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When your baby needs a doctor

All babies get sick from time to time. But which situations require a doctor's help? These tips might help you decide when to pick up the phone.

No matter how careful you are, there may be a time when your baby is sick or injured. Any time things don't seem right with your baby, err on the side of caution and call your baby's doctor, says the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). Here are some specific symptoms that warrant a phone call:

  • Drop in temperature or fever over 100.4 degrees.
  • Breathing problems, including quick or uneven breathing.
  • Blood in the baby's vomit or stool.
  • Constant vomiting.
  • Unable to keep fluids down without vomiting.
  • Any sign of infection.
  • Any sign of dehydration. For example: dry mouth, crying without tears, urinating less, sunken eyes or a sunken soft spot on the head.
  • Diarrhea that occurs more than eight times in eight hours.
  • Unresponsive to sounds or moving objects.

The academy offers these suggestions for getting the most out of a call to the doctor:

  • Have a pen and paper ready to write down instructions and questions that come up during the call.
  • Take your child's temperature. Write down the temperature and the time you took it.
  • Mention any past medical problems.
  • If you're giving your baby any prescription medications or over-the-counter drugs or supplements, say so.
  • If possible, have your child near the phone when you call so you can easily answer questions about symptoms.
  • Have your child's immunization records within reach.

Be prepared

Now that you have a baby in the house, it might be wise for you and other family members to take infant CPR and first aid courses. Check with the American Red Cross about classes.

Reviewed 5/14/2024

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