When your little one suffers from high fever, it is probably the most anxious and somber time for you. And usually, the best thing to do is rush your baby to your physician and follow her instructions. In the meanwhile, read our post here to learn more about the causes, symptoms and treatment options for fever in babies.
What Is Fever?
Fever usually signifies that your baby’s body has contracted some infection due to the presence of disease-inducing germs. A baby’s normal body temperature is 37 degrees Celsius. If your child has a mild fever, the temperature can go up to 38 degrees, and around 39 degrees during a high fever.
In most cases, fever for babies can occur due to common illnesses like colds, sore throat, or ear infections, but in rare cases, the fever can prove dangerous and even fatal for babies (1).
Important Facts About Fever In Babies:
Here are some vital facts you should know about fever in babies:
- Fever in babies can lead to physical discomforts, which make your little one feel uncomfortable and fussy. The underlying cause of your baby’s fever depends on her age, symptoms, and physical condition. Medical experts believe that fever is the natural mechanism of the body to fight infections.
- General fever does not lead to many symptoms. But, if your little one contracts Hyperthermia, she may experience spikes in body temperature. The basic reason for the temperature rise is a heat stroke or side effects of certain medications.
- Poor appetite, lethargy, fussiness, sore throat, ear pain, cough, vomiting, and diarrhea can trigger high fever in babies.
- There are two types of microbes that cause fever in babies: viruses and bacteria. Viral fever occurs when your baby’s body suffers from viral attacks like intestinal illness, the flu, or a cold. Bacterial fever occurs due to an ear infection, a urinary tract infection, or bacterial pneumonia.
- Medical experts suggest that if fever in infants is 100.4 F or above, you should seek immediate medical aid.
- Use a rectal thermometer to measure your baby’s temperature. Rectal thermometers are more accurate than normal thermometers.
Causes Of Fever In Babies:
We talked about how a fever can be a symptom of some conditions. Well, here we look at some common causes of fever in babies:
1. Viral Infections:
Viral infections like cold, flu and sore throat are some conditions that lead to fever in babies. The initial symptoms of viral infections are a runny nose, coughing, wheezing and loose stools.
[ Read: Viral Fever In Babies ]
2. Bacterial Infections:
Stomach or bacterial infections can trigger mild to high fever in babies. The bacteria that cause strep throat can also lead to unexplained spikes of high fever in babies.
[ Read: Typhoid In Babies ]
3. Sinus Infection:
Sinus congestion also elevates your little one’s body temperature, and the fever persists for longer than other conditions.
[ Read: Sinus Infection In Babies ]
4. Vaccine Fever:
Sometimes, a reaction to vaccines can lead to fever in babies. For most infants, vaccination fever typically begins within 12 hours of the shot and usually lasts for 2 to 3 days.
5. Newborn Fever (Serious):
A fever that usually occurs within first three months of your baby’s birth can have rather serious consequences. It can occur due to sepsis, a bacterial infection that infects the bloodstream. If left untreated newborn fever can be fatal for the baby.
Meningitis is a bacterial infection of the membrane. It infects the spinal cord and the brain and can be fatal for babies. It usually leads to high fever, a stiff neck, and acute body pain. Left untreated, it can lead to permanent brain damage for your baby.
[ Read: Meningitis In Babies ]
When your baby’s body overheats, due to warm clothes or spending too much time in the sun, she can contract a fever.(2)
[ Read: Dengue Fever In Babies ]
Symptoms Of Fever In Babies:
One of the most common signs of fever in babies is a warm forehead and a crankier and fussier baby than usual. Some other symptoms include:
- Lethargic (Less active)
- Trouble sleeping
- Lack of interest in play
- Convulsions or seizures
- Poor appetite
- Muscle ache
- General weakness
- Irritability (3)
Measuring Your Baby’s Temperature Accurately:
Measuring your baby’s temperature accurately is extremely important, and here we look at how to do just that. Typical measurement ways include inserting the thermometer via the rectum (rectally), under the arm (axillary) or mouth (orally).
