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How your baby's growing
Your baby may have already started feeding himself finger foods, although some babies wait until as late as 10 months. Once your baby starts self-feeding, you can introduce a sippy cup.
Try giving your baby a cup with a spout and two handles that he can grip. If he's getting frustrated that he can't get more liquid out of the sippy cup, remove the valve in the lid. If your baby has trouble figuring out how to suck through the spout, take the lid off and let him drink straight from the cup. (Show him how to tip it back so the liquid flows into his mouth.) Or, try a sippy cup with a pop-up straw – some babies prefer these.
- Learn more fascinating facts about your 7-month-old's development.
Your life: Trusting your intuition
"Parent's intuition" is more than a cliché. It's a powerful tool that can help you raise your baby. You know your baby best, so you can be an especially astute judge when it comes to changes in your baby's condition.
As Benjamin Spock famously wrote in the first line of his classic 1946 book Baby and Child Care, "Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do." If you feel something's not quite right about your baby's health, development, or general well-being, don't be too quick to dismiss such feelings. Many a parent has been ahead of the medical community in detecting the first signs of a problem, whether it's the beginnings of an illness even before fever appears or the presence of an undiagnosed disorder that's causing behavioral changes or a developmental delay.
So what should you do? Heed your instincts. Write down your observations. Don't hesitate to consult with your baby's doctor. And if you still don't feel convinced, persist until you get an answer that satisfies you.
Don't worry if you make mistakes or suspect a problem when there isn't one once in a while – everyone does.
Between recognizing gut feelings and learning from experience, you'll figure out how to do what's right for your baby.
Learn about: Fever
How can I identify a fever?
At 7 months, you know your baby pretty well and will probably be able to tell if something's amiss. If she feels warmer than usual, use a thermometer to measure her temperature. Although you often hear that a normal temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius), the reading for a healthy baby may fall anywhere between 97 and 100.4 degrees F (36 and 38 degrees C), taken rectally.
When should I worry?
Hard as it is to believe, a fever is your baby's friend – it means her body is heating up to fight off an infection. Infants tend to have higher average temperatures than older children, so "fever" in a baby is considered to be any of the following:
- a rectal or forehead temperature above 100.4 degrees F (38 degrees C)
- an ear temperature above 100 degrees F (37.8 degrees C)
- an armpit temperature above 99 degrees F (37.2 degrees C)
Because older children can tell us where it hurts, we tend to worry less about their low-grade fevers. But when your child is 3 to 6 months old, she can't do that, so you should call the doctor if your baby hits or exceeds the temperatures above. At 7 months of age and older, it's okay to wait until the temperature reaches 103 (taken rectally) to call the doctor. Regardless, it's always appropriate to call your baby's doctor if you're worried.
Also call if the fever is accompanied by any of the following: difficulty breathing, the appearance of small purple-red spots or large purple blotches on the skin, loss of appetite, inability to swallow, excessive drooling, lethargy, a glossy-eyed or otherwise unusual appearance, or delirious, irritable, or otherwise unusual behavior. In children between 6 months and 5 years of age, fever can also trigger febrile seizures – a benign but frightening experience. Mention these and any other symptoms to your doctor when you call.
What should I do to bring my baby's fever down?
Try removing layers of clothing, giving her a lukewarm tub or sponge bath, or letting her rest in a cool (not cold) room. Prevent dehydration by breast- or bottle-feeding frequently.
If these steps don't bring relief, call your baby's doctor to see whether medication is in order. If it is, be sure to ask what dosage is appropriate – the safe amount is based on your baby's weight, which changes frequently. Make sure never to give more than the recommended dosage at the appropriate intervals. If high doses are required to keep your baby's fever down, your doctor might advise you to alternate ibuprofen and acetaminophen (which lets you give medicine more often without risking an overdose). Keep both in your medicine cabinet, just in case. Remind the doctor if your baby is on any other medication, and never give a baby aspirin, which can cause Reye's syndrome in a child with a fever.
More important than the fever itself is how your child feels overall. If she's eating, sleeping, and playing well, then she probably doesn't need treatment or medical attention. When it comes to fever, trust your intuition as much as your thermometer.
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