When to call the doctor

You should call your doctor whenever you think your baby is sick or whenever something about her just doesn't seem right. Your pediatrician's medical team will help you decide whether the problem is serious enough to need immediate attention. According to the U.S. Public Health Service, the following medical symptoms are signs that you need to call your baby's doctor immediately:

• A temperature higher than 100 degrees F.

• Skin that looks yellow (jaundice)

• A problem feeding (nurses poorly or drinks less than half the usual bottle-feeding)

• Excessive crying (more frequent, more intense, or different than normal)

• Breathing problems (shallow, frequent breaths or labored breathing)

• A large, very watery bowel movement or one with blood

• Vomiting (more than the usual spitting up) or diarrhea (watery, loose, foul-smelling stools) more than two or three times a day

• A convulsion (with shaking arms and legs)

When you call your pediatrician, have a pen and paper ready so that you can write down instructions. Be prepared with information about your child's condition, such as her temperature and when you last took it, and the specific symptoms that make you think she's sick. Be ready to answer questions about your child's health, including any past medical problems and any medications she's taking. (Your doctor will have this information in your child's records, but a reminder never hurts, and another doctor may be covering if you call outside of regular office hours.) Call with general questions (non-emergency questions, and questions when your child isn't sick) during your pediatrician's office hours or during scheduled telephone hours.

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