Signs your Baby Might have a Vision Problem

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It takes your baby's eyes some time to adjust to the world, so at first they might not always look or function the way you expect.

For example, it's perfectly normal in the first three months of life for your infant's eyes to be crossed, or for him not to be able to see much past your face when you're holding him.

Certain signs could indicate a problem. Talk with your baby's doctor if you notice any of the following:

  • Your baby's eyes don't move normally. One moves and the other doesn't, for example, or one looks different from the other when moving.
  • Your baby is older than 1 month, but lights, mobiles, and other distractions still don't catch his attention.
  • One of your baby's eyes never opens.
  • Your baby has a persistent, unusual spot in her eyes in photos taken with a flash. Instead of the common red-eye caused by camera flash, for example, there's a white spot.
  • You notice white, grayish-white, or yellow material in the pupil of your baby's eye. (His eyes look cloudy.)
  • One (or both) of your baby's eyes is bulging.
  • One or both of your baby's eyelids seem to be drooping.
  • Your baby squints often.
  • Your baby rubs her eyes often when she's not sleepy.
  • Your baby's eyes seem sensitive to light.
  • One of your baby's eyes is bigger than the other, or the pupils are different sizes.
  • You notice any other change in his eyes from how they usually look.

In addition, once your baby is 3 months old, talk with the doctor if you notice any of the following:

  • Your baby's eyes turn way in or out, and stay that way.
  • Your baby's eyes don't follow a toy moved from side to side in front of her.
  • Your baby's eyes seem to jump or wiggle back and forth.
  • Your baby seems to consistently tilt his head when he looks at things.

You'll also want to have the doctor check your baby's eyes if they show any signs of a blocked tear duct or infection, such as pinkeye. These signs include excessive tearing, redness that lasts more than a few days, or pus or crust in her eyes.

Your baby's doctor can help you determine whether you should be concerned. The doctor may examine your child's eyes, screen his vision, or refer you to a medical eye specialist (ophthalmologist). If vision problems run in your baby's family, be sure to mention it.

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Could this be teething?


Your extra-cranky baby could be showing teething symptoms. Learn what to look for and find the best teething remedies for little mouths. 

When will your baby's first pearly white start to poke through? Most babies get their first tooth at around 6 months, but your child's chompers may appear as early as 3 months or as late as 14, depending on such factors as when Mom and Dad started sprouting teeth and whether or not your baby was a preemie (preemies tend to teethe on the late side). How babies experience teething can vary widely, too. Some have teething symptoms—such as excessive drooling and crankiness—weeks before a tooth actually emerges, while others show no signs at all.

Baby-tooth timeline

Typically, babies get their teeth in pairs. First come the middle two on the bottom. A month or so later, the two above those arrive. Still, it's not uncommon to see a baby with four bottom and no upper teeth, or the reverse. A general timeline:

  • 6 months: lower central incisors
  • 8 months: upper central incisors
  • 10 months: lower and upper lateral incisors
  • 14 months: first molars
  • 18 months: canines
  • 24 months: second molars

Signs of teething

Short of actually seeing a tooth poking through, and given that the process is different for every baby, some possible symptoms to watch for:

The need to gnaw

The pressure of an emerging tooth beneath the gums may be relieved by counterpressure, so teething babies often want to chomp on things. The chewing instinct may also be a response to the odd sensation that something's going on in there.

Puffy gums

Before a new tooth erupts, it can cause a red, swollen and bruised-looking area on a baby's gums. Sometimes the gum bulges with the emerging tooth, which you can see faintly beneath the skin (if you can convince your baby to open his mouth for long enough).

Excessive drooling

Increased spittle can herald a new tooth—but it's also a normal developmental stage of infancy, so don't assume that drooling means teething. There's no way to tell whether your baby's saliva is the result of teething or not, though it may be if you also see...

Fussiness, especially at night

Tooth eruption—when the tooth moves through the bone and gum—tends to come in stages, with more activity at night than during the day, so your baby may be more irritable then.

