The increase in body temperature is only considered a fever when it reaches 37.5 ° C, before that the baby is considered to be feverish, which is generally not a cause for concern.
Whenever the baby has a fever, you should be alert if he has other symptoms because, normally, the birth of the teeth and taking a vaccine can generate a fever of up to 38ºC, but the baby continues to eat and sleep well. In this case, putting a wet washcloth in cold water and then on the baby's forehead may help lower the fever.
What can cause a fever in babies
An elevation in body temperature may indicate that the baby's body is fighting some invading agent. The most common situations that cause fever in babies are:
- Birth of teeth: Usually happens from the 4th month and you can see that the gums are swollen and the baby wants to have his hand in the mouth all the time and also drools a lot.
- Reaction after taking a vaccine: Appears a few hours after taking a vaccine and it is usually easy to link the fever to a reaction to the vaccine.
- If the fever develops after a cold or flu, sinusitis or ear inflammation may be suspected: Your baby may not have phlegm or appear to have a cold, but the internal tissues of the nose and throat may be inflamed, causing a fever.
- Pneumonia: The flu symptoms become more intense and fever appears, making it more difficult for the baby to breathe;
- Urinary tract infection: A low fever (up to 38.5 ° C measured in the anus) may be the only sign in children under 2 years of age, but vomiting and diarrhea, abdominal pain and loss of appetite may occur.
- Dengue fever: is most common in the summer, especially in epidemic areas, there is fever and loss of appetite, the child gets lethargic and starts to sleep a lot.
- Chickenpox: There is fever and blisters on the skin that itch, loss of appetite and abdominal pain may also arise.
- Measles: The fever lasts 3 to 5 days, and there are usually signs of coughing, runny nose, conjunctivitis, and dark spots on the skin.
- Scarlet fever: There is a fever and sore throat, the tongue becomes swollen and looks like a raspberry, small spots appear on the skin that can cause flaking.
- Erysipelas: There is fever, chills, pain in the affected area that may become red and swollen.
When you suspect that your baby has a fever, you should measure the it with a thermometer, and see if there are other signs or symptoms that may help to identify what is causing the fever. However, in case of doubt you should go to the pediatrician, especially when the baby is under 3 months old.
How to measure a babies fever
To measure a babies fever you should place the metal tip of the thermometer under the baby's arm, leaving it there for at least 3 minutes, and then check the temperature on the thermometer itself. Another possibility is to use a digital thermometer, which shows the temperature in less than 1 minute.
It is important to remember that rectal temperature is more reliable than the temperature obtained from the mouth or armpits. So when checking their temperature you should always check in the same place, the most common being the armpit. Rectal temperature can be between 0.8 and 1 ° C higher than the armpit, so when your baby has a fever of 37.8 ° C in the armpit, he is probably has 38.8 ° C fever if taken from the anus.
The increase in temperature is only considered a fever when the armpit is above 37.5 ° C and in the rectum, is above 38.2 ° C. A fever may cause brain lesions if it reaches 41.5 ° C or higher. To measure rectal temperature you should use a thermometer with soft and flexible tip that should be introduced at least 3 cm.
Tips to lower a babies fever
To lower a babies fever it is recommended you:
- Check if the room is very hot and if possible connect a fan or turn on the air conditioning;
- Swap the babies clothes for lighter and cooler ones;
- Offer something cool and fresh for the baby to drink every half an hour if he is awake;
- Give them a bath, with the water being warm but closer to cold, although you should avoid very cold water. The temperature of the water should be as close to 36ºC, which is the normal temperature of the skin.
- Putting a wet washcloth in warm or cold water on the baby's forehead may also help lower the fever.
If the fever does not subside in half an hour, a doctor should be consulted, especially if the baby is very irritated, crying or apathetic. The remedy indicated to lower a babies fever is Dipyrone, but it should only be used with the knowledge of the pediatrician.
How to know if fever is severe
A fever is always severe when it reaches 38ºC, deserving all the attention of the parents and a visit to the pediatrician, especially when:
- You cannot identify the cause of the fever, for example, the birth of teeth;
- There is diarrhea, vomiting and the child does not want to breastfeed or eat;
- The child has deep eyes, is more tearful than normal, and makes little pee, because this can indicate dehydration;
- There are spots on the skin, itching or if the baby looks very uncomfortable.
But if the baby gets drowsy and has a fever, you should also go to the doctor to find out what is causing this temperature rise and start the appropriate treatment with medicines.