Signs of serious illness in a baby or toddler
Here's a checklist of warning signs that might be serious:
- a high temperature, but cold feet and hands
- a high temperature that doesn't come down with paracetamol or ibuprofen
- your child is quiet and listless, even when their temperature is down
- a high temperature in a baby less than 8 weeks old
Read more about how to take your child's temperature.
Find out how to treat a high temperature at home.
- rapid breathing or panting
- a throaty noise while breathing
- your child is finding it hard to get their breath and is sucking their stomach in under their ribs
- blue, pale, blotchy, or ashen (grey) skin
- your child is hard to wake up, or appears disorientated or confused
- they're crying constantly and you can't console or distract them, or the cry doesn't sound like their normal cry
- green vomit
- your child has a fit (convulsion or seizure) for the first time
- your child is under 8 weeks old and doesn't want to feed
- nappies that are drier than usual – this is a sign of dehydration
If your child has any of these signs, get medical help as soon as possible:
- during the day from Monday to Friday – it's best to call your GP practice
- evenings and weekends – call NHS 111
- if your baby is under 6 months old it's hard for a doctor or nurse to assess them over the phone – you can go to an urgent care (walk-in) centre or, if you're very worried, take them to accident and emergency (A&E)
Find your nearest A&E.
When to call an ambulance
Call 999 for an ambulance if your child:
- stops breathing
- won't wake up
- has a spotty, purple-red rash anywhere on the body that doesn't fade when you press a glass against it – this could be a sign of blood poisoning (septicaemia)
- is under 8 weeks old and you're very worried about them
- has a fit for the first time, even if they seem to recover
- has a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)
- if you think someone may have seriously injured your baby
Again, trust your instincts. You know what's different or worrying behaviour in your child.