Diagnose a Cranky Kid

by Joe Kita

When your wife’s away and the baby keeps interrupting the poker game, there are five basic things to check, says Bryan Wood, MD. In fact, he used this same checklist during his 20 years as an emergency-room physician and while raising 11 – yes 11 – kids:

  1. Hungry? Just like your mother-in-law, if she’s crabby she probably needs a drink. Try a bottle first. If she won’t take it….
  2. Dirty? Don’t just pull back the elastic and peek in with a deer lamp; put on your safety goggles and pop that diaper off. If it’s clean….
  3. Tired? Try to recall when the baby napped last. If it was well before the first hand, try soothing and putting her to bed again. If she’ll have none of that….
  4. Hurt? Gently squeeze the baby’s arms, wrists, hands, legs, feet, etc., searching for some part that might be injured. Scan for redness, swelling, and insect bites, as well. If you don’t find anything….
  5. Sick?Don’t waste time searching symptoms on the internet. You have a card game to get back to. Instead, call your mother. (After all, she successfully raised your cranky self.) If she can’t help (and your wife is still unavailable), ring your pediatrician, family doctor or, as a last resort, the ER. (These numbers should all be programmed into your phone.) Try to stay calm by reminding yourself that babies are remarkably resilient creatures – much more so than new dads.When your wife’s away and the baby keeps interrupting the poker game, there are five basic things to check, says Bryan Wood, MD. In fact, he used this same checklist during his 20 years as an emergency-room physician and while raising 11 – yes 11 – kids:
    1. Hungry? Just like your mother-in-law, if she’s crabby she probably needs a drink. Try a bottle first. If she won’t take it….
    2. Dirty? Don’t just pull back the elastic and peek in with a deer lamp; put on your safety goggles and pop that diaper off. If it’s clean….
    3. Tired? Try to recall when the baby napped last. If it was well before the first hand, try soothing and putting her to bed again. If she’ll have none of that….
    4. Hurt? Gently squeeze the baby’s arms, wrists, hands, legs, feet, etc., searching for some part that might be injured. Scan for redness, swelling, and insect bites, as well. If you don’t find anything….
    5. Sick? Don’t waste time searching symptoms on the internet. You have a card game to get back to. Instead, call your mother. (After all, she successfully raised your cranky self.) If she can’t help (and your wife is still unavailable), ring your pediatrician, family doctor or, as a last resort, the ER. (These numbers should all be programmed into your phone.) Try to stay calm by reminding yourself that babies are remarkably resilient creatures – much more so than new dads.