by Bridgette R. Odom
The first time your baby gets sick can be scary. If a fever accompanies other symptoms, you might be ready to panic! Chances are you're not the only one feeling that way.
One of our members, Chelsea, had a scary experience with her daughter.
"My daughter woke up with a temperature of 101°. By afternoon it was 104°," Chelsea shares. "My doctor had us bring her in for tests. They said she had a virus. After five days, her fever broke."
Recent research indicates that fevers in children play an important role in fighting diseases. Fevers are thought to interfere with the growth of infections and boost the body's immune system response.
It's hard to feel like you're "doing nothing" when your baby's sick and uncomfortable, but sometimes a watchful eye is the best medicine. Other times, you'll need to treat the fever.
Fevers in babies usually signal an infection. These can be mild, such as a common cold or more severe, like bacterial pneumonia. Even bundling your wee babe too well can cause a rise in temperature.
A fever is a rise in your child's body temperature above normal levels. Many doctors define a fever as a temperature above 100.4°F (38.0°C) rectally or an oral temperature above 99.5°F (37.5°C).
A rectal temperature provides the most accurate reading in babies under one year old. The AAP recommends that you choose a thermometer that doesn't contain mercury.
Here's how to take a rectal temperature:
✔ Stiff neck
✔ Purple spots on the skin; a rash
✔ Difficulty breathing
✔ Excessive drooling or trouble swallowing
✔ Appears sluggish
✔ Won't nurse or take a bottle
✔ Cries even when comforted
✔ Difficult to awaken
Because babies' immune systems aren't well developed at birth, any infant younger than three-months-old with a fever should be seen by a doctor.
What should you do when your older baby has a fever?
• Don't panic! The American Academy of Pediatrics describes fever as "a positive sign that the body is fighting infection."
• Evaluate your baby. Just because you shouldn't panic doesn't mean that you should ignore your child's fever. While fever might be a good thing, it can make your baby feel miserable.
• If your baby's uncomfortable, treat the fever.
✔ Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen (if your baby is at least six-months-old) to reduce the fever. Follow the dosing information on the package.
✔ You can alternate each medicine every three hours for maximum effect.
✔ Sponge bathe your baby with tepid water.
✔ Don't overdress your baby.