When to call a doctor immediately: Extremely high fever
The first thing you need to do if you suspect your baby has a fever is check his temperature to determine how serious the situation is. A normal temperature for a baby is between 97 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Use these general guidelines to determine when you should call a doctor based on your baby’s age and temperature:
- 3 months or younger: 100.4 degrees F
- 3 to 6 months: 101 degrees F
- 6 months and older: 103 degrees F
Unusual or threatening symptoms
Symptoms such as coughing, ear pain, vomiting or diarrhea, while indicative of common illnesses, do not suggest a serious medical emergency. More threatening symptoms you should be on the lookout for include small, purple-red spots or large purple blotches on the skin and difficulty breathing. When combined with a fever, these symptoms may indicate a more serious condition, such as a bacterial infection, pneumonia or bronchiolitis. If your child has a fever accompanied by any of these symptoms, call your doctor right away.
What to do when the fever is not an emergency:
If your child is acting normal and going about regular baby business as usual, there may not be reason to worry, even if her temperature is slightly higher than normal. There are several steps you can take to make your baby more comfortable if the fever seems to be more of an annoyance than a crisis.
- Keep your baby hydrated and make sure he has plenty of breast milk or formula.
- If your baby is over 3 months old, you can give him the recommended dose of infant acetaminophen, or ibuprofen if he is over 6 months old.
- Bathe or sponge your baby in lukewarm water.
- Dress your baby in light, cool clothes when putting her to sleep.
What not to do:
When your baby is sick, you would do anything to make him feel better. However, there are a few things that you should never do when your baby has a fever.
- Never give your baby aspirin. When given to babies, aspirin can cause Reye’s syndrome, a potentially fatal disease causing adverse affects to major organs, including the brain and liver.
- Never sponge your baby with rubbing alcohol. The rubbing alcohol could be absorbed into her blood stream and cool her down too quickly, which would actually raise her temperature.
*This information should not be taken as medical advice. Always consult your physician or medical professional.