If you’re a first-time parent, there’s probably a good chance you can’t stop fawning over your bundle of joy. From her first toothless smile and giggle, her first cooing, to that first moment she holds onto your finger, your baby will give you memories to last a lifetime. And while you may have read the books, it’s a whole different ballgame when experiencing it first hand. M&B keeps you on your toes, with these baby steps
BY SANIA DHIRWANI
Vaccinating your child can be one of the best things you can do to protect her from diseases, and strengthen her developing immune system. Vaccines can fend off life-threatening diseases that your child’s body cannot fight. The antigens present in the vaccines can trigger the immune system to create antibodies that fight against them.
WATCH OUT FOR! THE FIRSTS: Dr Bijal Shrivastava, pediatrics, Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital, Powai, says, “The first vaccine given to a child is called BCG (oral polio virus and hepatitis B) which is given at birth. There is no pain or fever following this vaccine. Minimum weight of the baby should be at least two kilos when this vaccine is administered.” Dr Madhuri Kadam, paediatrician, SRV Hospital, Goregaon, further opines, “The BCG vaccine-injected spot will develop a small boil after a few weeks. It should not be meddled with as it will pop by itself and leave a small scar after a few months for some children. However, if the lump appears in the axilla (armpit), then parents should visit a doctor.”
Dr Deepak Tirthani, consultant pediatrician, Hinduja Healthcare Surgical, Khar, says, “Other important vaccines given to the child in its first year are diphtheria and tetanus toxoids combined with HIV. Along with these vaccines, Rota viral vaccine is given to the child that prevents severe diarrhea caused by Rotavirus. In the first six months, the vaccine for pneumonia is also given to the child.”
SIDE EFFECTS: Your little one’s little legs may be sore where the vaccine was administered. She might also run a slight fever or be cranky. The doctor will probably recommend infant’s acetaminophen or ibuprofen for relief. Dr Kadam says, “The painful vaccines cause side effects like fever, pain or swelling. To avoid these they should use ice fermentation twice a day for their child.” Dr Tirthani, further adds, “In case of an emergency and if high fever (more than 104 degrees) sets in, parents must gives paracetamol drops to their infant.”
PREPARE! BREASTFEEDING: Few studies and analysis have found that nursing your child during vaccination shots, reduces distress in babies. It combines the comfort of holding and sucking, providing them with some relief.
BEHAVIOUR: It is important for parents to stay calm and supportive while the baby is getting her shots. Using humour as a distraction, helps decrease distress.
It is very important to clarify doubts, if any, with the doctor before and after the vaccination. Know about the side effects, if there is mercury in some vaccines, ingredients in the shots, do vaccines cause autism or is it safe to give so many shots simultaneously.
Sanaa Bhambhani, mother to one-year-old Tarasha, says, “My daughter got her first shots six weeks in. They were OPV-1/IPV- 1, DTPw/DTPa-1, hepatitis B-2, and Hiv-1. It is very important to be prepared for your child’s first vaccination. I prepared myself by checking whether or not it is a healthy day for her. I made her wear comfortable clothes so that her peadiatrician could have a smooth examination. I also prepared her diaper bag with all the necessary items I needed for her. To keep her calm, I held her on my lap rather than making her lie on the examination table, and let her suck on a pacifier. This helped in reducing her pain as she was distracted and she was comfortable on my lap.”
Although your baby’s immunity is strengthened by breastfeeding, she is not completely protected against viruses that cause respiratory infections. Dr Shrivastava opines, “All parents should remember that various viral colds are prevented till six to nine months of age because of the antibodies present in a mother’s body. While in utero, the antibodies are passed to the baby through placenta. After birth, they’re passed through breastmilk.” A baby can catch a cold several times before she turns one. It becomes important for parents to understand the symptoms their baby is showing, and how to prepare and carefully tackle the situation.
WATCH OUT! IRRITABLITY AND HYPERNESS: The baby will become extremely fidgety. There will be a bit of stuffiness and she will have a leaky nose. Also, because of chest congestion, there is a possibility that she will experience a rasping cough.
LOSS OF APPETITE: Dr Shrivastava says, “During this period they may reduce their food intake and prefer only breastmilk, which is completely alright. They may undergo a little weight loss for a few days, which is perfectly normal, too.” Also, because of a blocked nose, she may be unable to breathe comfortably and hence find it difficult to breastfeed.
Dr Shrivastava elaborates, “Cold is a viral infection, which doesn’t need antibiotics for treatment, it can simply be dealt with nasal drops, steam and eucalyptus oil on the clothes.” Here’s what you need to keep at arm’s reach:
PLENTY OF WIPES: Keep soft tissues handy to dab at the constant flow from that wee nose. The softer material will also prevent the skin from drying and peeling. However, your baby’s sensitive skin will quickly redden from all the dampness. Apply some petroleum jelly to sooth the area.
STOCK UP: Keep the medicines, saline drops, thermometer and a humidifier ready. A humidifier will help banish dry air by releasing moisture in the nursery. This will loosen the mucus and ease your baby’s chest congestion.
ELEVATED HEAD: Try placing a couple of towels underneath the crib mattress. It will help your baby sleep better.
A HEALTHY YOU: Since you are the primary caregiver, it is of utmost important that you stay protected at all times. Make sure that your hands are clean to avoid catching your baby’s germs, or to pass on any.
Call your doctor if your baby is listless, has turned pale or is not reacting to you. If your child has high temperature and cold that has persisted for more than three days, you need to visit the doctor. Make sure you do not give her medicines that are not suitable for children and are without a doctor’s prescription. Also, the right dosage is essential. Always follow the dosage instructions given by the doctor.
Sanaa says, “For the first 11 months or so, Tarasha never fell ill. It was only before her first birthday that she caught a cold. I noticed that she kept on sneezing, became weak and pale and had sleepless nights. Her chest was congested. I started giving her steam, as that’s the safest we can do for small babies. She lost her appetite and stopped playing with her toys. I consulted a pediatrician when she did not get relief from the steam. He advised me to nebulise her thrice a day, prescribed a cold baby syrup and saline drops.”