How to Treat Baby's First Fever

Don't panic -- read these tips for how to treat your child's first fever.

When to Worry: Fever

Thermometer

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Use the right thermometer. Babies younger than 6 months should have their temperatures taken with a rectal thermometer. Because their ear canals are so small, you can't get an accurate reading with an ear thermometer.

What is a fever? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that the normal body temperature for a healthy baby is between 97? and 100.4? Fahrenheit (36? to 38? Celsius). A fever would be any temperature that rises to 100.4? F or above.

When to call the doctor? If your baby is under 3 months, you should call his pediatrician immediately. A fever in a baby this young could mean a serious infection. The AAP suggests calling the doctor if a baby is between 3 months and 6 months old and has a fever of 101? F (38.3? C) or higher, or is older than 6 months and has a temperature of 103? F (39.4? C) or higher. Look for such symptoms as a loss of appetite, cough, signs of an earache, unusual fussiness or sleepiness, or vomiting or diarrhea.

Trust your gut. Even if your baby's fever isn't that high, but he's not acting like himself, call your doctor. You're the best judge of whether your little one is truly sick or not.

Keep him hydrated. It's important that baby keeps taking breast milk or formula during a fever to avoid dehydration.

Give him a fever reducer. Your doctor might recommend giving your child some baby acetaminophen (or ibuprofen, if your baby is at least 6 months old) to bring down the fever. Never give more than the recommended dosage to your child; her weight will determine the right dose. And always use the measuring device that comes with the medicine to give your baby exactly the right amount.

Keep this in mind. Some doctors believe that if a child isn't uncomfortable and is eating and sleeping normally, it's often best to let the fever run its course, as that is the body's way of fighting an infection. Ask your pediatrician what he thinks the best course of action might be.

Try a lukewarm bath. If baby is running a high fever and seems uncomfortable, put him in a lukewarm bath to try to bring his body temperature down. You can also wet some washcloths and give him a sponge bath if you don't think he's going to react well to being in the tub.

Copyright © 2012 Meredith Corporation.

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