While you might get nervous the first time your baby or child has a fever, typically it's just your child's immune system responding to a mild infection or perhaps reacting to a recent shot. Babies, like adults, need fever as a way to fight and defend against infection, so don't panic when you feel that warm head!
Here's what you should do when your baby has a fever, and of course, always consult a physician before administering any medical care.
First, try giving your baby a lukewarm bath. Whatever you do, do not put your baby in a freezing cold bath, as this may cause your baby to shiver and then elevate his or her fever even higher. Second, dress the little one in lightweight clothes. Do not bundle up your baby! It may be tempting to, especially if your baby has the chills, but bundling up a baby with a fever may keep the fever from retreating or worse: make it go higher. Be mindful of your baby's environment. Is your baby's room stuffy or warmer than other parts of the house? Either move your baby to a cooler spot or turn on a fan.
Whether it's breast milk, formula, or water (if your baby is old enough to drink water), keeping your baby hydrated is key. If you notice these signs, your little one may be dehydrated:
- None or very few wet diapers
- No tears! Your poor baby cannot produce tears.
- Dry mouth
If your baby is on solid foods, you may notice that he or she is not very hungry. Don't force your little one to eat, but if he or she will, try popsicles, bread, crackers, and other bland foods.
Medications used for fevers include: acetaminophen, commonly known as Tylenol, and ibuprofen, commonly known as Advil. On occasion, your pediatrician may advise you to alternate between the two medicines. Here are some guidelines to administering medication:
- If your baby is under 3 months of age, call your pediatrician first before giving your little one any medicine.
- Do not give Aspirin to your child. It could cause Reye's syndrome, which affects the liver.
- If your baby is under 6 months of age, do not give your baby ibuprofen or medicines containing ibuprofen, such as Advil or Motrin.
- Know your baby's weight in order to give your child the right dosage of medication.
- Commonly, the dosing is as follows: acetaminophen every four to six hours; ibuprofen every six to eight hours.
- If your doctor recommends treating your baby with alternating doses of the two medicines, be sure to note doses and times and follow your doctor's advice.
- Keep in mind that ibuprofen may cause stomach irritation.
When to Call the Pediatrician
- If your baby is newborn to 2 months old and has a fever, call the doctor right away.
- If your baby is younger than 3 months and has a fever higher than 100.4°F (taken rectally).
- If your child is from 3 to 12 months old and has a fever of 102.2°F or higher.
- If your little one has other symptoms, such as a sore throat or vomiting.
- If your child has recently had a shot and has a fever.
- If your child's temperature skyrockets over 105°F.
- If your child has fevers that continue to come and go for more than a few days at a time.
Signs It's Time to Call 911 or Go to the ER
- If you have a child who cannot be awakened easily or seems disoriented.
- If your child is crying and you are unable to calm them down.
- If the baby's soft spot is sunken — the baby may be dehydrated.
- If your baby turns blue (lips, nails, or tongue).
- If your child is unable to walk or shows stiffness in his or her neck.
- If your child has a seizure (rolls eyes, twitches, vomits, etc.).
Source: US National Library of Medicine