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Children's Health

5 month old not eating and not ill



We took our 5 month to the doctor yesterday because she has been very fussy, not eating or sleeping. Doc said she may be getting over a viral infection, there is nothing she can do. I thought she was getting better yesterday because she is sleeping better and not crying as much. But, everytime we try to feed her she throws a fit. Once I calm her down a bit and she starts to eat, she finishes the bottle. It`s almost like she`s scared to eat, but once she starts she hesitantly finishes. It has now been 7 hours and she seems fine but has not eaten. Is there anything I can do?


I know it is a very worrisome situation when your child is ill and not eating.

First and foremost, you always feel that it is fine for you to check in with your daughter's doctor. If you feel as though you are a bother to the practice with your questions, you probably need a different practice receptive to parent questions. Parents are the best observers of their children and know their children better than any health professional ever will. You have at least an 85% chance of being correct that something is wrong when you feel that things are not as they normally are with your child. So don't hesitate to call for help or ask for the child to be re-evaluated in the office.

A young child who is not drinking fluids or eating popsicles, is at risk for dehydration. So this is an important problem worthy of a call if it persists more than half a day or if the child has persistent vomiting with or without diarrhea. Dehydration or serious illness can cause your child to be drowsy, less responsive to you or not responsive at all. It is not possible for me to say if she is sleeping more because she feels better or because she is seriously ill. I would suggest, however, that when you have a concern about a child's sleeping too long, you should attempt to arouse the child and see if they can be aroused. Also check the child's temperature and see if there is a fever, and check the diaper for urine. If the child has a fever of 102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher and is over 6 months of age, they need to see the doctor. If the fever is 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher and the child is under 6 months of age, they need to see the doctor. If the ill infant's diaper is dry or nearly so for 6 hours or more and/ or they cannot be roused from sleep, they need to be seen by the doctor right away or go to the emergency room.

I hope that by now your daughter is feeling much better. Calling your child's doctor is the best way to quick and sometimes lifesaving advice.

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Response by:

Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN
Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University