Your baby's pediatrician is your partner in keeping your baby healthy and on-track in her development. Here are some tips for knowing what to ask and when to call your baby's doctor.

The care your baby receives during these first few months of life will lay the foundation for later childhood health.

Your Babys Medical Needs

The pediatrician will track your baby's progress, based on necessary exams and testing, along with the information you provide. It's helpful to have your questions and concerns ready each time you visit or call the office.

It's important for you to feel comfortable enough to talk with the doctor and medical staff about any issues you and your baby are facing. Be sure to keep your baby's doctor informed of any changes in your baby's health.

When you visit the pediatrician, it's important to:

  • Ask questions—there's no such thing as a silly question
  • Make sure you understand the doctor's instructions and ask for clarification if you don't
  • Tell the pediatrician what's happening with your baby—describe her activities, attention level, personality, and how she sleeps and eats

How To Tell If Your Baby Is Sick

Most babies get sick at one time or another. It's a good idea to know a few warning signs. Just because your child has one or more of these signs doesn't mean she has a severe illness.

If you see any of these warning signs, let your pediatrician know:

  • Rectal temperature of 100.4°F or higher
  • Vomiting—not just spit-up
  • Refusal to take feedings
  • No energy
  • Diarrhea—especially with mucus, blood, or an unusually bad smell
  • Hard crying with no obvious cause
  • Inability to see or hear normally
  • An unusual rash

Fever

Fever is a sign of infection somewhere in the body. If your baby under three months of age develops a rectal temperature of 100.4°F or higher, call the pediatrician. The best way to measure your baby's fever is to take a rectal temperature. To do so, follow these steps:

  • Use a thermometer that is specified as rectal (in the bottom). These can be traditional or digital. (Digital thermometers usually provide the quickest, most accurate readings.)
  • Rub the end of the thermometer with rubbing alcohol or soap and water, then rinse it with cool, clear water.
  • Lubricate the thermometer with a small amount of non-petroleum lubricant.
  • Place your baby on her tummy. With your thumb and index finger, spread the baby's buttocks.
  • With your other hand, insert the lubricated thermometer 1/2 to 1 inch into the anal opening.
  • Hold the thermometer in place for the time recommended by the thermometer instructions.
  • If the rectal reading is 100.4°F or higher, your child may have a fever.

Let your baby's doctor know if she has a fever so you can receive instructions on whether you should give her any medicines or take any other steps to reduce the fever.