Common Baby Ailments

Caring for a baby is a joyous time, but it also comes with constant diaper changes, late night feedings, and an overall lack of sleep. One of the hardest parts of being a parent is seeing your child sick. Below are some common health problems that your child may encounter and what you can do to help.

Diaper Rash

This is a skin irritation that occurs in the area covered by a diaper. Treatment measures can be remembered by the acronym “ABCDE”:

A = Air out the area by going diaper-free whenever possible

B = Barrier paste or ointment (applied to protect the skin) — speak to your pharmacist for recommendations

C = Clean the skin in the diaper area

D = Disposable diapers may be better than cloth diapers during a diaper rash episode

E = Educate yourself on how to prevent recurrences

Diaper rash can be prevented by frequently changing the diaper, especially soon after it is soiled; gently cleaning the diaper area between changes; and drying the skin completely before putting on another diaper. Contact your pediatrician or family physician if the rash is severe, worsens, or is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever or bloody stools.

Cradle Cap

This is a common condition in infants characterized by white, yellow, or red greasy scales usually on the scalp, but can also appear on the skin of the face, ears, neck, folds, and diaper area. It usually resolves on its own; however, treatment can be used if needed. This may include:

  • Frequently washing with baby shampoo and removing scaly skin after shampooing with a soft brush or fine-tooth comb.
  • Loosening and removing scaly patches by applying a small amount of emollient (e.g. white petroleum jelly, baby oil) to the scalp, gently massaging with a soft brush, and then washing with a nonmedicated baby shampoo.

Speak to your doctor if cradle cap persists; some infants may need medicated topical products or shampoos.


Signs that your infant may be constipated include hard or pellet-like bowel movements; arching their back, tightening their buttocks, and crying while having a bowel movement; or having less frequent bowel movements than normal. Contact your doctor about treatment if your child is less than four months old. For infants older than four months, the following home treatments can be tried:

  • Prune, apple, or pear juice can be given (60-120 mL per day for infants 4-8 months old and up to 180 mL per day for infants 8-12 months old), but daily use for more than 1-2 weeks is not recommended.
  • For infants on solids, high-fibre foods such as barley cereals and high-fibre fruits and vegetables (or purées) such as apricots, pears, plums, spinach, or broccoli can be given.

If your child’s constipation does not improve within 24 hours of using home treatments or they have more concerning symptoms, such as severe pain, bloody bowel movements, or are not eating or have weight loss due to the constipation, contact your health care provider immediately.

It is important that parents are able to recognize and manage common ailments, which will not only relieve parental anxiety but also help children feel more comfortable. However, it is equally important to know the warning signs indicating more serious conditions, so speak to your pharmacist for more information.

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