I have received a few questions recently about when is the right time to call your child’s doctor or not when you think they don’t feel well. Some are not sure when this visit — one outside of the normal wellness exam — is necessary. Along those lines, some are questioning if they should take their child in for a second visit or if they should ask the doctor for a referral to a specialist.
It is important as a parent to be aware of your child’s behavior when he is well. Being aware of his behavior when he is feeling fine is just as important to know when he is not. Think of it as a barometer to be used for comparison’s sake. Up to about a year old, you can judge if your child is happy, eating and sleeping, as usual, interacting with you and his environment (for example, startling at a loud noise, getting excited when he sees you preparing his food), and of course becoming cranky and fussy. If any one of these behaviors seems off to you, even the fussiness, then your parental, instinctual red flag should start to wave. Comfort him, distract him, pay attention to the changes. Remember, your baby cannot talk to you or show you where the discomfort is coming from (however, some attention to his ears tells you something is amiss). If your babies’ symptoms are not improving your red flag should be in full swing. Your barometer for comparison is working! It’s time to call the doctor’s office.
The only difference with toddlers and older children is that they can tell you or show you “where it hurts”. You are good mamas and you know your kids! Anything out of the ordinary is when that instinctual red flag should be waving. As young mamas, you are not expected to know everything. However, what you do know is that your child is not acting, eating, or playing per usual. It’s time to call the doctor’s office.
Be confident in yourself as a parent and dismiss the thoughts that your questions are unnecessary or irrelevant. DO listen to that inner voice in your head that says” I really should call the doctor”. Avoid listening to your friends’ advice about their child. Each child is different. You are your child’s best advocate. You are the only was who is tuned into that barometer. Your parental, instinctual red flag will help you to decide if a second visit or a referral to a specialist is necessary.
So most importantly:
- Learn to compare your child’s behavior of wellness vs. out of sorts ( the barometer)
- Be confident, be assertive and know that you are your child’s best advocate.
- Listen to your inner voice. Pay attention to the red flags.
- If ever, EVER in doubt, it’s time to call the doctor!
Thanks for asking!
Got a question? All you have to do is email [email protected]. Your questions will be posted anonymously, so be careful with giving any detailed, identifying information (i.e.: a child’s name). Each month, she’ll select some questions and give you the answers in her column on TC Jewfolk.