Is My Baby Sick? Trust Your Instincts, Mom

by on March 7th, 2015
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Sleep-deprived parents are notorious for second-guessing themselves. Is your baby sick, or is it just gas? Before making the call to the nurse’s hotline, take a little inventory. The nurse will ask about their eating, sleeping and diaper habits. They may ask what color their bodily functions are coming out; as in out the nose, mouth, ears or rear. Take your baby’s temperature and take note of their last feeding.

You really are the best person for the job. Trust your instincts. If you think your baby is sick and needs to be seen, then you are most likely right. Err on the side of caution.

With that said the following overview will help navigate the hazy days of motherhood.

Is it spit up or are they vomiting?

If your baby has gas, he may have a tendency to release liquid as the air in the tummy rises up. Typically, when it is spit up you will see small amounts of milk accompanied by burps, a basically content baby and maybe a little stream of liquid dribbles that do not seem to bother your baby.

Vomiting is different. Your baby will generally be very disturbed by vomiting. They may be crying before and after the incident indicating an upset tummy. Vomiting is rarely isolated. Expect two or three “waves” that include a large amount of milk. Vomit does not usually trickle out; it comes with force. Go ahead and call your pediatrician if the child is vomiting, has a fever, diarrhea.

Cold or flu?

Colds are usually accompanied by a runny nose, cough, yellow/green mucus and fatigue. Expect a cold to taper off after one or two weeks. Flu comes on suddenly with a fever, fatigue, sore throat and more mucus. The worst of the flu is usually over after five days, but will not completely go away for one to two weeks.


Adults and older children can often successfully fight through a cold or the flu without needing to see a doctor, but because of the risk of RSV, parents need to stay diligent. Respiratory Syncytial Virus is a nasty winter respiratory virus that hits children.

In addition to a typical runny nose, fever and fatigue; symptoms for RSV can include pale, bluish skin color, difficulty or rapid breathing and a croupy cough. If your child does not look or sound right, do not hesitate; take the baby to the emergency room. Things like blood in urine, unresponsive behavior, pale skin and difficulty breathing do not need second opinion.

Nothing replaces a parent’s gut feeling and no one knows your baby like you do. This cannot be repeated enough. Even after four babies of my own and several foster children, the tendency to not trust my instincts is always there so this forceful statement is as much for me as anyone.


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