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When should I take my baby to the emergency room (ER)?

It can be hard to tell if you need to take your baby to the emergency room (ER). Obviously babies can't talk and tell you what's going on with them like older kids can, so it can be a little bit of a challenge. With babies under the age of 30 days, it can be a guessing game sometimes, and you're really just dealing with vital signs more than anything else.

A few things that all parents should know—if you have a baby that's 30 days old or less with a fever, you need to bring the baby to the ER. That baby will be admitted to the hospital 100 percent of the time. But for older babies, parents are going to know their children better than anyone.

So if babies are not behaving normally, if they're abnormally fussy, if they're running high fevers, if they're complaining of abdominal pain, if they're not keeping anything down, they should definitely be brought into the ER for evaluation.

To determine whether you need to take your baby to the emergency room (ER), consult with your pediatrician. Knowing when to take your baby to the ER is difficult for many parents. Reflect on what your mother's intuition is. If you feel like something's not right with your child, certainly a high fever, if they're not responding to medication, or if their behavior has changed or altered, consult with your pediatrician. He or she will help you decide whether it's appropriate to take your child to the emergency department or if there's anything that you can do at home before you arrive at the emergency room.

Take your baby immediately to the emergency room (ER) for an evaluation if he or she is 12 weeks of age or younger and has a fever, or 12 weeks to one year of age and has a fever of 100.4 or greater. Other symptoms would include increased breathing rates, noisy breathing like grunting or wheezing with breathing, frequent vomiting or diarrhea, or you notice that your baby has less frequent or no wet diapers in the last 12 hours.

If your baby seems slow to wake up, is continuously moaning or whimpering, or seems difficult to console, or if you have any concerns for any reason, please call your doctor or visit the emergency department.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.