10 Reasons to Call Your Pediatrician About Your Newborn
Contributing Expert: Tomitra Latimer, MD
This post is part of our newborn health and wellness series. For more information from our pediatric experts, visit our Newborn Resources page.
Every day, pediatricians take calls from stressed-out, sleep-deprived parents of newborns. A huge part of their job is reassuring parents that many behaviors of newborns are perfectly normal.
However, some behaviors might be signs that you should bring your little one in to see the doctor. Here are 10 reasons to call your pediatrician.
They have a fever.
Pediatricians consider a fever in a newborn anything above 100.4 degrees and want to know about it right away. Make sure to have a digital thermometer on hand. There are three ways to take a newborn’s temperature:
- Rectal: This is the way pediatricians find most reliable for babies younger than two months.
- Armpit: Make sure the thermometer is directly against their skin.
- Temporal artery: This requires a digital thermometer that you can gently scan across your baby’s forehead.
Their feeding seems off.
Babies generally have an innate sense about how much to eat and how often to eat. For example, a newborn may cluster feed during a big growth spurt. But if your newborn has been consistently feeding seven to eight times a day, either by breast or bottle, and suddenly they don’t want to feed, call the pediatrician. If they seem to be choking or coughing during feeding, that’s another reason to get in touch.
- They are vomiting forcefully or it’s a greenish color.
Babies spit up a lot. But if the force of their spit-up is more like vomit, pay attention. If their vomit is shooting across the room or is a greenish color, let your pediatrician know.
- They haven’t had a dirty diaper in three days.
As babies get older, it’s normal to have less dirty diapers. Infants may sometimes go a day or two without pooping. But if three days pass and you haven’t seen a dirty diaper, or if there is any blood in the stool, it’s time to call the pediatrician.
- Their frequency of wet diapers has suddenly and noticeably decreased.
The number of wet diapers should increase as a baby gets older, but it’s still individual to each baby. Watch for any drastic change in the amount. For example, if they were having seven or eight wet diapers and now they only have three or four, that’s something to notice. It’s less the actual amount — four wet diapers a day might be normal for some babies — than it is about noticing a big change in their pattern.
- There is a change in behavior to either extreme fussiness or extreme lethargy.
Babies have fussy periods, and some are more difficult to soothe than others. But if you’ve fed your baby, changed their diaper and swaddled them, and their fussiness feels uncharacteristic and impossible to calm, give your pediatrician a call. The same is true if your baby seems suddenly less active, and isn’t doing activities they usually do.
- They have a persistent diaper rash.
Nearly all babies have diaper rash at some point. Barrier ointments generally work well to prevent or heal diaper rash. If you’ve been using ointments for at least three days and the rash hasn’t improved or is getting worse, it’s worth calling the pediatrician. (You may even be able to send a picture of the rash through your MyChart patient portal.)
- They have thrush.
Thrush is a yeast infection that babies get in their mouths. It’s white and appears as a rash on a baby’s tongue and cheeks. Milk is also white, so parents sometimes confuse the remnants of feeding with thrush. But if you take a wet washcloth and wipe the inside of your baby’s mouth and the white doesn’t disappear, it might be thrush. It can be uncomfortable for babies, but is easily treated.
- They are turning blue around the mouth or lips.
While it’s normal for babies to have a blueish tinge in their hands and feet, since their circulation system is still maturing, it’s not normal to have blue around the mouth. This can be a sign of cyanosis, which means your baby may not be getting enough oxygen. If you notice this, call your pediatrician right away.
- You just feel like something is wrong.
You know your baby better than anyone else. Trust your instinct. If something feels off, it’s always worth a call to your pediatrician.
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