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Baby, it’s cold outside: infant safety in winter

Winter time is upon us and many new parents have questions about how to care for their baby during this season. Hopefully I can help answer a lot of the common questions:

  1. How do I dress my baby for winter?

If going outside, I suggest layering clothing instead of dressing in bulky clothes for warmth. Make sure to have footwear, mittens (socks can be used as mittens if needed) and a hat. Do not use a bulky snowsuit in a car seat. Snowsuits are fine for spending time outdoors, but are unsafe for use in car seats. The thickness of snowsuits does not allow the straps of a car seat to be tight enough. Your baby may slip loose or fall out of the car seat if there is an accident. Instead use a blanket to go over the baby or a car seat cover to block the cold wind.

If you’re planning on staying indoors, I suggest having your baby wear one more layer than you are currently wearing inside. When your baby sleeps, don’t have extra blankets, pillows or bedding in the crib. If you need to have a blanket, there are specialty baby swaddlers or sleep sacks that a baby can sleep in. Be careful not to over-bundle your baby. Eliminating loose bedding and avoiding overheating your baby will decrease the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

  1. Can my baby get frostbite or hypothermia?

Yes, a baby can get frostbite with prolonged cold exposure. Make sure to give your baby a break from the cold. If you are uncomfortable or cold, they are uncomfortable and cold as well. Frostbite happens when the skin and outer tissues become frozen, most commonly in fingers, toes, ears and nose. Keep an eye on your baby’s skin, it may look pale, gray, and blistered. Prevention is best, but if you suspect frostbite put frostbitten parts in warm (not hot) water. Do NOT rub frozen areas. Dr. Budiasih has a very informative blog on hypothermia. Hypothermia may occur when your baby’s body temperature falls below normal. It can occur more quickly in children than in adults. Your baby may become lethargic. Look for fatigue or unusual behavior.  Get medical attention as soon as possible for either hypothermia or frostbite. Continue Reading »

How to treat insect bites

Your child’s reaction to a bite or sting will depend on his or her sensitivity to that particular insect’s venom. While most children have only mild reactions, those who are allergic to certain insect venoms can have severe symptoms that require emergency treatment.

In general bites are usually not a serious problem, but in some cases, stings may be. While it is true that most stings (from yellow jackets, wasps and fire ants, for example) may cause pain and localized swelling, severe hypersensitive reactions are possible, although uncommon.

Treatment
Although insect bites can be irritating, they usually begin to disappear by the next day and do not require a doctor’s treatment. To relieve the itchiness that accompanies mosquito, fly, flea and bedbug bites, apply a cool compress and/or calamine lotion freely on any part of your child’s body except the areas around the eyes and genitals. If your child is stung by a wasp or bee, soak a cloth in cold water and press it over the area of the sting to reduce pain and swelling. Call your pediatrician before using any other treatment, including creams or lotions that contain antihistamines or home remedies. If the itching is severe, the doctor may prescribe oral antihistamines. Continue Reading »

Insect repellents

 

mosquito

Insect repellents are generally available without a prescription, but they should be used sparingly on infants and young children. In fact, the most common insecticides include DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), which is a chemical not recommended for use in children under two months of age. Do not apply repellents containing DEET more than once a day on older children.

The concentrations of DEET vary significantly from product to product—ranging from less than 10 percent to more than 30 percent (or even higher)—so read the label of any product you purchase. The higher the concentration of DEET, the longer it stays working. Its effectiveness peaks at a concentration of 30 percent, which is also the maximum concentration currently recommended for children.

The safety of DEET does not appear to be related to its level of concentration; therefore, a practical approach is to select the lowest effective concentration for the amount of time your child spends outdoors. You should avoid products that include DEET plus a sunscreen since sunscreen needs to be applied frequently while DEET should only be applied once a day. If you apply DEET more frequently, it can be associated with toxicity. Also be sure to wash off the DEET with soap and water at the end of the day. Continue Reading »

How to prevent bug bites

Some children with no other known allergies may have severe reactions to insect stings. If you suspect that your child is allergy-prone, discuss the situation with your doctor. He may recommend a series of shots (hyposensitization injections) to decrease your child’s reaction to future insect stings (but not bites). In addition, he will prescribe a special auto-injection kit containing epinephrine for you to keep on hand for use if your child is stung.

It is impossible to prevent all insect bites, but you can minimize the number your child receives by following these guidelines: Continue Reading »

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