YOUR TODDLER: 9 – 18 MONTHS
Studies have shown that toddlers average 8-10 colds & other illnesses per year, particularly during winter months. Most are not dangerous at all. The best clue is in the eyes – a baby who looks well usually is, while a baby who is really ill will tell you with the look in his eyes.
Prevention is best. Toddlers should see the pediatrician at about 9, 12, 15, and 18 months of age. These visits are not just for shots, but are times when we screen for a variety of subtle problems and are a good opportunity for you to learn more about your baby.
At 9 months the first routine blood tests are drawn, screening for Lead Poisoning and Anemia. At 12 months the 1st Hepatitis A vaccine may be given, at 15 months the 4th Pneumococcal and the first MMR, and at 18 months the 4th doses of DTaP and Polio & HiB are given as well as the 1st Varicella; The benefits of giving these vaccines FAR outweigh the risks involved. If you want to know more about this, see our more detailed vaccine handouts or ask.
Fever is the body’s normal response to any kind of illness and actually HELPS you get better. It is not dangerous and cannot hurt your child. Furthermore, neither the presence nor the height of a fever has any correlation with how dangerous the illness causing it is. Minor viruses often cause very high fevers, while some deadly illnesses cause little fever at all. Thus, it is the OTHER symptoms of illness we are most interested in when evaluating your child.
Fever is uncomfortable, and this is why we treat it. Use Acetaminophen (Tylenol, many other brands) infant drops according to the instructions in our Acute Illness Guide. Never use aspirin in children. Sponge baths are also unwise – they actually raise the temperature deep inside the body rapidly while cooling only the surface. Getting the child with a fever to drink plenty of fluids is important for many reasons, and will help get the fever down as well.
Do not use nonprescription “over-the-counter” medications for coughs, colds, diarrhea, etc. unless directed by a physician. In general, the side effects far outweigh the minimal benefits in this age group.
Teething can start anytime from 3 – 15 months, and is somewhat painful. It can cause drooling, a runny nose, poor sleep, irritability, and even pulling at the ears. It does not cause fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or a rash however. It is best to avoid “rub on” teething medications – babies can overdose on these. Use Acetaminophen for the pain and give the baby something to chew on to speed up the process. A bagel often works better than conventional teething rings, especially beyond 6-7 months age.
Even a minor illness that doesn’t seem be getting better after 7-10 days should be seen by the doctor.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend a first dental check-up around 12 months of age. Your child should see a pediatric dentist, we have a list of local dentists available at the front desk.