How do I know when my baby is ill?

Parents are usually good at noticing when something is wrong with their infant or child.  However, it can be difficult to tell whether something is badly wrong or whether it’s a result of something mild like a small viral cold.  Here are some signs that can help you tell the difference.  If you notice any of these, please seek medical advice.

1. If your baby or child is not responding to you normally

  • When awake, your baby or child looks terrible or seems miserable, irritable, dislikes being touched, unusually drowsy, listless, unusually quiet or not interested in looking at you.
  • In addition, for babies – they may feel floppy or limp when cuddled, or perhaps their cry seems different (perhaps moaning, whimpering or shrill), and soothing doesn’t help.

If you notice any of these, please call 111 or see your emergency GP.

2. Your baby or child is not feeding or drinking

If your child is not interesting in feeding, please come and see a doctor.   We get particularly worried if a child stops drinking.

3. Your baby or child is not passing urine

If a child is not passing urine, it could be a sign that they don’t have enough fluids inside of them and that they may be becoming dehydrated.    In babies, you might notice the nappy becoming dry.    Again, if you notice these, please come and see a doctor.

4. Your baby or child starts to develop a new rash

If a new rash develops come and see the doctor.   We get particularly worried if the skin looks bruised or discoloured.   Do the glass test for meningitis.

When should I worry?

Watch this little video

Believe it or not, this is one of the best videos I have seen about the seriously sick child on the internet.   It is made by Medical Aid Films and although you might think it is developed for those in the third world, all of its points are applicable for us in the UK.   These are the things we as doctors get worried about.

Remember… Call 999 if your baby or child

  • Has blue lips or looks very pale
  • Has difficulty breathing
  • Has a fit
  • Is drowsy or hard to wake
  • Becomes jerky or unusually floppy
  • Has glazed eyes and cannot focus properly

Remember – you know your baby better than anyone else!  If you are worried, please call 111 or see the emergency GP.

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