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Help Your Baby Feel Better

Babies come into the world protected. They receive antibodies from the womb that help stave off many illnesses for the first six months or so. Those whose moms breastfeed get even more. Still, it's going to happen: Your baby will get sick at some point. And you'll probably be overwhelmed and bewildered, since she can't tell you what hurts -- all she can do is cry.

To the rescue: a guide to babies' ten most common ailments, and how to make them (and you!) feel better.


Half of all newborns come home from the hospital with a slight yellowish tinge to the skin or the whites of the eyes. It's caused by too much bilirubin, a by-product of the normal breakdown of red blood cells; babies' livers don't produce enough of an enzyme that breaks it down.

Peak age: Typically starts two or three days after birth, often becomes worse over a few days, and disappears by the second week as the liver functions more efficiently.

What to do: Usually nothing, other than inform your doctor -- most cases go away without treatment and without harm. Indeed, bilirubin, a powerful antioxidant, may protect newborns in these vulnerable first few days. Your doctor will examine your baby to determine whether he's in the minority of cases that do require treatment, often because of an underlying infection.

Not sure whether he has jaundice? Try this home test: Press your fingertips on your baby's forehead or the tip of his nose, then release; if the skin appears white, he's jaundice-free, but if the skin is yellow, he may have it. For a darker-skinned baby, look on the inside of his lip for a yellowish tinge.