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  3. Baby health care
  4. Baby cold
  5. Seeking medical help for babies
Seeking medical help for babies

When to Call a Doctor

Babies can’t tell you when they aren’t well – and that’s what can be worrying.

It’s up to you to decide whether your baby is feeling poorly, and how seriously to take it. Sometimes, you will worry when there’s not much to worry about, but that’s part of being a parent! You will find you become more confident as your baby gets older. Toddlers can at least tell you or show you where it hurts.

Most babies and young children will have occasional difficult days, when they cry or moan, and seem restless and unsettled. Actually, the fact your child is crying is reassuring in a way – children who are very ill are sleepy and floppy. Severe, life-threatening illness is very rare in babies and young children.

See your doctor (or speak on the phone) if your child:

  • Is floppy or listless, or sleeps for a very long time
  • Has continuous vomiting which lasts more than an hour
  • Has diarrhoea, which doesn’t clear up in 24 hours
  • Has a rash, which you can’t explain
  • Has dry nappies
  • Passes stools which are an unusual colour or texture for him (green stools from time to time don’t mean anything, and some baby formulas actually produce greenish stools)
  • Seems feverish and uncomfortably hot
  • Has unexplained bruising or bleeding from the ears, mouth, nose, anus or in the stools or the urine

Seek medical help straight away if your child:

  • Has a convulsion – this doesn’t just mean jerky movements; look for rolling eyes and no response when you talk to him or look at him
  • Finds it hard to breathe
  • Becomes unconscious
  • Shows blue round or on the lips or the face
  • Has symptoms of suspected meningitis
  • Passes blood or redcurrant jelly-like stools
  • Seems in obvious pain

For more information see Baby cold or Baby care