Baby Fever: How to Treat an Infant with a Fever
One of the scariest things a first time parent of a healthy infant is when he/she develops a fever. It’s only a matter of time before this occurs and nothing you do short of your child living in a bubble will prevent him/her from developing a fever at some point. So, it’s important to know what to do and what signs and symptoms to look for. I am in no way, shape or form a doctor or anything with a title in the healthcare field, but I am a parent. I also completed an EMT Basic course at my local college if you want to consider that as well.
There can be some serious symptoms that develop due to high fevers in infants especially if the fever persists over extended periods of time such as 2 days or longer. I remember when our son had his first fever of 102˚ when he was about 10 months old. He was miserable and just fussed off and on throughout the day and night. I felt so bad for him and wanted to make the fever disappear or perhaps telepathically remove it and place it in my body. But, instead I had to watch him suffer and try to console him the best I could.
Signs and Symptoms
When an infant’s temperature reaches this point you want to monitor it very closely because a common symptom of a very high fever is seizures. These seizures are not deadly but I’m sure they scare the crap out of parents. If a seizure occurs in your infant, contact emergency personnel right away and make sure the area surrounding your baby is clear. Also, do not place anything in your baby’s mouth during the seizure to keep him/her from biting the tongue. Let the seizure occur, and wait for emergency crews to arrive. Your baby may also feel or look pale and if you look into his/her eyes they will seem distant and not as alert. Feel your child’s forehead with the back of your hand as this is a more sensitive part of the hand than the palm. His/her head will feel very warm and the rest of the body may feel very warm. Another symptom is he/she may vomit or have diarrhea. It’s important to monitor these reactions closely because your infant can dehydrate very quickly and if this happens then you need to get to the hospital immediately!
Below is a list of easy tips to help control a fever.
Tips to Control the Fever
- Check the infant’s temperature using a digital thermometer placed either in the anus or under the armpit. A temperature reading is generally more accurate if it’s taken in the anus of a baby.
- If the reading on the thermometer is higher than 99˚, then you will want to begin controlling the fever.
- You could strip your baby down to just a diaper or a very light outfit. Apply a cool, damp washcloth to your infant’s forehead for a few seconds at a time. He/she will probably cry much more when this applied so only apply it for a few seconds at a time. You want to avoid plunging your infant’s body temperature down too quickly.
- Consult with your physician and if he/she allows you, give Baby Tylenol to help break the fever. We tried to avoid using this with our son’s fever, but after the second day of a high temperature we decided to try it and it worked.
- You could also apply a damp cool washcloth on the back of your infant’s neck as there is a plexus of nerves there, under the armpit, behind the knees and in the groin areas that are sensitive to temperature. Be very careful when applying cool packs or washcloths to these areas because your infant’s temperature can dip very quickly to dangerous levels. Make sure to apply sparingly and for short durations.
- It’s important to figure out the cause of the fever and then proceed. It may be a good idea to take your infant to the Pediatrician for precautionary measures and to give you peace of mind.
A Parent's Role
An important element as the parent is to remain calm and give your baby lots of love because he/she will mimic your response to what’s happening and if you’re in a panic, chances are your baby will react as well. He/she doesn’t understand what’s going on with his/her body and feels miserable. I know when my son suffers from fevers he likes to be held and rocked. He woke up several times during the night but quickly fell asleep once he was comforted a little.
Parents have several options to help fevers break however make sure you consult with a Pediatrician before administering any type of medication. Try cool damp washcloths and not frozen or extremely cold ice packs because it could cause your baby’s temperature to drop very quickly which may result in hypothermia. You probably feel helpless, but comforting your child through this will help him/her get through it and eventually the fever will break. Seek medical assistance if the fever persists for 2 days and don’t forget to check your infant’s temperature every few hours, especially at night since this is when our immune systems weaken and symptoms can become worse. If your infant start convulsing, contact emergency personnel immediately. This typically occurs in very high temperatures in children.
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