When should you worry?
When your child becomes unwell, it can be scary, especially when they are very young and cannot tell you what they are feeling.
Thankfully, most illnesses in children are usually not serious and children recover quickly with simple measures you can do at home.
Sometimes, it can be hard to pinpoint what is going on, especially in babies, when there might not be any obvious clues.
Trust your instincts. You know your child better than anyone else. If you think they need more than self-care at home, you can contact 111, your GP or A&E. Those services can assess your child and provide advice on the care your child needs. This may be via telephone, video consult or face-to-face.
This guidance below can help you decide when you should get help. It is based on how your child looks (appearance) and acts (behaviour) together with other features that may indicate a serious problem.
Any of the features in the red box should alert you to take your child to A&E straight away or call 999.
Check through the red signs. If you can identify something that is different (like tummy pain or they feel hot) you can use the Symptom Checker to get advice or call 111.
If your child does not have any of the features in the black or red boxes, then you have some time as it is unlikely to be an emergency. You support them at home at this time. Make sure they are getting plenty of fluids and treat any fever or pain with paracetamol. Your local pharmacy, Walk-in Centre, 111 or GP can give you further advice.
You can screenshot the boxes on this page or print a copy and keep it handy to refer to if your child’s condition does not improve.
When should I worry and what should I do?
Call 999 or go to A&E now if your child is/has:
Pale, mottled or has abnormally cold hands or feet
Collapsed / unresponsive / unconscious or difficult to wake/ lethargic or confused
No obvious pulse or heartbeat
A severe allergic reaction
Blue around the lips
Sleepiness (can be woken but falls asleep immediately)
Very agitated and restless and you cannot settle them with cuddles, toys, TV or food
Seizure / jerking movements/ fit
They remain drowsy (sleepy) or very agitated even when they do not have a fever
Sucking in and out between ribs
Using their neck muscles when breathing
Extremely fast breathing
Noisy breathing such as grunting or stridor
Too breathless to talk or feed
Has long pauses in their breathing (more than 10 seconds)
Bleeding from an injury that doesn’t stop after 10 minutes of pressure
If your child has a fit or convulsion, then you should call 999 or bring them to the A&E Department
Has testicular pain, especially in teenage boys
Call 111 or ask for an urgent GP appointment if your child:
Dizziness / feeling faint
Develops a rash that does not fade with pressure
Severe constant tummy pain
Baby won’t feed or take a bottle
Baby’s nappy has been dry for 12 hours
Has been burned
Possible broken bone – an injury causing reduced movement of arms or legs or unable to walk
A head injury causing drowsiness or persistent crying
Swallowed foreign objects (especially magnets or batteries)
Temperature higher than 38 in a baby younger than three months old
Your child has special healthcare needs, and you have a plan that tells you to go to A&E
Feels abnormally cold to touch
Suicidal thoughts or self-harming
if your child is expressing suicidal thoughts or is harming themselves, call our free 24/7 Crisis Care Line 0151 293 3577 & 0808 196 3550 or email [email protected]
If you cannot keep your child safe at this moment, go to A&E
Call the Police if there is immediate danger to your child, yourself, or others
You can also contact your nearest Walk-in Centre.
If none of the above features are present:
All GPs will have plans for assessing unwell children
Your GP will decide if your child should have a telephone, video, or face-to-face appointment
You can do lots of things online, like ordering repeat prescriptions
If you don’t have online services but would like to use them, visit your GP practice website for details on how to set this up
You can visit NHS 111 online
Visit NHS 111 for advice at any time – only call NHS 111 if you need urgent help and your GP is closed (out of hours), or if you can’t get the advice you need online
Liverpool’s walk-in centres are open 8am to 8pm daily
Where should you seek help?
- If it is non-urgent, speak to your local pharmacist or health visitor.
- Or contact you GP practice and a qualified member of the clinical team will assess if your child needs to be seen urgently. For an urgent out-of-hours GP appointment, call NHS 111.
- You should only call 999 or go your nearest A&E department in critical or life threatening situations.