Fevers are worrisome for people of any age. Even as adults, we often become more concerned when a high temperature accompanies any illness. Since the normal body temperature for adults is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, anything above that - even by a few degrees - can send us to the doctor. For that reason, it’s easy to understand how worrisome an infant’s high temperature can be. When you bring your baby home, you should find out what his or her normal temperature is. That way, you’ll be able to alert your doctor immediately if your baby comes down with a fever.

Experts say that your baby has a fever if his or her temperature is higher than 100.4 F. Though, if your baby’s resting temperature is much lower than that, you should report any increases to the doctor. A fever isn’t necessarily a sign of illness for an infant. Your newborn might get a fever if he or she is simply too warm in the clothes you’ve chosen. No matter the temperature in your home, dress your baby in one more layer than you’re dressed in. That’s a general rule of thumb for regulating babies’ temperatures, and it works for most. Also, a fever could be a sign of dehydration. However, the most common cause for a fever in an infant who is only a few months old is an infection.

Your baby’s immune system is not very strong in the first few months, so foreign germs and bacteria can put it into overdrive. The fever is supposed to help kill off the infection, and it probably will. However, you should bring your baby to the doctor for any fever at all. Until he or she is six months old, each fever should be treated and monitored immediately. Since the immune system is so weak, your baby’s doctor will help by recommending additional treatments to fight the infection. It’s also important to keep in mind that a fever could be a sign of a more serious condition. If your baby has even a low-grade fever, keep your eye on any other symptoms such as rash, loss of appetite, vomiting and lethargy.

Make sure you notify your doctor immediately if your baby has a fever, but remember that it could be a minor problem. It’s best to check when in doubt, but it could be a simple infection that will end on its own.

Source: Yvonne Freer et al: Temperature Monitoring and Control in the Newborn Baby. Pediatrics and Child Health Volume 22 Issue 4 pp. 127-130 April 2012

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