My baby has a fever - what can I do?

First of all, fever in itself is not a disease. Instead, it indicates that the body responds, for example, to viral or bacterial intruders or tissue injuries and mobilizes its defences. The body does so because viruses and bacteria cannot flourish at high body temperature. Fever is a major natural defence mechanism of the body, which in most of the cases is not recommended to be counteracted with the help of antipyretic measures.

Even knowing this, it is often hard to see your baby suffer from fever and not be able to help it. However there is one thing you can do: You can monitor the course of your baby’s fever by taking its temperature at regular intervals.

What is the normal body temperature for my baby?

Fever is best described as a body temperature that rises above the normal value. The table below helps you to determine the normal body temperature depending on the measuring site:

 

Measurement site

Normal temperature range

Armpit 35.9°C - 37.0°C
Mouth 35.9°C - 37.0°C
Anus 36.3°C - 37.5°C
Forehead 35.8°C - 36.9°C
Ear 35.8°C - 36.9°C


With infants less than three months of age, fever requires quick action. Consult a doctor if you observe fever! Note that babies may also get fever during teething.

What symptoms can I find if my baby has fever?
Most of the time fever can be detected by visible factors: The baby’s face is warm and flush. Feet and arms feel cold to the touch. Your baby’s eyes are tired-looking. Some babies may be whiny, sleepy or start refusing food. However, some children may show normal behaviour during fever. They appear to be in good condition; they eat and they drink. In this case, you do not need to be worried – your baby is coping with the fever just fine.

Here is an overview of some symptoms of a fever:

  • Tired look.
  • Low appetite.
  • Cold hands and feet.
  • Shivers.
  • Noticeably unwell.
How should I care for my baby during the fever?
You know your baby best – you will intuitively know how to comfort your baby and make it feel better. Depending on how high the actual body temperature of your baby is, there are certain measures that you can take. Here are some tips that might be helpful:
In case of increased temperature (37.6°C -38.4°C)
  • Give special care and attention to your baby. Ill children feel better and safer when they are pampered by their parents.
  • Confine your baby to bed. Rest is important for recovery.
  • Make sure your baby drinks enough. Offer something to drink every 30 minutes.
  • Check your baby’s temperature at regular intervals.
  • When your baby recovers, you do not need to take any further action.
In case of fever (38.5°C-38.9°C)
  • Give special care and attention to your baby. Ill children feel better and safer when they are pampered by their parents.
  • Confine your baby to bed. Rest is important for recovery.
  • Make sure your baby drinks enough. Offer something to drink every 30 minutes.
  • Check your baby’s temperature at regular intervals.
  • Only offer light, easily digestible food.
  • Give fever-reducing medicine if needed but only after consulting your GP (general practitioner) or other health care providers.
In case of high fever (above 39.0°C and above)
  • Give special care and attention to your baby. Ill children feel better and safer when they are pampered by their parents.
  • Confine your baby to bed. Rest is important for recovery.
  • Make sure your baby drinks enough. Offer something to drink every 30 minutes.
  • Check your baby’s temperature at regular intervals.
  • Only offer light, easily digestible food.
  • Give fever-reducing medicine if needed but only after consulting your GP (general practitioner) or other health care providers.
  • Lukewarm sponge baths may give your baby some relief of the fever.
Also consider trying the measures listed below to keep your child more comfortable.
  • Do not bundle up your baby with too much clothes and blankets. This can result in a heat build-up.
  • Depending on the room temperature, cover your baby with a thin blanket.
  • Give your baby a lukewarm sponge bath.
  • Maintain the water balance of your baby to avoid dehydration.
  • Give medicine in the correct dose if needed. Do consult a doctor before giving medication to a baby of less than 6 months of age.

If you feel that your baby does not get better despite of all your efforts, it is time to seek out professional medical help.

Fever in Children_Normal_Body Temp

Should I call the doctor?

It is not always necessary to contact your doctor because of increased temperature or a fever. Here is some help in deciding if you should call the doctor or not:

In case of fever consult your doctor
  • If your baby is less than 3 months old and has a fever above 38 °C Celsius.
  • If the fever is accompanied by diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
  • If, in case of babies and toddlers under 2 years of age, the fever lasts for more than one day.
  • If the fever lasts for more than three days.
  • If the fever is reoccurring and relapsing.
  • If the fever does not decline in spite of fever reducing measures, such as Ibuprofen or Paracetamol.
  • If your baby does not drink enough.
  • If your baby has febrile seizures.
Febrile seizures

Febrile seizures are a particular reaction of the nervous system that can occur especially when the body temperature rises or drops very quickly. During febrile seizures, the baby rolls its eyes, its limbs stiffen up and the baby may begin to twitch as well as the area around the lips may become blue with the baby losing consciousness for a short time. After a few moments, the baby recovers, being tired and unable to remember the seizure.

Febrile seizures are rare. Only 3 % - 5 % of all children, usually between six months and five years of age, are affected by them. In most cases, febrile seizures disappear on their own. Febrile seizures usually have no consequences for the health of a baby and are considered harmless from a medical perspective. Babies with febrile seizures are developing without any complication or any kind of damage in their brain. In some families, febrile seizures occur frequently.

It is understandable that febrile seizures appear very bad and threatening while your baby suffers from them, especially the first time. It is a tough experience. As a parent, remaining calm is easier said than done.

It is advisable to take the following actions during febrile seizures:
  • It is advisable to take the following actions during febrile seizures:
  • Lay down your baby on a level, safe place with comfortable pillows if needed.
  • Loosen the baby's clothes so it can breathe easily.
  • If there is vomiting, put the baby on its side so that vomit does not enter its lungs.
  • Under no circumstances shake the baby because shaking may cause further injury.
  • Do not give your baby anything to eat or drink as it may cause suffocation.
  • Note the duration of attack – helpful for further diagnosis.
  • Contact medical help as soon as possible.
  • Measure the body temperature.
  • Measures to reduce the fever should be applied.

It is necessary for your baby to be examined after febrile seizures to rule out any other medical complications. If febrile seizures occur repeatedly and last longer than a few minutes, your doctor may prescribe emergency medicine for your child. Your doctor will surely explain the uses and doses of the medicine against febrile seizures for your child to you.

In rare cases, a febrile seizure may last for more than 15 minutes or may show other abnormalities. In such cases, the seizure must be terminated with medication.

If in doubt, it is always better to call the ambulance and rush to the emergency room.

Rose rash of infants or sixth disease.

Rose rash is typically a childhood disease. Almost every child suffers from it once up before the end of its second year of life.

It is a harmless viral disease caused by a human herpes virus. The mode of infection is by droplet, i.e. by coughing and sneezing. A child who suffered from this disease develops a life-long immunity against it.

The symptom of this disease is a sudden very high fever lasting for three to four days. Once the fever disappears, rash with small pale red spots appears. These rashes can spread to the whole body but do not cover the face. After about two or three days, the rash disappears and the infection is over.

In some cases, this disease occurs in a subtle form that you may not notice. In spite of the high fever, the general condition usually is little or unaffected.

Rose rash of infants cannot be treated. Only its symptoms could be treated. For example, high fever can be reduced by antipyretic measures. The most important thing you need to ensure is that your child drinks a lot of fluid, e.g. water. To rule out any kind of complications or doubt, it is suggested to consult a doctor.

Fever in Children Should I call the doctor