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How can you tell the difference between a baby fever and a normal baby temperature? Learn how to assess fever in babies—and how to manage.
If your baby is under three months old and is running a fever, inform your child’s paediatrician.
If you think your baby may have a fever, the first thing to remember is don’t panic. It’s not uncommon for babies to have an elevated temperature; it’s a normal response to many illnesses and will help your little one fight off infection.
Still, you’ll want to understand what may be causing your baby’s fever, how to treat it and when to call the doctor.
3 common signs of fever in a baby
1. Hot to the touch. Is your baby’s skin warmer than usual?
2. Fussy. Is your infant sleeping and eating less than normal?
3. Lethargic. Has your little one lost interest in playing?
Does my baby have a fever?
If you are worried that your under-two-year-old may have a fever, take their temperature. Your baby’s temperature may fluctuate, but generally if it goes above 38°C then your baby has a fever.
For infants, a rectal measure is the most accurate. If you don’t have a thermometer, there are other signs of baby fever you can look out for.
Beyond high baby temperature: what are other signs of fever?
When your infant has a fever, you may notice changes in their behaviour and mood that can act as signals to you that something is wrong. Obviously, every baby is different and you, as their parent, are best placed to know what’s normal for your little one and what isn’t. But common signs of fever may include:
A fever is a sign that the body’s natural defences are fighting an infection— this is true for your baby and for you. If your little one has a fever, it’s likely that they’ve caught a bug like the flu, or they could have another common infant illness like an ear infection.
Consult a doctor if your baby has a fever so you can determine and address the cause. In rare cases, a fever can signal a more serious illness, such as meningitis. Tell your doctor immediately if your baby has other symptoms such as rash, vomiting or diarrhoea.
Although it may be distressing to you as a parent, and it may cause your baby discomfort, a fever itself is not harmful for your infant. Their temperature will go back down to normal once the underlying cause is gone. In the meantime, keep a close watch over them and make them as comfortable as possible.
What is normal baby temperature?
Below that 38°C definition of a fever, what is considered ‘normal’ in a baby temperature is not a specific number but a range. Their body temperature, like yours, will vary slightly depending on ambient factors like the weather or room temperature. Your little one may feel warm simply because they have too many clothes on.
As a parent, you may wonder when to worry about a high baby temperature. A high temperature itself is rarely harmful and usually remains below 41°C.
If your baby appears uncomfortable or distressed after you’ve tried some of the remedies below, contact your doctor and arrange to have them seen as soon as possible. You know your little one best and should always trust your instincts to tell you when something is wrong.
You should also seek urgent medical advice if your baby has any of the following symptoms in addition to a fever:
How can I make my baby more comfortable?
There are a number of home remedies that can help and make your feverish baby more comfortable. You can try these while also treating the root cause of the fever. Depending on your doctor’s advice and your baby’s age, you can also use over-the-counter medicines containing paracetamol, such as Children’s Panadol, to help reduce your child’s fever.
How can I bring down my baby’s fever?
No matter what’s causing your baby’s fever, there are a few things you can try to help keep them comfortable: