Your Baby’s First Year

Child-rearing if full of surprises – and nothing comes with more surprises than their first year of life. Here are some common conditions you may encounter during your little one’s first year:

Thrush

Also known as “candida”, thrush is a fungal infection caused by bacteria found naturally in our digestive systems. It becomes a problem when the candida fungus, or yeast, overpopulates in the body. When it comes to infants, thrush is commonly seen in the baby’s mouth and on the mother’s nipple.

Thrush can be caused by a weakened immune system or while mom or baby is taking an antibiotic. Even though antibiotics attack “bad bacteria”, they also destroy some “good bacteria” too which allows the yeast to grow.

Symptoms of thrush for mom include pain and burning in the breast as well as dry and cracked nipples. Symptoms of thrush for baby include white sores or redness in the mouth, diaper rash and refusal to nurse.

Treatments often involve a prescribed anti-fungal medication for baby’s mouth or over-the-counter cream for mom’s breasts. Treatment must occur at the same time to ensure the infection doesn’t continue to spread back and forth between mom and baby.

You can help prevent thrush by keeping pacifiers and bottles sterilized as well as keeping your nipples clean.

Mastitis

Mastitis is the devil. It is the result of a plugged milk duct or bacteria entering the breast through a crack in the nipple that causes an infection. Not only does your breast become sore and swollen, but the rest of your body responds with flu-like symptoms such as fever and dizziness.

This condition is easily treated with an antibiotic and, in my experience, the effects are fairly quick. My recommendation is to see a doctor right away if your breast becomes pained and red – until you can, try a warm compress and massage to encourage the duct to unblock.

Mastitis prevention includes keeping your nipples moistened to avoid dry, cracked skin and breastfeed or pump regularly. Regular feeding or draining of the breasts keeps the ducts empty and avoid blockages.

Cradle Cap

Cradle cap is a common, non-infectious skin condition that affects many, many babies. It looks like patches of scaling skin on the scalp with mild redness. Some natural, at-home remedies for cradle cap includes using a humidifier in your baby’s room to prevent dry skin and only bathing your little one every 2-3 days.

If cradle cap does occur, you can massage a nickel-sized drop of organic oil into your baby’s scalp and massage in the skin or comb it through. This often loosens the scaly skin. You can also try a light and natural moisturizer on your baby’s scalp after shampooing.

Colic

Colic occurs when a healthy baby cries more than 3 hours a day, 3 days a week for over 3 weeks. Yes, it’s a rule of 3’s.

The definitive cause of colic is unclear but in most cases it can be caused by digestive issues including gas, bloating and discomfort. Remedies include removing dairy from your diet (if you are breastfeeding), trying a different formula, burping often, baby massage and baby wearing.

Colic can be a very stressful condition to deal with. If your child falls within the rule of 3’s, seek the advice of medical professional. It’s always best to determine if there is an underlying medical reason for your child’s crying.

Teething

This is the one condition in this list that is a necessary evil, although every child teethes differently. Some may have a difficult time while others pop teeth like a champ.

You’ll know your little one is beginning their teething stage when you see red and swollen gums, more drooling than normal and/or red cheeks. You may notice your child having difficulty sleeping and exhibiting behaviours such as restlessness and crankiness. Teething babies may even begin to bite.

To help your baby throughout this stage, you can try giving them a cold washcloth to suck on or give them a finger massage on their gums. You can provide cold pacifiers and teething toys – just be sure to cool them in the fridge and not the freezer.

If all else fails, seek the advice of your doctor. They may recommend an over-the-counter numbing gel (although I would try home remedies before resorting to this) or a pain relief medication to ease their discomfort.

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