Posts Tagged ‘temperature’

Fever and your baby

Monday, July 17th, 2017

mother with sick babyWhen your baby has a fever, it can be very frightening. Here is some information that can help you better understand why your baby has a fever and what you can do to help him.

What is a fever?

A fever is a body temperature that is higher than normal. Your child’s temperature will vary with age, activity, and even the time of day. Babies have a higher temperature than older children. And everyone’s temperature is highest between late afternoon and early evening and lowest between midnight and early morning.

A normal temperature can be anywhere from 97.5°F (36.4°C) and 99.5°F (37.5°C). Most health care providers consider a temperature above 100.4°F (38°C) as a sign of a fever.

What causes a fever?

A fever is important in helping your baby or child fight an infection. If your baby has an illness of some kind, his body temperature will increase. This increase in body temperature signals certain other defenses, such as white blood cells, to work and start attacking the infection. A fever will make your baby feel uncomfortable, increase his need for fluids, and make him breathe faster and his heart beat faster.

How can I treat my baby’s fever?

First, it is important to get an accurate temperature. Feeling your baby’s forehead will not give you a precise measurement—you need to use a thermometer to get the best information. For a baby, a rectal thermometer is the most accurate way to measure temperature.

It isn’t always necessary to see your health care provider when your child has a fever. Here are some things that can help:

  • Acetaminophen (Tyleno®l) or ibuprofen (Motrin® or Advil®) will usually bring down your baby’s temperature. But make sure you give the correct dose.
  • Do not overdress your child. Alcohol bath, ice packs, etc. are NOT recommended and should not be used.
  • Make sure your baby gets a lot of fluids to help prevent dehydration. Signs of dehydration include crying without tears, a dry mouth, and fewer wet diapers.

When should I call my baby’s provider?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), you should call your child’s health care provider right away if he has a fever and:

  • Is younger than 3 months (12 weeks) and has a temperature of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher. Call even if you baby doesn’t seem sick. Babies this young can get sick very quickly.
  • Fever rises above 104°F (40°C) repeatedly for a child of any age.
  • Looks very ill, is unusually drowsy, or is very fussy.
  • Has been in a very hot place, such as an overheated car.
  • Has other symptoms, such as a stiff neck, severe headache, severe sore throat, severe ear pain, an unexplained rash, or repeated vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Has signs of dehydration, such as a dry mouth, sunken soft spot or significantly fewer wet diapers and is not able to take in fluids.
  • Has immune system problems, such as sickle cell disease or cancer, or is taking medications, such as steroids.
  • Has had a seizure.

Also call your child’s doctor if:

  • The fever persists for more than 24 hours in a child younger than 2 years.
  • The fever persists for more than 3 days (72 hours) in a child 2 years of age or older.
  • Your child still “acts sick” once his fever is brought down.
  • Your child seems to be getting worse.

Have questions? Send them AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Taking your child’s temperature

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

digital thermometerAlways use a digital thermometer to check your child’s temperature. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents remove mercury thermometers from their homes to prevent accidental exposure and poisoning. It’s a good idea to remind grandparents of this, or even buy them a new digital thermometer for use in their house.

So, what type of digital thermometer is best? It depends on the age of your child. Here are three types:

Digital multiuse – This can be used in the bottom (rectally), in the mouth (orally) or under the arm (axillary), just don’t use the same thermometer for different positions. This is good to use right from birth.

Temporal artery – This is used on the side of the forehead and may have best results at age 3 months and older.

Tympanic – This is placed in the ear and is most reliable when used at age 6 months and older.

For more information on the different types of thermometers and how to use them properly, click on this link to the AAP article How to Take a Child’s Temperature.

Taking baby’s temperature

Friday, December 4th, 2009

7706307_thbA couple of weeks ago I wrote a post called, You can’t call-in sick when you’re a mom. Well wouldn’t you know it, I inevitably gave my daughter her first cold. That night she woke at 1am hysterically crying. I went into her room and as soon as I picked her up I knew she had a fever. She was hot to the touch. I got the thermometer out and took her temperature. Sure enough, it was 102.2. I gave her an infant dose of acetaminophen (carefully read the directions of course – how much to give depends on your babies’ weight), started the cool-mist humidifier, used some saline drops and a nasal aspirator to relieve the congestion. After hours of rocking her, she finally fell back asleep and stayed in my arms until 6am. Her fever broke by late morning, but her congestion got worse. She couldn’t even nurse. I had to pump and feed her with a medicine dropper! Am I the only one with a baby that refuses to take a bottle?

A digital thermometer can be used to take a rectal (in the bottom), oral (in the mouth), or axillary (under the arm) temperature. Your child’s doctor can recommend how to use it depending on your child’s age. Taking a rectal or oral temperature is more accurate than taking an axillary temperature.

If your child is younger than 3 years, taking a rectal temperature gives the best reading. The following is how to take a rectal temperature:

• Clean the end of the thermometer with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. Rinse it with cool water. Do not rinse it with hot water.

• Put a small amount of lubricant, such as petroleum jelly, on the end.

• Place your child belly down across your lap or on a firm surface. Hold him by placing your palm against his lower back, just above his bottom. Or place your child face up and bend his legs to his chest. Rest your free hand against the back of the thighs.

• With the other hand, turn the thermometer on and insert it 1/2 inch to 1 inch into the anal opening. Do not insert it too far. Hold the thermometer in place loosely with 2 fingers, keeping your hand cupped around your child’s bottom. Keep it there for about 1 minute, until you hear the “beep.” Then remove and check the digital reading.

• Be sure to label the rectal thermometer so it’s not accidentally used in the mouth.
Mercury thermometers should not be used. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to remove mercury thermometers from their homes to prevent accidental exposure to this toxin.

Is your tot hot? Got a temp?

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Better find out.  There are lots of choices in the world of thermometers. Glass thermometers contain mercury and can be dangerous if they slip out of your hand and break on the floor. Fever strips that you place on the baby’s forehead are not very accurate, and those high-tech ear thermometers may be great for older kids but they are not reliable for infants. A digital thermometer has no mercury, beeps when ready and is easy to use and read.

Oral temperature readings should not be taken in children under the age of four. Rectal readings are the most accurate and this method is the one recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Basic guidelines for calling your baby’s doc are if her age and rectal temperature are:
• Under two months old – 100.2 degrees F or higher
• 3 to 6 months old – 101 degrees F or higher
• 6 months or older – 103 degrees F

If you’re not sure whether to call the doc, call.  There are many reasons for fever and every child’s case is different.