Should I call the pediatrician? 12 concerns to look out for, mama

1. If you just feel like something is wrong.


Determining whether or not to call the pediatrician when you have a concern about your baby can be stressful. I hear so many new mamas say things like, "I don't want to bother them," or "I don't want to overreact."

Mama, please hear me: Go ahead and "bother" them! Go ahead and overreact!

In fact, your pediatrician expects this from you. You are a new mama who is concerned about her baby, and they are the person who is there to get you through it. So if you have a worry, please don't ever hesitate to call. Your pediatrician office should have a 24-hour on-call number so you can reach them at any time of the day or night.


Keep in mind that some concerns require more immediate assistance than calling and waiting for a call-back can yield. You don't need permission from your pediatrician to go to an urgent care facility or emergency room—if your baby has an emergency, just go. Or call 911 who will send an ambulance and can provide treatment as they drive you to the emergency room.

I always advise expectant parents to do a little research and make a list of where the nearest urgent cares are emergency rooms are so that in the moment of an emergency, you don't have to stress about Google-ing where to take your baby. When you are researching your options, some factors to note:

  • Location
  • Hours
  • Insurance accepted
  • Conditions treated

If you have access to a pediatric urgent care facility or emergency room (designed specifically for children), and you have time to get to it, opt for that location. But if not, or if the situation requires immediate medical attention, all emergency rooms are equipped to handle children so get to the nearest one.

Here's an example:

When my son had croup and was having difficulty breathing, I called 911, and we went to the absolute closest hospital because time was of the essence. When that same son broke his collarbone a few years later, we drove him to a pediatric emergency room. He needed care right away, but the difference between it taking 10 minutes and 25 minutes to get to a hospital was not as critical, so I chose the pediatric facility.

Here are 11 reasons to call the pediatrician or seek emergency medical care for your baby.

1. If you just feel like something is wrong

Mama, this one goes first for a reason. You are your baby's expert. If something just does not feel right, even if you can't put it into words, call. It is much better to call the pediatrician and have them tell you it's fine than to not and wish you had.

If something is worrying you, call.

2. Trouble breathing

Difficulty breathing is serious and should not be handled lightly. If you are worried about your baby's breathing, immediate medical assistance is needed.

Signs to look out for include:

  • Blue, gray or purple lips and skin
  • Grunting or wheezing
  • Nasal flaring (nostrils getting bigger as the child breathes)
  • Retractions (belly pulls in under the ribcage or breastbone, or skin pulls in at the neck or between the ribs). You can take a look at this video of retractions to see an example.
  • Croupy cough (sounds like a seal barking), especially if the child cannot catch their breath between coughs

Once again, difficulty breathing warrants immediate emergency care so get to the nearest hospital or urgent care. Better yet, call 911 since they will be able to support your child's breathing on the way to the hospital in the ambulance.

3. Projectile vomiting

Spitting up is normal for babies, but if the vomit is projectile—travels or shoots across a distance, often in an arc—it could be a sign of pyloric stenosis, a blockage in the intestines. This is a medical emergency, so seek medical care right away.

4. Fevers

Toddlers and older kids get fevers a lot, and very often, it's fine. But a fever in a newborn (3 months old and younger) can be a sign of an emergency. Simply put, if a tiny baby has a fever, there is a significant chance that there is a more severe infection causing it, which needs prompt attention.

The temperature for a fever is 100.4-degrees Fahrenheit (38-degrees Celsius), though some pediatricians will want to hear from you at 100-degrees Fahrenheit (37.7-degrees Celsius).

The best place to take your baby's temperature is rectally (in their bottom). Insert the thermometer no further than the silver tip, and wait for your reading. Remember, once a rectal thermometer, always a rectal thermometer.

You can check under their armpits, but pediatricians often advise that you add a degree to your reading—if you get 98.2-degrees, it's really 99.2.

In the absence of other symptoms, if your baby has a fever, it's okay to call your pediatrician, but the chances are good that you are going to be on your way to urgent care or an emergency room.

5. Lethargy

If your baby is difficult or impossible to wake up, or their body feels like limp, seek medical attention right away.

6. Changes in their pees + poops

If you notice a decrease in your baby's peeing or pooping frequency, call your child's provider. For example, if your baby usually pees nine to 10 times a day, but today has only peed four times, call.

If your baby goes longer than 8 hours without peeing, also call.

Babies should poop at least once per day (when they are newborns). If it's been longer, or if you notice a change in their poop, call. Signs to look out for include:

  • Bloody poop
  • Diarrhea
  • Green frothy poop
  • Hard, rabbit-pellet-like poop
  • Straining or crying with pooping

7. Yellow skin or eyes

While jaundice (higher than normal levels of bilirubin) is usually diagnosed early on through blood work, do keep an eye on your infant's coloring. If you notice that their skin or the whites of their eyes look yellow, call your baby's provider. Often you can see this when you press down on their skin (try their nose, gently)—when you lift up, the skin looks yellow.

8. Umbilical cord concerns

Rarely, the umbilical cord stump and surrounding area can become infected, or the umbilical area can develop a hernia (when tissue or intestine bulge through the abdominal wall). Concerns to look out for include:

  • The area around your baby's belly button looks red
  • Pus or drainage at the umbilical cord insertion site
  • Foul-smelling umbilical cord
  • Bleeding
  • Bump or mass under the skin on your baby's belly

9. Circumcision concerns

If your baby boy is circumcised, call your pediatrician if you notice any of the following:

  • Blood on the diaper or gauze that is larger than a quarter
  • Excessive crying or pain
  • Pus or drainage
  • Redness or swelling
  • Decreased peeing
  • If a plastic ring was placed on his penis, it's okay if it moves off the shaft of the penis, but if it moves down the shaft towards his body, call. Also call is it is still on his penis after two weeks.

10. Injury

Any injury warrants a call, and likely a trip to urgent care or the ER. This might include:

  • Falls
  • Head trauma
  • Cuts and bites
  • Burns (including too-hot bath water)
  • Bleeding
  • Shaken baby syndrome (where the baby has been shaken back and forth)

11. Stiff neck or seizure

If your baby's neck becomes very stiff, or you think they have had a seizure, seek emergency care right away. A seizure might look like:

  • Stiffening limbs, sometimes accompanied by arching back
  • Jerking or twitching motions in limbs (some or all)
  • Eyes rolling back
  • Suddenly limpness and loss of consciousness

12. Rashes

Rashes are tricky—sometimes, it is completely fine, while other times, it can be a sign of a serious illness or concern. If you notice any changes to your baby's skin, call your pediatrician. This might include:

  • Redness
  • Bumps
  • Itching
  • Patches

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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