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When to Call the Doctor

Many new parents are concerned they won't know when their baby is sick enough to call the doctor. It is hard to know what is wrong and how serious it is when the patient can't tell you; but don't worry, within the first week after birth, you'll become familiar with your baby's personality and temperament and be able to distinguish when he or she is just not feeling well.

The following are some symptoms and signs that your baby may be ill and a call or visit to the doctor is warranted. Many of these are not necessarily cause for concern by themselves, but when more than one symptom is present, you should consult your health care provider:


A fever is a clear sign that your baby is fighting infection; however, a fever alone is not necessarily a reason to worry. If your baby has a low fever but appears well and happy otherwise, watch her for 24 hours to see if the fever subsides. However, if your child has a fever and is listless, develops a rash, or has other symptoms, call the doctor. In general, if your baby is younger than 3 months old and has a rectal temperature of higher than 100.6 F, or if your baby is 3 to 6 months old and has a rectal temperature of 101 F, call the doctor.

Abnormal Digestion

If your baby has three or more episodes of vomiting or diarrhea, has fewer than four wet diapers in 24 hours, or has blood in her vomit or stool, it's time to call the doctor. If your baby has ingested any medication, household product, or foreign object, call the doctor.

Temperament and Mood

This is a very subjective category as many babies are moody by nature and crying is just part of the package. You'll need to rely on your knowledge of your baby's personality and normal behavior. If you notice that your baby is suddenly crying more for no apparent reason, her cries are weak or unusually high-pitched, and you cannot calm her, something may be wrong. Conversely, if your baby cries significantly less than usual and is abnormally inactive, unresponsive or listless, a call the doctor is in order.


Your baby may regularly grunt, breath rapidly, or make other strange respiratory noises - particularly while he or she is sleeping. But if you notice a distinct change, if his or her breathing becomes labored, is unusually rapid, or he or she begins heaving or turning pale or blue, call the doctor immediately.

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