Things You May Not Know About Fever in Babies

May 09, 2018

Things You May Not Know About Fever in Babies

Worried about your baby’s fever? Read on.

You kiss your baby’s forehead and he feels warmer than normal. Many parents (especially first-timers) experience an initial sense of panic when they first notice their little one has a fever. Before you call your child’s doctor, rest assured that a fever is not a bad thing and does not cause any harm, in and of itself. Here are a few more things you may not know about fever in babies.

The Difference Between Bacterial and Viral Fever

Viral fevers occur when your baby‘s body is fighting off an illness brought on by a virus. This can be anything from the common cold to an intestinal infection or the flu. Viral fevers typically subside within three days and antibiotics are not necessary as they have no effect on viruses.

Bacterial fevers are caused by bacterial infections, such as ear infections, urinary tract infections, or bacterial pneumonia. These infections are less common and are more concerning as they can lead to more serious illness if left untreated. Antibiotics are usually necessary.

Rectal Temperature

The best way to determine your baby’s body temperature is with a rectal thermometer. If the reading is anything below 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, he does not have a fever. Anything above that reading is considered a possible fever.

Fever Fluctuates

Just like adult temperatures, babies’ temperatures can rise slightly for many reasons, including physical exertion to being dressed in too many layers. Time of day may also have an impact, dropping in the early morning and rising in the late afternoon. Unless the thermometer reads 100.4 degrees or higher, your little one is likely fever-free.

When to Call Your Baby’s Doctor

Call your baby’s doctor immediately if:

  • Your baby is younger than 3 months and has a rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees or more.
  • Your child is under 2 years old and has a fever that lasts more than 24 hours.
  • Your child is over 2 years old and has a fever that lasts more than three days.
  • Your child’s fever rises above 104 degrees, regardless of age.

If your child has a fever, know that his body is working to fight off whatever is ailing him. If he seems comfortable, let him be. Only if he seems uncomfortable should you consider offering him a fever-reducer. Treat the symptoms rather than the fever.


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