When your baby is sick for the first time, it can be one of the scariest things that happens to you as a new parent. You will start wondering when to call the doctor for your baby. Should you call the pediatrician at the first sign of a runny nose, or wait until their child has not slept in days?
The first thing all new parents need to realize is that babies get sick, just like children of any age. A sick baby does not mean you are a bad parent. In fact, getting a small cold once in a while helps your baby’s developing immune system become stronger. But any cold or sickness can develop into a difficult situation if not kept under control.
When your baby sickens, try to maintain a normal feeding schedule. There is no problem with breastfeeding your sick baby. In fact, breastfeeding frequently might help your baby get better faster. If you baby is older and is no longer nursing, consider increasing her fluid intake, encouraging your baby to drink water and pure fruit juices.
Always call your doctor if your baby is showing signs of an emergency situation. Emergencies are wounds that will not stop bleeding or appear extremely deep. Any type of poisoning or possibility of poisoning means a call to the doctor. If your baby has a seizure or becomes unresponsive, call the doctor immediately.
A fever is often the first sign you receive when your baby is sick. If the fever is above 102 in a baby, you should call the doctor. A higher fever does not mean your baby is necessarily dangerously sick, but your baby’s doctor should know, so that he can advise you on treatment. Another indication that your baby needs to be seen is a sudden, drastic change in appetite. A good rule of thumb is if your baby skips two meals in a row, they need to go to the pediatrician.
Assessing your baby’s mood is another way to determine if they are sick enough to go to the doctor. Of course, a sick baby is not going to be her normal joyful self, but if your baby becomes completely inconsolable, call the doctor. Crying that lasts longer than three hours is a good sign that something more serious is wrong.
Diarrhea that lasts for six or more diapers in a row is a sign of illness and can lead to dehydration. The same goes for vomiting. It is important to know the difference between vomiting and spitting up. Most babies will spit up, and sometimes they spit up quite a lot of substance, but vomit will be forceful and projectile. As with diarrhea, excessive vomiting can lead to dehydration.
Above all, if you feel like something is wrong, call the doctor. Pediatricians are used to dealing with parents who do not know for sure how sick their babies are. They would prefer that you seek treatment for what turns out to be a small cold than ignore a serious illness. Keep your child’s best interests at heart, and do not be afraid to call the doctor when you suspect that something could be amiss.