When you have a baby occasional infections and fevers are inevitable. But even parents who have experience with sick babies can have trouble distinguishing normal fussiness and mild illnesses from serious problems. Here's when to contact the doctor — and when to seek emergency care — for a sick baby.
An occasional illness is usually nothing to worry about in an otherwise healthy baby — but sometimes it's best to contact the doctor. Look for these signs and symptoms:
Fever. If your baby is younger than 3 months old, contact the doctor for any fever.
If your baby is 3 to 6 months old and has a temperature up to 102 F (38.9 C) and seems sick or has a temperature higher than 102 F (38.9 C), contact the doctor.
If your baby is 6 to 24 months old and has a temperature higher than 102 F (38.9 C) that lasts longer than one day but shows no other signs or symptoms, contact the doctor. If your baby also has other signs or symptoms — such as a cold, cough or diarrhea — you might contact the doctor sooner based on their severity.
If your baby has a fever that lasts for more than 3 days, contact the doctor.
If you think you should contact the doctor, go ahead. After hours, you might be able to use a 24-hour nurse line offered through the doctor's office or your health insurance company.
Seek emergency care for:
Prepare for emergencies in advance by asking your baby's doctor during a checkup what to do and where to go if your baby needs emergency care. Learn basic first aid, including CPR, and keep emergency phone numbers and addresses handy.
Be prepared to help the medical staff understand what's happening with your baby. Expect questions about:
Before you contact your baby's doctor, make sure you're prepared to jot down any instructions. Have your pharmacy's contact information ready, too.
Being prepared will save you and your baby's doctor time during a phone call, office visit or emergency situation.