However, researchers conclude that parents should always use a digital thermometer to measure the body temperature of their infant. This way you can avoid using mercury-based thermometers and lessen the risk of mercy exposure and poisoning in babies.
More importantly, a rectal thermometer reading is the most efficient and most accurate measure of your baby’s temperature. Rectal thermometers are fairly simple to use and operate. Here we look at some steps to help you measure your baby’s temperature:
1. Rectal Digital Thermometer Method:
- Before you use it, ensure that the thermometer is sanitized.
- Lay your baby down on her back and raise her knees over the abdominal region.
- Dip the rectal thermometer in a water-soluble jelly and slowly insert it, about 2.5 cm (1 inch) into your baby’s anus.
- Wait for the mentioned time or until the thermometer emits a beep.
- Read the indicated temperature and note it down in a notebook.
- Clean the rectal thermometer after use, using mild soap and water.
- The normal temperature of a healthy baby usually lies around 36.6°C to 38°C (97.9°F to 101°F)
[ Read: How To Check Baby Temperature ]
2. Armpit Digital Thermometer Method:
- Before you use it, ensure that the thermometer is sanitized.
- Lay your baby down on her back.
- Now place the bulb of the thermometer gently under your baby’s armpit.
- Hold her arm down to ensure that the bulb is under your baby’s armpit.
- Wait for the mentioned time or until the thermometer emits a beep.
- The normal temperature range for the temperature taken under the armpit for babies lies around 36.7°C to 37.5°C (98.0°F to 99.5°F).
While you can use either method to measure your baby’s temperature, remember that a temperature is reading above 37.2°C (99°F) indicates that your baby has a fever.
Medical experts suggest that you should only use an oral thermometer for children who are above four years. Doctors suggest that you should avoid using an ear thermometer to measure a baby’s temperature in all circumstances. While the use doesn’t have many safety concerns, the accuracy of the ear thermometer reading is questionable.
[ Read: Best Baby Thermometers ]
Seeking Medical Advice:
The severity of the underlying cause and the associated symptoms of the fever, typically determine whether your baby needs immediate medical assistance or not.
Call the doctor, if your baby exhibits the following symptoms:
- Repeated vomiting
- Severe dehydration and refusal to drink fluids
- Suffers from lasting diarrhea
- Uncomfortable conditions like a sore throat or an earache
- Fever persists for more than 24 hours (for babies younger than two years)
- Suffer from a chronic medical condition like heart disease, cancer, lupus, or sickle cell disease.
- Skin rashes
- Experiences severe pain while urinating
If your baby with fever exhibits any of these symptoms, seek emergency medical aid:
- Extreme irritability or fussiness
- Stiff neck
- Abdominal (belly) pain
- Severe headache
- Blue lips, tongue, or nails
- Crying that won’t stop
- Limpness or refusal to move
- Sluggishness and trouble waking up
- Leaning forward and drooling
- Difficulty in breathing (4)
Diagnosing Fever In Babies:
While it is tough to determine what is the cause of the fever. (UTI, pneumonia or meningitis). For such reasons, most doctors recommend you conduct the following medical tests:
- Blood test
- Urine test
- Chest X-ray (5)
Treating Fever In Babies:
You can take the following steps to treat your little one:
- Sponge your baby’s body with the lukewarm water. It helps reduce the elevating body temperature. However, you should avoid using cold water, ice baths, or any other remedies like alcohol.
- Speak to your baby’s pediatrician and follow the line of treatment she prescribes.
Preventing Fever In Babies:
Here are few useful ways to ease your baby’s symptoms:
- If your infant’s age lies below two years, it is advisable to give any medication after consulting the doctor. If your child has any medical problems, the doctor prescribes the medications accordingly.
- If you notice your little one’s body temperature consistently rising and she becomes fussier and irritable, you can give her proper dosage of Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen recommended by her doctor.
