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TAKING CARE OF YOUR CHILD AT HOME
Even if your child is the healthiest kid in the world, chances are she'll run a fever or come down with a cold or other minor illness requiring some at home medical attention. Following are some general tips to help you take care of your child safely and effectively.
TAKING YOUR CHILD'S TEMPERATURE
Today, two main types of thermometers are avail able for children: mercury thermometers (both rectal and oral) and digital thermometers. (The liquid crystal type--the kind you press on your child's forehead--is not recommended by most pediatricians because they lack accuracy and reliability.) Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. Mercury thermometers are more accurate but are usually made of glass and thus breakable. Digital thermometers are easier and faster but may be a degree or so off.
If you decide to use a mercury thermometer, you'll need to use a rectal thermometer until your baby is about 5 to 6 years old. To take a rectal temperature, follow these simple directions:
1. Shake the thermometer briskly a few times to make certain that the top of the mercury column is below 98.60F.
2. Lubricate the bulb of the thermometer with petroleum jelly.
3. Lay your baby on her back and remove her diaper.
4. Lifting her legs with one hand, gently insert the thermometer into her rectum about one inch.
5. Hold it in place for two minutes (or according to manufacturer's instructions), then remove and read.
To use a digital thermometer, follow the manufacturer's directions.
Finally, once your child is about 5 or 6 years old (or old enough to follow instructions to the letter), you can take an oral temperature thisway:
1. Ask you child to open her mouth and lift her tongue.
2. Place the thermometer under her tongue and ask her to close her mouth--very gently. Warn her not to bite down, but rather to hold the thermometer in place by placing her tongue behind her lower front teeth.
3. Leave the thermometer in place for about two minutes (or according to manufacturer's instructions). Never leave your child alone with a thermometer in her mouth. Remove and read.
GIVING YOUR CHILD MEDICINE
At some point in your child's infancy or toddlerhood, your pediatrician will prescribe medicine-- liquid ibuprofen or acetaminophen, antibiotics, or another drug--to bring down a fever, cure an infection, or treat another medical problem. When the doctor prescribes medication for your baby, he'll also provide you with instructions about how much, when, and in what manner the medication is to be administered. It is imperative that you follow these directions with care. If you do not understand anything about your child's medical problem or the medication prescribed, ask the doctor to explain further. Be sure you know what the medicine is meant to do, when you should expect to see an improvement in your baby's condition, and if the drug causes side effects.
Most medicines for babies and children come in sweet-tasting liquid forms. You'll need to measure the dose of liquid drugs with a specially marked measuring spoon, dropper, or spoon tube you can buy at any pharmacy. Older children usually don't mind taking medicine and often learn to pour it and take it themselves with your help. If your older child hates taking liquid medicine, ask your doctor if you can mix it with juice. If she finds taking pills difficult, your doctor may tell you to crush them into some jam or other food, but be sure to ask.
Infants and toddlers may resist taking medicine by squirming or spitting it out.
TO GIVE YOUR INFANT OR TODDLER LIQUID MEDICATION:
1. Hold your baby in the crook of your arm. Gently open her mouth by pulling down on her chin.
2. Place the spoon on her lower lip, lift it, and let it run into her mouth. If you're using a dropper, place the dropper in the corner of her mouth and release the medicine.
Here are some further tips to help you give your baby medicine:
If your baby struggles, have someone else hold her while you administer the medication. You might want to try wrapping her arms and legs in a blanket to lessen her squirming.
If your baby spits out the medicine, try pouring the medicine further back in her mouth, then gently hold her mouth closed until she swallows. You can also try giving the medicine in several smaller doses using a medicine dropper.
If she vomits less than 20 minutes after taking the medication, check with your doctor immediately. Your baby probably didn't get any medication into her system and may thus need another dose.
TO GIVE YOUR BABY EYE DROPS:
1. Have someone hold your baby still.
2. Very gently pull her lower eyelid down, and let the drops fall between her eye and lower lid.
3. Tilt her head slightly so that any excess eyedrops run down her check and not into her other eye.
TO GIVE YOUR BABY NOSE DROPS:
1. Have someone hold your baby still.
2. Tilt her head back slightly and drop the proper amount into each nostril--two or three drops at a time.
To give your baby ear drops:
Lay your baby on her side with the affected ear up.
2. Hold her steady while you drop the right amount of medication into the ear. Wait until the drops have run down into the canal.
YOUR BABY'S MEDICINE CHEST
A well-stocked medicine chest can mean the difference between an emergency trip to the pharmacy or doctor's office and quick relief for a minor illness or injury. Organize it as best you can for easy access, and make sure you throw out all unused or outdated prescription or over-the-counter medications. Ask your doctor before giving your child any medication and keep all medicines out of your child's reach. Here's what your medicine chest should contain:
Antibacterial soap, antibiotic cream, or other antiseptic.
Calibrated spoon or dropper for measuring liquid medication dosages.
Children's cough/cold syrup (as recommended by your pediatrician).
Cotton balls and swabs.
Hydrocortisone cream (as recommended by your pediatrician for rashes and insect stings).
Saline nose drops and aspirator.
Sunscreen, SPF 15 or higher.
Copyright ) 1997 by peter T. Greenspan , M.D. and Suzanne LeVert<%END%>