Skip to content

    Health & Baby

    Font Size

    When to Call the Pediatrician

    Coughs, Colds and Other Respiratory Problems

    Coughs are an expected part of having a cold and serve a purpose, Tolcher says, clearing mucus from the airways. Coughs are worrisome and rate a call to the pediatrician when they're severe, meaning:

    • When they're constant
    • Are associated with labored or noisy breathing
    • Are painful
    • Cause vomiting
    • Make a child uncomfortable
    • Keep a child up at night
    • Last more than two weeks

    For colds, Cohen suggests calling your doctor if there is:

    Remember, no cough and cold medicines are recommended for infants and young children, Tolcher tells WebMD. "It's OK to treat fever and pain with acetaminophen or ibuprofen, but not with aspirin, which isn't recommended for children because of the risk of Reye's syndrome."


    Lots of things cause rashes, says Altmann, such as infections, hormones, and irritations like soap, drool, and, of course, wet diapers. Call your doctor if your child:

    • Is bothered by the rash
    • Starts acting sick
    • If the rash doesn't improve within 2 or 3 days
    • The rash looks like bruises and does not lighten in color when you press on it
    • The rash is associated with fever

    Colic or Fussiness

    Colic isn't really an illness, and you don't need to call your doctor for a colicky baby, yet "colic is one of the toughest things some parents will have to deal with," says Tolcher. And parents sometimes do need guidance through it.

    "With colic (or anything else), if you don't know what to do, just call your doctor," he suggests. "Don't wait for a meltdown in yourself, ask for help, come in and have a meeting with your doctor, because one, you can make sure it is colic -- it could be a sensitivity, an allergy to formula, or GERD instead, for example -- and two, you can then find out what to do."

    Luckily, colic happens only in 5%-10% of babies, and there are techniques that can help soothe a fussy, colicky infant, including:

    • Swaddling
    • Rocking
    • Humming
    • White noise
    • Putting them on their side (while they're awake only)
    • Home treatments

    Baby's First Year Newsletter

    Because every week matters, get expert advice and facts on what to expect in your baby's first year.

    Today on WebMD

    mother on phone holding baby
    When you should call 911.
    parents and baby
    Unexpected ways your life will change.
    baby acne
    What’s normal – and what’s not.
    baby asleep on moms shoulder
    Help your baby get the sleep he needs.

    mother holding baby at night
    mother with sick child
    Chinese mother breast feeding newborn baby girl
    Track Your Babys Vaccines
    Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
    Mother with her baby boy
    baby in crib
    baby gear slideshow