What Should I Do if My Baby Has a High Fever?

Jan 08, 2024
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Babies bring a lot of joy and positive energy to the household. They also come with a complex set of responsibilities and worries. One common concern is how high is too high regarding babies and fevers. Check these commonsense guidelines.

Fevers are a natural response to infections and illnesses. They’re also a significant source of anxiety for parents watching the thermometer climb.

Our team at Garland Pediatric Practice in Garland, Texas, led by board-certified pediatrician Dr. Phani Bodavula, is happy to offer insight regarding babies and fevers and when to call the doctor.

Understanding average body temperature in babies

“Normal” body temperature can vary and may be influenced by a child’s age, the type of thermometer you use, or even the time of day. For instance, rectal and oral thermometers are more accurate than those measuring body temp in the armpit or across the forehead.

Generally, however, the average body temperature ranges between 97°F and 100.4°F. A temperature above that is usually considered a fever, which isn’t always bad.

In children, fevers are usually associated with infection, and mild temperature hikes indicate the immune system is working to kill germs. Sometimes, a fever requires medical attention, especially in infants under 3 months or babies with other symptoms, such as rash or lethargy.

Steps to take when your baby has a fever

For babies with a fever, Dr. Bodavula recommends that you:

1. Check the temperature

Use a reliable digital thermometer to measure your baby's temperature. Rectal thermometers are the most accurate and recommended for infants and children up to 2 years.

Make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper use. Also, record the readings and when you checked the temperature for future reference.

For instance, if you schedule an appointment, Dr. Bodavula wants to know when the fever began and other symptoms you may have noticed.

2. Call the doctor

If your baby is under 3 months and has a temperature of 100.4°F or higher, call the Garland Pediatric office immediately or seek urgent medical care. Fevers in infants often signal a serious infection that can become life-threatening if not treated quickly.

Also, call the doctor if your baby is:

  • Between 3 and 6 months and has a temp of 102°F or higher
  • Lethargic, irritable, or difficult to wake
  • Exhibiting symptoms such as difficulty breathing, persistent vomiting, or rash
  • Crying frequently or inconsolable
  • Refusing to nurse or take a bottle, increasing dehydration risks

Otherwise, we encourage you to call the Garland Pediatric office whenever you’re concerned about your child’s health. Dr. Bodavula develops personalized care strategies based on your baby's age and specific symptoms.

3. Dress the baby appropriately

Dress your baby in lightweight clothing to help regulate their body temperature. Avoid heavy blankets or overdressing, which can trap heat and exacerbate the fever.

4. Offer fluids

Ensure that your baby stays hydrated. Offer breast milk or formula more frequently than usual. If your baby has started eating solid foods, include hydrating options like fruit purees or electrolyte solutions (under the guidance of a health care professional).

5. Keep the environment comfortable

Avoid exposing your baby to extreme temperature shifts by maintaining a comfortable room environment, around 68-72°F.

6. Administer medication as directed

If your baby's fever is causing discomfort, ask Dr. Bodavula about age-appropriate, fever-reducing medicines such as acetaminophen (Children’s Tylenol or others). Follow the recommended dosage carefully. 

Never give an infant or toddler aspirin due to the increased risk of Reye’s syndrome.

Schedule an evaluation with Dr. Bodavula at Garland Pediatric Practice today by calling the office or requesting an appointment online.