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Newborn Baby: When to Call the Doctor

During your baby’s first year, you will make many trips to the pediatrician’s office. Most of these visits are routine, but there may be times when your baby needs immediate medical attention. Questions about minor problems such as a small cough, occasional diarrhea, and fussiness can usually wait until normal office hours, but if your baby is acting unusually, do not hesitate to call your doctor immediately. Trust your instincts, because they are usually right.

It is very important to get medical advice from your doctor because something as simple as diarrhea may turn into a dangerous condition. Before your baby is born, be sure to find out your doctor’s office hours, on-call hours, and how to deal with an after hours emergency. This will make it easier to deal with any problems that may come up.

Before calling your doctor, make sure to have a pen and paper to write down any instructions he or she might give. When you call, have the following information on hand:

  • Your baby’s immunization records
  • The names and doses of any medications—prescription and over-the-counter—your baby takes
  • Any medical problems your baby may have
  • His or her temperature

When should I call the doctor?

Call your doctor’s office if your baby:

  • Refuses to feed for multiple feedings in a row
  • Has diarrhea and vomits more than usual
  • Has a cold that does not improve, or that gets worse
  • Has a rash
  • Has signs of dehydration (decreased number of wet diapers—should have 6 to 8/day, does not shed tears when crying, has sunken eyes, or the soft spot on the top of his or her head has sunken)
  • Has ear drainage
  • Will not stop crying

Call your doctor immediately if your baby:

  • Has blood in his or her vomit or stool
  • Has difficulty breathing
  • Has a seizure
  • Has any type of poisoning
  • Has bleeding that you cannot stop
  • Is not able to move
  • Has a rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • Has yellow skin or eyes
  • Sleeps more than usual or will not wake up
  • Is limp

If you are extremely concerned about your baby, call your doctor and take your baby to the emergency room.

References

American Academy of Pediatrics
www.healthychildren.org
www.healthychildren.org/english/search/pages/results.aspx?Type=Keyword&Keyword=when+to+call+the+doctor
Accessed 9/24/2010

Infant Health in National Institutes of Health
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development
www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/infant_health.cfm
Accessed 9/24/2010

© Copyright 1995-2010 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 9/24/2010...#9692