When should you call the doctor?

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It’s 1am and your three month old baby has had a low-grade fever since dinner time and is now inconsolable. What do you do? If you’re anything like me, your heart wants to run straight to the closest ER but your rational brain tells you to wait it out just a little longer.

So when exactly should you call the doctor? That’s an excellent question. And I don’t have a definitive answer. What I do have is a great pediatrician. So I will tell you what he told me when I was a first time mom bringing our little guy into his office every time the baby sneezed.

Our boys’ doc has shown himself to be infinitely patient with us over the years, as well as incredibly knowledgeable and up to date with the latest medical trends in children’s healthcare. He once told me that babies get the sniffles and get low-grade fevers from time to time and that that’s sort of what’s suppose to happen. Babies will be exposed to viruses and that a fever is nature’s way of creating antibodies. Now this is nothing I hadn’t read in books, but it was reassuring to hear it from someone whose opinion I respect.

“Trust your instincts. If you think you should contact the doctor, go ahead.”

- Mayo Clinic

Read the entire article

What he said next left a big impression on me. “There is rarely ever anything seriously wrong with a baby who has an appetite and remains active.” This made a lot of sense to me. I, too, know that loss of appetite and lethargy are big indicators of something being wrong when I’m sick. These signs tell me that a visit to the doctor is required over yet another trip to the pharmacy[1]. I apply the same logic to my kids.

The scenario of a late night low-grade fever is the most common scenario that there is when dealing with a sick child. Anyone with a teething baby will tell you that. And of course, very high fevers (especially in infants) should be considered serious and acted upon accordingly. In fact, my edition of What To Expect When You’re Expecting suggests that infants with fevers above 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 degrees Fahrenheit), that do not subside within 2 hours of administering medicine, should be taken to ER. They even recommend calling the ER ahead of time to advise them that you are on your way so as to give the medical team time to prepare for your arrival.

Ultimately, you know your child better than anyone. You know when something isn’t right. Even the Mayo Clinic’s website agrees! I found this quote at the bottom of an article under the title “Sick baby? When to seek medical attention.”

English Language Emergency Phone Numbers including private ambulance and hospital emergency numbers. (Note: phone numbers change from time to time. Please verify numbers before the need arises to call).


[1] If you’re new to town or new to your neighbourhood, I strongly suggest finding out where your nearest 24hr pharmacy is before you actually need it.

Photo Credit: Alex E. Proimos via Compfight cc

My name is Jodie. I'm a 38 year old Canadian working and living in Bangkok, Thailand. My husband and I are both international teachers - though I'm taking this year off to be a full-time mom.

When we're not busy with other people's kids, we try our hand at raising our own very curious nearly four year old son and his 9 and half month old brother. When it comes to parenting, like most of us, I’m making a lot of it up as I go along .

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