Signs and symptoms of meningitis in babies and toddlers

Meningitis and septicaemia often happen together. Be aware of all the signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms LB

Do not wait for a rash

If someone is ill and getting worse, get medical help immediately.

Symptoms can appear in any order. Some may not appear at all.

Common signs & symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia

  • Child with a fever

    Fever, cold hands and feet

  • Child vomiting

    Refusing food and vomiting

  • Child looking fretful

    Fretful, dislike being handled

  • A sleepy child

    Drowsy, floppy, unresponsive

  • Child breathing rapidly

    Rapid breathing or grunting

  • A pale child

    Pale, blotchy skin. Spots/rash.
    See the Glass Test

  • Crying child

    Unusual cry, moaning

  • Soft spot on child

    Tense, bulging fontanelle (soft spot)

  • Child disliking the light

    Stiff neck, dislike bright lights

  • Child having convulsions


Early symptoms can include:

Fever, headache, vomiting, muscle pain and fever with cold hands and feet.

Someone with meningitis or septicaemia can get a lot worse very quickly. Keep checking them.

Trust your instincts – Get medical help immediately

Get medical help immediately