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Common Baby Health Questions, Answered


When your baby falls ill, it is difficult to know what the best treatment option is – especially for new parents. Dr Natalie Epton, specialist paediatrician and neonatologist at International Paediatric Clinic, answers some of the more common questions asked by new parents.


My baby has a fever. Can I bathe her in cold water?

You should never do this. Although her body would feel cool to the touch afterwards, the cold bath water will actually increase her body’s core temperature by diverting the heat inwards.

Even with tepid sponging – long cited by medical professionals as a means of bringing Baby’s fever down – studies now share that the method isn’t useful.

At best, you get transient benefit lasting only an hour. Many findings also reported increased signs of distress in the baby following tepid sponging, such as crying, shivering and irritability.

All the studies looking at tepid sponging concluded that using anti-fever medications such as paracetamol (Acetaminophen, Tylenol, Calpol, Dhamol, Panadol) or ibuprofen (Bifen, Advil, Motrin) at the correct dose recommended by your doctor or pharmacist are superior to tepid sponging in bringing down a high temperature, and should be used either instead of, or in addition to, tepid sponging if required.

Remember that a fever is the body’s natural response to infection. If your baby has moderate fever (38 to 38.5 deg C) and is otherwise well and happy, you can opt to dress her in light, loose-fitting clothes, give her more fluids and just monitor her, without starting any treatment.

But it’s a different story if you have a newborn (under three months old). If she has a fever higher than 38 deg C, it warrants a visit to your doctor to make sure there is no severe infection.


When can I introduce bird’s nest to my little one? I heard that it nourishes the lungs and controls coughs.

Although it has been consumed for several hundred years, reports of its health benefits remain largely anecdotal and observational, with very little scientific evidence to support the claims. I’d stick with breastfeeding your infant.

A mother’s milk has all the ingredients found in bird’s nest that are thought to be beneficial, including sialic and amino acids. There is excellent research to support that breast milk helps with improving the lungs and coughs.

Besides, bird’s nest is very high in salt and traditional cooking methods often involve adding sugar to it – both of which are not recommended for those under the age of 12 months. And don’t forget that there are reports of potential allergic reactions in infants who consume it.


Read more on common illnesses and how to treat them. 


By Dr Natalie Epton for Young Parents, July 2015

Photo: 123rf.com

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