According to American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), when the rectal temperature reaches 100.40F or higher indicates that your baby has a fever. Normal body temperature for a healthy baby is between 970F and 100.30F. Fever is completely a healthy reaction of the body when the immune system fight against an underlying illness. In rare cases, fever could be a serious symptom of another disease and in such situations, seek immediate medical attention.
Symptoms of a serious fever
The seriousness of the fever does not certainly rely on the temperature; rather the behavior of the baby. In some situations, a baby with 1010F can be more tired, fussy and in constant discomfort, whereas another baby, with 1030F, may appear perfectly comfortable. Hence, many pediatricians recommend parents to monitor the behavior of the baby other than the body temperature.
Fever is serious for babies younger than 3 months. Because infants do not show symptoms as older babies and it may be the only response to a serious illness. If your baby has a fever, take him or her to a pediatrician or a medical care center despite the temperature figure.
When to call your doctor
As parents, only you can decide the exact moment to call your doctor. Because, only you have the chance to physically monitor your baby at home and if you are worried about his or her behavior, do contact your pediatrician immediately. In general, here are some occasions to seek medical advice.
- If your baby is younger than 3 months of age and has a temperature of 100.40F (380C) or higher, seeking for medical advice is a must. As younger babies do not develop symptoms soon enough, it is required, a thorough physical examination to determine the underlying illness of infants. Also, make sure not to try home remedies to reduce the fever as you don’t want to hide any symptoms before medical examination.
- For the older babies (3 months to 3 years of age), the seriousness of fever can be monitored via their behavior. If the baby appears to be doing well (other than being extra tired and fussy) and is getting enough fluids, the fever would go away within few days even without medications. But if the fever persists more than 24 hours and temperature rises, ask for doctor’s additional guidance. In such cases, you may be asked to monitor baby’s temperature level and call the doctors as/when needed.
- Even if the baby’s behavior is normal, when fever lasts more than five days, you may need to contact the doctor immediately to examine the baby and find out underlying causes.
- When the fever is higher than 1040F (400C) and when fever reducers have no impact on the baby’s fever.
- Babies who are not urinating at least four times per day and older children who are unable to urinate every 8 to 12 hours are dangerously dehydrated. The main cause is not having enough liquids as recommended. But, at this time, giving more and more liquids at home may not be a wise decision. Contact your doctor and act on the given advice.
- Recently immunized babies tend to have a fever. But if the temperature above 102ºF and it lasts more than 48 hours, you need to consult a pediatrician.
- Anytime, when the baby has difficulties in breathing or breathe faster than usual may be a sign of a serious illness such as pneumonia or bronchiolitis. Visit a doctor or an Emergency care unit immediately.
- When your baby seems sick and the temperature is lower than normal (less than 97ºF/36ºC). Infants, sometimes become cold when they are sick rather than hot.
- Other than that, whenever you feel uncomfortable as a parent and have doubts about baby’s fever, do not hesitate to visit ER unit or your pediatrician.
What to do if a seizure occurs
A seizure is a sudden movement of the body caused by fever and it is a frightening side effect for some babies. “Febrile seizures” occur in 2 to 4 percent of all children under age 5. In most cases, febrile seizures are harmless; however, it can be a terrifying experience for both the parent and the baby.
If your baby is having a seizure, you can observe one or many symptoms such as rolling eyes, drooling, vomiting and baby’s body may twitch or jerk. Also, a seizure can cause the skin to appear little darker than usual and baby may lose consciousness in rare cases.
If a seizure lasts more than three minutes, visit an emergency care unit or call for medical assistance. Keep in mind that not all seizures cause jerking movements in the body. Some seizures look like “passing out.” Follow these steps if your child is having a seizure and take him or her to a doctor immediately.
- Place your baby on his or her side and gently turn the head to one side so the baby won’t choke on food or vomit.
- If the baby has food in the mouth, do not try to take it out while the seizure lasts
- Keep the sharp objects away from the baby
- Loosen tight clothing
- Don’t try to reduce the fever while having a seizure
- Keep track of the length of the seizure, especially if it’s the first time for your baby.
What to do if baby is shivering
Shivering is not a worrisome symptom for babies with mild-fever. This can occur especially in the early morning or at night due to room temperature changes.
Offer an extra blanket or sweater to help the baby to cope with shivering and remove it once shivering goes away. If shivering occurs while giving a warm bath to the baby, either increase the temperature of the water or remove the baby from it. Keep in mind that, shivering is completely a harmless response of fever and in most cases, it goes away when the fever starts to reduce itself. However, if your baby is in discomfort, call your doctor and ask for further advice.
What to do about multiple fevers
Recurring fever can occur regularly or with no pattern at all. It is difficult to identify the cause for recurring fever in babies as it is common to get fevers at early years. Multiple fevers might be a sign of a periodic fever syndrome or a normal viral illness. However, this is a frustrating situation for babies and parents.
Multiple fevers may occur due to the low immune system of the infants and most babies grow out of this situation as they grow older. Sometimes, doctors may advice you to keep track of the fever, record milestones of the baby’s health such as vaccinations and growth, take photos when necessary and to discuss health issues with a doctor regularly. It would help them to decide whether your baby has a periodic fever syndrome and recommend the medicine accordingly.
When to get relaxed
- If fever lasts less than five days and your baby’s behavior appear to be normal, it would go away even without medications. Unless your baby is under 3 months of age, parents should not worry about mild-fever. Keep your baby hydrated by giving lots of fluids and monitor their behavior constantly.
- The increase of temperature is common in fever and not necessarily worrisome. If your baby is older than 3 months, temperature rise up to 1030F is normal and does not require doctor’s attention unless the baby feels uncomfortable or having previously mentioned symptoms.
- Recently immunized babies usually have low-grade fevers and they cure itself within 48 hours.