In acute paediatrics, overtreatment and overdiagnosis is encountered in threshold and developed countries. The foundation of overtreatment may be similar in the two settings, namely the mere availability of invasive procedures, which may lead to their inappropriate use. Physiological healing processes should be integrated in treatment plans. Whenever possible, natural organ functions should be maintained (e.g. enteral instead of parenteral nutrition). Standards and guidelines may assist the paediatrician in weighing up the benefits and risks of available invasive diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Safe and simple methods, successfully introduced in countries with limited resources, are equally useful in the industrialised world, as they have the potential to reduce the application of risky invasive therapies.