- Don’t give your infant Aspirin to reduce fever, as it can lead to harmful side effects for any child aged below 18 years. Aspirin can trigger Reye’s syndrome, a dangerous brain disease in babies (6).
- Make your baby wear lightweight clothing and cover her with a light sheet or blanket during nighttime. Overdressing and over bundling can lead to severe heating and unexpected fever.
- Make sure that your baby’s bedroom has a comfortable temperature- not too hot or too cold.
- Get her to drink plenty of fluids. It will help prevent dehydration, and ease the fever. She can consume water, fresh fruit juices, soup, ice pops, and flavored gelatin. However, avoid feeding her caffeinated beverages like colas and tea.
- If your little one exhibits the symptoms of persistent vomiting or diarrhea, you can also give her an electrolyte (rehydration) solution. The products are easily available at local drugstores and supermarkets.
- Never force your child to intake excess amount of food during a high fever.
- Make sure that your baby gets plenty of rest.
- It is advisable to keep your baby at home and not take her outside in parks or other public areas.
- If your baby suffers from persistent fever, you can call the pediatrician.
[ Read: Glandular Fever In Babies ]
Dietary Requirements During Fever In Babies:
You should try to manage the symptoms of fever in babies with a proper diet. A proper diet, with the adequate amount of nutrients, helps to alleviate the symptoms and make your baby feel comfortable:
- The diet prescribed for a victim baby should be a high protein, high calories, low fat, & a high fluid diet.
- During the initial days of fever, you can make your baby have a fluid diet consisting of milk, fruit juices, soups, glucose, and water. You can feed your baby at regular intervals, every 2 hrs and gradually increase the frequency.
- Include soft, easily digestible and bland foods in your baby’ diet like cereal, milk, soft fruits like banana, papaya, orange, musambi, and melons. You can also give mashed khichdi or mashed curd rice, softly boiled vegetables to your little one.
- You need to increase protein intake of your baby by including provide high nutritive value protein like pulses, eggs, and dairy products.
- Never feed fatty-oily and spicy food to your victim baby, as these becomes difficult to digest during the fever stage.
- It is also important to remember that during fever your baby needs to intake nutrients like calcium, iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B, and sodium.
1. Foods To Eat During Fever:
Here is a list of foods that baby can consume during fever:
- Fruit juices
- Barley water
- Coconut water
- Glucose water
- Thin dals
- Tender meat
- Cereal preparations
- Baked fish
- Dried fruits or nuts blended with milk in form of shakes
- Boiled veggies (beans, carrots, sweet potato)
- Boiled leafy veggies
- Buttermilk with a pinch of salt
- Orange and yellow fruits (citrus fruits)
2. Foods To Avoid During Fever:
Here is a list of foods that you should avoid feeding your sick baby:
- Fried foods
- Creamy soups
- Vegetable oil
- Caffeinated drinks
- Strongly flavored beverages
- Irritating fibrous foods
- Rich puddings
- Spicy food
Home Remedies For Babies With Fever:
Here are some effective home remedies to keep your little one immune from harmful viral and bacterial infections:
1. Sponging With Water:
- When your baby’s temperature rises, you can use the body sponging technique to control the sudden rise of temperature.
- Soak a soft towel in normal tap water and wring out the excess water.
- Sponge the wet towel all over your baby’s body like the armpits, feet, hands, and groin, to bring down the rising temperature.
- You can also place a cold and damp washcloth on your little one’s forehead to control the elevated body temperature. Keep changing the cloth pieces consistently after repeated time intervals. The particular home remedy helps to deal with a high fever because it helps keep your baby’s temperature under control.
2. Homemade Tonic Made Using Fresh Basil Leaves:
- This herb regulates the body temperature and treats fever in babies. Many antibiotics use basil leaves as an ingredient for this very reason. The healing property of the herb treats fever and symptoms of a cough and cold in babies.
- You can boil 15-20 basil leaves in one cup of water and add one teaspoon of crushed ginger into it. Boil the solution, until it thickens.
