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Medical care

It's normal to worry about your child and to try to keep them as safe as possible. The good news is that babies and young children are a lot tougher than we might think and there are steps that you can take to protect your child from avoidable illness and injury. 

Forgive yourself and your partner for mistakes – nobody is perfect and remember to take care of yourself. Parents who are feeling lonely, afraid, sad or worried will find it hard to respond to their baby's needs. If you are concerned about your safety in your relationship have a look here for resources.

Allergies

Some babies are allergic to certain foods. A food allergy happens when the body's immune system thinks a food is harmful.

Typical allergic reactions

Usually, you'll see a reaction within a few minutes or hours after eating. Allergic reactions can include:

  • Hives, swelling, redness and/or a rash

  • Stuffy or runny nose

  • Itchy and watery eyes that your baby keeps trying to rub

  • Vomiting (that is usually forceful and repeated) and/or diarrhea

Serious allergic reactions

Very rarely, a baby will have a serious allergic reaction. Call 9-1-1 right away if you see:

  • Swelling of the mouth, tongue, or throat

  • Pale or blue colour around the face or lips

  • Difficulty swallowing, hoarse voice/cry

  • Hives that spread quickly

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Fainting, weakness, or passing out

No, you do not need to wait to introduce common food allergens like eggs and peanut. We no longer do this due to a lack of current evidence that delaying specific foods will prevent food allergies. Health Canada suggests delaying introduction of some foods may actually increase risk of developing a food allergy.

 

Some babies are at greater risk of allergies. If a parent or sibling has asthma, eczema, hay fever, or a food allergy, your baby will be more likely to develop a food allergy. Learn more about food allergies from birth to two years to get prepared.

There is no need to introduce new foods one at a time except for the foods that commonly cause allergy. Introduce the common allergy foods one at a time from six months of age. Start these foods after you have offered several other foods such as iron rich meat, chicken, and iron fortified infant cereals. The common foods that may cause allergy are:

  • Milk and milk products

  • Eggs

  • Wheat

  • Peanut

  • Tree nuts

  • Soy

  • Seafood

  • Sesame

  • Mark your calendar as you introduce these common foods that cause allergy. Or keep a food diary and write down the dates as you introduce these new foods.

  • Offer one of these new foods daily for a few days, watching for signs of reaction. Then try another common food allergen from the list above.

  • Continue to feed your baby foods that they have already tried and tolerated.

  • If baby reacts to a food, stop this food and continue offering other foods.

  • Make a note of this on your calendar or food diary.

  • Discuss with your family doctor.

 

Immunizations

Immunization is the only way to protect against certain diseases. Immunization (vaccination, shots) is a healthy choice that saves lives. When you immunize your child, you're protecting them against illness and serious harms such as paralysis, deafness, seizures, brain damage, cancer or even death.

BC provides free vaccines to protect your child against 15 diseases:

Your child should be getting their first round of vaccines when they are two months old.  Have a look at the vaccination schedule that your child should follow, and then check the VCH website for vaccination clinics in your area.

Your health care provider or Public Health Nurse will give you a Child Health Passport to track your child's immunizations.  The passport is also available online.

Breastfeeding during vaccination is encouraged to minimize pain - click to watch the video for more information.

Side effects from immunizations are almost always mild and include soreness and fever. In very rare cases, there can be serious side effects. However, the dangers posed by diseases such as measles and polio are a far greater risk. Talk to your doctor or public health nurse if you have concerns. Read more about common side effects and how to treat them. For more information, download this pamphlet on  caring for your child after immunization. To access the pamphlet in other languages, contact phem@vch.ca.

Read more about vaccines on the Healthy Families BC website

Read more about BC's childhood immunization program

Hearing

Your baby likely already had a first hearing test in the hospital. You can keep monitoring your baby's hearing by using the tips below. 

Your baby should be doing at least a few of the following:

  • Startle and/or cry at loud sounds

  • Smile when there are friendly voices

  • Look toward sounds

  • Recognize his or her parents' voices

  • Notice toys that make sounds

If your baby isn't doing these things, that doesn't necessarily mean that something is wrong, but you should speak to your health care provider about your concerns. If there are problems, it's important that they're caught and treated early.

VCH Audiology offers comprehensive hearing services for children 0-19.

1 in every 300 babies born in BC has hearing loss. If it's caught early, much can be done and problems with developing language skills can be avoided. That's why the BC Early Hearing Program is working to screen all babies born in BC Hospitals. Most babies in BC have their hearing screened before they go home from the hospital. For babies who were not screened in the hospital, hearing screening is offered at your local audiology (hearing) clinic or community screening clinic.

The test is not painful or uncomfortable for the baby, and you will get results right away. In most babies, it is clear that their hearing is fine and you can get peace of mind. Many babies, however, will need follow-up testing. This does not necessarily mean that there is anything wrong. In most cases it simply means that a clear reading wasn't possible. There may have been too much background noise, for example. However, it's important to go to all of your follow-up appointments so that if there is any hearing loss, your baby can get help right away.

Vision

Your baby's eyes are growing like the rest of their body. If you have concerns about your child's vision, you can talk to your health care provider or go to one of VCH's Vision and Hearing Screening centres.

Find more information on your common vision problems and how to understand your child's vision here.

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