New Baby at Home? When to Call the Doctor


A newborn baby sparks loads of happy feelings and smartphone pictures. But when should a parent call the doctor? Luckily, most newborns are perfectly healthy, but there are a few red flags that every parent should watch out for, says Janelle Aby, MD, medical director of the Well Baby Nursery at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.

Go ahead and call the doctor if…  

The baby’s skin feels too cool or too warm: “If a baby’s skin feels warm or cool to the touch, check the baby’s temperature,” said Aby, who is also a clinical associate professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine. “For a newborn, a fever is considered 100.4 degrees or higher; a temperature is too low if it’s under 97.7 degrees. Both extremes warrant a call to the pediatrician.”

Baby won’t eat or isn’t peeing: Newborns shouldn’t refuse to eat, says Aby, especially if two to three hours have gone by since the last feeding. Check the baby’s diapers – if the number of wet diapers decreases, he could be dehydrated.

You see blood or weird-looking spit-up: Aby also urges parents to look out for green spit-up (which could signal an intestinal problem) and blood in a baby’s poop, spit-up and around the belly button or circumcision area. In those cases, “the baby needs to be evaluated promptly in case treatment is necessary,” she urges.

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