advice

doctor's orders:
your baby health questions answered

Wouldn't it be great if babies came with an instruction manual? As they don't, it's understandable that we get a little bit anxious – especially when it comes to health. We've spoken to GP Jo Nixon to answer some of the most common queries.

mother holding her sleeping baby

why does my baby always cry?

Some babies just cry more than others, but constant screaming could be a sign that your little one is unwell. Look for other tell-tale signs, like drawing up their legs or being sick a lot. If you're having trouble at milk time, it could just be them telling you they're hungry.

Generally, if your baby is feeding normally, growing properly and sometimes seems happy, the chances are there's nothing to worry about. Fortunately the grumpy stage will pass... until they become a teenager anyway.

why does my baby always have a cold?

Good news, parents of winter babies – this is perfectly normal. It's also common if baby has a big brother or sister at nursery or school. Your little one shouldn't have trouble feeding during a cold, as they naturally stop and breathe through their mouth between gulps. If you're feeling a bit concerned, your GP can prescribe saline drops to clear their nose.

my baby's got a rash: what is it?

Newborns have very sensitive skin, so it's more likely to be a reaction to scented products than meningitis. Spots are also normal during the first six weeks, as some of your hormones are still in their body. However, if your baby is very sick and has a rash that doesn't disappear under pressure, go straight to the doctor.

my baby sleeps too much/not enough: are they okay?

Babies are like grown-ups: some absolutely love sleeping, while others prefer to stay awake – much to their parents' despair! It's all about pattern, here. If your baby used to be more lively but is now sleeping all the time, it's worth raising with your GP.

why has my baby's weight fallen below its centile line?

The centile line is just an average. As long as your baby is happy, alert, eating well and generally getting bigger then there's nothing to worry about.

why is my baby always coughing?

The two main reasons for coughing are reflux and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus). Reflux happens while babies are learning to eat and breathe at the same time. Your health visitor can suggest different feeding positions, and holding baby upright for 20 minutes after eating can help too.

RSV sounds scary, but most babies catch it before they hit two. It's a winter virus that starts with a runny nose, cough and temperature and usually goes away by itself within two weeks. It's only dangerous for premature babies, and infants with heart or lung problems.

Asthma is rare in newborns, but it's worth taking your baby to the doctor for a diagnosis if they have a dry night-time cough. remember: there's no such thing as a stupid question. If you're worried about your baby, always make an appointment to see your GP.