Ear pulling

While it can also be a sign of an ear infection, tugging can be a symptom of teething: The pain from the jaw gets transferred to the ear canal.

A change in eating habits

Babies who are eating solids may want to nurse or bottle-feed more because a spoon irritates their inflamed gums. Others may do the opposite, eating more than usual because the counterpressure feels good. And babies who are still on the bottle or breast may begin feeding eagerly but pull back because the activity of sucking puts uncomfortable pressure on the gums and ear canals.

Ways to soothe the pain

You may need to try a few methods to see what works best for your child:

A wet, frozen washcloth(leave one end dry so she can get a good grip)

The thick fabric feels good, and the icy cold numbs sore gums. A teething toy that's been chilled in the refrigerator also works, but frozen toys may be too harsh on an infant's sensitive gums.


If the tooth is still deep in the gum and hasn't formed a painful bruise, counterpressure or friction where it's about to erupt can work wonders. Try rubbing the area with your clean finger (bare or wrapped in a washcloth).

Pain Reliever

Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are good bets for temporary pain relief, as are topical oral anesthetics, as long as you don't exceed the recommended dosage.


Teething pain is like headache pain—it causes chronic, low-grade discomfort. You can often soothe your child simply by getting her mind off the pain. Give her more one-on-one time or offer her a new toy. And don't underestimate the healing power of touch: A little extra cuddling on the sofa may be all that's needed to take a child's mind off her mouth.

Teething tricks you shouldn't try

  • Hard foods like zwieback crackers, toasted or frozen bagels, carrots and frozen bananas. They may appeal to a baby's intense urge to chew, but when gnawed on long enough they can come apart in choke-hazardous chunks.
  • Rubbing a little brandy on swollen gums. Even tiny amounts of alcohol can be poisonous to a baby.

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Babies and Ear infections

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"Doctor, I think my baby has an ear infection!" I hear this every day in my practice, and because ear infections are such a common cause of sleepless nights and missed work (not to mention just downright painful!), I spend a lot of time explaining what can be done to prevent them. Now, if you came to see me in my office (and you're always welcome to), here's how I would answer your questions.

Why are ear infections so common in babies?

Let's venture inside the middle ear to see how germs and tiny ears make such frequent contact. A canal called the eustachian tube connects the middle ear to the back of the throat and helps to equalize pressure. But the throat, along with the nose, serves as a moist breeding ground for bacteria. Because a baby's eustachian tube is short, wide and horizontal, throat and nose secretions—and any germs they may be harboring—travel more easily through it. Any fluid trapped in a cavity (such as the middle ear) acts as a medium for germs to grow, hence the frequent ear infections we see in many young children.

Why is it important to treat ear infections properly?

Your child's hearing depends on the proper vibrating of the eardrum and the structures of the middle. Repeated infections can damage the eardrum, while repeated fluid accumulation dampens the vibrations, both of which interfere with hearing. That's why it's imperative to take ear infections seriously, especially when your baby is learning to talk. Periodic hearing loss can lead to speech delays or even language problems that can affect her school performance later.

How can I spot an ear infection?

The following signs are babies' way of saying, "There's some painful stuff going on in my ear. Please take me to the doctor!" Early treatment makes for a better outcome, so if your baby has had several ear infections, learn to read his unique "sore-ear language." One sign you likely won't see is a fever. High temps don't often accompany an ear infection unless there's a more severe respiratory infection.

The nose knows In babies, middle-ear infections usually follow a cold, so what's coming out of the nose often reflects what's going on in the ear. A common scenario is that baby is mildly stuffy and has clear, watery nasal drainage, but isn't that sick—until a few days later when crankiness kicks in and the discharge becomes more yellow or green and snotty.

It's been a hard day's night

If baby is waking more frequently at night and seems to be in pain, especially with a worsening cold, that's also a red flag. As the infected fluid places pressure on the eardrum, he may not want to lie flat when napping or sleeping. To alleviate the pressure, position him so that the sore ear faces up.

