When to Call 911: Baby Emergencies

baby emergencies when to call 911

Do you know when to call 911 for your baby? Being able to recognize the difference between a common health problem and an emergency situation can help save your baby’s life. Let’s hope for the best but prepare for the worst. This is a great list to print out or save on your phone for quick reference should you need it.



1. Blue, purple or gray lips or skin
This indicates a serious problem with breathing and can be the result of a severe allergic reaction, choking, infection or poisoning. Getting help right away is critical as these conditions can be fatal or cause permanent damage.


2. Seizures
During an infant seizure, the child typically becomes unresponsive or appears to stare off into space while also twitching and flailing their limbs. If your baby has a seizure, turn them onto their side to prevent choking on saliva and call 911 right away. This is especially critical in episodes that last more than 3 minutes. Also, remove any objects around your child to keep them safe. 


3. Baby stops breathing or loses consciousness
Call 911 for immediate help if your child stops breathing or suddenly loses consciousness. If your baby isn’t breathing, start administering infant CPR right away (for classes in your area, contact the American Red Cross).


4. After a serious fall or blow to the head
A baby that loses consciousness, experiences irregular breathing, or has convulsions or a seizure after a fall or blow to the head requires immediate medical attention. Call 911 and don’t move the baby to prevent further injury. If the child stops breathing before help arrives, administer infant CPR.


5. Broken bones
Some broken bones can be easily treated in your doctor’s office, but when a bone is sticking out of the skin, or when you suspect a skull, neck, back or pelvic fracture, it’s important to get emergency help. For this type of baby emergency, don’t move the child—call 911 and cover any exposed bones with a clean cloth.


6. Severe bleeding
Most minor scrapes and cuts can be easily treated at home, but you may need to take your baby to the emergency room or doctor’s office to get stitches if the cut is deeper or jagged looking. Call 911 if you can’t stop the bleeding within 10 minutes, or if your baby loses unconsciousness, has irregular breathing or becomes unresponsive.


7. Poisoning
Burns around the mouth, rapid breathing, turning blue and convulsions are all signs that your baby has consumed a poisonous substance and needs immediate medical assistance. Never try to make a child vomit after a poisoning incident. Call 911 and remove anything left in the mouth. If possible, keep a sample of what was swallowed for the emergency room doctor to evaluate.


8. Burns and Scalds
Serious burns on the hands, feet, face, groin or chest should be treated right away, especially if the child loses consciousness, begins vomiting, or shows signs of serious pain (uncontrollable screaming or crying). Call 911 if burns cover more than 10% of the body, the burned area is charred or white, or if a burn begins oozing or shows signs of infection (look for red, swollen or tender skin).


The more you know, the more you can help keep your child safe. We offer FREE expert-led, online parenting classes on health and safety topics. And, we reward you with baby gear, sweepstakes entries and deeply discounted coupons for completing our classes.


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