There is one thing that first time parents and experienced parents alike can agree on. Deciding when to take your baby to the doctor and when to wait it out is never easy. Having a healthy baby is hard enough. How do you know when they're hungry? When are they ready to start solids? At what age can you let them cry themselves to sleep? But when your baby is sick, then it gets really difficult. How high does their fever have to be before you worry? How do you know when it's just a cold or something more serious? Here are a few symptoms you shouldn't ignore and when to call the doctor.
- Fever: A fever can mean so many different things, but most doctors agree that anyone under 3 months old should never have a fever over 100.4 degrees or any fever at all that lasts longer than 3 days. Older babies can get up to 102 before you should start worrying.
- Dehydration: This is a serious symptom and should be addressed immediately. The trick is knowing when it is happening. Some of the most common symptoms of dehydration are crying without tears, fewer wet diapers, dry skin or mouth, and excessive fatigue.
- Colds: Colds come and go all the time and knowing whether or not you should take your baby in because of a cold is a difficult call. There are two symptoms that are cold-related that indicate you should call the doctor. If your child is having difficulty breathing or makes strange sounds when they breathe, you should take your child in immediately. If your child has a cough that is bad enough that they can't sleep through it, then you should call your doctor.
- Ear pain: If your child seems like they are not hearing as well as they should be or if they are pulling on their ears, call your doctor. Some ear pain can be related to teething, but it can also be related to an ear infection and should be treated soon.
- Lethargy: If your baby is in any way lethargic or if it is difficult to rouse them, call the doctor immediately. This also applies if your child is extra cranky for extended periods of time or is inconsolable.
- Rash: If your baby has a rash that looks infected or if their rash comes with a fever or diarrhea, it's best to go ahead and call your doctor. Rashes can indicate several different things, and should be diagnosed right away.
Having a baby is a wonderful thing, but having a sick baby can be scary. Keep this list handy so you know when to call the doctor of pediatrics and when it's okay to wait it out for a little while.