Fever in Babies and Toddlers… Do you know much about it?
I dread those days when my daycare provider calls me at work. She messages on a normal day when there is something we need to chat about or she waits for me to get to daycare after work. But when she calls me at the hospital (I work for the community hospital in case you are new here, by the way.) in the middle of the day… That’s a different story.
A baby is born with a need to be loved – and never outgrows it.~ Frank A. Clark
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Today, that dreaded call came about. My colleague (who is also a good friend) picked up the phone, handed it over to me, mumbled my daycare provider’s name and everything just turned gloomy. With a heavy heart, I took the call. I knew what she was going to say. “Donna, Baby V’s temperature is at 102.” I replied with the calmest tone I could muster, “Okay. I will be there as soon as I can.”
We always hear from our doctors that a fever is not a bad thing. It is just one sign that tells us the body is waging a war against infection. That doesn’t make it any better at all. As mothers, that statement always fails to give us comfort. We still stress ourselves out every time our little ones are sick and nothing in the world can stop that from happening.
Tonight, I decided to write something that will help us know more about this common sign of illness. I hope this will shed some light on fever in babies and toddlers as a whole.
What is a fever?
A fever is an abnormal increase in body temperature often triggered by a bacterial or viral infection. It is one of the most common signs that tell us that the body is fighting a bug or other illnesses.
What are the signs of fever in babies and toddlers?Does your baby appear flushed? Check her temperature. She might have a fever!Click To Tweet
You can usually tell that your baby or toddler is hot just by looking at him/her. His or her cheeks will appear red. Though sometimes it won’t mean he/she is febrile, appearing flushed can be a sign that your baby or toddler has a fever.
Hot to the touch
Although feeling your baby or toddler’s forehead, back or tummy can tell you that he/she is febrile, you will need to check his/her temperature using a thermometer to accurately tell that he/she has a fever.
Weakness or lack of energy
Most babies or toddlers won’t appear docile when sick. It is not a cause for concern when they still enjoy playtime. However, when they seem weak, groggy and seem to lack energy that is a bit alarming. Watch out for this sign closely. You will need to see the doctor if it continues.
Little kids when under the weather can’t express how bad they are feeling. As a result of that, they get frustrated leading them to be cranky.
Just like us adults, our babies and toddlers lose their appetite when ill. You have to make sure that they get enough fluids when this happens to avoid dehydration.
Imagine yourself battling a fever. Now imagine battling a fever and being helpless. What can little babies do to put themselves to sleep on their own when they can’t even calm themselves down and be comfy? Nothing… Nil… Zero… None… Am I right? It is so hard to sleep when you feel so hot and uncomfortable even for adults like us.
What temperature indicates a fever in babies and toddlers?
The normal body temperature is within the range of 36.3°C (97.4°F) to 37.6°C (99.6°F). That brings us to an average normal temperature of 37°C (98.6°F). A temperature that falls above that threshold indicates fever.
It is important to note that the most accurate temperature readings depend on the age of the child. I also need to mention that whatever thermometer you use for a specific temperature-taking method should only be used for that specific method. What you use for the mouth should never be used for the armpit. You must get the gist here. The following are some ways to take your baby or toddler’s temperature:
This is a quick and easy way, but is tricky to do.
Through the temples of the head
This is another reliable way, but temporal artery thermometers are a little expensive.
In the bottom (rectum)
This method is the most reliable for babies/infants under 3 months old.
Under the arm
More active little children (toddlers) are less cooperative, so it is harder to take a rectal temperature from them. Taking the temperature in the armpit is a better way to go, though it is a little less accurate.
What are some causes of fever in babies and toddlers?
Upper and Lower Respiratory Tract Infections
Common Respiratory Infections
- common cold
- Strep throat
An ear infection doesn’t always come with a fever. It is always best to watch out for other signs like earaches, ear tugging and ear drainage.
Urinary Tract Infections
UTIs are difficult to recognize in little children, especially because they still can’t talk or express themselves. Having a fever is one sign to watch out for if you don’t notice any other symptom.
Though this may not always be the case, vaccinations can trigger a fever in babies and toddlers. Getting something foreign to your body can sometimes shock your system and that is just a normal thing.
When dressing up our little ones, we have to consider the external temperature. Don them in the right amount of clothing to avoid heat exhaustion.
More Serious Illnesses
Very rarely can we encounter such a thing. However, there is no harm in assuring that our babies are healthy and normal.
What to do if your baby has a fever?
Try to give your baby or toddler some antipyretics (or in layman’s terms, fever reducers) such as Tylenol and Motrin.
Depending on your baby’s age, fever reducers can be of help. Never forget to consult your doctor or your pharmacist to avoid administering the wrong dosage.
Dress your baby lightly.
Light pants paired with a breezy long-sleeved top are a good choice when home. At bedtime/naptime, cover your baby or toddler with a light sheet instead of a heavy blanket. Remember to always check the house’s temperature. A good temperature for an average-sized room is between 72°F to 74°F.
Increase your baby’s fluid intake.
Offer your little ones enough to drink. Increasing your baby’s fluid intake can prevent dehydration caused by loss of appetite. Dehydration is a scary thing. We must avoid it at all costs.
Let your baby take plenty of rest.
Let your baby take it easy. For babies/toddlers, everything is intriguing. They may be docile and weak when running a fever, but they still have the curiosity of a cat. Let them take the much needed rest.
Keep your baby home from daycare.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that you keep your baby home from daycare when he/she is sick. Keep them home until at least 24 hours after the fever is gone or any signs of a fever (without the use of a fever-reducing medicine).CDC and AAP recommend keeping your baby or toddler home from daycare when they are sick with a fever.Click To Tweet
When to call your baby’s doctor?
Call the doctor right away when a baby under 3 months old has a rectal temperature of 38°C (100.4°F). Since this particular age group is at higher risk for a more serious complication, it is imperative that you see a doctor right away.
You might need to call the doctor when a fever in babies and toddlers is also accompanied by any other alarming symptoms such as rash, pain, vomiting and diarrhea or when the fever lasts more than 24 hours and spikes up to 40°C (104°F).
My Question for You
Did you ever experience getting those dreaded calls from your babysitters telling you your baby or your toddler is running a fever? Those never get old for me. It still gives me the frights. How about you? How do you feel about them?
Thank you for stopping by. Read up on other baby-related subjects around here and share them with your friends. Tell me what you think as well. If you want to email me, go ahead. I always personally check my emails and respond quickly too.