Newborns cry, wet, eat, and sleep. That’s pretty much it. They may not have a schedule yet, so they can sleep through feeding times, sometimes, or wake up crying sooner than they should. Or, they can eat, but still cry, as if they’re still hungry. It’s difficult to figure out what’s wrong with your newborn but there are some ways to tell if they’re actually sick.
Newborns, usually babies under a month old, can be unpredictable. If having a baby is all new to you, it’s easy to worry over things you shouldn’t, or not recognize something you should. The following is helpful information you can follow to tell if your child is sick or just a normal newborn.
If your newborn is coughing, you probably need to take him/her to the doctor. Although it’s normal for newborns to sneeze quite often, a cough is another story indeed. Few newborns cough repeatedly, so it’s best to be on the safe side and take the baby to the doctor within 24 hours of noticing the continued cough.
Newborns eat often, but not much at each sitting. If you notice that the baby is not eating much at all, or seems ravenous, it’s wise to consult a doctor. Or, if the baby’s sucking seems week or strained, this could be the sign of a problem. Babies can lose weight rapidly if they don’t take in the proper amount of formula or breast milk, so don’t delay if the baby seems not to be eating enough.
Newborns definitely sleep a lot but if yours seems to be sleeping too much, there could be a problem. How do you tell if the baby is sleeping too much? If the child misses a feeding completely, this could be cause for alarm. If the baby simply sleeps past the usual feeding time, no worries, but if he/she continually has to be awakened to eat, call the doctor just to touch base with him about the issue. Babies generally wake long enough to eat and be changed, and may possibly stay awake for an hour or so, but then they normally drift back to sleep. If you have to wake them to eat, then they fall asleep while eating, consult the physician.
Baby’s cries can be bothersome, and all babies cry some. But, if the baby seems to be
inconsolable, cries for hours on end, or cries continually even after being fed and changed, it might be a good idea to call the doctor. A baby can’t tell you if he/she is in pain—all they have is their cry to alert you. If you know you’ve taken care of all the needs of your baby, yet the crying continues, the baby could have stomach pains, or even a developing illness. Check with the doctor to see what he recommends.
If your newborn develops a fever over 100.4 degrees rectally, or 99 degrees when temp is taken in the armpit, consult your doctor. Likewise, if your baby’s temperature drops below 96.8, rectally, or 95.4 in the armpit, immediately consult a physician. Every parent wants to take the best care of their baby as possible, but sometimes, we simply don’t know what to do. Use this guide to decide when and if you need to consult a physician between checkups. #
Erika Schwartz, MD, Medical Director of Cinergy Health (www.cinergyhealth.com) is a general internist, an authority on preventive health and a patient advocate. She is a 25 year health industry veteran, working in both an ER as well as a private practice. She is based in New York and very media savvy (Dr. Erika has appeared on Oprah, The View etc).