Baby and child sickness – danger signs

Get help quickly from a doctor or phone 111 if your baby or young child shows any of the danger signs listed on this page.

Babies and young children get sick often – it’s a normal part of childhood. They will usually get better after a few days. You can find out more about other childhood illnesses or visit Kidshealth.

If you are worried about your baby or child, ring Healthline (0800 611 116) or take them to their doctor or practice nurse.

Danger signs

Get help quickly from a doctor or phone 111 if your baby or child shows any of the danger signs listed below.


You cannot wake them or they respond less than usual to what is going on around them.

They have glazed eyes and are not focusing on anything.

They seem more floppy, drowsy or less alert than usual.

They have a convulsion or fit.

They have an unusual cry (high pitched, weak or continuous) for 1 hour or more.

They have severe tummy pain.

They have a bulge or lump in their groin (where the thigh joins the body) that gets bigger when they cry.


They feel too cold or hot (temperature below 35ºC or above 38.3ºC).

Skin colour and circulation

Their skin is much paler than usual or suddenly goes very white.

Their nails are blue, or their big toe is completely white or spotty, or the colour does not return to the toe within 3 seconds of a squeeze.

The skin around their mouth turns blue.

A rash develops with reddish-purple spots or bruises – it’s especially important if the spots or bruises don’t disappear when you press a glass onto them.


They find it difficult to breathe or stop breathing.

They breathe more quickly than normal or grunt when breathing out.

They make a high-pitched whistling sound (wheezing) when breathing out.

Vomiting and diarrhoea

They have vomited (thrown up) at least half the feed (food or milk) after each of the last three feeds.

Their vomit is green.

They have both vomiting and diarrhoea (loose and watery poo).

They have drunk less and have fewer wet nappies or visits to the toilet than usual.

They have blood in their poo.

Emergency numbers

Ambulance 111

National Poisons Centre 0800 764 766

Healthline 0800 611 116

Related websites

Baby and child sickness: danger signs – HealthEd (Health Promotion Agency and Ministry of Health)
Information in English and te reo Māori describing warning signs of illness in a young child – with a focus on the child’s temperature, breathing, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Childhood illness: the basics – Kidshealth
Find out how to do a baby check, about febrile convulsions and fever, how to take your baby’s temperature, hygiene and handwashing and whether your child is sick.

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