Lindsay Gill: To call the Ped. or not to call the Ped., that is the question

Friday, September 6, 2013

To call the Ped. or not to call the Ped., that is the question

To call the Pediatrician or not to call the Pediatrician, that is the question.  My opinion is that if it is a question, just call.  This is especially if it is your first child, and especially if your incessant worry is causing everyone around you to lose sleep and possibly start to dislike you!  Our Pediatrician has a triage nurse that can better help you decide your next course of action, if any.

Personally, I feel like I'm a pretty laid back mom until the "what ifs" start flooding my mind.  That's when I usually give them a quick call (and scour the internet).  We do have these two books of reference but I honestly don't use them as much as the references during pregnancy (I think I stopped at chapter "Three months" and Luke is almost eight!)  It's amazing that pregnancies that have fairly similar symptoms, questions, and issues can produce such different babies!

Also, there is wiggle room in the recommendations now that "parenting" kicks in and different opinion and schools of thought come into play.  When should I stop breastfeeding?  When should I start solid foods?  The research can report their findings and Pediatricians can give recommendations, but I hear a lot of "well that's a personal decision."  Babies hit different milestones at different times and begin to develop their own little personalities!

Keeping the baby safe and healthy, however, is definitely a common goal.  Here are a few of the reasons I have called the Pediatrician and how they responded:

1.  Eczema:  My own research suggested that this could be an allergy to something Luke was eating.  The Pediatrician said that since it was only on his "elbow pits," as I call them, that it was probably just a genetic skin sensitivity or dryness.  He suggested over the counter hydrocortisone cream with a protective layer of Baby Aquafor cream.  This was difficult to do during the summer without clothes to cover the creams, they seemed to just rub off.  The eczema seemed to go away on its own.  If the eczema is on the baby's face or over more of the body, you might need further care as it could be an allergy.  We had good luck with Arm&Hammer Sensitive Skin No Scent liquid laundry detergent, but I know of families who have had to experiment with their soaps.

2. Blocked Tear Duct:  Luke had a blocked tear duct that started after the first week of life.  Mostly one eye, but both had discharge.  This can be normal and most resolve.  The doctors recommend massage and warm compresses until age one at which point they might consider probing or tubes depending on the severity.  Watch for colored discharge which could mean an infection.  The discharge can get worse with colds and congestion.  Otherwise, keep your little towels with warm water handy for a lot of cleaning!

3.  Congestion:  Oh how I wish that Luke could blow his nose!  I hate listening to his stuffy nose and not being able to help him.  We have some luck with the aspirator and Ayr nose drops, but now that he is older, he knows the aspirator when he sees it and does everything in his power to not let you use it.  The Ped. suggested using nose drops before eating and sleeping to help loosen everything up.  Congestion can lead to ear infections which are harder to spot.  The babies with ear infections might have more ear pain when laying down or tug at their ear (but this could be teething, too).  If you suspect ear problems, this would be a good time for a Ped. visit.

4.  Cough:  The Ped. said to watch for a fever or worsening of the cough.  They want to make sure he doesn't have bronchitis.  They suggested keeping him inclined (tough at bed time), keeping him hydrated (milk/formula are enough hydration if they are still taking a bottle), using a humidifier in his room, and watch for any trouble breathing.  Also look for changes in behavior or trouble sleeping.  A fellow mom suggested rolling up a small towel under the head of the mattress for a slight incline for bedtime, what a good idea!

5.  Falling:  This is the worst.  Luke fell twice on my watch.  It was terrible.  It's hard to know if they were hurt or just scared.  The Ped. said to watch for vomiting or any unusual behavior.  He fell right before bed, so the Ped. said to wake him up in the middle of the night and make sure he was fine (I've also read waking them up every 2-3 hours).  I then asked the Ped what I should do if I started vomiting (just kidding), but I was far more upset than Luke was.  I would call the Ped if your child falls, regardless.  I actually felt a bit better after I "confessed" to the doctor that he fell.

6.  Fever:  My Ped. gave us a handout on doses for fever reducer and said to call if the medicine does not bring the fever down or the fever goes above 101 degrees.  We have the thermometer pacifier which I think is the best thing ever, except that I'm not convinced of its accuracy.  We also tried the No Touch Forehead thermometer but every family member was 97 degrees?  We returned that one.  The Ped. said that the rectal thermometer is the most accurate, but that if you use an underarm one, just add a degree.

7.  Teething: Luke has two bottom teeth and four coming on top all at once!  Poor guy has buckets of drool and is chewing on everything.  Recently, he's been grinding his teeth.  I hear from other moms that this is a phase and is normal.  The books say do not use Orajel, that it can be poisonous for babies.  Our Ped. said that if used in excess and swallowed, the baby's throat can start feeling the numbness and they could have trouble breathing.  He said to use a pea size and rub it into the gums really well.  I've heard other moms say it doesn't help their child but I sense some relief when we use it on Luke's gums.

8.  Shots:  Luke got a knot-like bump at his shot site.  The Ped. said that this is a common side-effect and that it should resolve in about 2 weeks.  They suggested warm compress and massage or ice.  We did none of the three and it went away on it's own.  There was also preliminary research that showed that treating a fever after shots could lower the effectiveness of the shot.  Our Ped. said to allow a low-grade fever.  Definitely ask your Ped, though, about what they suggest.

***Again, I am not qualified to give medical advice, I'm simply reporting what I have been told by my Ped throughout our short eight months of baby experience.***

Update on 9/8/13: My friend and fellow mom NK suggested baby Vicks on the soles of the baby's feet with socks on for a cough, it's worth a try! 

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