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Your Baby's Health

Becoming a mom opens up a world of talents you didn't know you had, not the least of which is medical detective. You're discovering all the tiniest details about your baby  -- from the way the top of his head smells to his quirky smile as he's drifting off to sleep. So it's no surprise that you're often the first to notice when something isn't quite right  -- when he seems a little pale or is fussing at a time when he's usually calm, or even when what's in his diaper looks unusual. But once you notice these subtle changes, do you know what to do next? While you can't anticipate everything that might happen in your baby's first year, it helps to know the common problems and the best response.

1. The most effective way to take your baby's temperature is:
A In the ear
B Under the arm
C Rectally
D In the mouth
E With a temperature strip on the forehead

2. Your baby used to have two or three bowel movements a day, but now hasn't had any in 24 hours. She's probably:
A Constipated
B Not eating enough
C Just fine
D Sick

3. The best approach to treating a baby's stuffy nose, no matter how young, is to:
A Gently squirt saline drops into his nose
B Remove the mucus using a bulb syringe
C Give him a decongestant prescribed by your pediatrician
D Do nothing; it'll clear up on its own

4. You should never apply sunscreen to a baby younger than 6 months of age. True or false?
A True
B False

5. Your 3-week-old spikes a 101-degree fever. What should you do?
A Give her infant acetaminophen and take her temperature again in an hour
B Cool her down with a sponge bath
C Call her pediatrician immediately
D Monitor her carefully for the next hour

6. Your baby may have signs of a food allergy if:
A She breaks out in a rash and has diarrhea or vomits after the third time you give her a food
B She cries inconsolably after eating
C She turns her head away each time you try to feed her a food
D She gets a rash after the first time you give her a food

7. Your baby just received a vaccination, and now he has a fever and is really fussy. What should you do?
A Call his doctor right away
B Avoid the vaccine in the future
C Soothe him with a cool bath
D Give him a pain reliever, such as acetaminophen, and monitor his fever for the next day

8. Your baby has diarrhea.What should you do for him?
A Feed him the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) diet
B Give him frequent fluids and, if he's eating solids, small amounts of food that combine fiber and fat
C Give an antidiarrhea medication
D Cut back on the fluids you give him

9. Your baby still spits up after every feeding. You should:
A Shift the position she's in when you feed her
B Change her formula, or your diet if you're nursing
C Give her a mild antacid
D All of the above

10. Your 3-week-old baby has started screaming for at least three hours every night. She probably:
A Has digestive problems
B Is having nightmares
C Has colic
D Isn't getting enough to eat

See page 2 and 3 for answers and results...

Laura Flynn McCarthy, a mom of two boys, also writes for Reader's Digest and Vegetarian Times.