When Baby Gets Sick: Part 2 – When to Call the Doctor

Welcome back to our series When Baby Gets Sick. We’re helping you navigate cold and flu season with your baby. Yesterday we reviewed prevention so you can help protect your baby from the germs her immature immune system cannot yet combat.

But it’s inevitable that your baby will get sick at some point. Today we’re helping you determine when to call the doctor when baby gets sick.

Your pediatrician is there for a reason: to help you manage the health of your baby. Therefore, if you are ever in doubt when baby gets sick whether or not to call the doctor, you should call. Even in the middle of the night. Even on a holiday. Even during major sporting events. If you are seriously worried, you should call the doctor.

With that said, here are the standard guidelines for concern when baby gets sick:


When Baby Gets Sick: Part 2 – When to Call the DoctorAn elevated temperature is the body’s way of fighting off an infection. Although fevers can be scary, they are a sign that your baby’s immune system is working properly and doing its best to take care of the issue at hand. However, fevers can be dangerous in certain circumstances. Always call your pediatrician in these cases:

  • Your baby is under 2 months with a rectal fever of 100.4 degrees or more.
  • Your baby over 2 months has a fever with other symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, rash, extreme fussiness and refuses to eat.
  • Your baby over 2 months has a prolonged fever of more than a few days even if it is low grade.

When you call, be ready to provide information including how long your child has had a fever, her temperature throughout her sickness, and any other symptoms she may be experiencing.

Coughs and Colds

Coughs and colds can last for a week or more in infants and one may run into another. The problem is, you just don’t know if it is a really long cold or something more serious. Therefore, call your doctor if your baby is sick for more than a few days or if you feel your baby is getting worse, especially if a fever develops.

Gastrointestinal Issues

You’re probably intimately familiar with your baby’s spit-up these days but vomiting is another story. If your baby vomits more than a few times and/or has diarrhea, call your pediatrician and do your best to keep your baby hydrated. If ever you see blood in stool or urine, call immediately.

Ears and Throat

Ear and throat infections are common in little ones. Often these occur after a cold because fluid drains into the ear canal. If your baby is tugging at her ears or if there is drainage coming from her ears, an ear infection is likely. If your baby is scratching her throat or refusing to eat, a sore throat may be the culprit. Your pediatrician will probably want to take a look.


Any rash that does not go away within a few days or seems to be worsening or spreading should be looked at by your doctor. Take note of your baby’s demeanor as well. If the rash is coupled with lethargy and fussiness, it could be more than meets the eye.

Sources: WebMD and HealthyChildren