Answer Line - call 314.454.KIDS (5437), or toll free at 800.678.KIDS (5437)
Hours of Operation
Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday from Noon to 6:00 p.m.
Holiday Hours vary
How long should a fever last? How can I teach my baby to sleep through the night? When should I call the doctor?
While the Answer Line should never replace a call to your physician, 911 or Poison Control, the pediatric Registered Nurses on the line can help you with these typical questions and many other questions you may have.
The 454.KIDS Answer Line is a free community service offered by St. Louis Children’s Hospital. In existence for over 20 years, this line is dedicated to giving health advice and information pertaining to children from newborn to twenty-one years of age. The 454.KIDS line is staffed by pediatric nurses from St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Because our nurses average more than 10 years of experience, you can feel confident that the nurse you talk to is qualified.
The Answer Line offers:
- Advice and instructions if your child is sick
- Tips to assist you in understanding your child’s growth and development
- Help in finding a St. Louis Children’s Hospital pediatrician or pediatric specialist
- Registration for classes and events offered by St. Louis Children’s Hospital
Frequently Asked Questions
What will happen when I call?
We will ask basic information, including your address and telephone number. If your child is sick, we will also ask for a brief health history. It is necessary for the Answer Line to keep accurate clinical records of our calls. Please know that this information is kept confidential.
Does my child need to be with me when I call?
Yes, if you are calling because your child has symptoms, please have your child nearby. The nurse may ask you to check for certain signs of illness to provide you the best information possible. If your child is not with you, we can do a conference call with the person who is with your child so that we can talk together or you may opt to call us later when you are with your child. If you are calling about general topics, such as sleep, nutrition, discipline and your child has no symptoms they need not be with you.
What will the nurse ask?
We will “triage” your call. Triage means to sort symptoms to help us decide the priority of need and urgency of medical care that is required. We first find out about the most serious concerns. With your help, we do a head-to-toe “look” at your child. In order to get a good picture of your child, we will ask about his or her symptoms in detail – such things as level of activity, presence of fever, appetite, etc. We encourage our callers to provide any additional information they think would be helpful.
Depending on the problem, we may ask you to go directly to the Emergency Department, call your doctor within the hour, call the next day or when the office is open or we might decide together that a call to your doctor is not needed. In rare circumstances, we may ask you to hang up and call 911 or Poison Control.
We will end the call by giving you specific things you can do to help your child plus worsening symptoms to watch for that might require you to seek medical attention.
Where do the nurses get the medical information they give me?
We work from established computerized telephone guidelines and health information. This information is regularly reviewed and approved by our Clinical Advisory Board, which includes our medical director, community pediatricians, St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine physician specialists. These healthcare professionals work with children everyday and stay informed of trends and the most up-to-date information.
What are the most common medical questions people call about?
Cough/cold, asthma, fever, vomiting, diarrhea and earache top our list. Parents also call about sore throat, chicken pox, head lice, stomach aches and crying babies. Calls about trauma, such as bumps on the head, doors slammed on fingers, sports injuries, dog bites and lacerations are just a few more examples of the wide array of calls we receive.
What are some general questions people call about?
The nurses can help with a variety of subjects such as breastfeeding, sleeping issues, toilet training, weaning, biting, discipline, car seat information, daycare adjustment and normal newborn behavior.
What is the best time of the day to call 454.KIDS?
We want to answer your call promptly. During the busy flu season and at certain times, such as in the early evening, you may experience a wait. Please know that we do our best to get to your call as quickly as possible while giving each caller the time needed to answer his or her questions. You will usually have a shorter wait if you call during daytime hours.