When to See Baby’s Doctor

Most parents have anxiety from time to time with their babies. This is especially true if you’ve just had your first baby. Every sniffle, every cry can seem like a lot bigger deal than it really is. But how do you know? We need to trust our instincts, of course, but how should we decide when something is serious enough to take baby in to see her pediatrician or to the emergency room?

Even if your baby gets sick, you don’t necessarily need to call the doctor. An occasional illness in a healthy baby isn’t generally a big deal. But here are some situations in which you should take your baby to see the doctor:

  • Significant changes in mood. Especially if your baby becomes lethargic or particularly hard to rouse from sleep. If an otherwise happy baby suddenly becomes irritable and stays that way, you should likewise let your doctor know.
  • Inconsolable crying. It very well might be colic, but it’s best to have a doctor check baby out. Even if it is just colic, your doctor can give you some suggestions for getting yourself and baby through it.
  • Fever. For babies under 3 months old, you should contact your doctor right away for any fever. If baby is over 3 months, and the fever is under 102, you can give her acetaminophen for babies in the recommended dosage. If the fever is over 102, or doesn’t respond to acetaminophen, call your doctor.
  • Eyes are pink, red, or leaking mucus. This could be a number of things. Have your doctor check it out right away.
  • Ear problems. If baby isn’t responding normally to sounds, call the doctor. Also call if fluid is draining from the ears.
  • Unexplained rash. This doesn’t mean you need to take baby in for diaper rash, but if she gets a rash that doesn’t have an obvious cause, especially if it’s large, appears infected, or is accompanied by a fever.
  • Difficulty breathing. This sometimes occurs even with colds. At any rate, if severe cough, or nasal fluids that aren’t clear are causing any trouble breathing, let your doctor know.
  • Constipation or diarrhea. IF baby’s bowel movements are abnormal, either because the poop is loose and watery, or because she hasn’t been able to go for a day or two, call the doctor.
  • Refusal to eat. If baby refuses more than 2 or 3 feedings in a row, or eats poorly for more than a day or two, contact your doctor.

Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive. You still need to trust your instincts. If you think something just isn’t right, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.