If your baby is ill

Babies who scream for a long time are worrying to parents, but babies who are really ill don’t cry continuously and loudly. A baby who is really poorly is more likely to whimper and moan. Remember most babies (and parents) will have off days.

Serious illnesses

Mild feverishness can bring on bouts of crying and usually it’s not too much to worry about. Coughs and colds are common too – but it’s the more serious (and rarely occurring) conditions that you need to be most aware of.

Telephone or see your GP if your baby:

  • seems less bright and alert than usual or sleeps for an unusually long time
  • is having bouts of vomiting for more than an hour
  • has diarrhoea which doesn’t clear up in a day
  • has a rash which you can’t explain as a heat rash or a result of clothes rubbing
  • has dry nappies and does not seem to be passing as much urine as normal
  • passes stools which are an unusual colour or texture for her or contain blood (green stools from time to time are not significant)
  • seems feverish or uncomfortably hot
  • has unexplained bruising or bleeding from the ears, mouth, nose or bottom, or blood in her stools or urine.

When in doubt, always seek help from your GP or health visitor. You can also call NHS 24, the 24-hour health service for Scotland on 111 (freephone).

Seek medical help straight away if your baby:

  • has a fit or convulsion – twitching or jerking with unfocused rolling eyes
  • has breathing difficulties
  • loses consciousness
  • becomes blue around the lips or face
  • has signs or symptoms of suspected meningitis or septicaemia
  • passes blood or redcurrant-jelly-like stools
  • seems in obvious pain.

Medicine and your baby

Some over-the-counter remedies available at your pharmacist are especially for babies or small children. If in doubt, ask your pharmacist. Your doctor won’t prescribe medicine for your child if she doesn’t need it. For example, antibiotics won’t do anything to help a viral infection such as a cold or flu.

Safe storage of medicines

As a parent you will know only too well how young children like to put everything in their mouth. It is therefore very important that you keep all medicines safely stored out of reach of little hands. This also applies to the chemicals many of us leave under the kitchen sink – things such as bleach, disinfectants and polish.

It is also important to think about the other places in your home where you leave drugs or medicines – for example handbags, drawers or carrier bags of shopping left lying on the floor. Even everyday medications which you buy over-the-counter such as aspirin can be as dangerous as prescription drugs. It is recommended that you store all tablets and other items that can be poisonous to a child in a sealed container in a secure place out of reach of curious fingers and mouths.

Last Updated: 26 May 2014
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