Warning signs: When to Call Your Pediatrician

Every new parent struggles with knowing what is normal behavior, what is not, when to call the doctor, when to wait it out, and when to go the ER . When your baby gets sick it can be very concerning not knowing specifically what is wrong or how to help them. After all the only way your baby knows how to communicate is through crying. Certainly by this point you have found out that there is a different cry for a different need your baby has. However some times when your child is sick, the warning is in the silence. So what does a new parent look for? How do you determine a minor illness that can be simply watched for improvement vs. a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention? Below is a list of information to be used as a guide only. As your baby’s parent only you can truly decided if your child’s condition requires a call or a visit to your doctor. Remember you know your baby/ child better then anyone, trust your instincts.

  1. Any clear life threatening injury or accident resulting in unconsciousness, lack of oxygen, need for CPR, or severe bleeding results in an immediate call to 911.
  2. Fever over 100 degrees in an infant 3 months or younger, or over 102 in an infant or child older then 3 months. Remember that fevers are purposeful. It is the body’s way of heating up to kill the infection. However, a high fever can result in a febral seizure which would necessitate immediate medical attention.
  3. Serious diarrhea (This can lead to severe dehydration in a child/baby) Diarrhea in a newborn can be difficult to determine since breast milk poop is watery and seedy. Diarrhea in newborns and infants in rather frequent, mucous is present, has a foul strong odor, is explosive, may have streaks of blood present, and had very little “Seedy” consistency to it.
  4. Blood in urine or poop.
  5. Sudden loss of appetite that lasts for four days or longer.
  6. Unusual, inconsolable crying.
  7. Vomiting (Vomiting in children can be due to strep infections, ear infections, gastric infections, respiratory infections such as pneumonia, allergic reaction, toxins that have been ingested, reaction to bug bites, or due to head injury). Anytime your child is vomiting it should not automatically be assumed he has the flu or other stomach virus. Look him over for other signs of infection and consult with your doctor. This can lead to quick dehydration. Sips of fluids such as Pedialyte is recommended over water as water can irritate an already cranky digestive tract.
  8. Off color appearance such as pale, flushed, or yellow skin tone.
  9. Listlessness, lethargic, difficult to rouse or wake.
  10. Behavior changes
  11. Convulsions or seizures of any kind, staring spells, repeated rapid blinking, etc…
  12. Difficulty in breathing, wheezing, shortness of breath, cough that sounds like a bark.
  13. Eye or ear infection (rubbing eye excessively, pulling or rubbing ear) In some cases, pediatricians will recommend the breastfeeding mother to place expressed breast milk in the baby’s eyes to kill an eye infection. The natural antibodies found in breast milk have been proven to successfully kill most eye infections. It’s mores soothing then eye drops or ointment, is often more effective, and most important it is free!! Express some milk and with a dropper, place 4 drops of expressed breast milk in the effected eye 4 times a day for 4 days. Examination by the pediatrician is still recommended.
  14. Eye, nose, or ear injury.
  15. Blow to the head that causes loss of consciousness. Anytime a child has hit there head it is recommended to keep the child awake for at least 1hr. Look for signs of listlessness, difficulty walking, blurred vision, or vomiting. If you are unable to keep that child awake call 911
  16. Burns with blisters, especially on the soles of the feet, hands, face or genital area.
  17. Unusual rashes (blistering or pustules), rashes that do not blanch when pressed.
  18. Indication of pain (favoring a leg, wincing when touched)
  19. Suspected poisoning call poison control at: 1-800-222-1222
  20. Swallowing a foreign body. If they child choked and the heimlich maneuver was performed it is extremely important that the child be examined as there could be possible damage to the windpipe that would result in difficulty breathing later on.

Again this list is to serve only as a guide to you. Trust your instincts, if your child is acting abnormal, call the doctor. When in doubt, check it out!

Copyright© 2011 Danielle Gauss,IBCLC – JustBreastFeeding.com. All Rights Reserved.


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