Should I Be Panicking?

Should I Be Panicking?

Parenthood is arguably one of the most difficult, yet most rewarding jobs in the world. Parents don’t get paid a salary, there are no benefits, there are no paid holidays and worst of all, there is no manual on how to win the parent of the year award.

The only way babies are able to express themselves is to cry. After time, parents are able to miraculously read their baby’s cries, and can quickly work out if food is needed, or a nappy change is required. However even experienced parents are faced with situations where their babies cries are so desperate, and they are automatically sent into panic mode.

Even though this is a stressful situation for any parent, always remember to remain calm, assess the situation, and then take the necessary action.


There are many tell-tale-signs to determine if your baby is unwell. These signs include:

  • Continuous crying
  • Baby’s inability to sleep
  • Baby sleeping for too long
  • Baby missing feeds
  • A usually active baby, who chooses not to play
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry mouth


When to panic

  • When your baby’s breathing changes or becomes erratic (becomes shallow and laboured) then you need to immediately take your child to the nearest doctor.
  • A blue ring around a baby’s upper lip is an indication that the infant is receiving too little oxygen. The baby needs to be taken to the nearest medical facility, as the infant is in urgent need of additional oxygen. After the baby has been stabilised, medical staff will work on determining the cause of the illness and the reason for the baby’s irregular breathing.
  • A sunken fontanel (soft spot at the top of the baby’s head).  If the soft spot on the baby’s head appears to be sunken in, this is an immediate sign that the baby is not well and could very well be dehydrated. Dehydration in a small baby is extremely dangerous and again, the child will need to be given urgent medical care. Dehydration can be caused by ongoing bouts of diarrhoea or vomiting.
  • If a baby has a seizure, seek medical attention immediately. There are a number of reasons for the seizure, however seizures should never be ignored, and the cause of the seizure needs to be determined by trained, medical professionals. The seizure may very well be as a result of an injury suffered during birth.


Do not panic when…

  • The infant suffers from constipation. This is relatively common in bottle-fed babies. The clinic may recommend a juice-supplement (like diluted prune juice) to relieve constipation.
  • Baby develops a rash. Infants have very sensitive skin, and heat rashes are common. Don’t panic, but keep an eye on the rash.
  • The baby misses a feed. It is usual for an infant to feed every three to four hours, but as they grow, the intervals between feeds will become longer. Each child is different and if a feed is extended to every five hours do not panic, this too is normal.


– Kathy Baron


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