The eyes have it

The rule in our practice is that when a parent tells us their baby has a cold and eye drainage, we see them that day. In the early months, eye drainage may simply signal a clogged tear duct, but when accompanied by a cold, especially in an older infant, it usually means an underlying sinus and/or ear infection.

If I suspect an ear infection, should I always take my baby to the doctor?

Usually. Ear infections are hard to treat blind—sort of like drawing a map when you're not sure where you're going. Your doctor needs to examine both the eardrum and the whole respiratory tract to make what is called the right "drug and bug" match.

Most mild to moderate ear infections will completely heal without the use of antibiotics, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the "watch and wait" approach. "Watch" means to observe your child for signs that she is becoming sicker. "Wait" means the doctor may not immediately prescribe antibiotics for her, even if there is fluid behind the middle ear, unless she fails to improve on her own within two or three days.

He's tugging at his ears a lot, so why does the doctor say he's fine?

Ear-tugging doesn't necessarily signal an ear infection. It can be referred pain from teething or that baby is simply discovering his ears and likes pulling on them. However, if a baby has a cold, especially with nasal or eye drainage, and is pulling at his ears, the problem is likely not teething. Tugging, rubbing or banging on the ears can also be a sign that your child has some ear pain from persistent or chronic middle-ear fluid, a condition known as otitis media with effusion. In my practice I find that a mother's intuition is useful in alerting me that her baby is feeling worse. If you feel there's something more to your baby's symptoms, talk to your pediatrician.

How can I prevent ear infections altogether?

Now that you know how germs make their way into those little ears, here are some guidelines to keep that germy fluid from collecting behind your baby's eardrums:

  • Breastfeed: Mother's milk provides increased natural immunity.
  • Bottle-feed upright:  Feed baby in an upright position (at least 30 degrees) and keep her upright at least 30 minutes afterward.
  • Keep allergens at bay:  Irritants can cause fluid to build in the nasal passages and middle ear. Keep stuffed and real animals and other fuzzy things away while baby sleeps. And absolutely no smoking around baby!
  • Pass on pacifiers:  Studies show a correlation between the frequency of pacifier use and ear infections. Limit pacifier use to when baby is falling asleep at night, especially once she is 6 months or older.
  • Boost immunity:  Fruits, veggies and seafood have been shown to improve babies' developing immune systems.
  • She'll outgrow it:  The good news is that as your child grows, the eustachian tube becomes longer and narrower, and slants more acutely, making it more difficult for germs and fluid to collect in the middle ear. At the same time, her immune system matures, minimizing those pesky ear infections.


Guide to Buying a Carseat

Shopping For Car Seats: What You Need To Know

Buying a car seat is one of the most important purchases you'll make as a new parent. Because car seats are intended to protect your little one while you travel, make sure you research different car seat types and models thoroughly. Whether you're looking for an infant car seat, a convertible car seat, or a booster seat, we've compiled information to help make your search for the best car seat a little easier.

Must-Know Info About Everyday Car Seats

Few things are more important than car seats when putting together a baby registry. Not only is it important for parents-to-be to look for the safest models, but they also want to choose car seats that work well with their lifestyle. Are you a two-car family that will be moving the car seat from one vehicle to another? Are you interested in car seats that will also work with strollers? Are you on a budget and looking for something that will last longer than a year? Are you frequent travelers who will be bringing your car seat on planes and rental cars? After narrowing down the list of necessary criteria, moms- and dads-to-be should then research the safest car seat models available that meet their needs. Once the best car seat has been chosen, mom and dad then need to figure out exactly how to properly install a car seat, which can be much trickier than it seems. If you've done all of your research but still aren't sure if your car seat is correctly installed, take your car to a car seat inspection location in your area. 

