Newborn Baby Fever: Essential Tips for Worried Parents

Feb 02, 2024 | 2 min read

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Newborn baby fever, often signaling an infection, requires swift action. It's identified by a rectal temperature over 100.4°F (38°C). Symptoms like fussiness and lethargy also indicate fever.

A significant percentage of parents are unsure how to measure fever in newborns, as reported in Pediatrics. Prompt consultation with healthcare professionals is critical, especially for babies under three months, to ensure appropriate care.

How to Know if Baby Has Fever Without Thermometer?

Typically, babies with a fever may feel warmer than usual to the touch, particularly on their forehead, back, or stomach. They might also exhibit signs such as increased irritability, poor feeding, unusual sleepiness, or a flushed appearance. However, these signs aren't always conclusive.

It's crucial to remember that while these methods can suggest the presence of a fever, they are not substitutes for a clinical thermometer, which provides an accurate measurement. If you suspect your baby has a fever, it's best to confirm with a thermometer and consult a healthcare provider, especially if the baby is under three months old.

What Should My Baby Wear to Bed with a Fever?

The goal is to ensure the baby is comfortable, neither too hot nor too cold. Overdressing a baby with a fever can lead to overheating, while underdressing may make them uncomfortably cold. The best approach is to dress them in lightweight, breathable clothing. A single layer, like a cotton onesie, is often sufficient.

Avoid heavy pajamas or swaddling in blankets. If the room temperature is cool, a light blanket can be used, but it's essential to ensure that the baby doesn’t become overheated. Also, keep the room at a comfortable temperature, ideally between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit (20-22 degrees Celsius).

Monitoring your baby’s temperature throughout the night is crucial. If they seem too warm, remove a layer of clothing or adjust the room temperature. Trust your instincts and consult a pediatrician if you're unsure.

How to Tell if a Newborn Has Fever?

The most reliable way to tell if a newborn has a fever is by using a digital thermometer to take a rectal temperature. A rectal temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher is considered a fever.

When taking your newborn's temperature, ensure you're doing it correctly. Place the baby on their back, lift their legs, and insert the thermometer gently into the rectum. Wait for the thermometer to signal that it's done, then remove it and check the reading.

Besides using a thermometer, observe your newborn for symptoms like unusual fussiness, lethargy, poor feeding, or a rash.

If you suspect your newborn has a fever, especially if they're less than three months old, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

What to Feed a Toddler with Fever?

Feeding a toddler with a fever can be challenging, as they often have reduced appetites. The key is to offer foods that are easy to eat and gentle on the stomach. Hydration is also crucial, so encourage fluids like water, clear broths, or electrolyte solutions.

Soft, bland foods are ideal. Options include applesauce, yogurt, or rice. If your toddler is willing, you can try more substantial foods like chicken soup, which is nourishing and hydrating. Avoid spicy or fatty foods, as they can be hard to digest.

Remember, it's normal for a toddler with a fever to eat less than usual. Focus on keeping them hydrated and offer food in small, frequent portions. If you're concerned about their food intake or hydration, consult a pediatrician.

When Do You Go to Hospital for Fever?

Knowing when to take your child to the hospital for a fever is crucial. For newborns and infants under three months, a fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher is a medical emergency, and you should seek immediate medical attention.

For older children, other symptoms accompanying the fever can indicate the need for hospital care. These include difficulty breathing, persistent vomiting, a rash that doesn't fade when pressed, severe headache, neck stiffness, or a fever that persists for more than five days.

Always trust your instincts as a parent. If your child appears severely ill, don't hesitate to seek medical care, regardless of the fever's exact temperature.

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