12 months THE BACTERIA THAT ATTACKS THE EAR CAN ALSO AFFECT THE STOMACH
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.
SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS
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.
TYPES OF EARACHE
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
SIX WEEKS OLD
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,
THREE TO FOUR MONTHS OLD
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.
EIGHT MONTHS OLD
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.