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By Karabo Motsiri Mokoena

Writer. Conversationalist. South African Mommy Blogger,Content Producer

Newborn conditions that don’t need you to go to the ER

Not sure whether or not to take the baby to the ER? You are not alone.

Being a new parent comes with the challenge of ensuring that your baby is happy and healthy. This is a challenge because a lot of times, new parents struggle to discern between what is normal and what is not. 

According to child health expert Dr. Carmen “I often see minor conditions in the emergency room (ER), which don’t always need urgent medical attention. Often new parents bring their babies into the ER complaining of constipation or a blocked nose and sneezing”. 

According to a research paper titled Emergency Department Visits in the Neonatal Period in the United States “visits by babies born to mothers who are single and did not attend prenatal classes were less likely to be admitted to the hospital, suggesting that those visits were not necessary, or could have been seen in a primary care setting.”

This means that some of these cases do not warrant a visit to the ER and can be easily managed at home. 

Some of these conditions include:


According to Dr. Carmen affectionately known as Momdoc, “It’s quite normal for infants (breast or formula-fed) not to pass stools every day.” The absence of stool is not necessarily constipation. 

When do see a Dr.

If your child is not feeding well, has a fever and has not passed stool for more than 2 weeks. 

Blocked nose and sneezing 

“A blocked nose and sneezing are common in newborns because their nasal passages are so small,” Dr. Carmen says. 

When to see a Dr.

When the blocked nose and sneezing are accompanied by other symptoms like a fever or difficulty breathing, then parents should seek medical attention. 

Skin problems 

Newborns develop a range of skin conditions after birth. This is because their skin is still sensitive and needs to be taken care of. Before rushing to the Dr. for this one, rather call and ask your GP first by describing the skin condition.

Normal skin conditions for newborns include:

Nappy rash: Sores appearing on your child’s genital area can easily be treated at home.

Cradle cap: A crusty rash that appears on the baby’s scalp and can be managed at home. 

Miliaria: Also known as heat rash which will appear all over the baby’s body and will move on its own 

Newborn acne: Pimple like sores will appear on a baby’s nose or forehead. You can ask your Dr. on its severity, but they usually move on their own 

Transient pustular: These are tiny raised bumps that appear on baby’s buttocks, neck, chest, and back. They also fade on their own in a few weeks 

Erythema toxic: These are small red dots that will appear on the baby’s body, particularly the face, arms, neck, and back, but also fades on its own in a few days. 

When to see a Dr.

If the conditions persist for a long time or seem to be causing irritability for the baby. 

Spit up after feedings 

Unless the spit up is blocking the baby from breathing properly, then it is normal for them to regurgitate after feeds. If your baby is not forcefully spitting (projectile vomiting) and is not losing weight, not spiting up blood, or does not struggle to breathe, then parents should not be too alarmed. 

When to see a Dr.

When the baby is vomiting instead of spitting up, not breathing well, irritable, and having less wet diapers, seek medical attention. 

Vaginal discharge

This discharge could appear mildly bloody, but should not be a cause for panic. This might go on for a few days and is caused by the estrogen that leaves the baby’s body.

When to see a Dr.

If the discharge is accompanied by a rash and itchiness, it could be a sign of an infection and will require medical attention.

Lastly, do not underplay your mom instincts. Knowledge is power and this information seeks to inform parents about what is normal and what is not. If your gut informs you to seek medical attention, then be sure to do so. According to Dr. Carmen “It’s however very important for parents to know the warning signs for more serious conditions and to know when mild ones require medical attention.”

*This information should not be used to self diagnose a child, and family medical practitioners should be contacted for formal diagnosis.

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