Who Are You Going to Call...The Pediatrician

Baby Being Examined By Doctor While Carried By MotherWe get it—it’s hard to know which bumps, rashes and fevers warrant a call to the pediatrician, and which just need a kiss to make them all better. It’s even harder when this is your first child, and you have no experience to look back on. Let’s take a look at some situations when you should definitely consider giving the doctor a call.


Fevers are a normal reaction to bacteria or a virus, and it’s the body’s way of fighting off nasty germs that make us sick. On its own, a fever is rarely an emergency for healthy babies over 12 weeks old. Here’s when to be concerned:

  • fever lasts more than 24 hours
  • fever is over 105°F, or it rises above 104°F several times
  • baby’s high temperature is due to being in a hot car or other hot place
  • baby has other symptoms, like:
    • rash
    • ear pain
    • repeated diarrhea or vomiting
    • extreme fussiness
    • extreme drowsiness

Other times to seek the doctor’s advice

If your baby has any of these symptoms, it’s best to give the pediatrician’s office a call and find out if you should come in, or even make a trip to urgent care:

  • vomiting or diarrhea that last for several hours
  • drainage coming from the ear
  • bloody urine or diarrhea
  • pain that seems to get worse and/or lasts for several hours
  • unexplained rash
  • cough or congestion that lasts for several days, or that gets worse and includes a fever
  • refusing multiple feedings
  • no wet diapers after six hours, dry mouth, no tears when crying and/or the “soft spot” on the head is sunken in
  • an animal bite that breaks the skin, or a bug bite/sting with swelling or redness that spreads
  • an accident where baby is underwater for more than a few seconds (call 9-1-1 if baby is unconscious or not breathing)

When to seek out emergency treatment

There are times when you don’t need to wait to get in touch with your child’s doctor. If your baby shows any of these signs, you need to call 9-1-1 or head to the emergency room right away:

  • trouble breathing or turning blue or gray
  • seizure
  • bleeding that you can’t stop with pressure
  • possible poisoning
  • loses consciousness or you can’t get a response
  • any head injury
  • cuts or burns that are large, deep and/or on the head, face, chest, abdomen, hand or groin
  • a fall from a relatively high place, especially if baby is irritable, vomiting, or very sleepy afterward
  • an accident where baby is underwater and loses consciousness, stops breathing, or vomits water

Find a pediatric emergency room near you.

What to know before you call

It will help the medical staff if you can make note of important details and write them down before you call, such as baby’s temperature(s) and when they were taken, as well as how long different symptoms have been going on.

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to “bother” the pediatrician! Rest assured that your child’s doctor would much rather you give them a call, instead of relying on a friend’s opinion or internet advice. You’re not wasting anyone’s time—you’re doing your job as a parent.

If you do not have a pediatrician, find a doctor near you or call 1-800-BayCare for a physician referral.