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Health FAQs

I am currently pregnant. Can I visit your office and meet with a pediatrician before my baby is born?

Yes! We would be happy to schedule a courtesy meeting to visit our office and meet with one of our providers. You will be able to tour the office, meet some of the providers and see our staff in action. Learn more about Get Acquainted Visits ›

I notice when there is a loud or unusual noise my newborn will have a brief episode of stiffening her body as she straightens out her arms. Is this normal?

Yes, what you are seeing is called the startle or Moro reflex. This reflex may follow after your infant hears a noise or in association with an abrupt movement or other stimulation. It is noticed frequently at birth then gradually resolves by four months of age.

It is normal also for newborns to randomly hiccup, sneeze, and startle. They also exhibit Newborn Periodic breathing. This consists of short periods where they breathe rapidly for a few seconds, pause for less than 20 seconds, then restart breathing. We expect to see this for the first 2 months of life.

When a newborn starts sucking on his fingers or fists, does this mean he is hungry and I should feed him?

The sucking reflex is a normal reflex that you may see even if your baby has just been fed. This is a survival reflex and will start to diminish between six and twelve months of age. Babies will suck on anything that is put in their mouth. Many newborns can be soothed with extra sucking using a pacifier or their fingers.

Why does my newborn turn red in the face when she is trying to have a bowel movement? Does this mean she is constipated?

Infants do not have the benefit of gravity to assist them in passing a bowel movement and may bear down and pass gas prior to passing a stool. As long as their stools are soft and not formed it is not constipation.

I sometimes notice that my infant’s nose makes noises when he is breathing. Does this mean he has a cold?

Nasal noises in newborns are usually caused by dried mucus in the nasal passages, not a cold. Newborns are nose-breathers, especially during feeding. If your newborn is having difficulty feeding due to a blocked or stuffy nose, you can try a drop or two of warm sterile water or over-the-counter nasal saline drops. Instill one or two drops one side at a time. This will loosen up the mucus so it can be cleared by sneezing, swallowing, or you can use a bulb syringe if necessary.

You may also hear gurgling noises from her throat. Babies do not know how to clear their throats and this noise is usually from air passing through normal saliva or milk. This is especially true while they are sleeping. This will resolve on its own as your infant gets older and learns to swallow more frequently.

Avoiding tobacco smoke, dust and strong odors will help minimize nasal congestion. You should call the office if the nasal washes are not working or if breathing becomes difficult.

When should I start using toothpaste with my child?

The sooner the better! Parents should use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice, to brush baby teeth twice a day as soon as they erupt until your child is three years old, using a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Then start using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste thereafter. Before teeth erupt, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or a clean washcloth and water.

What should I do if I find a tick on my child?

First, don't panic – two things are on your side:

  • The risk of developing Lyme disease after being bitten by a tick is only about 1 to 3 percent.
  • Ticks can’t transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease until they attach and begin to feed, which makes them engorged. This can take up to 48 hours, so if you find a tick that isn’t engorged, your child may be less likely to contract Lyme disease.

All you need to do is to remove the tick and watch for symptoms. See these resources for information:

Here’s how to remove the tick:

  • Remove the tick using a fine-tipped pair of tweezers. Grasp the body of the tick and pull in an upward motion until the tick comes out. Do not squeeze or twist the tick’s body. Put the tick in a bottle.
  • Take note of the size and color of the tick, as well as your estimate of the time it has been attached and whether or not it is engorged.
  • It’s not necessary to take your child to a doctor after a tick bite, but if you have questions or want a consult, see your child’s pediatrician.

A small bump or redness at the site of a tick bite that occurs immediately and resembles a mosquito bite is common. This generally goes away in 1-2 days and is not a sign of Lyme disease.

What should I do if my child gets a fever?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the normal body temperature for a healthy child is between 97.0 and 100.3° Fahrenheit. Thus, a temperature a degree above or below the “normal” 98.6 is not considered a fever, since body temperature changes throughout the day and every individual is different.

See our medication dosage charts page.

If your child has a fever, do not panic. The most important thing is to look at your child. If they are alert, interactive, occasionally playful, etc. they are probably okay. Common guidelines for contacting the office are as follows:

Infants may not have fully developed the ability to regulate the body’s temperature. Their temperature may actually drop instead of rise.

  • 0-60 days: Any rectal temperature 100.4° or higher or less than 97.0°, go to Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital immediately. This is considered an emergency and your child requires immediate evaluation. Even when our office is open, you should take your child to the Yale Children’s Hospital Emergency Department. It is not required to contact our office prior. Do not give any fever reducers. The Emergency Department will contact our office when they are done evaluating your child.
  • 2-3 months: If your child has a temperature, he should be seen that same day or the following day if the fever develops overnight and the infant is acting well. If your infant is not acting well, please contact our office immediately.
  • 4-5 months: Make an appointment if your child has a temperature of 101° or higher for more than 48 hours and is otherwise acting well.
  • 6 months or older: Call if your child has had a fever of over 101° for more than 72 hours and is otherwise acting well.

Any child with a fever who is significantly irritable or lethargic despite fever reducers, who is having difficulty eating and drinking, difficulty breathing, or has altered mental status or any other concerning signs should be seen promptly.

Of course, you know your child best and we are always available to evaluate him or her in our office.