When to Call the Doctor About Your Newborn

Part of the joy of caring for your newborn baby is learning his or her expressions and moods. While you can learn the signs for when your baby is happy, hungry or sleepy, being able to tell when your baby is sick can be more challenging. It can be hard to know when to call the doctor, especially if this is your first time caring for a newborn.

Some signs that you should call the doctor about your newborn include the following:

  • A lack of wet diapers. This can be a sign of dehydration.
  • A sleepy baby who cannot be awakened enough to eat or who lacks an appetite or cannot breast or bottle feed.
  • Signs of illness you might see in adults. For example, cough, diarrhea, pale color.
  • Crying, irritability, or twitching that does not improve with cuddling and comfort.
  • Fever over 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit or less than 97.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • No bowel movement for 48 hours.
  • Odor, drainage, or bleeding from the umbilical cord.
  • Rapid breathing (heart rate over 60 per minute), or a blue coloring that does not go away. Newborns normally have irregular respirations, so you need to count for a full minute. There should be no pauses longer than about ten seconds between breaths.
  • Retractions, or pulling in of the ribs with respirations.
  • Wheezing, grunting, or whistling sounds while breathing.
  • Yellow coloring of the eyes, chest, or extremities. This can be a sign of jaundice.

As a parent, you will usually have a gut feeling about whether or not your child is truly sick. It may help to familiarize yourself with normal newborn behaviors, so you feel more assured. Trust your instincts, but when in doubt, always call your physician for guidance.

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