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baby with fever

When to worry about your baby’s temperature

Something all parents can agree on is that a high temperature, especially in your new-born baby can be scary. But what does a high temperature indicate, when can you treat it at home and when is it time to go to the emergency room?

Well, every situation needs its own evaluation and many fevers can be dealt with at home, assuming that you are equipped with the proper tools and medications.

What is a normal temperature?

For an adult, the average normal body temperature is generally 37°C. However, temperature can have a wide range, from 36.1°C to 37.2°C. A temperature over 38°C (100.4°F) most often means you have a fever caused by an infection or illness.

In children, their normal temperature is about 36.4˚C.  

What temperature is considered a fever?

A fever is usually considered to be a temperature of 38˚C (100.4˚F) or above. Your baby may have a fever if he/she feels hotter than usual to the touch – on his/her forehead, back or stomach, explains NHS. Also seek immediate medical attention if your baby’s temperature is 38˚C or higher if your baby is under three months, and 39˚C or higher if your baby is three to six months old.

How would I know?

Check your baby’s temperature with a thermometer. Hold your child comfortably on your knee and put the thermometer in their armpit – always use the thermometer in the armpit with children under five, never in the mouth or any other orifice.

Now ascertain whether or not your baby feels hot to the touch. Use the back and front of your hands to determine if the baby’s body temperature is normal or excessive.

Be sure that your hands aren’t too cold either. Warm your hands slightly by either holding them under running, warm water, or by rubbing them together. If your hands are too cold, you could confuse the baby’s normal body temperature with a fever.

When should I worry?

A fever in itself isn’t necessarily cause for concern. Most emergencies are determined by the symptoms that present together with the fever. Emergency medical intervention may be necessary if there is a rash, poor sleeping, poor eating and excessive crying without any other apparent reason.

In more extreme cases, your child is in need of a doctor if he/she shows signs of dehydration, such as fewer wet diapers, a dry mouth, no tears when crying, or a sunken soft spot on the head or has a seizure, says WebMD.

If I can treat the fever at home, how do I do it?

The most common over-the-counter medicine to use for pain and fever in babies and children is Panadol syrup. There are alternatives too. Give your baby a lukewarm bath to bring down the fever. Also, do not wrap your baby too tightly in blankets, although he/she shouldn’t be getting cold by any means.

Administer enough water and milk to avoid dehydration.

Never give babies aspirin for a fever because of the risk of a rare but potentially dangerous condition called Reye’s syndrome, a life-threatening metabolic disorder in young children, of uncertain cause but sometimes precipitated by aspirin and involving encephalitis and liver failure.

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