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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Usually I do not interject my opinion to total strangers. However, as my wife and I were sitting at a table in a mall, there were two women at the next table. One of them had with her a screaming infant in a buggy. Finally, the mother lifted the baby into her arms and began bouncing it around. The baby cried even more, so the infant was put back in the buggy with a disgusted thrust as the baby continued to scream.

I spoke up, saying, "The baby may be thirsty." The mother found a bottle full of water and stuck it into the baby's mouth. The baby not only stopped crying, but attacked the water as if its life was dependent upon it.

I have heard women say about crying babies, "Don't worry -- the baby is just exercising her lungs." Abby, a baby's cry is a signal that something is wrong.

When a woman first becomes pregnant, a nurse in her doctor's office should instruct her about care for a crying baby. When the baby cries: Is she thirsty? Is he hungry? Is the baby wet and in need of changing? Is she too hot? Too cold? Are the bed clothes wrapped so tightly around the baby or his arms or legs that they are shutting off the circulation? (Lift the baby completely out of the crib and look things over.) The baby might also have an extremity caught in the buggy parts.

Finally, if it is none of the above, the baby might be sick. Learn how to take the infant's temperature. If the temperature is above 100 degrees F, take the baby immediately to the emergency room unless his or her doctor is willing and able to see the infant immediately. -- RETIRED DOCTOR IN SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.

DEAR DOCTOR: Since babies don't come with directions included, that's excellent advice, for which I thank you.

Many books have been written about the care of newborns, and parenting classes are available through hospitals, some high schools and community colleges. However, your letter provides a quick "ready reference" for a parent on the run.

DEAR ABBY: Everyone, children and adults, who gets lost or is in danger should know Morse code for SOS. It's easy. Just learn this: . . . - - - . . .

You can yell it, tap it out, blow it on your car horn, blow it on a whistle, write it (in very large print) into sand, or lay large rocks on a beach spelling the SOS. The Morse code by voice is: "DIT DIT DIT-DAH DAH DAH-DIT DIT DIT." Many people know this SOS signal -- Scouts, airmen, ham radio operators, boaters, etc. If you think you're in trouble, and know you're within hearing distance, yell, "MAYDAY!"

I learned Morse code in flight school and never forgot the SOS call. Please print this, Abby. I want no one -- ever -- to be in need of an SOS and not know how to send it. -- FEMALE PILOT IN RANCHO MIRAGE, CALIF.

DEAR FEMALE PILOT: Since I don't know Morse code for "thank you," I offer my gratitude for your letter in English. The SOS is a handy bit of information to have. Even if one never has to use it, it's good insurance.

Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 per booklet ($4.50 each in Canada) to: Dear Abby Booklets, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)

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