Fever shows the body’s temperature has increased to more than normal range i.e. increased to above 38°C. Learn about causes & management of fever in babies.
When your baby is very little, and
as they continue to grow, they will continually be developing and strengthening
their immune system.
While they are in your tummy, they
will get some immunity from you and this will help them when they are first
born. After that, one of the ways they will build their immune system is by
combatting different infections and bacteria as they come into contact with
them. This is happening all the time with your baby, and a lot of the time you
won’t even realize it. It’s a very natural and on-going process, even for us as
One of the ways you might notice
that your baby is battling it out with a new illness, virus or bacteria is if
they are experiencing a fever.
It may seem scary to see your baby
experiencing a fever, but most of the time, this is a natural occurrence as
their immune system fights off something that shouldn’t be there. There are a
number of causes and symptoms, and we’ll talk through some of them in this
article, as well as what you need to do if your baby is experiencing a fever.
Why does my
baby have a fever?
Pyrexia, the fancy term for fever,
is the body’s immune system responding to something that shouldn’t be there.
This could be a common infection such as a cold of flu, bacteria that has
entered the body, or more severe viruses and illnesses.
when my baby has a fever?
The first thing you’ll notice when
your baby has a fever is that they have a very high temperature. They will feel
very hot to the touch, and probably be quite red as their blood flows to the
skin surface to try and cool them down. They will also cry - a lot!
It’s important to know what a
normal temperature is for your baby, so that if they go above this, you know
you should seek medical help.
The normal temperature range for a
baby and small children is 36.4C (97.5F). Anything around this temperature is
generally considered normal, and this will flux slightly which is natural.
A fever is considered to be
anything above 38 °C (100.4 °F). Babies are very sensitive to temperature changes,
so anything above this can be dangerous.
How do I take
my baby’s temperature?
There are a few different ways to
get an accurate measurement of your baby’s temperature. The best way to do this
is by using a digital thermometer. This will give you the most accurate
reading. It’s also the best one to use with younger, wriggly babies!
Make sure you take your baby’s
temperature when they are at a normal resting state - so not just after a bath.
Here’s how to use a digital thermometer to get the most accurate reading:
Make sure the
thermometer is clean and dry
Turn it on and
wait to make sure the screen is clear of any old readings
Make sure your
baby is comfortable - lay them down on their back or hold them on your lap
thermometer gently under your baby’s armpit, in the middle. Make sure the
thermometer has contact with bare skin for the best reading
Hold your baby’s
arm down gently over the thermometer and leave it there for at least 15 seconds
Never use an old fashioned,
mercury thermometer with your baby. Strip thermometers are also no good as they
will not give you an accurate reading. For older babies and children you could
use an electronic ear canal thermometer, but a digital one is still the most
If you suspect your baby has a
temperature, measure their temperature a few times over the course of a day or
two. If their temperature is peaking and reaches over 38 °C on consecutive
readings, make sure you get medical help.
Are there any
other symptoms I should look out for?
A fever on it’s own is quite
common, but sometimes it will be accompanied by other symptoms. It is very
important to know warning signs to look out for. Babies can quickly deteriorate
when they are unwell and struggling to fight some unknown infection.
Other symptoms to look out for
alongside a fever include:
coughing and difficulty breathing
If you notice at any point that
your baby is struggling to breathe, make sure you seek medical attention
immediately. This could be a sign of a severe infection in their chest or
airways and they will need medical support to help overcome this.
and refusal to eat
It is very important that babies
eat regularly. If they are experiencing a fever and vomiting or refusing to eat
make sure you seek out medical attention. This could be a sign of bacteria or
infection in their stomach that they are unable to battle.
Your baby should never be
bleeding. If you notice blood in their urine, stools, vomit or mucus make sure
you seek medical attention immediately.
Any type of rash should be checked
by a doctor as soon as possible, especially if accompanied by a fever. This
could be anywhere on the body, including the legs and arms - never rule this
out as something serious and seek medical help.
How do I help
my baby overcome a fever?
If your baby is simply
experiencing a fever, with no other symptoms, there are a few natural cures you
can use to help them overcome their fever until you are able to take them to
see your doctor:
a cool, calm environment
The best treatment for a fever is
plenty of rest and relaxation, as this will help aid your baby’s body to do
it’s thing and overcome the fever. Keep them well rested, and keep their room
cool and calm to help try and regulate their temperature.
sure they are properly hydrated
Plenty of feeds will help keep
your baby’s strength up. If they do not want to eat their usual amount all in
one go, make sure you feed them smaller amounts but more regularly as this will
help them to get the nutrients and hydration they need.
the counter remedies
If the fever is not very high, and
they have no other symptoms, try speaking with your pharmacist who can
recommend safe, over the counter remedies to help your baby fight the fever.
Always follow the instructions given to you by the pharmacist and stick to the
Try using a cool compress on your
baby’s forehead to help keep them cool and regulate their temperature.
of cuddles and support
Your baby will need lots of
support and comfort from you. You may find they are too hot and uncomfortable
to be cuddled by you continuously, so try laying with them in a cool room and
holding their hand, stroking their head and soothing them. Your attention will
let them know their pain is not unnoticed and can work wonders in helping them
overcome the fever.
thing: Make sure you get medical help
A fever is not something to take
lightly, especially if it goes on longer for more than a day or two. If your
baby is also listless, drowsy and unresponsive with a fever, make sure you seek
emergency medical attention.
Even if the fever does not seem
that bad, they may still be struggling to fight the underlying cause
(infection, bacteria etc). Your doctor will be able to diagnose and make
recommendations for treatment to ensure your baby is back to happy and healthy
as quickly as possible.
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