Sick Baby? Here’s When to Head to the Emergency Room

There’s nothing more frightening than seeing your child sick and not knowing what’s going on. When a little one has a high fever you might wonder, will taking them to the emergency room provide the care they need to get better or will it expose them to serious germs and potentially make them even sicker?

Making the call is hard, but when your baby is experiencing any of the symptoms below, experts say it’s time to head to the pediatrician or the emergency room. While this list doesn't cover everything that should send you to the emergency room, experts say that you should call your pediatrician to let them know and take your little one to the ER if they're experiencing any of the symptoms below. 

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Image via Unsplash/ Carlo Navarro

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Fever higher than 100.4 or 102.2

If your baby is younger than three months old, you should seek emergency care if they have a fever of 100.4 or above. While a fever this high won't cause damage independently, newborn babies are so fragile that it can be important to catch an infection early to avoid them getting seriously ill. For a baby older than three months but under three years, parents should seek their pediatrician's advice or emergency care if their little one’s fever reaches 102.2 or higher.

Fewer than 5 wet diapers per day

On a newborn’s first days of life, parents can expect one wet diaper per day of life. For example, one wet diaper on their first day, two wet diapers on their second day, and so on. Once a mother's milk comes in, and through their first year, babies should be making 5-6 wet diapers per day. When a baby starts making fewer than 5-6 wet diapers per day it can mean that they are seriously dehydrated.

Inability to keep down food/water

If a baby is unable to keep down any milk or formula, or if they’re older and not able to keep down food or water, it’s likely time to head into the emergency room. While it’s not uncommon for little ones to get a stomach virus that results in vomiting, it can be dangerous because it means that they may become dehydrated very quickly.

Lethargy

Newborn babies are sleepy and most babies tend to sleep a lot (although in spurts) throughout their first years of life, especially when they haven't been feeling well. If your baby is lethargic when awake though (for example they can’t hold up their arms or legs) or they’re more difficult to wake then normal, they likely need emergency care quickly.

Babies are tough and, as hard as it is to see them sick, knowing when to seek emergency care will help you take the best care of your little one as possible.

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Have you had to take your baby to the ER? What was your experience? 

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Sick Baby? Here’s When to Head to the Emergency Room

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. Julia lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. You can find more of her work at JuliaPelly.com ... More

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