How to know if something is wrong with your baby
As a parent, your top priority is always the health and wellbeing of your little one. But let's face it - babies can't tell us when something is wrong. So how do you know if that fussiness or fever requires a call or trip to the hospital?
In this post, we'll explore some common signs and symptoms that may indicate the need to seek medical attention. Don't worry – by the end of this article, you'll feel much more confident in deciphering your baby's health needs but never doubt your instincts.
When it comes to your baby, you are the expert on your child. You know them better than anyone else. So, as just mentioned, trust your instincts! If you feel something is wrong please don’t hesitate to seek medical help for your child.
Of course, every parent wants their child to be healthy and happy. But sometimes, things happen that are out of our control. Avoid blaming yourself for these things. Parent guilt can be so cruel and it will creep in, but try to be kind to yourself if your baby is ill. You’re doing an amazing job.
There are a few things you can look for that might indicate something is wrong. If your baby is not eating or sleeping well, if they are vomiting or having diarrhea, if they have a fever or seem unusually irritable, these could all be signs that something is wrong.
If you are ever unsure about whether or not something is wrong with your baby, always err on the side of caution and seek medical help.
What are the signs of an unwell baby?
If your baby is showing any of the following signs, it could be an indication that something is wrong and you should seek medical help:
- A sudden change in appetite
- Extreme tiredness or fatigue
- A rash that covers most of the body and is accompanied by a temperature
- Yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice)
- Discoloration of the stool (very pale, black, or bloody)
- Abnormal crying or irritability that can't be soothed
- Pain when urinating, blood in urine, or problems passing urine
- Constipation or crying/distress whilst passing a stool
When to see a doctor for your baby
If your baby is less than three months old and has a temperature of 38 degrees or more, you should see a doctor immediately.
In addition, if your baby has any of the following symptoms, you should call your doctor or take them to A&E be seen:
- Fever lasting more than five days
- Vomiting more than four times in a 24-hour period
- Diarrhea for more than three stools in one day
- Not urinating for twelve hours or longer
- Sudden onset of fever accompanied by a stiff neck, unexplained bruising or bleeding, persistent irritability or lethargy, seizures, shortness of breath
If you are ever concerned about your baby's health or well-being, do not hesitate to seek medical attention.
Health Visitors or GP
If you're concerned about your baby's health, your first port of call should be your health visitor or GP. They will be able to give you advice and support, and can refer you to other services if necessary.
Your health visitor should be your main point of contact for any concerns about your baby's overall health, development and wellbeing. They will carry out regular check-ups and will be able to offer advice and support. If you're worried about anything, don't hesitate to get in touch with them.
Your GP can offer advice and support from a clinical perspective, is able to prescribe medication, and can refer you to other services both urgent and non-urgent if necessary. If you're worried about anything, make an appointment to see them.
Emergency care for serious symptoms in infants
If you think your infant is experiencing a medical emergency, it is important to act quickly and seek professional help. If you are unsure whether or not the symptoms your infant is experiencing warrant emergency care, err on the side of caution and bring them in for evaluation.
- Some symptoms that may indicate a medical emergency in infants include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Difficulty breathing
- Blue lips
- Excessive bleeding
- Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
- Fever of 38 Degrees Celsius or more and is under 3 months of age
Please note: many doctors advise you treat the child not the fever, so if your baby has a mild temperature (between 37.5°C and 38°C) but is happy and hot, you don’t need to treat them. It’s only if the temperature increases or if they display signs of being unwell with it.
If you are ever in doubt, do not hesitate to call 999 or bring your infant to the nearest A&E department for evaluation.
Common Illnesses in babies and children
There are a few common illnesses that tend to occur in babies and children. They include colds, ear infections, and stomach viruses.
Colds are the most common illness in babies and children. Symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing, and a cough. Colds usually last for a week or two and can be treated with over-the-counter medication – if necessary.
Ear infections are another common illness in babies and children. Symptoms include ear pain, fever, vomiting and diarrhea. Ear infections usually go away on their own within a few days, but if the pain is severe and your baby is unsettled or oozing any puss from the ear you may want to see your doctor.
Stomach viruses are common among babies and children. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It’s important to keep fluids up as much as possible so your baby doesn’t get dehydrated. If you’re concerned, talk to your GP.
Prevention and care tips for parents
As a parent, it is natural to worry about your child's health and wellbeing. However, it can be difficult to know when something is wrong with your baby and when to seek help.
There are some general prevention and care tips that all parents should be aware of:
- Always wash your hands before handling your baby, especially if you have been around sick people or animals.
- Keep your home clean and baby proof it to reduce the risk of injury.
- Inspect your baby's body daily, paying close attention to the nappy area, mouth, and any areas of skin that look red or irritated.
- Make sure your baby is getting enough sleep and has regular eating and alert periods
- If you notice anything out of the ordinary, don't hesitate to contact your child's healthcare provider for further guidance.
If you think something may be wrong with your baby, it is always best to seek professional help. Trust your gut instinct: if you feel like something is off, then it probably is. Here are some general guidelines for when to seek medical help for your baby:
- If your baby is less than 3 months old and has a temperature of 38 degrees or higher, you should seek medical attention right away.
- If your baby is 3-6 months old and has a temperature of 39 degrees or higher, you should seek medical attention right away.
- Paracetamol does not reduce their temperature
- If your baby has any kind of rash that does not go away within 24 hours, or if the rash seems to be getting worse
- If your baby has diarrhea that lasts more than 24 hours, or if the diarrhea is accompanied by a fever, vomiting, or blood in the stool
- If your baby has any sort of seizure, even if it only lasts a few seconds
Of course, these are just general guidelines; if you are ever concerned about your child's health, call your health visitor or GP for advice.