Deciphering Baby Illnesses

During a child’s first year of life, he will experience more illnesses than an adult due to his still-developing body and immune system. It can be difficult to figure out what’s wrong with your baby as well since he can’t communicate how she’s feeling, making any illness all the more disconcerting to parents. However, according to, there are some conditions that infants tend to develop more often.

Baby illnesses 300x199 Deciphering Baby Illnesses Photo

Deciphering baby illnesses should sometimes be left to the professionals.

Here are the six most common baby illnesses and how to identify them:

Cough and cold
As described in a previous post, “Inside a Kid’s Cough,” a cough can be associated with any number of illnesses. A mild to moderate cough with no other symptoms is most likely a cold. If accompanied by fever, chills, muscle pain, and vomiting, it could be the flu.

There’s no set amount or frequency that an infant should poop. It has to do with your child’s particular eating, drinking, digestion, and bowel movement patterns, which you’ll learn over time. You can identify constipation by whether it’s been an inordinate amount of time since her last movement (three or more days), discomfort while going, hard, dry stools, and even very liquid-y stools in her diaper which differ from diarrhea.

Diaper rash
Diaper rash is when the skin is irritated and red, even puffy and warm, where the diaper touches your child’s skin. The longer your child remains in a soiled diaper, the higher the chance that she will develop diaper rash. This is because urine and stool mixed together produce ammonia which irritates the skin. Even changing your child’s diaper right away may not prevent a child with very sensitive skin from developing diaper rash, however.

The symptoms of diarrhea are pretty hard to miss. Breast-fed babies produce soft stool, but diarrhea is noticeably looser and more watery. It’s also usually more frequent and may smell worse than your child’s stool normally smells. If it’s accompanied by vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, and chills, it could be due to a virus. Otherwise, it could be due to bacteria, food allergies, a medication reaction, or too much fruit juice.

Ear infections
Due to their still developing heads and Eustachian tubes, infants get ear infections much more frequently than children and adults. Children who attend daycare, are bottle fed while laying down, or are exposed to smoking will have an increased chance of developing ear infections. Ear infections can be identified by sudden crying or irritability, tugging on the ears (in older children), fever, and a general feeling of illness which may include vomiting and diarrhea.

Vomiting is easy to differentiate from just plain spitting up because it’s much more forceful and upsetting to the baby. Looking at any other associated symptoms will help you identify whether it’s due to a virus, a bacterial infection, or some other illness. Other possible causes include allergies, ingesting something poisonous, feeding problems, feeding too much, or even coughing or crying too much.

When in doubt, be sure to contact your pediatrician for an accurate diagnosis for your baby.