Convertible Car Seats That Grow with Your Baby

Unlike infant-only car seats, which babies often grow out of between 5 and 10 months of age, convertible car seats grow with your child. Convertible car seats are often appealing to parents because it makes buying two car seats, which can be expensive and difficult to store, unnecessary. While there are a number of pros when it comes to convertible car seats, one con is the fact you can't detach the car seat and take it with you, which many parents find convenient. It's also important to note that not all convertible car seats are suitable for infants. When choosing a convertible car seat for your newborn, look for models that work for babies of all ages. (Of course, even if you don't use a convertible car seat from the get-go, you'll need to purchase one once your baby grows out of their infant seat.) Once you've researched the safest model that works for your family, be sure the seat is installed properly, and that your baby is rear-facing until he's at least 2 years old.

Travel Systems: Car Seats That Work with Strollers

Travel systems are perfect for moms and dads running around town with their little ones. There's no need to constantly unstrap baby from her car seat, put her in the baby carrier or stroller, and then strap her back into the car seat when it's time to get back into the car and head home. Parents can simply unclick the car seat from the base, snap it into the top of a stroller, and be on their way. Travel systems work with infant car seats, so the car seat portion will only last so long, but by the time baby is old enough for a convertible car seat, they'll likely fit into the stroller portion of the travel system perfectly. Of course, when choosing a travel system, there are two things to think about—the car seat and the stroller (which will be used longer), so it's important to weigh the safety of the car seat with your stroller needs. 

When You Know Your Child Is Ready for a Booster Seat

While parents may feel a little silly buckling their 4- and 5-year-olds into five-point harness car seats, there shouldn't be a huge rush to make the switch to booster seats. Moms and dads should aim to keep their little ones in each car seat stage as long as possible—which means putting off booster car seats for a while. Of course, there's going to come a time when booster seats are necessary, and at that point you'll need to start researching the best seats again. To begin, look at your child's current convertible car seat height and weight limits. If they've outgrown them it's time to start looking into booster seats. Many convertible car seats can adapt into booster seats, but it's important to keep a few things in mind. For one, check to see that your car seat has not reached its six-year expiration date, and secondly, make sure the booster seat has a belt-positioning system, which will keep your child as safe as possible. 

Car Seat Accessories That Will Make Life Easy

Car seat accessories aren't necessarily essential, but they can make parents' lives easier. There's no need to run out and purchase everything under the sun for your car seat, but a few products that work with your lifestyle can do wonders. Before purchasing any car seat accessories, figure out the best—and safest—car seat for your family. This way, any extras that you buy will fit and work with your particular car seat model. For some parents, a bug- and weather-proofing car seat cover is a lifesaver for on-the-go naps, while for others, a super-durable car seat cover is crucial for traveling through airports with a car seat. Also, it's worth noting that not all car seat accessories need to attach to the actual car seat itself. Most parents would say that an organizer for the back seat is key for keeping kid messes at bay in the car and for making sure that you're never without wipes, snacks, and a few toys for baby. If you'd like to add a few accessory items to your registry but aren't sure what to include, ask friends with kids which car seat add-ons they've found handy. No doubt, every mom and dad will have their must-have items along with their reasons why.


Why you should take time to get the Flu Vaccine

Take time to get a flu vaccine.

  • CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
  • While there are many different flu viruses, a flu vaccine protects against the viruses that research suggests will be most common. (See Vaccine Virus Selection for this season’s vaccine composition.)
  • Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.
  • Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every year before flu activity begins in their community. CDC recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October, if possible.  Learn more about vaccine timing.
  • CDC recommends use of injectable influenza vaccines (including inactivated influenza vaccines and recombinant influenza vaccines) during 2017-2018. The nasal spray flu vaccine (live attenuated influenza vaccine or LAIV) should not be used during 2017-2018.
  • Vaccination of high risk persons is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness.
  • People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.
  • Vaccination also is important for health care workers, and other people who live with or care for high risk people to keep from spreading flu to them.
  • Children younger than 6 months are at high risk of serious flu illness, but are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for infants should be vaccinated instead

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