Baby Symptoms & Conditions

Being a new parent means decoding a ton of baby symptoms, from a fever, to excessive crying to strange lumps and bumps. Is it a cold? The flu? Teething? Colic? Gas pain? The Bump is here to help! Try out our symptom finder to see what health conditions baby's symptoms could be signaling. And browse through a ton of articles on everything from baby allergies to yeast diaper rash. Find out what causes any common baby health condition, how to prevent it and how to treat it if baby gets it. We've got a ton of advice and tips from medical experts and from moms and dads who've been through it. So whether it's just a cold, or a sign of asthma, get the scoop on all baby and toddler symptoms and conditions right here at The Bump.

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Stiff Neck in Babies

Could baby’s stiff neck be a sign of something serious? Here’s the deal on this scary symptom.

What is a stiff neck in babies?

It’s very unusual for a baby to develop a stiff neck, unless he’s either born with a specific condition or has developed one owing to nerve or muscle problems.

What could be causing my baby to have a stiff neck?

Many parents automatically think of meningitis -- a potentially life-threatening infection -- when they think “stiff neck,” but babies with meningitis are actually unlikely to have that symptom, even though it’s a hallmark of the virus in kids and adults. But older toddlers can develop neck stiffness caused by meningitis -- other red-flag symptoms include fever, headache and sensitivity to light.

A baby with a stiff neck may have something called torticollis, a muscular/nerve disorder that causes her head to tip to one side.

When should I take my baby to the doctor with a stiff neck?

If your baby has a fever or any other warning signs of meningitis, call your doctor right away. Ditto if you notice any other sudden or unusual symptoms.

What should I do to treat my baby’s stiff neck?

If your baby is diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, he’ll likely need to spend some time in the hospital getting antibiotics. If a virus, rather than bacteria, is to blame, he’ll likely just get better on his own (but ask your doctor, just to be sure). For torticollis, he’ll likely need therapy to help passively stretch the shortened neck muscle and straighten his head, so he can be shaking his head “no” to you in no time.

-- Jennifer Shu, MD, pediatrician with Children’s Medical Group P.C. in Atlanta and author of Heading Home With Your Newborn (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2010)

See More: Baby Basics , Baby Doctor Visits , Newborn Basics , Toddler Basics

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Reminder: Medical info on The Bump is FYI only and doesn't replace a visit to a medical professional.