When to call your baby's provider

Unfortunately, babies don't come with a set of instructions. And they can't tell you when something is wrong. 

How do you know when your baby’s just fussy and when there’s a more serious problem? Should you call your baby’s health care provider every time she cries? It can be hard to know when to call your baby’s provider.

When in doubt, trust your instincts! If you think your baby needs medical attention, call his provider. Some problems need immediate attention. Others can wait until regular office hours. Here are some signs to help you know when to call.

When should your baby get urgent care?

Call and talk to a health care provider or emergency medical service (911) right away if your baby:

  • Has blood in her vomit or stool
  • Has trouble breathing, breathes really fast (more than 60 breaths in a minute), or has a blue tint around the nose, lips, fingernails or skin
  • Has a seizure. When a person has a seizure, his whole body or parts of his body move uncontrollably. Sometimes the person stops breathing.
  • Has eaten something like detergent, soap, bleach or bug killer that causes vomiting, diarrhea or trouble breathing
  • Is hard to wake up or is unusually tired
  • Has a rectal temperature above 100.4F or below 97.8F
  • Is injured and doesn’t stop bleeding
  • Has one or more apnea episodes. Apnea is an interruption of breathing for a short period of time.
  • Has yellowish skin or eyes

When can your baby get care during regular office hours?

Call your baby's health care provider during regular office hours if your baby:

  • Is eating less than usual or shows other changes in appetite
  • Is regularly crying, irritable or unable to be comforted
  • Has frequent diarrhea. This can be hard to notice in breastfed babies as they usually have soft stools. Contact the health care provider if your baby's stools are especially soft or watery for 6 to 8 diaper changes.
  • Is constipated and doesn't have any stools
  • Vomits (more than just spit up) more than two to three times a day
  • Has a cold that doesn't improve or gets worse after a few days
  • Has a rash
  • Has fewer than six wet diapers in 24 hours. This can be a sign of dehydration. Other signs of dehydration include sunken eyes, sunken soft spot (called the fontanel) on the baby's head, or lack of tears when crying.
  • Has fluid draining from her ears
  • Has a tender navel or penis. Look for any redness, bleeding or pus in these areas.
  • Is paler than usual
  • Is less active than usual

If you think something is wrong with your baby, call his health care provider. It’s OK to call as often as you need to make sure your baby is safe and healthy.