Children's Hospital Colorado

Newborn Illness - How to Recognize

Urgent or Emergency Care?

If you believe your child needs immediate attention and you have concerns for a life-threatening emergency, call 911. Not sure what counts as urgent and what's an emergency when your child is sick or injured? When it can't wait, know where to take your kids.

Help Me Decide

  • How infections and other serious diseases can present in newborns

Why Newborns Need to be Watched Closely

  • Newborns are at higher risk for infections. Infections may present at any time during the first month. Watch your baby carefully for signs of illness. This is especially crucial during the first 7 days of life.
  • Newborns that get a blood infection (sepsis) can get very sick quickly.
  • The symptoms of serious illness in newborns can be subtle. The question below deals with sick newborns:
  • "Age under 1 month old (newborn) and starts to look or act abnormal in any way." Look for this question in the "Call Your Doctor Now" section. It is listed in at least 10 topics.
  • Feeding is the one reliable measure of a newborn's well-being. Newborns should be eating machines. If your baby isn't feeding well, call your baby's doctor. Also, call if your baby has an abrupt change in his feeding pattern. (Exception: never a good feeder, but takes enough milk and nothing has changed).
  • If how your baby looks or acts changes and it's not normal, call now. Don't wait to call your baby's doctor for expert advice.

Call 911 Now

  • Can't wake up
  • Not moving or very weak
  • New moaning or grunting noises with each breath
  • Bluish (or gray) lips, tongue or face now
  • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

Go to ER Now

  • Vomiting bile (green color)
  • Change in muscle tone (decreased or floppy)
  • Decreased movement
  • Weak suck or can't suck for very long
  • Change in cry, such as weak cry or strange cry

Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • Any symptoms of illness such as coughing, diarrhea or vomiting
  • Changes in feeding. Signs are having to wake up for feeds or can't finish feeds.
  • Sweating during feeds
  • Sleeping more than normal
  • Change in color (such as pale, bluish or gray arms and legs)
  • Age less than 12 weeks old with fever. Caution: do NOT give your baby any fever medicine before being seen.
  • Low temperature below 96.8° F (36.0° C) rectally that does not go up with warming
  • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Contact Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Urine color is pink, orange or peach
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent. Child has none of the urgent symptoms listed above.
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Your baby is feeding, moving and sleeping normally
  • There are no signs of illness
  • Your newborn is well

Care Advice for Newborns Without Signs of Illness

  1. What You Should Know About Newborn Illness:
    • Based on this review, your baby doesn't have any signs of illness right now.
    • The symptoms of serious illness in newborns can be subtle. Watch your baby carefully for signs of illness. If how your baby looks or acts changes and it's not normal, call now.
    • During the early weeks of life, careful watching is always the best approach.
  2. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Your baby has a fever
    • Your baby has any symptoms of illness
    • Your baby starts to look or act abnormal in any way
    • You think your child needs to be seen


The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

  • Not a Substitute - The information and materials in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you.
  • Supplement - The information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker are meant to supplement the information that you obtain from your physician. If there is a disagreement between the information presented herein and what your physician has told you -- it is more likely that your physician is correct. He or she has the benefit of knowing your child's medical problems.
  • Limitations - You should recognize that the information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker have the following limitations, in comparison to being examined by your own physician:
    • You can have a conversation with your child's doctor.
    • Your child's doctor can perform a physical examination and any necessary tests.
    • Your child could have an underlying medical problem that requires a physician to detect.
    • If your child is taking medications, they could influence how he experiences various symptoms.

If you think that your child is having a medical emergency, call 911 or the number for the local emergency ambulance service NOW!

And when in doubt, call your child's doctor NOW or go to the closest emergency department.

The search for nearby emergency and urgent care facilities is based upon Google search parameters. You will get results based on how facilities manage their website information.

By using this website, you accept the information provided herein "AS IS." Neither publishers nor the providers of the information contained herein will have any liability to you arising out of your use of the information contained herein or make any expressed or implied warranty regarding the accuracy, content, completeness, reliability, or efficacy of the information contained within this website.

Copyright 2000-2020 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.

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