On the surface, babysitting an infant is pretty straightforward. You’ll feed the baby, change their diaper, play, read, sing songs, and put them down for naps. As a sitter, you may only be with the baby for a few hours at a time, but during that time things can get a bit more complicated if the baby is experiencing a health issue.
Diaper rash, teething, and colic are three common health issues that you may encounter while babysitting an infant. Each of these can cause the baby a great deal of discomfort. Babies are completely dependent on you so it's critical that you know how to identify these health issues and how to handle them like a BabysitPro.
What is it? Diaper rash is a very common form of inflamed skin that is caused by chafing, wet diapers, and diapers that aren't changed frequently enough. Other causes of diaper rash include introducing new foods, too-tight diapers, and some ingredients in lotions and soaps that can trigger sensitive skin.
How do I know? Diaper rash looks like a patchwork of red and tender skin in the area under the baby's diaper. The baby may be more fussy and especially uncomfortable during diaper changes.
What can I do? If you are babysitting a baby who is experiencing diaper rash there are a few important things you can do:
Keep the baby’s skin clean and dry.
Check the baby’s diaper often and remove wet diapers right away.
When changing the baby’s diaper gently pat their skin dry.
If the parents want you to use a diaper rash ointment ask them to demonstrate applying the ointment. You’ll likely be asked to apply a thin layer of ointment during diaper changes.
Let the baby play without wearing a diaper! Put a towel on the ground when you’re doing tummy time or playing to avoid messy accidents.
If you discover diaper rash that the parents are not aware of, tell them as soon as they get home.
If the baby’s skin rash looks severe, bleeds, oozes, or if the baby has a fever, tell the parents right away so they can speak with their pediatrician.
What is it? Babies usually begin teething by about 6 months old as their new teeth start to move through their gums. Teething babies have sore gums that can make them feel uncomfortable.
How do I know? Signs of teething include:
Chewing on toys.
Slight increase in body temperature.
What can I do? If the baby you’re babysitting is teething there are a few things you can do to ease their discomfort:
Put a teething ring in the refrigerator to cool it down before giving it to the baby.
Let the baby chew on toys that are safe for them to put in their mouths.
The parents may ask you to give the baby an over-the-counter pain medication made for infants like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Do not give the baby any medication without the parents’ approval.
What is it? A baby who is experiencing colic will cry for three or more hours per day, three or more days per week, for three or more weeks. Although the precise cause of colic is not known, it is widely accepted that there are multiple potential contributing factors. Colic may be cause by food allergies and intolerances, overfeeding, underfeeding, digestive system that is not yet fully developed, and even family stress and anxiety.
How do I know?
If the baby you’re babysitting cries frequently, they may be experiencing colic. Signs of colic include:
Excessive and inconsolable crying.
Intense crying that sounds like the baby is in pain.
What can I do? For a baby who is experiencing colic, no amount of comforting or consoling will bring relief. Even so, you should continue to soothe the baby and help yourself to stay calm. You might find these techniques helpful:
Take the baby for a walk in a stroller.
Play quiet, soothing music like rain or waves on the beach.
Offer the baby a pacifier.
Rock the baby gently.
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