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    Your Baby's Cold: When to Call a Doctor

    By Ellen Greenlaw
    WebMD Feature
    Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD

    It's a pretty safe bet that your little one is going to get a cold 6 to 12 times a year. Usually a few remedies and plenty of TLC will get him feeling better.

    Sometimes, though, you may need to get some expert advice. Keep your eye out for symptoms that need a doctor's care.

    What to Watch For

    Call your doctor if your baby shows signs of one of these things:

    Not feeding. Check with your pediatrician if the cold symptoms are so bad that he or she doesn't eat.

    "A good rule of thumb is to make sure your baby is wetting a diaper at least every 6 hours or so," says Claire McCarthy, MD, a pediatrician in the Primary Care Center at Boston Children's Hospital.

    Breathing problems. "If your baby is making strange noises when taking a breath in, or making loud noises during sleep, that's a concern," says pediatrician Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    You should get the doctor on the phone if he's having trouble breathing or doing it fast for more than a few moments.

    Fever. If your baby is 3 months or younger, call the doctor right away for a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher.

    "Babies under 3 months are at higher risk for more serious problems when they get sick, so we like to see them right away," Swanson says. For older babies, call about any fever of 102 or higher, as well as any milder fever that lasts longer than 72 hours.

    Extremely sleepy or cranky. Nobody likes feeling sick, so you can expect your little one to be a bit grouchy. But if he seems especially sleepy or irritable, it's a good idea to give the doctor a call.

    Bad  cough . Coughing helps clear mucus from your child's lungs. But call the doctor if it doesn't go away after 72 hours, or if it's so bad it makes him vomit.

    Another red flag: Your baby has cold symptoms and there are cases of whooping cough in your community. Call the doctor if he has noisy or troubled breathing, or doesn't seem to drink enough.

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