Symptoms Checker for 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.

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. 

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.

  • Tense or bulging soft spot 
  • High temperature. (Warning - could be normal or low in babies under 3 months) 
  • Very sleepy / staing / expression / too sleepy to wake up
  • Breathing fast / difficulty breathing
  • Extreme shivering 
  • 'Pin prick' rash / marks or purple bruises anywhere on the body
  • Sometimes diarrhoea 
  •  Unusual grunting sounds 
  • Vomiting / refusing to feed 
  • Irritable when picking up, with a high pitched or moaning cry 
  • Blotchy skin, getting paler or turning blue 
  • A stiff body with jerky movements or else floppy and lifeless 
  • Pain / irritability from muscle aches or severe limb / joint pain 
  • Cold hands and feet

The 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.

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 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.

If you have any concerns please ring the freephone helpline.

UK 080 8800 3344
ROI 1800 41 33 44

Meningitis and septicaemia can kill in hours - know the symptoms. The first symptoms are usually fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell.
Meningitis & septicaemia are higher risks for young children. The first symptoms are usually fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell.
Young people and students are the next most at-risk group. Don’t assume an illness is a hangover or a touch of flu.
The rash does not always appears in cases of meningitis, and the word ‘rash’ itself may be misleading. So, what actually is it?
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Membership and support

The MRF Membership and Support team are here for you for any questions you might have about meningitis and septicaemia and their effects on you, or your family and friends.

Tel: Helpline UK 080 8800 3344 Ireland 1800 41 33 44