Keep Calm, Above All Else

Your baby feels warmer than normal. A quick temperature check confirms that she has a fever -- what do you do next?

Sick baby with fever

Many parents panic, at least a little, when their infant has a fever. It often signifies that her body is working hard to fight off an infection, and this means baby is sick. When should you really worry about a fever in a baby?

Babies under 3 months

Very young infants are a special case. Fever above 100.4 warrants an immediate call to the doctor. If it’s after office hours, call anyway -- they may have an answering service that can page your doctor. He will be able to tell you what to do. Keep calm, but a fever in a baby this young will need to be evaluated for infection or disease.

Older babies

A fever is less worrisome in older babies. Your baby’s doctor will be able to give you guidelines about when to call, or when to treat. Generally, if a baby is behaving and eating normally, and the fever isn’t higher than 103, your doctor may advise you to watch and wait -- and keep up on the fluids.

Fever accompanied by lethargy, pulling on the ears, breathing faster than normal, an unexplained rash or fewer wet diapers than normal should warrant a call to the doctor.

Teething?

Some babies get fevers from teething, but some doctors feel that parents shouldn’t assume that is what a fever is from, especially if they are exhibiting other signs of illness.

Treating a fever

A fever is the body’s way of fighting off an illness. If you treat a fever with acetaminophen or ibuprofen, it can actually cause your baby’s sickness to take longer to get over.

So, with a plan in place and working with your pediatrician, you should know in advance when a fever is something that needs to be treated, or if it can be left to cook at home.

More on sick baby

Stop dehydration in a sick baby
Sick baby checklist for the pediatrician
Using your sick days for a sick baby

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