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How to Treat Baby's First Fever

As a new parent, you might be checking your baby's temperature quite often. If your newborn spikes a fever, here are some next steps to give them the best care.

You suspect your little one is sick after his forehead feels warm, and you take his temperature. The thermometer reads 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Now what?

There’s no need to panic! Know that fevers are typically harmless -- just your baby’s way of fighting an infection. First, start by assessing the situation:

  • Is your baby under 3 months of age? And is his/her temperature (preferably from a rectal reading) higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit?
  • Is he/she between 3-6 months of age with a fever of 102℉ degrees or higher?
  • Is he/ she over 6 months old with a fever of 104℉ or higher?
  • Has the fever continuously returned in the course of the week?
  • Are there any other symptoms, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or coughing?
  • Did he/she recently receive an immunization?
  • Are there zero signs of urination in the past 8 hours or completely dry diapers?

If you answer yes to one or more of these questions (especially the first three), it is well advised to seek professional care. However, if the situation proves to be less severe, you can take action on your own to ensure a speedy recovery.

Aren’t sure? Enter all of your kiddo’s symptoms into the Kinsa app to get a specific recommendation for your situation.

Keep baby’s room temperature comfortable.

If your child has a fever, it is best to dress infants in one light layer of clothing and a sleep sack (no loose blankets should be in your baby’s crib). You don’t want to bundle them up too much, as this can increase the fever. However, if they begin shivering, you may add clothing or blankets until the shivering stops - then remove the extra layers. Shivering is a sign the fever is increasing.

Give baby a bath.

Whether it’s a sponge bath or a normal soak, you may try lukewarm water if your child’s fever is over 104℉. It is not necessary for mild or moderate fevers. Avoid cold baths, ice, or alcohol rubs. If your baby begins shivering, increase the water temperature or end the bath and get them dressed.

Use fever reducing medication.

If your child is under 3 months of age, be sure to check with a doctor before giving any medication (a fever in babies under 3 months old should always be assessed by their doctor). If your baby is over 3 months old, acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be used to reduce fevers; if your baby is over 6 months old, ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) is another option. Follow the instructions on the package to find the correct dose for your baby’s corresponding weight. Note that acetaminophen can be taken every 4-6 hours, while ibuprofen can be taken every 6-8 hours.

Remember, fevers are beneficial and only need to be treated if your baby is uncomfortable or if the fever increases to 102℉. Medicine may also help if your baby is shivering or has chills. Slow reductions are okay—a fever does not need to immediately drop down to normal. You can expect a decrease of 2-3℉ in about 1-2 hours. A great way to track baby’s change in temperature is with the Kinsa app!

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics