Baby Fever: What Does It Mean When Your Baby Has a Temperature?
If you’re like most moms, you worry about your baby, especially when they have a fever. As pediatricians will tell you, fevers are common in babies. Yet, it’s important to know when to seek medical attention when your baby has a fever. Babies can have a low-grade fever for a variety of reasons – from teething to a mild cold but fever in a young baby can also be a sign of more serious infections such as pneumonia. The younger the baby is, the more important it is to err on the safe side and have them evaluated.
The guidelines most pediatricians use is a baby under the age of three months needs evaluation for ANY fever. The younger the baby, the more urgent it is that they be evaluated promptly. For babies that are older and have no other symptoms, a mild to moderate fever is less concerning, assuming it doesn’t last for more than a day or so.
Here are some guidelines for older babies:
For a baby 3 to 6 months of age, contact your baby’s doctor if they run a fever higher than 102 degrees F. How about older babies? Babies 6 to 24 months of age need evaluation if they have a fever of over 102 degrees F that lasts for more than a day.
You should look for the following signs and symptoms that suggest a baby needs immediate attention:
. Difficulty breathing
. Being difficult to arouse or at the other end, extremely fussy and inconsolable
. Appearance of a rash
. Not eating
. Vomiting or diarrhea for more than 12 hours
These are signs that a fever may be related to a more serious health problem and your baby needs prompt attention.
How to Measure a Baby’s Temperature
To know whether your little one has a fever, you need to measure it. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using a digital thermometer to take a baby’s temperature. Some non-mercury thermometers can expose a child to mercury if they break. For young children, a rectal thermometer is most appropriate and offers the most accurate readings. If a rectal thermometer registers a temperature of 100.4 degrees F or higher, your baby has a fever. For an oral thermometer, 100 degrees F or higher is a fever.
Should You Treat a Baby Temperature – Fever?
Many parents are quick to treat a fever. Yet, a fever is the body’s attempt to fight off a virus, bacteria, or some other unwanted intruder. Don’t be so quick to bring it down unless your baby looks unhappy. If your baby isn’t vomiting, is able to hold down fluids, and looks comfortable, treating a mild fever isn’t usually necessary. In fact, some experts believe that lowering a fever may delay healing from an infection.
If your baby seems congested, is coughing, or pulling at an ear, he or she may be suffering from an upper respiratory infection or an ear infection that needs treatment. However, in many cases, a fever in a baby will go away as quickly as it came. Yet, a fever can also be a sign of a more serious health issue like pneumonia or meningitis. Use these guidelines to decide how to handle fever in a baby.
Medscape News and Perspective. “Fever in the Infant and Toddler”
MedLine Plus. “When Your Baby or Infant Has a Fever”