**I am not a doctor and this should not be considered medical advice. If you have concerns about your baby or toddler, you should contact your physician.**
Should you reduce a fever in your baby or toddler?
It is an odd time of year for me to write this post, but within the last 3 weeks, we have had two random fevers.
We had a mild winter here, and now we are dealing with summer time fevers.
We had one fever to last 3 days and no other symptoms. Then we had another random fever last for a day and a half again no other symptoms.
When you call your pediatrician’s office about what to do, the first thing the triage nurse tells you is to give your child Motrin or Tylenol.
However, do you really need to be giving Motrin and Tylenol right away? Are they not counterproductive to what the fever is doing?
I believe, we reduce fevers in our children because, to us, they are scary, and we assume our children are in pain or uncomfortable.
But are they in pain or uncomfortable? Should we be reducing fevers in our babies right away?
In my personal opinion, I think there are things we can do to make our children comfortable without necessarily reducing a fever, immediately.
I think giving a fever reducer is counterproductive to the purpose of a fever.
I am not a doctor and this is my opinion. If your child has a fever, consult your physician on how to proceed.
Let’s dissect what a fever is and if it is really dangerous for our littles.
What is a fever?
According to the MayoClinic, a fever is a temporary increase in body temperature most likely due to illness. A fever is typically a sign something else is going on in the body.
Even if there are no other symptoms, your children’s bodies are working to fight something off.
It sounds to me as if a fever is a good thing.
Fever is a sign your body is doing its job to fight off an illness.
If your child is behaving and playing like normal, should you still reduce the fever?
Why should we reduce a fever in a baby or toddler?
What causes a fever?
In most cases, a fever is caused by a bacterial or viral infection/illness.
Some cases a fever has been caused by heat stroke, dehydration, immunizations, overdressing, etc.
Teething can cause a spike in body temperature however if it is above 100.4°F then it is not considered a fever from teething.
My daughter had a temperature of just over 99°F when her top four teeth were coming in, but it never got to 100.
A fever is simply alerting your immune system It is time to fight due to these infections. It is a natural response that is likely to go away or “reduce” on its own.
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What is considered a fever in a baby?
Your child has a fever if their temperature is at or above these levels:
Rectal (bottom), ear, or forehead is 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher
Oral (mouth) is 100°F (37.8°C) or higher
Under the arm (armpit) is 99°F (37.2°C) or higher
We use this safety 1st thermometer that can be taken all three ways in one thermometer. You don’t have to tell it what way you are taking the temperature; it just seems to know.
What temperature is too high for baby?
We have talked about what a fever is, and how to reduce a fever in a baby, but we haven’t actually talked about what is considered a fever.
According to the MayoClinic, you should be contacting your doctor if your child:
- Is under 3 months of age and has a rectal temperature of 100.4°F(38.0°C) or higher
- Is between the ages of 3 to 6 months and has a rectal temperature of 102°F (38.9°C) or higher and meets symptoms described above.
- Is between the ages of 6 to 24 months and has a rectal temperature of 102°F (38.9°C) or higher, lasts longer than 2 days, and there are no other symptoms.
The behavior of your older children is something to take into consideration as well, and the discretion of your doctor.
If your child is playing and acting normal, they might not be affected by the fever.
Is a fever dangerous?
I absolutely love this short and to the point fact vs myth article from seattlechildrens.org.
They lay it out so perfectly. We are blaming the fever, but in actuality, it is the infection we need to be blaming. The fever is the hero.
I also like how wellnessmama sums up the severity of a fever.
Most experts, say you should at least contact your doctor if your child is between the ages of 3 months and 3 years if it is above 102.2°F (39°C) and discuss with them if your child needs to be seen.
Seattleschildren.org states that a fever between 100-104°F (37.8°C-40°C) is good for a child and will not cause brain damage. They say that only temperatures at or above 108°F can cause brain damage even though it is rare for your body temperature to get this high.
Basically, you need to decide your comfort level of a fever and if your child’s fever reaches that point you need to call the doctor.
For me, my daughter had had a fever for 2 days at 103°F(39.5°C) , and we stayed steady at that temp until the third day when her temp went up to 105°F(40.6°C) . We went to urgent care to be sure there was nothing else going on.
When should you go to the doctor?
If your child is responsive, playing, and drinking fluids, there probably isn’t much cause of concern with their fever.
There are times when it is important to seek medical attention immediately if your child is (source):
- lethargic, irritable, headache, repeated vomiting, stiff neck
- If your child is under 3 months of age and has a fever higher than 100.4
- Has had a fever for more than 2-3 consecutive days
- If they have a fever over 104°F (40°C)
- Respiratory distress should seek help immediately
- Dehydrated and not drinking any fluids or unable to keep any food down
- Excessive crying
- Blue lips, tongue, or nails
- Limpness or refusal to move
- Has a rash or purple spots that look like bruises
- If as a parent you feel that something isn’t right, you should seek medical attention.
Seizures from fever
In some cases, a fever can cause a seizure. It is said they don’t typically last very long and have no lasting effects on your child.
If a seizure does happen:
- Lay your child on the floor or ground
- Lay them on their side or stomach
- If they have on tight fitting clothing, loosen it
- Do NOT place anything in their mouth or try to stop the seizure
How to dress baby with fever at night
At night, my daughter typically sleeps with her pajamas and sleep sack. When she has a fever, we remove the sleep sack if it is summer time. You could have your child in just a t-shirt; whatever works best for you and won’t overheat your baby.
If it is winter time or cooler weather, G typically sleeps with an undershirt and socks under pajamas plus her sleep sack. (She doesn’t like to be cold.) When she has a fever in the winter time, we would remove the undershirt and socks, and she would sleep in her pajamas and sleep sack. If I feel like taking a risk, I will remove her sleep sack at the risk of her waking up in the middle of the night because she is cold.
The point of removing the layers is to not overheat them. You want them to be cool when they have a fever. Also, their body temperature naturally spikes at night anyways, so you want to keep that at bay.
How to reduce fever in baby naturally
There are many ways you can reduce a fever. Let’s start with reducing a fever naturally. Remember we don’t necessarily need to be reducing a fever, but if your child doesn’t seem to be themselves, you can try these techniques before moving to medication.
You can give your baby a lukewarm bath. NOT A COLD bath but a lukewarm one.
Kidshealth.org doesn’t necessarily agree with me, but my daughter seems to like the bath when she doesn’t feel well or has a fever. It isn’t a permanent solution but a temporary one.
Be sure their room isn’t too hot or cold.
Dress them in light clothing depending on the weather. You can always go down to a onesie and use a light blanket if they get cold.
Depending on their age, you can consider essential oils or herbal teas.
You can also put a cool washcloth at their neck or on their head. G doesn’t like this too much, and I will say it doesn’t do a lot to reduce the fever, but it does make the skin feel cooler, temporarily.
Wellnessmama has some great suggestions she does for her family, but do keep in mind her kids are older than G. So, if you have older kids, she is a great resource.
Be sure your child is drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Give them water, soup broths, popsicles, etc.
Medicines for fever
Always check with your doctor before administering over the counter medications
Baby teething fever
A baby teething fever is not the same type of fever we have been discussing.
Teething fevers are typically less than 100.4°F (38.0°C).
G had a teething fever when she cut 4 teeth at one time. Her “fever” was 99.6°F or so. Not very high but high enough to feel a difference in her skin temperature. It went away as soon as her teeth came through.
In the end, fevers are scary and unless your little one is clearly uncomfortable; we shouldn’t reduce fevers in our babies or toddlers.
I hope I have helped you to know how to reduce a fever in a baby or how to just simply let the fever run its course.