Does your baby have a fever? Try not to worry. In most cases, it's not serious.
A fever -in babies as in adults- is a natural defense reaction of the body. The purpose of this reaction is to protect the body against the various microbes and viruses that try to invade us.
However, if it lasts too long, it can be a sign of a more serious situation. Here are the signs of a feverish baby and some advice on how to react if his temperature does not go down.
Definition: What Does Baby Fever Look Like?
For a baby to be considered ‘feverish’, his temperature must be above 38°C when at rest, when he is normally dressed, and in a temperate environment.
As a reminder: a baby's normal temperature is between 36.5 and 38°C
With a fever, a baby may have one or more of the following symptoms:
Seeming unsettled, or crying more than usual;;
Why Does My Baby Have a Fever?
In most cases, a fever is a result of an infection (viral or bacterial) that does not pose a real risk.
However, it can also be caused by other factors:
Baby's teething (related to when the tooth breaks through the gum - usually does not last more than 1-2 days);
Vaccination (fever associated with vaccination is becoming increasingly rare in babies and only occurs with a small number of vaccines. For example, the measles vaccine causes fever in less than 15% of infants 5-12 days after vaccination).
When Should I Consult a Doctor?
From Birth to 2 Months
For up to two months after birth, it is recommended that you take any temperature reading seriously and consult your doctor when it occurs.
After 2 Months
As fever is a defense mechanism against infectious diseases of viral or bacterial origin, a fever should decrease once the infection has been repelled. Therefore it is rare for a fever to last more than 4-5 days in a baby.
However, you should be very careful if the symptoms last longer than this, as this may be a sign of an inflammatory disease or other health problem.
Symptoms You Should Pay Attention To
If your feverish baby has any of the following symptoms, we recommend that you seek prompt attention:
He has an abrupt change in behavior (e.g., he no longer plays and has become very quiet, in contrast to his usual dynamic behavior).
He has become very angry despite usually being very content;
He has a grayish complexion;
His lips have turned blue/purple (cyanotic lips);
He has been vomiting and/or has diarrhea;
Seizures (also called ‘febrile seizures’ or ‘hyperthermic seizures’ are a type of seizure associated with fever. They are usually harmless and only require treatment if they recur repeatedly over a long period of time).
If your baby has one or more of these symptoms, you should seek help, even if your baby's fever is not higher than 38°C.
Is a Rise in Temperature Always Serious?
To determine if and when you should see a doctor about a baby with a fever, rely on the temperature, yes, but pay more attention to the baby's behavior.
Contrary to the common (and false) belief that the higher the temperature, the worse it is, the baby's behavior says more about the seriousness of the situation.
For example: in the case of roseola (which is a viral infection), the child's body temperature can rise to 40.5°C. However, this is a childhood illness that does not present any real danger.
However, any change in behavior that appears unusual to parents should be taken seriously. And let's repeat: be vigilant even if the baby's temperature does not exceed 38°C.
How to Take Your Baby’s Temperature
When your baby is 15 days old or younger, you can take your baby's temperature by placing the tip of your thermometer in one of his or her armpits. Follow the instructions on your thermometer to get an accurate temperature reading.
After the first 15 days, a rectal thermometer is often recommended for its ease of use and accuracy.
How to Reduce Fever
Is your baby running a fever? Here are some tips to help lower his temperature:
Remove layers of clothing;
Ensure that the temperature of the room where he or she is staying is temperate (i.e., between 19-21°C);
Use a wet washcloth to cool the face, neck, and body;
(CAUTION: the effect of bathing is usually quite modest and may actually make the child's discomfort worse. A temperature that is too cold can even cause the baby to have convulsions. So make sure the water is -2°C below the child's temperature, not lower) ;
Paracetamol by mouth (as a syrup administered by pipette) ;
Ibuprofen (avoid if your baby is less than 3 months old, has gastroenteritis, flu, or chicken pox. Give the smallest dose possible and for very short periods of time (less than 3 days). Ibuprofen should ideally only be given if suggested by your doctor medical advice, as there is a risk of complications;
Avoid aspirin. Aspirin is not recommended in case of fever in a baby or child (risk of causing the potentially fatal Reye's syndrome).
We hope that this information and advice has been useful to you.
At Deux par deux, we are first and foremost professionals in the creation of baby boy clothes and baby girl clothes. This article is intended to give you some information, but should in no way be your definitive source of medical information.
If in doubt, contact your pediatrician, your doctor, or the emergency services.