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Infant Fevers And How To Treat Them

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The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to not look at a fever as an illness but as a child’s physiological defense system to invading bacteria and viruses. As the body temperature increases, bacteria and virus are not able to replicate.

Studies have shown that parents are fearful about fevers and will medicate children to prevent fevers from getting too high. Unfortunately, there have been many who have accidentally overdosed their children on acetaminophen prompting a visit to the Emergency Department. Learn more about Acetaminophen and Infants here.

Your baby’s temperature can vary throughout the day. Normal body temperature is 98.6°F (37°C), but this can vary from 97.6°-99.3°F (36.4°-37.4°C). Watch our Taking Baby's Temperature video for step-by-step instructions on how to take your baby's temperature both rectally and under the arm. Fevers are classified as:

  • Low-grade (100-101° F),
  • Moderate (101-104° F), and
  • High (above 104° F)

If your child has a low-grade fever and is comfortable, usual treatment includes:

  • Removing excess clothing and blankets to help bring temperature down.
  • Encouraging fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce the fever and discomfort. Ibuprofen should only be given to children over 6 months and aspirin should NEVER be give to infants. Learn more about Ibuprofen here.
  • Encourage plenty of rest.

For a high fever over 104° F, use a damp washcloth on your child's forehead to help cool child down. Give a brief lukewarm bath and avoid causing your baby to shiver. Shivering can actually raise your baby’s temperature. Be sure to call your pediatrician to inform him/her of your child's illness and symptoms.

Be sure to call your baby's healthcare provider if:

  • Your baby is 3 months of age or younger and has a fever over 100.4° F (38° F).
  • Your baby is older than 3 months and has a fever over 102° F (39° C).
  • Fever lasts longer than 24-48 hours for children under 2 years of age.
  • Or if your child exhibits any of the following symptoms:
    • Is lethargic
    • Is extremely irritable
    • Is crying (inconsolably)
    • Is persistently vomiting and/or having diarrhea
    • Refuses to drink fluids
    • Shows signs of dehydration (sunken eyes, dry lips, reduced urination, sunken soft spot)
    • Is having difficulty breathing
    • Has blue discoloration of lips, tongue, and/or nailbeds
    • Has an unexplained rash
    • Has a stiff neck
    • If the soft spot on his/her head is bulging or sunken in
    • Is having seizures

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