You, Your Baby and a Fever


Babies are beautiful beings that bring lots of joy and good tidings to most homes. Caring for new babies can be considered as one of the more difficult jobs anyone can have. Why is this so, it’s because babies need constant round the clock maintenance as they come not fully developed. One of the scariest things a mother or father can experience is a baby with a fever.

What is a fever?

A fever is not a disease in itself, but merely a symptom of an underlying illness. It indicates the immune system is responding to an infection/illness. A fever in a baby just a few weeks old is extremely worrisome and should be attended to by a health care expert as soon as possible. The same also applies in a high fever occurring at any age.

A baby is said to have a fever when body temperature, which is measured with a thermometer is said to be above 37.9 degree Celsius (100.3 Fahrenheit).

Fevers are usually caused by an infection, this could be a cold or some other viral or bacterial or parasitic infection.

Fever in babies can be also caused by:

  • Being dressed too warmly
  • Reaction to vaccination
  • Pneumonia
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Ear infection
  • Meningitis
  • Blood bacterial infection
  • Malaria

How to determine your baby has a fever

One common check you can easily carry out is checking to see if the baby has a warm forehead, although this is subjective. A fever can be present even if the baby’s forehead isn’t warm.

A thermometer is a tool used to measure temperature and it can be used either via the rectum (rectally), placed in the mouth (orally) or positioned under the armpit (axillary) or behind the ears or on the temple. The best method in infants is a rectally as this is the most accurate. (NB – a digital thermometer is recommended) Ensure the thermometer is hygienic and lube I applied before insertion.

Other signs of fever in a baby could include;

  • Poor feeding
  • Poor sleeping
  • Loss of activity
  • Lethargy is depending on dehydration levels
  • Convulsions or Seizures

What to do if your baby has a fever

My number one advice would be seeking immediate medical care, most especially if the baby is under the age of 3 months.

This is an emergency and should be treated promptly. Also, any problems with breathing, any lethargy or unresponsiveness is a sign something is seriously wrong.

If you notice a rash, signs of dehydration like a sunken soft spot on the head, no tears while crying, dry mouth or any seizures promptly seek medical care.

If the child is older than 6 months and you’ve been given permission by your health care provider you can give antipyretics such as Panadol or ibuprofen. These drugs only alleviate the fever and do not treat the underlying cause. (NB – do not use aspirin for a fever in infants)

Your doctor after running a series of test to determine the cause of the fever will advise on the best possible treatment.

Remember you are responsible for the well-being of your child. Do not take a gamble, seek professional help always.