As pediatricians, and parents ourselves, we know how scary it can be when your child is not feeling well. Depending on the severity of the concern, it can be difficult to decide what the appropriate response should be to best help your child. The good news is that you have options. 

Whenever you are unsure of what to do, call your pediatrician for expert advice. If you are concerned that what your child is experiencing could be dangerous, permanent, or life-threatening, do not hesitate to call 911. 

When deciding on going to the emergency room, the reasons can be nuanced. So, to make these decisions a little easier on you and your little one, we have broken down common reasons to visit the children’s emergency room and when to call a pediatrician instead. 

When To Take Your Child To The Emergency Room

As a parent, it is critical to keep a watchful eye on your child whenever their temperature starts to rise. You will know when to take a child to ER for fever if their temperature rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, or if a high fever is accompanied by a headache and stiffness in the neck. For babies less than three months old, a rectal temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or less than 97.7 degrees Fahrenheit means it is time to visit the ER. If there is no fever but there are other symptoms of sickness, going to the emergency room is necessary if your child has severe coughing or is vomiting blood.

When to take a child to the emergency room for injuries depends on the severity of the specific injury. If your child is experiencing severe burns or has a deep wound with intense or heavy bleeding, it’s time to seek emergency care. Take special care if the wound is on the head, neck, or chest. If your child has a broken bone, in most cases the urgent care will suffice. However, if a broken bone is emerging through skin or if the body part near an injured bone has tingling, numbness, coldness, paleness, or weakness, take your child to the ER. 

Aside from sickness and injury, there are still other concerns that require a visit to the emergency room. In the event of a severe allergic reaction, if symptoms include shortness of breath, swelling of the mouth and/or lips, vomiting that won’t stop, or a change in mental state, going to the emergency room is necessary. If your child suddenly has difficulty waking up or regaining consciousness, a heartbeat that is faster than normal and does not slow, or the sudden loss of abilities such as seeing, speaking, or moving, visit the emergency room.

When To Call a Pediatrician or Visit Urgent Care

Some illness and injury are non-emergency and should be referred to a pediatrician or urgent care center rather than the pediatric emergency room. These problems include minor injuries such as sprains or strains, skin issues and minor cuts, bumps, and scrapes, urinary tract or bladder infections, earaches and sinus pain, cold symptoms such as cough and sore throat, and upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

If you do decide on going to the emergency room, try calling your pediatrician ahead of time. They can often call the emergency department to let them know details about your child’s case ahead of time. In some cases, this can even speed up the waiting process once you arrive at the ER. 

When to Call 911:

When the problem is dangerous or life threatening, please call 911 without hesitation. These cases include choking, intense breathing difficulties or turning blue, injury to the head (with child unconscious), neck or spine injuries, severe burns, seizure exceeding five minutes in duration, and severe bleeding that you cannot stop.

Despite the facts listed here, we understand that it is hard to make decisions about your child’s health and safety, especially when it involves going to the emergency room. At Coastal Kids, our knowledgeable team of pediatricians is available to answer any questions or concerns you may have about your child’s sickness or injury. To learn more visit us at or feel free to give us a call at the location nearest to you!