How to spot serious illness in a new born babies

Written by 

Baby First Aid Course-LRAll young children fall ill from time to time, usually from harmless infections that will get better by themselves. But occasionally, symptoms may mean that something more serious may be going on – and you may worry and wonder what to do next. So how can you tell the difference?

When your child is unwell, look out for the following warning signs that may suggest serious illness and should prompt you to seek medical help urgently.

Things to look out for if your baby is unwell

  • Fever: A raised body temperature. More than 38°C in babies under 3 months or 39°C in children 3 to 6 month old – especially when hands and feet are cold.
  • Skin colour: Looking unusually pale or blotchy.
  • Drinking: Not drinking for more than eight hours.
  • Soft spot: The soft spot on your baby’s head bulges or dips.
  • Alertness: Child is drowsy and doesn’t respond to you in the normal way, or you have to try quite a bit harder than usual to her or him.
  • Behaviour and response: Child is much less active than usual, doesn’t look content and doesn’t smile.
  • Crying: Child just doesn’t stop crying, or the crying sounds very different – particularly if it’s high-pitched or weak.
  • Breathing: Nostrils flare, and her or his breathing appears much more laboured and faster than normal.
  • Dry mouth: Child feeds poorly and has a dry mouth.
  • Wet nappies: Baby has less or no wet nappies anymore.
  • Rash: Child develops a new rash.
  • Vomiting: Repeated vomiting.

If you notice any of these signs, contact your GP surgery urgently.

BUT, if your child:

  • Stops breathing
  • Struggles for breath
  • Doesn’t respond and won’t wake up
  • Has a fit for the first time...


Give first aid and call for an ambulance

Remember that most childhood illnesses are harmless – but trust your instincts and don’t hesitate to seek advice if you’re worried. Most of all stay calm and know what to do next. Help is always on hand.


You might also be interested in our A-Z of first aid signs and symptoms here. We also run baby frst aid training course in Bristol - please check the online booking section for availability.


First Response. Training for life. Training to save a life.

Last modified on Tuesday, 5 July 2016
Rate this item
(1 Vote)
Dr Knut Schroeder


General Practitioner and Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol. Founder and Director, Expert Self Care Ltd. Knut is a consultant for First Response on topics around first aid in babies and young children.

First Response Resuscitation & First Aid Training Ltd

9 Counterpool Road, Kingswood, Bristol BS15 8DQ

Tel: 0117 9496201



Registered Office:

86 Shirehampton Road, Stoke Bishop, Bristol BS9 2DR

Company No. 06983048. Registered in England & Wales


Information Commissioner's Office (Data Protection Register): Registered Number Z1874 429


Terms & Conditions | Disclaimer

Cookies Policy | Privacy Policy | Coronavirus


© 2021 First Response. All rights reserved

Latest News

Resupply of Auto-injectors announced

Resupply of Auto-injectors announced Bausch & Lomb have announced that the 300 and 500 microgram...

Read More ...

Study of the quality of face masks

Study of the quality of face masks The quality of face masks healthcare workers wear makes a huge...

Read More ...

HPC reg logo CMYK    CPDcertified    CPDmember