When the baby needs a doctor

When to call the doctor

Tania (4 months) - by Oana Stoenescu
Every experienced mother, who's raised a couple of babies, has an idea of which symptoms or questions require prompt contact with the doctor and which can wait till tomorrow or the next visit. But when we have our first child, we need to know what we should do in case of various symptoms of the baby. Personally, I used to read alot from the internet, regarding symptoms, suggestions, other opinions about the behaviour of babies, and it helped me alot at that moment. It's important to know what a symptom means, and what we should describe to the doctor in case of pain, colds, fever, etc.
By far the most important rule is to consult the doctor promptly, at least by telephone, if a baby or child looks different or acts differently.
A mother should carefully follow the signs such as unusual paleness, unsusual tiredness, unsusual drowiness, lack of interest, unusual irritability, anxiousness, restlessness. This is particularly true in the first 2 or 3 months of life when a baby can be seriously ill without fever or other specific symptoms and sign of illness.

Here are some symptoms you should know about:

  • Convulsions
  • In most convulsions, the baby or child loses consciousness, the eyes roll up, the teeth are clenched, and the body or parts of the body are shaken by twitching movements. Seeing your child have a convulsion is one of the most frightening experience a parent can have. It should always be reported promptly, so that the underlying cause can be treated.
  • Fever
  • How high or low it is is less important than whether the child seems really sick. A young baby can be quite sick with little or no fever, while a high fever often accompanies a mild infection after the age of 1 or 2 years. As a general rule, consult the doctor if the baby has a temperature of 101` F or more.
  • Colds
  • In general, you should call the doctor if the cold is more than mild, if it lasts longer than 10 days to 2 weeks, if the child seems sicker or develops new symptoms.
  • Hoarseness of voice accompanies by difficulty in breathing should always be reported immediately.
  • Pain should be reported if it persists, seems severe, or if the child seems quite ill (excluding colic that occurs every evening for weeks).
  • Sudden decrease in appetite is sometimes a sign of illness, and when the child acts differently in other respects, especially if there is abdominal pain, the doctor should be called.
  • Vomiting of any unsusual type should be reported promptly, especially if the child looks sick.
  • Diarrhea in infants and older children should be reported immediately (and it is very important to look carefully at its colour, consistency, etc).
  • Blood in the bowel movements or blood in the vomitus or in the urine should be reported promptly.
  • Inflammation of the eye or injury to the eye should be reported promptly.
  • Injury to the head should be reported immediately if the baby loses consciousness or isn't happy and healthy looking.

Fortunately, at least 90 percent of children's illnesses are on the way to recovery within a few days.

Text source: Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care - Benjamin Spock and Michael Rothenberg