Babies are born with some immunity to infection which lasts about 3 months. After this they may suffer from sicknesses such as colds and sick tummies.

Fortunately, most illnesses are mild and clear up without treatment, but, at the time, can be very worrying for new parents.

Knowing what to do when your baby is ill and when you should call the doctor is something that comes with experience.

You are the best person to judge whether your baby is unwell, as you know your baby better than anyone else. If you are unsure always seek medical advice.

Nappy Rash

Nappy rash is a skin irritation on a baby’s bottom. It can range from a slight redness to a full-scale outbreak of sores and blisters. It can occur when sensitive skin is irritated by a wet or dirty nappy. It can also be caused  by chemicals in the nappy or wipes.

To treat nappy rash:

  • Change your baby more frequently.
  • Use disposable nappies, which absorb the urine quickly, Only use alcohol free products.
  • Use a barrier cream to keep wetness away from baby’s skin.
  • Allow the air to get at the area as much as possible – keep the nappy off.

Cradle Cap

Cradle cap is very common. If your baby’s scalp has flaky, dry skin that looks like dandruff, or even a yellowish or brown crusting, it’s most likely cradle cap.

To Treat Cradle Cap:

Try gently brushing your baby’s scalp with a soft brush. For stubborn cases, some parents find an oil remedy helpful.  Rub just a small amount of a pure, natural oil — such as almond or olive oil — on to your baby’s scalp and leave it on for approximately 15 minutes.

Then, gently comb out the flakes with a fine-toothed comb or brush them out with a soft brush.

Follow this by washing your baby’s scalp with a gentle baby shampoo.

When to Call the Doctor

Non stop screaming from a baby can be worrying to parents but babies that are really ill tend not to cry continuously and loudly. A baby that is very ill is more likely to whimper and moan.

Mild fevers can bring on bouts of crying and it is usually not too much to worry about. Coughs and colds are quite common too but it’s the more serious conditions you need to be most aware of.

Seek medical help and call your doctor if your baby:

  • Has a fever above 38 ° C/ 100°F (37.5 °C if newborn)
  • Is not hungry for 2 consecutive feeds
  • Has prolonged vomiting (for 12 hours or more)
  • Has diarrhoea for more than 12 hours
  • Has a high pitched cry for 2 or more hours
  • Has dry nappies and doesn’t seem to be passing as much urine as normal
  • Has cold skin
  • Appears drowsy or unusually quiet or limp / sleepy or lethargic
  • Neck is rigid or still
  • Has a rash especially red or purple spots that don’t disappear when pressed with a glass
  • Has a fit or convulsion
  • Has pink, watery or sticky eyes
  • Has blood in his / her urine or stools
  • Has breathing difficulties or rapid breathing
  • Has long fits of coughing


Young babies are very vulnerable.  Always call the doctor if you are in doubt.