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Parenting Help - FAQs

Do I need to bring my child in if they have a cold?
Upper respiratory infections (URI's) or colds are caused by viruses. They typically last between 7 to 10 days and often are accompanied by fever initially. The temperature usually ranges anywhere from 100.4 to 102 F. The child should be brought to the office if there is any difficulty breathing, high fever (>102), the fever lasts more than 2 to 3 days, the fever appears at the end of a cold, if the child appears physically ill or if there is any earache or sinus pressure.

If my child's nasal discharge is yellow or green, is that a sign of a sinus infection?
No. Initially, most colds go through a phase when the nasal secretions appear thick and green, usually at the beginning or end of the cold. It may also occur in the morning when the secretions tend to be drier. Sinus infections tend to have sinus pressure or headache. If the green or yellow color of the discharge persists more than 3 to 4 days, an office visit would be advised.

When will an antibiotic help my child's cold?
Colds are caused by viruses. Antibiotics are used only for bacterial infections. Occasionally a cold can develop into a bacterial infection, such as an ear or sinus infection. In that case, antibiotics may be used. Antibiotics have potentially serious side effects. There is a risk of severe diarrhea or an allergic reaction. There is also the development of resistant bacteria when antibiotics are overused or used inappropriately. Therefore, the use of antibiotics should be reserved for bacterial infections and should never be prescribed until the child is physically examined by the doctor.

What medications can I use to treat my child's cold?
There is no cure for the common cold as of yet. Treatment is, therefore, supportive. The goal is to make the child comfortable while the body fights the virus on its own. Hot steam baths, nasal saline drops, elevating the head, a humidifier, rest and lots of fluids may help alleviate the symptoms and promote recovery of a cold. Using over the counter cold remedies may sometimes help the symptoms of a cold but should never be used in young infants unless directed by your doctor.

How high of a fever is dangerous to my child?
Fever, in and of itself, is not dangerous to a child. However, what is causing the fever may be dangerous. Most fevers in children are caused by viruses and, in fact, it is the way the body kills the viruses that are causing infection. There are occasions when there is a more serious cause of a fever in a child. In these situations, the child usually appears quite ill. If the child is playful and active, there is no absolute number above which one must panic. In fact, one must treat the child, not the thermometer. Many children with fevers of 103 to 104 F are quite energetic and active. However, if the child has a temperature of 101 and is listless and lethargic, there is certainly a cause for concern.

When can I start feeding my baby solids?
The recommendation to start cereal, fruits or vegetables is between the ages of 4 to 6 months. Starting before 4 months can increase the risk of allergies later in life.

When should my baby stop the bottle?
The baby should be introduced to a cup whenever juice or water are introduced, usually at around 6 months. When the baby is transitioned to whole milk, the milk should be gradually transitioned to a cup as well over the next few months, with the nighttime bottle being the last to be given up. Some parents wait too long to stop the bottle with the result being the refusal of milk altogether once the bottle is stopped at an older age.

Why isn't my infant/toddler sleeping through the night?
Training an infant to sleep through the night needs to start as early as 8 weeks of age. It may take some infants longer but, regardless, it may not happen unless you train your baby to put themselves to sleep at an early age. This may mean allowing your baby to cry for a few minutes until they have fallen asleep. There is no amount of time that is too long to allow your baby to cry. There is no physical or emotional harm incurred either. Once bad habits are created however, such as a dependency on being rocked to sleep or sleeping in the parent's bed, the only recourse is to place the baby/toddler in the crib at night and allow them to cry. This process is much easier to implement as a young infant than as a determined toddler so the earlier this is addressed, the better.