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When to seek help for your sick child

When to contact your doctor

You need to see a doctor if your child has a fever and:

    Your child is very young (six months or younger).
    Your child seems very sick.

You also need to see a doctor if your child:

    Has an earache.
    Has difficulty swallowing.
    Has fast breathing.
    Has a rash.
    Has vomiting.
    Has neck stiffness.
    Has bulging of the fontanelle (the soft spot on the head in babies).
    Is very sleepy or drowsy.

When to see your doctor

    If your baby is less than 6 months old and has vomiting and diarrhoea.
    If baby/child can't stop vomiting and can't keep the right amount of fluid down.
    If there is any bile stained (greenish) vomit, or signs of blood in the vomit.
    If there is blood or mucous in their motions.
    If your baby/child becomes sleepier than normal, or is hard to wake up, or is limp.
    If your baby/child is having less than half their normal fluid intake.
    If your baby/child has sunken eyes.
    If your baby's/child's mouth or tongue feels dry.
    If your baby/child goes 4 - 6 hours or more without a wet nappy.
    If your babychild has a fever (38.5C).
    If your baby/child is very irritable and unable to be consoled.
    If your baby/child has other health problems or does not seem to be getting any better

When it is an emergency, take your child to hospital or call an ambulance

    If there is severe vomiting, and baby does not keep down paracetamol or any fluids.
    If baby's neck seems stiff or rigid.
    If baby is having difficulty breathing.
    If baby is screaming, very irritable and unable to be consoled.
    If baby is unconscious (you can't wake him up), if he is having fits or convulsions (jerky, uncontrollable movements).

When to go for help

    If your baby doesn't sleep well during the day, and is always difficult to settle.
    If your baby is feeding all the time, or for long periods, and never seems satisfied.
    If you feel continually stressed, anxious, depressed, or have thoughts about harming your baby.

Where to go for help

    Your local Child Health Nurse is first port of call. They can refer you to specialist services, such as a family care centre or doctor, if necessary.
    After hours, call a 24 hour help line. Always keep a list of emergency numbers handy by the phone. (Refer to the front of your Child Health Record.)

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