Meningitis symptoms in babies


Is your baby getting worse fast? Babies can get ill very quickly, so check often.

Not every baby gets all these symptoms. Symptoms can appear in any order.

What is the risk to my baby?

Most babies have natural resistance to these diseases. Meningitis vaccines give excellent protection but can't prevent all forms of meningitis and septicaemia.

What should I look out for?

Early symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia (the blood poisoning form of the disease) can be like other childhood illnesses, but a baby will usually get ill quickly and get worse fast. 

What should I do if I am worried about my baby?

Trust your instincts. If you think your baby has meningitis or septicaemia get medical help immediately. Say that you are worried it could be meningitis or septicaemia.

The tumbler test

Meningitis and septicaemia Tumbler test If you are seriously worried about someone who is ill, don’t wait for a rash to appear – get medical help. But if they are already ill and get a new rash or spots, use the Tumbler Test.

Press a clear glass tumbler firmly against the rash. If you can see the marks clearly through the glass seek urgent medical help immediately.


A rash caused by septicaemia

Check the entire body. Look out for tiny red or brown pin-prick marks which can change into larger red or purple blotches and blood blisters.



The septicaemia rash on dark skin

The darker the skin the harder it is to see a septicaemic rash so check lighter areas like the palms of hands and soles of feet or look inside the eyelids and the roof of the mouth.

Remember, a very ill person needs medical help even if there are only a few spots, a rash or no rash at all.

What are meningitis and septicaemia?

Meningitis is inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord – the meninges. Septicaemia is blood poisoning caused by the same germs and is the more life threatening form of the disease.

Symptoms in babies

Download

Download your copy of our Baby Watch card or order copies online
Mollie Savannah Heard
Bacterial Meningitis
Bacterial Meningitis at 12

My daughter Mollie Savannah Heard started getting sick July 2013 with a really bad...

More stories
Ask the Expert
Professor Nigel Klein

Why are babies more susceptible to meningitis and septicaemia?

Read more
Ask the Expert
Dr Paul Heath

Can a newborn baby have meningitis?

Read more