According to Dr. Daniel Flanders, there are some general guidelines that should ring alarm bells:
Any baby under one month of age with a fever (i.e. higher than 38C or 100.5F) – whether from a cold or any other illness – should be taken immediately to a hospital emergency department. A newborn baby with a fever is a potentially life-threatening situation and so no time should be wasted in the process of seeking emergency care.
For babies one month to three months of age with a fever, seek medical attention immediately, whether by seeing a physician within a few hours or proceeding directly to your local emergency department.
For babies older than three months, or non-febrile babies under three months of age, the decision to seek medical care for a cold is very much a parent’s judgment call. But here are some situations where it is advisable to contact your child’s doctor:
- If your baby is having trouble breathing
- If your baby is not feeding well enough to stay hydrated, i.e. is showing signs of dehydration: is persistently lethargic, is not peeing at least three times daily, has a dry mouth, is crying with no tears
- If your baby has daily fevers for longer than 3-4 days. (See above for babes under 3 months old with fever)
- If your baby develops pink-eye (conjunctivitis) with pussy sticky eye discharge
- If your baby is in obvious inconsolable pain, discomfort, and/or distress that persists despite giving acetaminophen/ibuprofen – these can be signs of an illness that is more serious than a simple cold.