Probably the most frustrating thing about caring for a new baby is the fact that your baby canít communicate verbally and you arenít a mind reader. When it comes to illnesses, many new parents often overreact and call the doctor every single time they think something is wrong. This can be frustrating both for the parents as well as the doctor. It helps to know what signs you should look for and when it really is the right time to make that phone call.
Babies get sick. Some worse than others. The problem is that many times the symptoms or type of illness is hard to distinguish from typical to serious. It can be difficult to read your babyís body language or tell a sick cry from a normal ďfeed meĒ or ďchange meĒ cry. However, there are some key behavioral and physical changes you can detect in your infant that will help you make the decision as to whether you should call your doctor or not.
Small signs you donít have to worry about include the typical cough, sneeze or runny nose. Infants catch the common cold just like adults so donít feel the need to jump the gun. However, fevers are one of the conditions you need to look at closely. Usually a mild fever isnít a sign of a more serious condition but if your baby starts to experience a fever and has a rectal temperature of 100 degrees or more or an oral/ear temperature of 102 degrees or higher, youíll want to call your doctor. This type of high fever should be a big concern to parents if your infant is less than two months of age.
If your baby stops eating, repeatedly refuses feedings or eats very poorly, call your doctor. The same goes if your infant has diarrhea or vomiting. More serious signs of a very sick baby include any changes in skin color (yellow or blue around the lips or nails), oozing or bleeding around the navel and/or genital area, discharge from the eye area, ear pain (your baby will signal this by pulling excessively on the affected ear or if you see drainage), constipation, rashes, dehydration, or changes in mood such as lethargy.
Of course there may be times when a call isnít necessary and you need to rush your baby to the emergency room immediately. Such conditions include injury/trauma, extremely high fever, trouble breathing, bleeding or discharge that wonít stop, seizures, choking, unresponsiveness, and sudden lethargy or the inability to move.
When you take your baby to the doctor, be sure you have all his/her medical history and information on hand. Be prepared to answer questions and describe in detail to the doctor how your infant was behaving prior to falling ill.
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