Your Baby Week Seventeen

Developmental Health Watch

A three month old baby sitting on his mother's lap.
By three months, your baby should have good head control, should be smiling, and should be following objects. If not, talk to your pediatrician about your baby's development. Malek Chamoun / Getty Images

Public awareness has been increasing about the importance of identifying children with developmental delays at an early age.

That's great, but you still have to be aware of what your baby should be doing at each age to know if he is delayed or if you should have a concern to bring up to your pediatrician.

By three months, you should talk to your pediatrician if your baby does not:

  • smile
  • notice his own hands
  • follow moving objects with his eyes
  • grasp and hold objects
  • hold his head up without support
  • respond to some loud noises

Developmental Delays

If you notice that your child has a developmental delay, in addition to your pediatrician, it may be helpful to have an evaluation by your local early childhood intervention program. In addition to an evaluation to see what delays your child has, they often provide occupational therapy, physical therapy, nutritional services, or speech-language therapy to try and help your baby catch up in his development.

A pediatric neurologist and/or a developmental pediatrician can also be good resources for some children with developmental delays, especially if your baby has multiple delays or other medical problems, such as Down syndrome, seizures, poor growth, or if he was born premature.

Cradle Cap

Shampooing your baby's head is a good first step in getting rid of cradle cap.
Shampooing your baby's head is a good first step in getting rid of cradle cap. Photo © Don Bayley

Cradle cap is usually easy to recognize, with symptoms that can include a scalp rash that:

  • is dry and flaky
  • has thick, greasy, yellow or brown scales
  • has red patches with crust
  • is sometimes itchy

For mild cradle cap, keep in mind that this is mostly a cosmetic problem that will eventually go away on its own. So time is often the best treatment, with cradle cap often going away by the time an infant is about a year old.

When necessary, home remedies for treating cradle cap include frequently shampooing your baby's hair with a mild baby shampoo and then using a soft brush to try and brush off the scales. Another common home remedy for cradle cap is to rub in a little baby oil or mineral oil into your baby's scalp, leave it on for 10 or 15 minutes, which should soften the scales. Then brush off the scales with a soft brush, and then shampoo off the oil.

Talk to your pediatrician if you think that your child needs treatment for a more extensive case of cradle cap or if it simply isn't going away.

Infant Care Tip - Medication Dosages

When giving medicine to your baby, remember the alerts & recalls about infant cough & cold medicine.
When giving medicine to your baby, remember the alerts and recalls about infant cough and cold medicines. Spencer Platt / Getty Images

When thinking about giving your infant a cough or cold medicine, remember that the FDA reports that "questions have been raised about the safety of these products and whether the benefits justify any potential risks from the use of these products in children, especially in children under 2 years of age."

That statement, plus the fact that most infant cold medicines have been taken off the market, means that you won't need to know the dosages of too many medicines when your baby is three months old.

It can be helpful to know a few though, including:

  • Tylenol (acetaminophen) - according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the dose of Tylenol for younger infants is:
    • 0.4 ml of Concentrated Tylenol Infants' Drops for infants who are under 3 months old and who weigh 6 to 11 pounds
    • 0.8 ml of Concentrated Tylenol Infants' Drops for infants who are 4 to 11 months old and who weigh 12 to 17 pounds
  • Mylicon Infants Gas Relief Drops: 0.3 ml after meals and at bedtime for gas
  • Poly-Vi-Sol Multivitamin Supplement Drops with Iron: 1 ml each day

Medication Reminders

In addition to remembering the infant cold medicine alerts and giving the correct dosage of any medication that you do give your baby, it can help to keep your child safe if you:

  • avoid products with ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) until your infant is at least 6 months old -- the age for which it is approved
  • review medicine dosages with your pediatrician
  • use the dosing device that came with the medicine, a medicine dropper, or dosing syringe to give your child medicine, instead of a regular teaspoon
  • keep track of when all medicines you give your child and make sure that different medicines don't have the same ingredient in them


FDA Public Health Advisory. Nonprescription Cough and Cold Medicine Use in Children. August 15, 2007.

AAP. Your Baby's First Year.

