When you have a newborn it can be hard to know what to do when you think they might be sick. Do you bring them straight to the doctor or do you give it a day or two to see if the symptoms recede by themselves? Babies (shockingly) don’t come out of the womb with a handbook on how to care for them. Parents have to rely on instinct and whatever information they’re able to garner from the internet or their own parents to survive those first few weeks. Sometimes the information can be unreliable, with one website saying to definitely swaddle and one book saying definitely don’t. This can be especially confusing when you think your baby is unwell.
To put your minds at ease, we’ve come up with the sure signs of when you need to bring your baby to the doctor stat. And don’t worry – children can avail of free GP care until they’re six years old so make those appointments and get them seen to. Better safe than sorry.
If your baby doesn’t feed vigorously when they’re hungry, or tire quickly when sucking, then it’s likely that they are unwell.
Temperatures can be tricky. Babies can have only mild temperatures and be severely ill and a high temperature and be only slightly ill. However, when under three months old, your baby’s temperature shouldn’t go beyond 38 degrees. If it does, go see the doctor.
Temperament is as sure a sign that something is wrong as other physical signs. If your placid baby is grumbly, cranky and can’t be consoled by anything or anyone, then it could be a sign your baby is fighting off an infection.
When babies travel through the birth canal (remember that part?) the mother’s muscles squeeze them through. This squeezing helps to get rid of mucous in the baby’s lungs. When born by c-section, the baby can’t benefit from the squeezing action, so some mucous may be left over in their lungs. If your baby is showing signs of wheezing or grunting during their first few weeks of life, it could be because there’s some left over mucous in their lungs. To be sure pop down to see the doctor to make sure it’s not developing into anything serious.
Babies sleep. A lot. But if you notice your baby sleeping a lot more than usual, or at irregular times, then it could be a sign that your baby is under the weather.
Babies need help supporting their heads for their first few weeks of life, but some tummy time with mum and dad will help to develop those neck and shoulder muscles pretty quickly. But if your baby seems floppy and you don’t feel any natural tension in their arms or legs, then they could be suffering from hypotonia, which is a state of low muscle tone in babies. Get them down to your GP to see how you can help build up their strength.
If you notice your baby crying without tears, or not passing a lot of urine, they could be dehydrated. Dehydration can be dangerous if left alone, so if you can’t get your baby to take any fluids, best see your GP to figure out what’s ailing them.
Notice any marks on your baby’s stomach or back when you change them? Some babies could be reacting to washing powder or nappy cream, but if you notice anything out of the ordinary, it’s best to bring them to a doctor.
Conjunctivitis is extremelycommon in children. It’s hugely contagious, so even if your child doesn’t attend crèche, they could come home from the park one day spouting a stye on their eyelid, or dripping yellow, crusty mucous from their eye. While not serious, it can develop into a bad eye infection so if the signs don’t recede within two to three days, get down to the doctor for some sound advice.