Fevers in infants younger than 4 months old require more attention than fevers in older babies and children because an infant’s immune system is not yet fully developed. Therefore, infants cannot fight infections as well as an older child can. Not only that, certain serious infections are more likely to occur in newborns, according to the Dr. Spock website. Never hesitate to call your doctor if your infant has a fever.
Normal temperature for a baby is 98.6 degrees F. A temperature above 99.5 degrees F is a fever. However, you cannot take a baby’s temperature orally until he is older than 3 months old. Take a rectal temperature reading in babies who are younger than 3 months old. A normal rectal temperature is 99.6 degrees F. A rectal temperature reading of more than 100.4 degrees F is a fever.
Your baby’s temperature could go up if you over-bundle her. Babies younger than 4 months old cannot control their body temperature well. If your baby feels warm but cools down quickly after you unbundle her and is acting normally, she probably does not have a fever. A good rule of thumb is to dress your infant in one layer more of clothing that what you are wearing. Infants sometimes feel temporarily warm after breastfeeding, too.
Causes of Fever
Normally, your infant has a fever because of a viral infection. Infections in infants can make them much sicker than they can make older children and adults. A simple cold that only causes a runny nose in an older child can cause a fever, congestion, poor eating and vomiting in an infant, for example. Another reason babies get fevers is because of dehydration.
Treat the Fever
After your health care provider see your infant, you can treat the fever. Your doctor may recommend that you let the fever run its course. Otherwise, you can give your infant acetaminophen for infants, if you get the OK from your doctor. You would administer the acetaminophen every four to six hours after finding out the proper dosage for your baby. You determine dosage by your baby’s weight. Do not give ibuprofen to infants younger than 6 months old. Never give an infant aspirin.
Sick with No Fever
Babies can be sick without running a fever. If your baby is not feeding well, is lethargic, irritable, has a rash, diarrhea or just looks sick to you, call your doctor.
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