Fevers and Babies – What You Need to Know

It’s important to remember that a fever is not an illness, but rather a sign of an illness. Normal body temperature for a baby is anywhere between 36°C and 38°C. Anything above 38°C is considered a fever.

Babies and children get fevers for all sorts of reasons, but the most common cause of a fever is an infection. Spiking a fever is one of the body’s tools for fighting an infection or illness, and they are completely normal. A fever (and the illness that is causing the fever) usually only last a few days.

There are many causes of infections – both viral and bacterial infections, so it is best to let your doctor diagnose illness in your child. A high fever, in and of itself is not harmful in most cases but it can make your baby feel uncomfortable.

A baby that is less than 12 months old and has a fever should be seen by a doctor. If your baby is less than three months old and has a fever, you should see your doctor immediately. This is a precautionary measure because it is harder to tell if they have some sort of serious illness.

Once the doctor has ruled out any serious illness in your baby, you will be able to look after them at home.

Something to remember when looking after a baby with a fever are:

  • Dress your baby in light clothing (but make sure they are not cold)
  • Give small quantities of clear fluid (as well as normal breast or bottle feeds)
  • If your baby is miserable, liquid paracetamol can be administered at the recommended dosage for age and size as this will help make your baby more comfortable. If your child is sleeping well and otherwise happy, there is no need to administer paracetamol.

Trying to reduce your child’s body temperature by sponging with tepid water or by fanning is not recommended.

Take your baby back to the doctor if they have not improved within 48 hours.

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