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Pain is a sign that something might be wrong. It can be difficult to know if your baby or young child is in pain. They can’t always tell us how they are feeling. There are some signs you can look out for.

Your baby’s feeding and sleeping patterns may change. They might sleep more than usual or they might be unsettled and not be sleeping well. Your child might not feel like eating, a baby will sometimes want to have smaller more frequent feeds. A baby’s cry can change when they are not feeling well, it may become high pitched or they may not cry very much but can be irritable. Babies sometimes pull their legs up to their tummy, their fists might be tight. A baby who was born prematurely can become floppy. You know your baby best, you can treat some problems at home and speak to your pharmacist for advice. If you feel something isn’t right you can call 111 or see your GP.

  • Your older child might be able to tell you what hurts or how they are feeling. This pain scale may help you understand how much pain your child has, you could ask them to show you which face is most like how they are feeling.

    You can treat some problems at home and speak to your pharmacist for advice. The pharmacist can give you advice about over the counter medicines and how to use them. Your baby or child might want more cuddles than usual and want to stay close to you. Sometimes if it is not serious you might be able to comfort your child and distract them by playing without having to give them medicine.

    • Giving Paracetamol or Ibuprofen is a short term solution; if your baby or child’s symptoms persist get advice from a health professional. Paracetamol can be given from 2 months of age and Ibuprofen from 3 months. Always make sure to give the right dose for your child’s age and never give both together
    • If your baby has wind or colic they may be arching their back, pulling their legs up to their tummy and crying. Cuddle and comfort your baby in a quiet place, hold your baby close to you so they can feel you. A warm bath can help soothe your baby. When feeding your baby try to keep them as upright as you can. You could try colic remedies from the pharmacist
    • Your baby might be teething, they might be irritable, their gums may be red and sore, and they could have red cheeks and be rubbing their ears. You could try giving your baby a teething ring to chew on if they are chewing their fingers and toys a lot. You can massage your baby’s gums with a clean finger. There is no evidence that teething gels works but if you want to try this speak to your pharmacist about one that is suitable for your baby’s age. If you feel your baby is in pain you can give them Paracetamol (Calpol) or Ibuprofen
    • A toddler or older child might show you where it hurts, if they are holding a part of their body, not walking normally or using their arm as normal You can give them pain relief if you feel they need it and get medical advice the pain does not seem to be settling or seems severe.
    • If you are breastfeeding your baby, feeding them while they are having something that may hurt like an injection can help soothe them
    • Give your child reassurance and try to keep them as relaxed as possible in a quiet calm room
    • Tummy ache in young children is common, reasons for these include of a tummy bug (link to Annabel’s page) or constipation. You can usually manage these at home but might need more help if you have followed advice and they aren’t getting better. Give plenty of fluids, small sips if your child has a tummy bug.


  • Speak to a doctor or nurse if:
    • Your child is in pain that won’t go away with pain relief or the problem lasts more than a couple of days
    • Your baby has a temperature of 38oc or higher is under 3 months old
    • If your baby or child is dehydrated, they could have fewer wet nappies, the soft spot on your baby’s head (fontanelle) may be sunken
    • If your child has had surgery or treatment, you may have been given advice about managing pain. If you are worried that the pain is not getting better as you would have expected contact your child’s doctor
    • If your baby is not feeding normally, having fewer feeds or vomiting feeds

    Go to A+E or call 999 if:
    • Your child is bleeding and you can’t stop this
    • Your baby is floppy, difficult to wake or unusually drowsy call 999
    • A baby or child with meningitis can have painful limbs and a stiff neck and a headache. There might not be a rash. It’s important to get help quickly if you suspect meningitis, don’t wait for a rash to appear. Have a look at our page for more information about this
    • If your child has severe tummy pain, has blood in their vomit or is cold and clammy

Who Can Help?

For support or advice young people, families and professionals can contact:

Just One Number for Norfolk Children and Young People’s Health Services Tel: 0300 300 0123 Monday-Friday 9am-5pm Saturday 9am-1pm.

Parents can use Parentline Text messaging service: 07520 631590

Young people aged 11-19 can text Chat Health on 07480635060

Other parents who are going through or have been through this before can be a big help to you, friends or family, or you could join our online forum to speak to Norfolk Parents, click *here* to find out more.

The Lullaby Trust - Baby Check App This app has simple checks that you can do if your baby is ill and helps you think about whether they need to see a doctor or health professional.

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