Babies, like anyone else, sometimes fall ill. Here are a few common diseases, with a few tips on how you can prevent them.


Usually, people get malaria after being bitten by an infected female Anopheles mosquito. An infected mother can also transmit malaria to her infant before or during delivery.  People who are heavily exposed to the bites of mosquitoes infected with  malaria causing P. falciparum, as well as people who have little or no immunity to malaria, such as young children and pregnant women or travellers coming from areas with no malaria, are most at risk of getting malaria. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. 
Using a mosquito net helps prevent mosquito bites, so if you haven't already done so, buy a mosquito net to put over your babies cot.  Keep checking it for wear and tear as any holes could allow mosquitoes through.


Most babies have occasional loose stools. Breastfed babies have looser stools than formula-fed babies. When your baby frequently passes unformed watery stools they are said to have diarrhoea.
Diarrhoea can be caused by an infection and may be accompanied by vomiting. This is called gastroenteritis (a stomach bug). It's usually caused by a virus, such as rotavirus.  The risk of contamination is higher for formula fed babies, hence the importance of clean hands, and proper sterilisation of utensils and surfaces where the formula is prepared.
Diarrhoea and vomiting are more serious in babies than older children because babies can easily lose too much fluid from their bodies and become dehydrated. They may become lethargic or irritable, have a dry mouth, and have loose, pale or mottled skin; their eyes and fontanelle (the soft spot on the top of their head) may become sunken. If they become dehydrated they may not pass much urine. They may lose their appetite and have cold hands and feet. It may be difficult to tell how much urine they're passing when they have diarrhoea.
It is very important for babies and small children not to become dehydrated. Give your child frequent sips of water, even if they are vomiting. A small amount is better than none. Fruit juice or fizzy drinks should be avoided because they can make diarrhoea worse in children.
Contact your health care professional  immediately if your child shows signs of dehydration, such as: 
• irritability or drowsiness
• passing urine infrequently
• pale or mottled skin
• cold hands and feet
• becoming increasingly unwell 
Children at increased risk of dehydration
Your child's risk of becoming dehydrated is increased if they:
• are younger than one year old (particularly if they are less than six months)
• are younger than two years old and had a low birth weight
• have had more than six episodes of diarrhoea in the last 24 hours
• have vomited more than twice in the last 24 hours
• have been unable to hold down fluids
• have suddenly stopped breastfeeding

You should continue to feed  your baby as normal when they have diarrhoea. While breastfeeding, you should increase your fluid intake to help maintain your milk supply.  

You may be able to give your baby oral rehydration solution (ORS) if they become dehydrated. However, check with your health care professional  before giving rehydration fluids to young babies and infants.