Discover the physical and behavioural signs that your baby may be ill and learn when to take your baby to a doctor.
- Fever is usually a sign that your baby’s body is fighting an infection.
- One of the first signs of illness in babies is a change in behaviour such as being more sleepy or more fussy.
- In newborn babies and young infants three months of age or under, fever may be the first and only sign of a serious infection. All babies less than three months of age with a fever should see a doctor right away.
A change in behaviour is often a sign of illness in babies. If your baby is ill, they may cry more or have a change in activity level.
When to see a doctor
See your child's doctor right away if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- a fever (for babies 3 months old or younger)
- cries inconsolably
- listless or limp
- has convulsions (seizures)
- fontanelle, the soft spot at the top of their head, is starting to swell
- purple splotches on their skin, or another type of rash
- pale or flushed
- problems breathing
- refuses to breastfeed or drink from a bottle
- appears to have trouble swallowing
- has not peed in many hours
- has constant vomiting or the vomit has become dark green
In newborn babies and young infants three months of age or under, fever may be the first and only sign of a serious infection. If you notice a temperature that is even just slightly above the normal range, bring your newborn baby to the doctor as soon as possible. A normal temperature is less than 38°C (100.4°F).
One of the first signs of illness in babies is a change in behaviour. The baby may cry more or have a change in activity level. Generally, if your baby is active when awake, feeding well, and can be comforted when crying, small differences in activity level or crying are normal. However, if your baby becomes very sleepy or fussy, it may be time to see a doctor. Fussiness and decreased energy may be signs that an illness is present.
Sleepy or listless babies have little or no energy. They sleep longer than normal, and they may be difficult to wake for feedings. When awake, they are drowsy or sluggish; they are not alert and they do not pay attention to visual stimulation or sounds. Decreased energy can develop slowly over time, and parents may have difficulty recognizing it.
Decreased energy may be a sign of a common infection such as a cold, or a serious type of infection such as influenza or meningitis. Decreased energy can be caused by heart conditions or blood diseases such as thalassemia. There are numerous other conditions that can cause decreased energy, and decreased energy is usually one of many symptoms associated with any particular condition. Therefore, if you notice that your baby is particularly lethargic or listless, bring them to the doctor for an examination. Treatment will depend on the particular condition that is making your baby listless.
Crying is a baby’s only way of communicating. Over time, babies develop different cries depending on what they need: food, sleep, a diaper change, or a cuddle. Parents gradually learn to decipher their baby’s cries and respond accordingly. Usually parents can console their baby by providing what they need and cuddling them. However, some babies may begin to cry inconsolably. This may be due to a condition called colic, where babies may cry non-stop for three hours or so each evening. Colic can begin a few weeks after birth and usually tapers off by three to four months of life.
A baby who becomes very fussy and fretful, with long crying periods, may be ill or in pain. The baby may also become quite jittery or start to tremble. Fussiness may be a sign that your baby has gas, abdominal pain, an earache, or a viral or bacterial infection. The cause of your baby’s fussiness may simply be gas, but it might be something more serious. If your baby is fussy and cannot be consoled, bring them to the doctor for an examination. Treatment will depend on the particular condition that is making your baby fussy.
Article reproduced from www.aboutkidshealth.ca, copyright of the original author