Your Baby & Toddler - - YOUR BABY -

Hav­ing a sick baby who can’t tell you what’s wrong is dis­tress­ing and un­com­fort­able for all con­cerned. You know all too well the signs that your baby is un­well, but frus­trat­ingly, they can’t tell you where it hurts or which part of their body feels un­com­fort­able. And that’s why know­ing the signs of ear­ache and ear in­fec­tion is so help­ful.


Ear in­fec­tions are quite com­mon, and can of­ten oc­cur af­ter or dur­ing a cold or the flu, mak­ing them an un­com­fort­able ad­di­tion to your and your baby’s life. The first tell-tale sign that all is not well in your baby’s ear is pretty easy to spot. Your baby will tug or scratch at the ear or ears that are trou­bling her, so keep an eye out in case this hap­pens. Ear in­fec­tions and trou­bles are of­ten ac­com­pa­nied by a fever, so if there’s a ses­sion of vig­or­ous ear tug­ging or scratch­ing go­ing on, take your baby’s tem­per­a­ture.

You’ll prob­a­bly also note that your child seems to be a lit­tle more fussy than usual. Be­cause, very of­ten, the same bac­te­ria that at­tacks the ear and causes in­fec­tion can also af­fect their stom­ach and re­lated or­gans, your baby may have a runny tummy. If you spot any type of dis­charge or fluid drain­ing from your baby’s ear, this could also be a sign of in­fec­tion. If your baby seems to be bat­tling to fall asleep while she’s ly­ing down or cries when­ever you put her down, it could be due to ear pain. Your child may also ex­pe­ri­ence dizzi­ness, be­cause our ears are in­volved in keep­ing us bal­anced, and she may lose her ap­petite. Her eardrum may burst from the ac­cu­mu­lated pres­sure if left un­treated – which sounds ter­ri­ble but will bring in­stant pain re­lief, at least.


Ear in­fec­tions are caused by bac­te­ria or a virus that en­ters the ear. The pain your baby ex­pe­ri­ences is from the fluid that builds up be­hind the eardrum as a re­sult. Nor­mally, any fluid buildup leaves this area via your baby’s throat, but if her Eus­tachian tube is blocked or in­flamed, this could mean that the fluid builds up and be­comes in­fected. The mo­ment you sus­pect there is an in­fec­tion and no­tice that a higher than nor­mal tem­per­a­ture, it’s time to call your doc­tor for an ap­point­ment or head to the well baby clinic.


Not all ear­ache is a sim­ple in­fec­tion. In fact, there are many types of ear prob­lems:

GLUE EAR Fluid builds up be­hind the eardrum but is not yet in­fected.

OTITIS EXTERNA An in­fec­tion of the outer ear, out­side of the eardrum.

BLOCKAGE Ear wax can build up from be­ing pushed into the ear by a cot­ton bud and block the ear.

OTITIS ME­DIA This is an in­fec­tion of the mid­dle ear, which can be in­cred­i­bly painful to en­dure. It can be short-lived or much longer last­ing, but both types should get med­i­cal at­ten­tion as soon as pos­si­ble.


Here’s the good news – al­most all ear­ache and in­fec­tions can be eas­ily treated at home, un­der the guid­ance of your doc­tor or clinic sis­ter. De­pend­ing on your baby’s age, you may be pre­scribed an­tibi­otics and a baby-friendly painkiller. Ba­bies must never be given as­pirin, as this can make them very ill with a dis­ease called Reye’s syn­drome – a po­ten­tially fa­tal dis­or­der. Your baby may suf­fer a lit­tle hear­ing loss while they are ill, but it should return to nor­mal once she is bet­ter. If your baby is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing ear­ache but does not have a fever, you can chat to your phar­ma­cist for some ad­vice, but it’s al­ways bet­ter to get an ap­point­ment with your doc­tor or clinic sis­ter to con­firm and di­ag­nose a prob­lem.


