Emergency room or urgent care? 

When you’re looking at a sick baby, it’s not always clear whether their sickness is serious or not. They are new to the world, and you love them so much, and it’s hard to know what’s normal. It’s one thing to decide between calling the doctor and waiting it out, but when things are clearly more serious, deciding between urgent care and the emergency room is a different beast altogether.

Emergency room

The emergency room exists to provide treatment for serious, life-threatening medical problems. If you have an emergency, you shouldn’t hesitate to take action. 

There are two paths that can take you to the emergency room. You can get yourself there, or emergency services can meet you and take you there. For the following severe symptoms, you should call 911 or your local emergency service line to meet you for immediate treatment:
  • Choking
  • Poisoning
  • Seizure
  • Increasing difficulty breathing
  • Severe head injury
  • Injury to the neck or spine
  • Severe burn
If your child has serious symptoms but you don’t believe requires emergency services to meet you at your location, you can transport yourself and your little one to receive treatment at the emergency room. Symptoms that fall into this category include:  
  • Bleeding that won’t stop
  • Unconsciousness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Severe allergic reaction
  • Large cuts or burns
  • Major injuries
  • High fever
  • Serious burn or cut
  • Consistent diarrhea or vomiting

Urgent care 

Despite the name, urgent care isn’t always the fastest way to see a doctor. If Baby is sick, but not seriously sick, urgent care is a good option for seeking treatment. Some examples of symptoms that might lead you to urgent care include:
  • Low-grade fever
  • Cold or flu
  • Sore throat
  • Headache or earache
  • Rash
  • Minor injuries
You know your child best, and if you feel as though a situation is an emergency, take them to the emergency room. If you’re not sure what to do, you can always call your healthcare provider, your hospital, a nurse hotline, or an emergency service.

  • “When to use the emergency room.” MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine. November 20, 2014. Web.
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Sick baby? When to seek emergency care.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. September 20, 2016. Web.
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