When to call the doctor about your baby?


This article is modified from http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a563663/when-to-call-the-doctor-for-parents-of-babies

At NiteDoc, we realize the importance of having parents that are informed, and thus, empowered. We thought the following information would be useful to parents with babies and young children.

Unfortunately, small babies and young children often get sick. The reason for this is that your child’s immune system is still maturing. So they are more prone to minor illnesses such as coughs, colds, and tummy upsets than older children and adults.

Young babies and children can also get worse suddenly when they are ill, so always err on the side of caution. Even if you think your baby is just “not right”, it’s best to get her checked by a doctor. The good news is that while babies can get ill quickly, they also recover quickly once they get the right treatment.

When should we see the doctor?

Some health problems need to be checked out straight away by your doctor, while others can be left for a few hours or so.

See a doctor as soon as you can if your baby has:

  • Diarrhoea for more than 12 hours.
  • Repeated vomiting, or vomiting for 12 hours or more. Or if he has other symptoms as well as vomiting, such as diarrhoea, a fever, or a rash.
  • A fever. Take your baby to the doctor if he has a fever of 38 degrees C or higher and he’s under three months, or 39 degrees C or higher if he is older than three months.
  • An object lodged in his ear, nose or mouth. Never try to remove objects yourself.
  • A burn larger than a R5 coin, particularly if the skin is blistering (this includes sunburn).
  • Persistent crying. As a parent you know your baby’s pattern of crying better than anyone. If he is crying more than usual, or if his cry sounds high-pitched, or he is whimpering or moaning, see your doctor.
  • Blood-streaked vomit or poo. Often this isn’t due to anything serious, but it still needs checking with your doctor straight away.
  • An unexplained rash, particularly if it’s accompanied by a fever.
  •  A barking cough with a loud, high-pitched rasping sound when he breathes in. This may be croup.
  •  He has not wanted to drink for more than eight hours. Or he’s had less than half of his usual amount to drink over the past 24 hours. This includes breast or bottle feeds for young babies.
  • Sunken fontanelles (the soft spots on your baby’s head), along with other symptoms, including dry lips, dark yellow urine, and fewer wet nappies than usual. These can be signs of dehydration.
  • Your baby has been unusually irritable and moody for no apparent reason in the past 24 hours.
  •  Your baby has pink, watery, or sticky eyes. This could be a sign of an eye infection, such as conjunctivitis. This can be very infectious and needs treating promptly.
  •  Discharge from his ears, eyes, navel, or genitals over the past 24 hours.
  • Severe stomach pain.

Conditions requiring urgent medical care

If your baby is so ill that you think he needs urgent medical help, don’t hesitate to visit your doctor or NiteDoc. Particularly if your child:

  • Shows one or more possible signs of meningitis. These include: a fever with cold hands and feet, swollen fontanelles, unusual crying or moaning, drowsiness, floppiness, dislike of bright lights, grunting or rapid breathing, pale blotchy skin, or a purple-red rash that doesn’t disappear when you press a glass against it.
  • Has an existing infection and shows the following signs of sepsis: cold and clammy or mottled skin, breathing difficulties, drowsiness or loss of consciousness.
  • Is unconscious or semi-conscious.
  • Is having trouble breathing or is breathing abnormally quickly, particularly if his skin and lips start to take on a bluish tinge. This means he isn’t getting enough oxygen.
  • Has a seizure (convulsion or fit) for the first time or one that lasts for more than five minutes. His eyes will roll back in his head, he will be unresponsive, and his limbs will twitch. Seizures are usually caused by a fever, but not always.
  • Swallows something they shouldn’t – such as medicine meant for adults or anything poisonous or harmful. Remember to take the packet or bottle to the hospital with you.


  • If your baby has a condition or injury that is not life threatening, but needs immediate treatment, it’s best to take him straight to your doctor or NiteDoc. You should go if your child:
  • Has a cut that keeps bleeding or one that is deep and may need stitching. Until you get to the doctor, do your best to stop the bleeding by putting pressure on the cut with a clean cloth. Also try to keep the injured part raised above the heart to reduce the flow of blood to the wound.
  • Has a serious fall, and you suspect he may have a broken bone or sprain.
  • Gets a serious bump to the head.

Just need advice or your doctor’s rooms are closed? Call us at NiteDoc on 083 483 1600 or bring your child to us at NiteDoc.

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