Pre­vent­ing ear in­fec­tions and ear­ache en­tirely is prob­a­bly im­pos­si­ble, but there are cer­tain steps you can take to help lessen the chance of your baby ex­pe­ri­enc­ing them:

Keep your home free of tobacco smoke.

Don’t bot­tle feed a baby while she’s ly­ing down.

Stay up-to-date with your baby’s vac­ci­na­tions.

Keep an eye on her while she’s re­cov­er­ing from a cold or flu, as this is when ear in­fec­tions are most likely to ap­pear.

Limit the use of dum­mies to sleep time only, as the con­tin­ual suck­ing mo­tion can in­crease the like­li­hood of ear in­fec­tion. YB

Laugh­ter is univer­sal. It’s a form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion that is un­der­stood across all lan­guages and cul­tures. Every­body knows it in­di­cates joy or hap­pi­ness, re­lief or amuse­ment. Laugh­ing is good for us, too. Many stud­ies have shown that it re­leases en­dor­phins which can re­duce pain; it lessens the ef­fect of al­ler­gies; it’s good for heart health by im­prov­ing blood flow and in­creas­ing the heart rate; it de­creases phys­i­cal and emo­tional stress and im­proves im­mu­nity.

Peo­ple who use hu­mour as a cop­ing mech­a­nism are gen­er­ally more re­silient to life’s knocks and can care for them­selves bet­ter. Hu­mour is also a so­cial lu­bri­cant and re­solves con­flicts. Our abil­ity to laugh is in­born and in­stinc­tive – deaf-and-blind ba­bies laugh, never hav­ing heard or seen an ex­am­ple. So, laugh­ter is a pow­er­ful tool, and we don’t even have to teach our chil­dren to do it! (In fact, it’s of­ten chil­dren who re­mind us par­ents to laugh more...)

Psy­chol­o­gists and philoso­phers have stud­ied


The first time your baby smiles at you – around the six-week mark – is prob­a­bly etched into your mem­ory, as it tends to come just as the last straw of new-par­ent­ing stress is about to hit the camel’s back. Your child is – finally – show­ing de­light in recog­nis­ing you. Those first smiles are a baby’s first ef­forts at so­cial in­ter­ac­tion, and sig­nal the be­gin­nings of a mu­tu­ally sat­is­fy­ing re­la­tion­ship with each other.


Be close by. The sight of you,


Your baby has be­come quite vo­cal, ex­press­ing coos and squawks (and cries, of course!) But that first ac­tual belly laugh can melt a heart of stone. The laugh will come in your daily chat­ter with your off­spring, per­haps as you put on a funny voice, or move your face close to your baby’s and away again, in a “game”.

It is a Navajo Na­tive Amer­i­can cus­tom that the first per­son to make a baby laugh hosts a “First Laugh­ter” cer­e­mony for that baby, in which the tot is in­ducted as a so­cial be­ing. The cus­tom demon­strates the un­der­stand­ing that finding some­thing funny im­plies a re­la­tion­ship – that there is a “thing” out there that baby can ex­pe­ri­ence as funny, and can share with other peo­ple.

The “broaden-and-build” the­ory of pos­i­tive emo­tions sug­gests that en­joy­ment acts as en­cour­age­ment to go on to try more com­plex skills or thoughts, built on the base of that first en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ence. So a happy in­ter­ac­tion with your baby lays the foun­da­tion


Be­ing tick­led can coax a laugh, as can blow­ing rasp­ber­ries, funny faces, bab­bling, and im­i­tat­ing your baby’s sounds.


At around this time, ba­bies make a mas­sive dis­cov­ery: you con­tinue to ex­ist, even when you are not with them! Called ob­ject per­ma­nence, this is a hugely sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone for your child, who un­til then “thought” of you and him as linked, in­ter­twined, or even part of the same hu­man. And like any dis­rup­tive tech­nol­ogy or con­tro­ver­sial sci­en­tific break­through, this big dis­cov­ery makes baby feel anx­ious as well as ex­cited.

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