- Add a few drops of honey to flavor the homemade basil tonic and feed your victim baby the solution twice a day for three days.
- You can also prepare the herbal tea using one cup of water, one teaspoon of basil tonic and one-fourth teaspoon of pepper. Feeding lukewarm basil tea helps your child recover from her fever effectively.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar:
- The particular type of vinegar is a highly effective and inexpensive solution to treat fever and its associated symptoms in babies. The acidic nature of the vinegar helps draw the heat from your baby’s skin and the minerals in the vinegar and helps keep the body well-nourished.
- You can add one-half cup of vinegar to your baby’s lukewarm bath water. Make your baby bathe in the solution. Repeat the process when your baby’s body temperature is high.
- Alternatively, mix two portions of cool water with one portion of apple cider vinegar in a bowl and soak a washcloth in the solution. You can wring out the excess water and placed the soaked cloth on your baby’s forehead and tummy. Repeat the process, until your bay’s rising temperature comes under control.
- Mix one tablespoon of honey and two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of plain water, and feed your sick baby the solution twice or thrice a day.
[ Read: Apple Cider Vinegar For Babies ]
- Raisins help to boost your baby’s immune system and fight infections that cause fever. The fruits contain a high percentage of with phenolic phytonutrient that possess antibacterial and antioxidant properties.
- Soak 20-25 raisins in one cup of plain water for about one hour, so that they become soft.
- Crush the soaked raisins in the water and strain out the excess liquid.
- Mix the crushed raisin with half a cup of a lime solution and feed the mixture to your sick baby twice a day, until her fever recedes.
- Ginger helps in expelling the excess heat from the body and help in reducing fever. Ginger serves as a ginger is a natural antiviral and antibacterial agent, which boosts your baby’s immune system.
- You can add two tablespoons of ginger powder to your baby’s lukewarm bath water. Soak the towel in the water solution and sponge her body.
- You can also try feeding ginger tea to your sick baby that effectively treats fever. To prepare the ginger tea, you can add one-half teaspoon of freshly grated ginger, one teaspoon of tea, and one cup of boiling water in a kettle. Add one teaspoon of honey and make your baby drink the lukewarm tea three or four times a day.
[ Read: Ginger For Babies ]
6. Mint (Herbal Tea):
- The cooling property of mint helps to keep your baby’s internal system cool and help in regulating the body temperature. It also extracts the excess heat from the body effectively.
- To prepare the herbal tea, you can add one tablespoon of crushed mint leaves into one cup of boiling water. Make your little one drink the herbal tea twice or thrice a day for a quick recovery.
- The popular Indian spice has proven to be an excellent home remedy for childhood fever. The potent compound curcumin present in turmeric possesses antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial and antioxidant properties. It helps your baby to fight against the harmful infection and overcome the complexities.
- Take one-half teaspoon of turmeric, one-fourth teaspoon of black pepper powder and mix both of them in a cup of hot milk.
- Feed the turmeric milk to your baby twice daily that helps her get rid of the fever symptoms easily.
A Word Of Caution:
- Never force your little one to eat the food if she does not wish to. Feed her at regular intervals, so that she remains active.
- Make sure you let your baby get enough rest.
- Give your baby a sponge bath with normal water, to bring the fever down and make her feel comfortable.
- Dress your baby in lightweight clothes and never put heavy, cranky blankets during naptime.
- Make your baby’s room well-ventilated, airy and maintain the proper temperature, which makes her feel comfortable in varied seasons.
- If your baby’s fever consistently spikes above 102-103 degree Fahrenheit, get in touch with the pediatrician immediately.
- Do not panic if your baby suffers from high fever. Keep a strict watch on your baby’s behavioral aspects and activities to track the severity of his illness.
- If you notice any drastic changes in your baby’s behavior like constant crying or fussiness, talk to the doctor immediately.
Does your baby often suffer from fever and seasonal flu? What were the noticeable behavioral changes and symptoms of the fever? Share your experience here!
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