, as this can contribute to ear infections.
Remember ear pain is not always due to an infection; sometimes pain occurs when teeth are coming in, when your little one has an object stuck in his ear, or wax plugs. Whatever the reason, it’s best to contact your pediatrician to identify the cause and give you indications for an adequate treatment.
Autism is a developmental disorder that comes down to differences in an individual’s brain development. The causes of autism are still unknown, but it is believed to be due to several factors, including genetic components and environmental factors. Now, it is important to emphasize that upbringing and vaccines aren’t among the factors that cause autism.
Every person with autism is different; however, there are common features that unify them. These characteristics include social and emotional traits, like: difficulty to communicate, interact with others, make friends, perceive what others feel, make eye contact, detect sarcasm, among others. It is also common for an individual with autism to perform repetitive movements and seek routines. Certain noises or subtle changes can bother them, they may have a strong interest in a particular topic and may even be experts on it, but on the other hand they may have a learning disability.
Autism is so broad that it is part of a spectrum called autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Within this range there are different types of autism, among them there is Asperger Syndrome, which has similarities with autism in the need for routines, frustration over changes, difficulty to socialize, and a passion for a particular topic. The main difference is that there is no learning disability.
The diagnosis of autism is often late, most of the time it is not detected until a later age. However, experts have noticed that early detection is extremely beneficial because steps can be taken to help foster a greater adaptability and independence. We know that every child is different and develops at his or her own pace, but there are certain developmental milestones that if not met at certain age, may raise a flag. Below are a few signs related to autism, these milestones are normally reached by the time a child is 12 months old. If your child presents most of them and you are worried about his development, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor and talk to him or her about it.
Key signs after 12 months:
• Doesn’t respond to his name.
• Doesn’t socialize reciprocally with caregivers.
• Gets mad when small changes occur.
• Rocks his body, flaps his hands or turns in circles.
• Prefers to play by himself.
• Avoids or resists eye contact.
• Doesn’t show much facial expression.
• Doesn’t point to objects or responds when you point to an object.
• Uses little or no gestures, like to say “hello” or “goodbye”.
• Doesn’t answer or understand simple instructions like: “Show me the cat.”
• If he babbles, he doesn’t seem to be having a conversation.
• If he speaks, he talks in a robotic voice.
• He can’t say any words.
• There is a loss of milestones that were already achieved.
• Doesn’t look for things that he sees you hiding.
• Has obsessive interests (for instance, he can spend a lot of time watching objects that turn around, like a fan or toy tires).
• Plays with objects in the same way every time, and often shows interest in only part (for example, he may play with a toy with lights specifically only turning it on or off).
• Tends to follow a routine.
These are just some signs of autism. Your child meeting some of them doesn’t necessarily mean he has autism; however, if you are worried that your baby shows most of them, it’s best to contact your pediatrician and talk to him/her about it. That way, together you can see if your baby’s development is on track or if it’s a good idea for him to be evaluated by a specialist.
Iron is a very important and essential mineral in our diets because it keeps our body oxygenated. It is part of hemoglobin, the substance found in red blood cells that’s responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. It gives us our healthy skin color and is essential for a child’s healthy development.
It is important to provide a diet rich in iron because it helps us maintain a healthy level of red blood cells. If the body doesn’t obtain enough iron, the most common type of anemia can appear.
Babies that were born at term and with good weight have a reserve of iron that lasts during the first six months of age. However, at the end of this period it is essential to get iron from other sources because the body no longer contains it. It is very important to do so because anemia that’s not treated could lead to delays in growth and development.
What are the symptoms of anemia?
• Persistent irritability
• Poor appetite
How do I prevent anemia?
To prevent anemia, it is important to ensure that your child receives adequate amounts of iron through food. Here’s how:
• Offer your child a balanced diet with iron-rich foods such as:
o Red meat
o Sweet potato
o Iron-fortified cereals
• Remember not to give cow’s milk to your baby until after his first year.
• If your baby drinks formula, choose one that is fortified with iron.
• Include solids rich in vitamin C in his diet because it helps the body absorb the consumed iron.
Remember if you suspect your baby has anemia, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor. By means of a simple blood test, he can detect it and indicate the proper treatment.
At this stage of your baby’s development, his mobility has increased immensely. He’s probably starting to crawl and wants to grab any object that is in sight. Babies want to explore and discover their world and they do it in the best way they know: taking objects to their mouth. They discover textures and shapes this way, not to mention taste! Knowing that babies are highly mobile, it is very important to child-proof your home and verify that there aren’t any harmful objects at your little one’s reach.
For babies, there is no object that is off limits. If they see an object that gets their attention and is within their reach, they will take it whether it is dangerous or not. At this age, they can’t discriminate between safe and dangerous objects. That’s why it is recommendable for parents to “walk in their babies shoes” by crawling around the house and identifying and removing any possible danger that might be in their reach.
Sometimes, despite our effort to eliminate dangerous objects, our babies cleverly find objects that we don’t see. The objects that our children find can be dangerous, like batteries, sharp objects or other objects small enough to be swallowed, but large enough to obstruct their breathing. When swallowed, some small objects like coins or small marbles, go directly to the stomach without causing much trouble. Larger objects can cause damage to the esophagus, stomach and intestines, or cause obstruction in breathing.
Is it stuck?
Swallowing small objects must be evacuated through feces regularly within 2 days, but it can take up to 4 to 5 days.
Watch out for these signs that the object could not go through:
• Chest or stomach pain
• Your baby can’t drink or eat
• Excess salivation
Contact emergency paramedics if your baby:
• Has trouble breathing or crying
• Has trouble swallowing
• Is drooling or salivating to much
• Is breathing loudly or making a whistling sound
Take your child to the doctor he has swallowed a dangerous object such as a battery, sharp item, or medication.
If you have not yet chosen a pediatrician, here’s a list of the six most important things we consider you should take in account.
1. Ask for references from friends and family because they can give you their opinion and share personal experiences.
2. Compare between doctors who you might be interested in, having at least three options is an excellent idea.
3. Check their credentials.
4. Ask them for an interview and keep in mind to:
• Talk about a subject that is important to you, such as breastfeeding.
• Ask the questions that are most relevant to you.
• Check availability in his office.
• Observe his interaction with your child.
• Discuss the frequency of your appointments. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, pediatricians must check children at the first, second, fourth, sixth, ninth, and twelfth months of age. They also recommend that babies be checked at both 18 and 24 months of age and once a year after that.
• Ask if he works in a group or alone.
• Ask if he will be available if an emergency arises.
• Talk to him/her about how you can communicate outside the office; if he has an email address where you can write or separate phone to call.
5. Decide whether you and the pediatrician bonded after the first appointment. It’s crucial to feel secure and that you trust your pediatrician.
6. Location might also be a factor to consider. Check how far his office is from your residence.
Remember it’s important to choose a pediatrician that truly values your child’s health and development. This way you’ll feel secure knowing that your baby is in good hands.