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Common Problems With Newborns and Infants: What You Need in Your Medicine Cabinet

Updated: Jun 1, 2023

With winter here, it is a good time to stock your medicine cabinet. Here are GP Expert Dr Bill Bateman outlines his must-have supplies, when to seek medical advice and discusses some of the most common newborn and infant medical conditions he sees at his GP practice.


Baby medicine must-haves

• Make sure you have baby paracetamol on hand for fevers, teething and immunizations. Paracetamol is a better option than ibuprofen (Nurofen) for young babies. Avoid aspirin.

• Babies get viral colds, especially in winter. You can give them paracetamol for high fever and pain and saline nose drops to unblock the upper airways, especially before feeds.

• Suction devices for removing stubborn boogies can help but are not well tolerated by many babies.

• Vaporizers and chest and singlet rubs can help with the plumbing too.

• Invest in a good thermometer to check your little one’s temperature

• A high-quality nappy cream (for nappy rash)

• A First Aid kit


When to take baby to the doctor

• Look out for persistent high fever (over 38) loss of interest in feeding, difficulty breathing (breathing quickly, working hard to breathe and finding it exhausting) or quick breathing associated with a wheeze (a squeak on breathing out) or stridor (high pitched sound on breathing in)

• Odd rashes (a rash that doesn’t blanch, a rash all over the body or associated with fever) and persistent vomiting.

• If you are unsure whether to take your baby to a doctor or go to the hospital, do it. It is never the wrong decision.


Common newborn and infant conditions


Teething

Reactions to teething are unpredictable. They range from no symptoms at all to irritability, low-grade fever, drooling, rashes and diarrhoea.

Pooing

What’s normal for one baby can be different for another. A breastfed baby may dirty every nappy or else poo once every few days. Follow up if the baby seems to be in pain, there is a significant change in the pattern or the presence of blood or mucous.

Belly button

Can look messy while it is separating. Only a problem if the surrounding bully button skin reddens.

Sticky eyes

Watery - common, usually a partial tear duct blockage, not a worry. Gunky - common, usually the same thing as viral conjunctivitis. Contagious but not a biggie either. Thick and yellow/green pus could mean bacterial conjunctivitis, and you need to see a GP.

Unsettled babies

Babies are prone to being unsettled. Can also be “colic”, “reflux”, maternal dietary issues especially dairy, and functional lactose overload in breastfed babies i.e. too much foremilk.

Immunisations

• The current schedule is for 2 months, 4 months, 6 months 12 months, 18 months and preschool. No need to give Panadol prior to vaccinations, but your baby may need it after.

• Meningococcal B (Bexsero) is not on the schedule and you have to pay for it. We do recommend it. Babies usually have the first dose at 4 months or 6 months. You do need to give Panadol around 1 hour before that one.

• Flu vaccine is recommended for all babies from 6 months onwards

• Currently there is no Covid 19 vaccine for babies.


Newborn support

• Nurse on Call is great 1300 606 024

• The Medicare app is a useful one for when claims don’t go through. No more Centrelink queues!

• 13 SICK is useful when your usual GP surgery is closed.


This article was written by our GP and Shared Care Expert Dr Bill Bateman. To learn more about what to expect in the newborn day purchase our Parenting Portal - our expert guide to parenthood or secure your spot in our Baby Basics Masterclass.


Common baby and infant medical conditions | Signs to look out for in your baby


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