As a parent or caregiver, it can be hard to determine when to take your kid to the doctor and when to just wait it out. If you took a little kid in every time they had a cough or runny nose, you’d probably never leave! And many doctors will tell you that not every fever or vomit-sesh warrants a trip to their office. So, when do you take your kiddo to the doctor, and when do you opt to “wait and see?”
One TikTok-ing doc is sharing three telltale signs it’s time to show up to the pediatrician’s office or, at the very least, call and leave a message. “If these three things happen to your child, I want you to call your doctor,” says Dr. Sami from ThePediPals. A lot of times, it’s hard to know when to call your doctor and when to handle things at home. But, these three things I want you to remember.”
1. Fever for 5+ Days
As a parent, it’s tempting to freak out whenever you see a temp greater than the standard 98.6°F. Sami first points out that she doesn’t even count 99 and 100 — those temps are considered temperature elevation, not true fevers. But once your kid hits 101, it’s time to take note.
“If they’ve had a fever for more than five consecutive days, please call your doctor. We will probably try to find the source because, most of the time, viruses give you no more than five days with a fever. And if it lasts beyond that, we’re going to be looking for other things that may be causing the fever.”
Kids can be clumsy and accident-prone, sure. However, if you notice they have a persistent limp, it’s better to be safe than sorry. “Children should not limp,” Sami says. “If your child is limping, call your doctor. A limp can mean various things from a fracture to an injury to an infection of the bone or a joint to cancer.”
3. Consistent Middle-of-the-Night Complaints
When it comes to kids and sleep, they usually conk out pretty damn hard. So, according to Sami, if something’s bothering them bad enough to wake them up at night, it’s bad enough to do something about it.
“A lot of complaints, they happen during the day. Typically, when they happen during the day, we can work through them. However, if your child is asleep and they’re coming out of their deep sleep to complain about something, that is a reason to go see your doctor.”
Sami also gives a few examples, from leg discomfort (which could be growing pains) to a persistent headache (doctors would want to monitor for increased pressure in the head, a potential sign of brain tumors).
One Last Reminder
You know your kid better than anyone, and you should never doubt your parental instincts. If your child is acting in a way that feels disconcerting to you, or if something happens to raise a red flag, don’t ignore it — call your doctor or hit Urgent Care.
While helpful and coming from a board-certified doctor, these tips can’t account for your child’s medical history or previous diagnoses. You may know that simply having an elevated temperature is enough to cause concern for your child. Similarly, you know when your kid is limping “for fun” and when it’s gone on long enough that it’s cause for concern.
Sami’s guidelines are a great starting point for worried parents, especially for attempting to avoid big bills or germ-infested waiting rooms. Just remember that there’s a lot to be said for a mother’s intuition, too. We’d all rather look like the overly cautious parent “making a big deal” about something minor than ignoring something that turns out catastrophic, right?