How to Handle an Infant Fever

An infant fever can be difficult to detect since your baby can't verbalize discomfort. Fevers don't always indicate a serious problem in a healthy infant. Actually, a fever helps fight off infection. Fever comes about when your infant's internal thermostat exceeds its normal level. The hypothalamus controls temperature. In case of infection or illness, the hypothalamus turns up the heat in response to the virus or bacteria in the body.

Dress in Layers
Newborns might develop a fever if they are over bundled or dressed in too many clothes. Your infant's body has not yet learned to regulate its internal temperature. Dress your baby in layers, so if he gets too warm, you can remove a layer of clothing. If you are going outside, don't feel the need to wrap your baby in multiple blankets. A good rule of thumb to follow is if you are comfortable, your baby is comfortable, too. You should still consult your physician and have your infant evaluated if he has a fever and you have removed layers of clothing

Infection
Most fevers are a result of an infection or other illness. Fever aids the body by warding off infections. Consult your physician if you suspect that a fever has been caused by illness.

Immunizations
Following vaccinations, your infant may develop a low-grade fever. This is common, but monitor the situation. If the fever spikes or if other side effects develop, contact your doctor immediately.

Make the Call
If your child is under three months of age and has a rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, contact your doctor immediately. Between three months and three years of age, call the doctor if your child's fever is at 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit.

Behavior and activity level should be taken into account. If your child is interested in playing and appears alert, the fever may be an indication of a minor infection.

Finding a Comfort Zone
A fever should be treated only if your child is in discomfort. With an infant, this can be difficult to determine. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be given in doses based on package or doctor recommendations. Do not give your child aspirin for a fever. It can cause Reye Syndrome.

A sponge bath can reduce the fever. Lukewarm water works best.

Push fluids to avoid dehydration. Clear liquids will keep hydration levels up. If vomiting or diarrhea are involved, consult your doctor to determine if an electrolyte drink should be used to rehydrate your child.

Change your infant's clothing. Dress him in something lightweight and, if he wants a cover, a light sheet or blanket will be sufficient. The light clothing allows body heat to escape, lowering the fever. Also check the temperature of your infant's room.  Too hot a room can increase baby's temperature also.

Encourage sleep. Irritable infants need shut eye time to help rejuvenate his system.

Handling your infant's fever doesn't need to be cause stress. By following these simple steps, you can reassure and comfort your child while reducing his fever.

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