Infant Q&A - Baby's Soft Spot

A gentle kiss or caress will not harm your baby's soft spot.
A gentle kiss or caress will not harm your baby's soft spot. Photo © Marilyn Nieves

Q. When will my baby's soft spot close? Can I touch them?

Your baby's soft spot likely won't close until he is eighteen to twenty-four months old, although it can sometimes close as early as nine months.

Until then, it is fine to gently touch them when you wash your baby's head or caress your baby. The soft spots are actually covered by a thick membrane. So although there is no bone in that area yet, you won't do any harm if you are gentle. You shouldn't go out of your way to put direct pressure of push on your baby's soft spot though.

There are actually two soft spots. The larger one in the front of the babies head, the anterior fontanel, that most parents are familiar with, and a much smaller posterior fontanel. This smaller soft spot is near the back of your child's head and closes by the time your baby is six to eight weeks old.

Your pediatrician will check your baby's fontanels at his well child checkups, but if your are considered that they are staying open longer than they are supposed to or are closing too early, then be sure to ask about it.

Until they close, your baby's soft spot should appear flat and not sunken or bulging. A sunken soft spot can be a sign of dehydration, especially if your baby also has other symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and poor feeding, while a bulging soft spot can be a sign of meningitis or hydrocephalus.


Behrman: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 17th ed.

Baby Discipline

Creating a loving environment is the best way to get started on a life-time of effective discipline.
Creating a loving environment for your baby is the best way to get started on a life-time of effective discipline. Justin Horrocks / Getty Images

You may think that you have a lot of time to start thinking about discipline, and if you are thinking about discipline in terms of "time-outs" and taking away toys, then you do.

But discipline isn't really about punishment. Instead, it has to do more with teaching your child how to behave as he grows up. This includes trying to support good behaviors and discourage undesired behaviors. And it includes the overall environment in which you raise your child.

So right now, discipline is just about keeping your child on a regular routine for eating, naps, bedtime, and baths, and responding to your baby's needs.

The American Academy of Pediatrics describes discipline for infants as "passive" discipline, in which parents "provide generally structured daily routines but also to learn to recognize and respond flexibly to the infant's needs."

Even as your baby gets a little older and more mobile and is crawling around, instead of getting in trouble for getting into things, you should get your home well childproofed. That way, he will be able to explore safely without worrying about getting into things that he isn't supposed and to and which can get him hurt.

It also isn't too early to start making a plan for how you will discipline your child as he gets older though. This plan should likely include that you avoid spanking and other forms of corporal punishment, which the AAP describes as "a less effective strategy than time-out or removal of privileges for reducing undesired behavior in children."


AAP Policy Statement. Guidance for Effective Discipline. PEDIATRICS Vol. 101 No. 4 April 1998, pp. 723-728.

Health Alert - Reptiles as Pets

A baby turtle, which can be a source of Salmonella infections to young children.
A baby turtle, which can be a source of Salmonella infections to young children. Photo © William Fuller

Reptiles and amphibians, including small turtles, lizards, snakes, and frogs, are becoming popular pets. Although it is against the law to sell small turtles with a shell that is less than 4 inches in length, they continue to be sold at flea markets and pet shops in various states.

Unfortunately, those pets can carry germs and can put young children at risk of getting salmonellosis -- a Salmonella infection.

Symptoms of Salmonella

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection usually begin one to three days after exposure to the Salmonella bacteria and can include diarrhea, crampy stomach pain, and fever. The diarrhea may be watery or may contain blood and mucus.

These symptoms usually go away without treatment in about a week, although they may linger for several weeks in newborns and younger infants or in children with immune system problems.

Treatment and Prevention

Antibiotics are not typically given to most children with Salmonella infections because they don't actually make their symptoms go away any faster and they may make the child be contagious longer.

That makes it important to try and avoid Salmonella infections, such as by:

  • not having a reptile or amphibian in your home if you are expecting a new baby or have a child under age five years old at home
  • always washing your hands with soap and water after handling a reptile or amphibian or their water bowl, cage or aquarium, and keeping them out of food preparation areas of your home
  • avoiding other possible sources of Salmonella, including raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, or meat
  • always washing your hands if you are around other animals


CDC. Healthy Pets Healthy People. Diseases from Reptiles.

MMWR. July 6, 2007 / 56(26);649-652. Turtle-Associated Salmonellosis in Humans --- United States, 2006--2007.

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