Eczema (or atopic dermatitis) is a condition where a baby’s skin is dry, red, scaling and very itchy. It is often genetic, or can be associated with allergies or asthma. Eczema typically has periods where it is worse, and periods when it clears. Unfortunately there is not a cure for eczema, but learning to control it and avoiding triggers can help. The good news is that many babies outgrow it as they get older.
Since atopic dermatitis is often triggered by allergies, talking with your pediatrician about testing for allergies may be warranted. If you know what the allergic triggers are, you can avoid them. Second, you want to maintain moisturization of the skin. This is important to help control it. Good products for this that we find a lot of dermatologists recommend are Aveeno eczema therapy, Vanicream, or Cerave. Even moisturizing with Aquaphor or Vaseline can be helpful. Do short baths, pat the skin dry afterward, and immediately apply your moisturizer. You can even moisturize more than once a day to help. Using mild soaps that are fragrance and dye free is important as they are less irritating. Finally, using laundry detergents free and clear of fragrance and other chemicals is important. One we often recommend is Planet detergent. Despite doing all of this, you will have times when the eczema flares. If it is getting worse despite your typical skin care regimen, you should see your pediatrician. He or she may prescribe steroid creams or ointments to help calm down the flare so you can prevent secondary infection.
2. What is the best way to soothe teething children? (from Camille L.)
Teething for some children may be extremely painful, while others may have no symptoms at all. Providing a child with cool teething toys/rings can be helpful, and is often enough for some children. Do not put the items in the freezer – as this can result in injury if it is too cold. You can also massage the child’s gums. If this is not enough, we recommend using benzocaine free homeopathic medications. Examples to try which are helpful include Camilia, Hyland’s Teething Tablets, or benzocaine free gels. Benzocaine has been associated with methemoglobinemia is babies and is potentially harmful.
3. What is the healthiest way to put a baby to bed? (from Tina T.)
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all babies up until the age of 1 should be placed on the back (aka supine) position to sleep to decrease the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). The sleeping environment should also be on a firm mattress and be free from soft objects such as pillows/blankets/stuffed animals, etc. There is concern regarding positional plagiocephaly (flatness of the head) due to sleep position. Due to this, supervised tummy time during the day is recommended so the baby has some time off the back of the head. Sleeping in car seats, swings, etc. is not recommended, especially for small babies who could get into positions that could be dangerous. Aside from the sleep environment to keep your baby healthy, we recommend developing a nighttime routine. This can consist of a bath, infant massage, quiet time, and even reading. Developing this routine sticking to it will eventually help the baby sense these cues as the time for sleep. To see the American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement regarding safe sleeping environment and SIDS reduction click here.
4. What is the best way to get rid of cradle cap? (from Huson T.)
Cradle cap (aka seborrheic dermatitis) is scaling and sometimes redness of the scalp in babies. It can sometimes spread onto the face/eyebrows, behind the ear, or even into the diaper area. It is a self limited condition, and will go away over a period of weeks to months. To control it, do frequent shampooing of the hair/scalp. Prior to the shampooing, you can apply oil to the scalp (such as baby/mineral oil or coconut oil), let it soak, and then use a very soft bristled brush afterward to brush out the scales. In some more severe cases, T-Gel shampoo may be recommended – however consult with your pediatrician prior to using medicated shampoos.
5. My twins slept great until they turned 4 months. Now they both wake up at least three times in the night to eat. I try to rock them back to sleep because but it can be 20 minutes and they still won’t sleep. So I cave and give them about 2 oz of formula in the night. During the day I give them about 26 oz of formula and they have 4 oz each of oatmeal cereal and 4 oz of a fruit and 4 oz of a veggie. I know they’re not hungry in the night! I don’t know what to do to get them to sleep but if I don’t get some sleep soon, I’m going to lose it!! They’re now 7 months old! (from Cyndi A.)
Sleep is often one of the most challenging problems parents face. Babies at this age start to have some separation anxiety as a normal part of development. We find that oftentimes this will interfere with sleep patterns. There are differing theories/methods on the best way to get your child to sleep – ranging from the “cry it out” method to attachment parenting where there is no training. Each family has to decide what they are comfortable with. Wheras I have some families who are all about crying it out, some cannot do this. Most of my families fall somewhere in the middle. In general, a baby at this age does not need to eat at night. It is a comfort measure for them – and if it has been going on for a while they may now be conditioned to wake up for it. I would decide what level of comfort you have with sleep training and then stick to it. For our local families who have difficulty, we often refer them to www.sleepyplanet.com. Their Sleep Easy Solution is a middle ground which many parents have more comfort with.
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the pediatricians and do not necessarily represent those of the company. Always consult with your pediatrician first.