Baby’s Sickness: When to Call the Doctor

Many babies go through periods when they are unwell for a day or even just a few hours, but when does sickness require GP attention?

Although most babies, happily, don’t suffer serious illness in their early months, it’s always good to have an overview of Baby Health & Safety.
Baby sickness can be caused quite easily and doesn’t always mean your child is seriously unwell. After all, your new child is still getting used to life outside the womb and a new diet! Tummy upsets can leave your child weak or even dehydrated, especially if your child is refusing breastmilk or any water, so what signs tell you when it’s time to call the doctor?


Signs of serious baby sickness and/or dehydration
With a few cuddles, and a reassuring breast feed, most babies overcome mild sickness in just a few hours, but some signs are worth keeping an eye on, and if they manifest themselves it is worth calling your GP or calling NHS Direct on 0845 4647:

Signs of Dehydration
If your child is not well and therefore off his feeds, there is a danger that he might get dehydrated. Signs include:
No wet nappies for eight to ten hours. When you change your child’s nappy, take a good look to see if your child has had a wee. Often perfectly healthy babies don’t poo for more than a day, but they do regularly wee and it should be possible to detect this, even in nappies which are designed to take drain moisture efficiently.
No tears when your baby cries. If your child is very upset and cries, a lack of tears could be a sign of dehydration.
Dry mouth – If your child’s mouth looks particularly dry.

Signs of Being Very Unwell
Call your doctor if you notice any of the following signs, if just to put your mind at rest. Make sure you tell the person you speak to how old your child is and try to be as clear and descriptive as possible about the symptoms.
A sunken soft spot on your baby’s head. The little soft spot (fontanelle) on a small baby’s head is sometimes slightly sunken and goes up and down gently, but if it’s more noticeably sunken, this might be a cause for concern.

A limp body – if noticeably less active than your baby’s usual state can also be a sign that your child is very unwell. (As well as/or senstivity to light.)
A weak cry – soon after your child is born you begin to understand his cries and a weak or rasping cry, compared to the bellow of ‘I’m hungry’ or ‘Change my nappy’ will be more notable.

Your child has been excessively sick Not to be confused with normal everyday posseting (a small amount of baby sick usually after a feed).

Several bowel movements – more than usual in a few hours, which might have blood in them or look and smell noticeably different to normal. (For more about diarrhoea in toddlers, click here.)


NB If your child has an ongoing medical condition or is less than two months old, call your doctor if you are at all concerned, even if he is not showing many of the signs above.

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