Infant fever is unnerving and usually scary for young and first-time moms. And why not? Babies with fever could sometimes be lethargic, fussy and cranky. And although some babies may behave normally even while running a fever, a parent should always be mindful and observant of all the symptoms being exhibited by the infant, and should never shrug it off as a normal occurrence.
Pediatricians tell mothers that fever in babies is when the baby’s temperature hits 37.8 degrees Celsius or 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything lower than that is normal baby temperature. The most accurate temperature reading you could get is one that is taken using a digital thermometer inserted in the infant’s rectum. It is also fine to use a digital thermometer through the armpit but it will be less accurate compared to temperature taken from the rectum. Babies of course hardly cooperate when their temperature is taken orally. Temporal and ear thermometers are fine to use too because it is less invasive compared to a digital thermometer but a temperature taken via the rectum remains to be the most accurate temperature reading for infants and newborns.
The easiest way to get the rectal temperature of an infant is to make the baby lay on her stomach. Slowly insert in her rectum the digital thermometer with a bit of petroleum jelly on its tip. You also have the option of bending your baby’s legs towards her chest area while she is lying on her side or back, before inserting the tip of the thermometer. Ensure that the metal tip of the thermometer is inside the baby’s anus.
Also, make sure that the thermometer has been disinfected with rubbing alcohol before and after taking the temperature and that this particular thermometer will be appropriately labeled as a rectal thermometer so that it can never be used elsewhere in the body by anyone in the family.
Usual causes of fever on babies
As they say, fever in babies is the body’s way of fighting off an illness or something that harms it system. It is generally not a bad thing because it basically indicates that the body is functioning to ward off something that is irregular like an infection.
But what are the common causes of fever in babies?
1. Viral Infections
A viral infection that causes the common colds is usually the culprit of most fevers in infants and even on older babies and children. Usually, when the baby has colds, runny nose and all, running a high temperature is not far off.
2. Ear Infection
Ear infection is another common cause of fever on infants and young babies. Symptoms of an ear infection could also include cold symptoms, fussiness, and ear drainage among others.
3. Urinary Tract Infection
Can cause high-grade fevers, and even stomach ache, vomiting and diarrhea for babies. It is also common during potty training stage as babies slowly learn to hold off urination, and once they get busy with toys and other things that grab their attention, they become more prone to getting a UTI. Having said that, UTI can still occur in infants and babies.
Sometimes, when babies get a shot of vaccine they get feverish, and most often pediatricians would recommend a dose of fever-reducing medicine for a temperature of 37.8 Degrees Celsius or higher.
5. Overdressing or Getting overheated leads to baby fever
Infants and young babies are very sensitive hence too much bundling or overdressing can cause their temperature to rise as well. Make sure to dress your baby appropriately in relation to the weather condition in your area.
Other causes may include Serious Bacterial Infections, Pneumonia, Meningitis, and other sicknesses.
What can parents do with baby fever?
Pediatricians would often recommend the regular monitoring of temperature of the child, and giving fever-reducing medicine in a dose that they prescribe every four hours or so for a temperature that they will indicate which is usually anything higher than 37.8 degrees.
Parents should likewise be observant about the other symptoms being exhibited by the child such as colds, cough, runny nose, restlessness, fatigue, having rashes, stomach aches, vomiting, and even loose bowel movements among other symptoms. It will be best to keep a record of the temperature of the child because if ever the fever will linger and will require a medical check-up, the doctor will be asking you about the highest grade of fever your child got, as well as when he or she started running a fever.
Monitor as well the fluid and solid food intake of the baby as well as his or her output as indicated by his or her wet and soiled diapers. Babies with fever should be dressed lightly as well because overdressing them can cause their fever to shoot up further.
Increasing hydration of the baby through continuous breastfeeding sessions or formula feeding will help a lot. If the baby is in toddler stage, then water and natural fruit juices will help as well.
When should parents worry about baby fever?
- If your baby is under three months of age and contracts a fever. Get in touch with your pediatrician as soon as possible and bring her in for a check-up. If your baby is under one month of age and contracts a fever, you should rush to the hospital for urgent care as this is considered an emergency situation.
- If your child’s fever goes beyond 40 degrees Celsius. If your baby runs a fever this high, contact your health provider immediately.
- If the fever lasts for more than five days. Prolonged fever may mean there is an infection or an illness that needs to be further treated. Bring your child to her pediatrician so she can be checked.
- Not his usual self. If your baby is not acting normally and is beyond fussy or cranky, and has become very lethargic, bring him or her to her pediatrician for a check-up.
- Rashes. Monitor your child for the presence of rashes on any part his or her body. This may indicate a more serious illness such as measles, dengue virus among other more alarming sicknesses.
- Has trouble breathing and eating. This should be a red flag and you should communicate this information to your pediatrician.
- Signs of dehydration. Fewer wet and soiled diapers merit a check-up with your baby’s pediatrician.
- Baby has a seizure. If your baby suddenly has a seizure then you have to bring him over to the doctor.