Baby is sick: do we go to the emergency room or not?

Baby is sick: do we go to the emergency room or not?
Baby is sick: do we go to the emergency room or not?

Leaving in the middle of the night to go to the emergency room with your baby and settle in a crowded waiting room, it's not the best time in a parent's life. Anxiety, fatigue and impatience are often present. Here are some tips to guide you.


First of all, we assess the state of our child without panicking: is he conscious? Does he wake up with stimulation, is he breathing well? Does it have a pinkish coloring?

If one of these answers is NO and our child's situation seems critical to us, we must dial 9-1-1 immediately to take him to the emergencyASAP.

If our child's condition is not critical, it can be very useful to call Info-Santé at 8-1-1 to get advice from a nurse who can tell us if he whether or not you need to go to the emergency room.

The guide Living better with our child from pregnancy to two years of the National Institute of Public He alth of Quebec, which is given to each new parent when their child is born, is a reliable source of information on the main issues facing toddlers.

When to come to the emergency room

  • If our baby is three months old and under: we go to the emergency room for any fever above 38.1°C (or 100.6° F). The risk of bacterial infection, which requires antibiotics, is more present in infants three months and under.

    Note: We dress and we come to emergency right away! We don't wait for the end of the hockey game or our favorite show!

  • If our baby is three months and older: we go to the emergency room for any fever above 38.1°C (100.6°F) for more than three days.

    Note: In this case, if our child's general condition is good, we can go to a medical clinic in our neighborhood, which offers emergency appointments. The delays for the visit are often shorter than in the emergency room. However, if our child is more sullen, upset or cries nonstop or seems more sleepy, we quickly go to the emergency room for a consultation.

Breathing difficulties

We go to the emergency room quickly if our child has difficulty breathing.

What to watch out for: faster or irregular breathing, hollow skin between the ribs, difficulty catching your breath, severe coughing, bluish or very pale lips. These are all signs that warrant going to the ER FAST.

Vomiting and diarrhea

We go to the emergency room in case of severe vomiting and diarrhea (theremay be gastroenteritis). Here are the symptoms to watch out for.

  • If our child refuses to take oral rehydration solution (Pedialyte).
  • If our child lacks saliva.
  • If our child no longer produces tears when crying.
  • If our child urinates less often.

Don't neglect your instincts

We also go to the emergency room if the general condition of our child worries us and our instinct as a parent tells us that it is better to consult. After all, parents know their child the most!

We go to the clinic without an appointment or to the emergency room if we feel that is what needs to be done.

How's it going?

When you arrive at the emergency room, your child will be assessed by the triage nurse. This makes it possible to check the general condition of the child and to establish an order of priority for the medical evaluation. For example, P1 is a life-threatening emergency (cardiorespiratory arrest) and P5 is a minor emergency (cold).

WarningNever lie about your child's symptoms in hopes of waiting less. You will then deprive another child who may need to be seen more quickly… Solidarity is crucial!

It should not be forgotten that the visit to the emergency roomcan take several hours; your child may be reassessed several times. Patience is required: bring a change of clothes and some snacks for you and yourchild (if eating).

Of course, courtesy with emergency personnel is welcome. Tell you that everyone has the well-being of children at heart!


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