Fever in newborns and young children

As a parent, there is nothing more worrying than seeing your little one unwell. One of the most common symptoms that can cause concern is a fever in babies. Fevers can be scary, but they are often just a sign that the body is fighting an infection. Understanding what a fever is and how you can help your baby during this time can put your mind at ease and ensure you are providing the best possible care for your baby.

What is a fever?

Fever is an increase in body temperature above the normal range, which for infants is usually considered to be between 36.1°C to 37.9°C. It is important to remember that fever is not a disease in itself, but a sign that the body is fighting an infection. Fever can occur as a result of various diseases, including viral or bacterial infections.

Common causes of fever in infants

  1. Viral Infections: Colds, flu and other viral infections are some of the most common causes of fever in babies. These usually resolve themselves with adequate care and plenty of rest.

  2. Bacterial Infections: Certain bacterial infections such as ear infections, urinary tract infections and pneumonia can lead to fever. Some of these bacterial infections may require medical treatment, such as antibiotics.

  3. Teething: Although this is a controversial topic, some parents believe that teething can cause a slight fever. However, studies are inconclusive, and the fever is likely related to an underlying viral infection.

  4. Vaccinations: After receiving certain vaccinations, infants may experience a mild fever as their bodies build up immunity. This is a normal reaction and usually subsides within a day or two.

  5. Environmental factors: Excessive clothing, being in a hot environment or too much physical activity can lead to a slight increase in body temperature.

When to seek medical help:

Although most febrile infections in infants are not an emergency problem, there are some situations where medical help is necessary. Seek medical advice if:

  1. Your child is younger than three months and has a temperature of 38°C or higher.

  2. Your child is between three and six months old and has a fever of 38.3°C or higher.

  3. Your child is older than six months and has a temperature above 39.4°C.

  4. The fever lasts more than three days or is accompanied by other worrying symptoms such as difficulty breathing, persistent vomiting, rash or irritability.

Tips to help your child with a fever:

  1. Monitor temperature: Use a digital thermometer to closely monitor your child's temperature. Rectal thermometers are considered the most reliable for babies.

  2. Keep your baby hydrated: Offer frequent breastfeeding or bottle feeding to ensure your baby is getting enough fluids. For older babies, small sips of water can be given.

  3. Maintain a comfortable room temperature: Make sure the room has a comfortable temperature, neither too hot nor too cold. Dress your child in light, airy clothes.

  4. Cool down with a bath: If your child's fever is high, a bath with lukewarm water can help lower the temperature.

  5. Use fever-reducing medicine: Consult your pediatrician before giving any fever-reducing medicine, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Follow the dosage instructions carefully.

  6. Give extra comfort: Cuddle and hold your baby close to provide comfort and reassurance during this time.

  7. Get plenty of rest: Make sure your child gets enough rest and sleep to aid recovery.

  8. Good hygiene: Good hygiene and keeping your child away from sick people to reduce the risk of further infections.

Experiencing a fever in your child can be stressful, but it's usually a sign that their body is actively fighting an infection. By understanding the causes, knowing when to seek medical help and applying the right care, you can help your child through this temporary phase. Remember, if you ever feel worried or unsure, it's always best to consult your pediatrician for professional advice and confirmation.

Get more tips about your baby's first time here .

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