(NB Resolution, I’ve no access to a baby fever chart as noted in the brief. Can you access same for inclusion?)
A high temperature, also known as a fever is generally a sign the body trying to fit off an infection. Instead of the body’s temperature being within a ‘normal’ range, it increases.
An average temperature for a baby is around 36.5⁰C to 38⁰C. A fever is a temperature above 38⁰C.
Temperatures can take a while to go up or they can rise quickly. Whilst it can be very worrying when a baby has a fever, it’s rarely harmful, though a fever can cause a baby to feel uncomfortable.
The only sure way of knowing is if you measure their temperature. Sometimes a baby with a fever seems absolutely fine, other times they can appear fussy and miserable.
Generally a fever is a sign that the body is trying to fight off an infection. It’s a natural response from the immune system when it detects a bacterial or viral infection. Fevers can also happen after vaccinations. A fever is less commonly related to teething.
Fevers can also be caused by allergic reactions or other, less common health issues such as joint inflammation or gastrointestinal diseases.
Don’t use a mercury thermometer to take your baby’s temperature. They can easily break and the mercury is difficult and dangerous to clean up. Thermometers which are inserted into dummies and fever strips used on the forehead are not as accurate as digital thermometers.
When a baby has a fever, there may be changes in their behaviour, particularly their feeding and sleeping patterns.
If your baby is aged less than three months and has a fever, you need to have them seen by a doctor. Even if their temperature is in a normal range but they seem unwell, you still need to have them checked.
Young babies have immature temperature regulating mechanisms and they often need monitoring to ensure their temperature does not get too high.
The general advice from health professionals is that treating a baby’s fever will not help their body get rid of the infection ay faster. It will help to reliever any discomfort they may feel because of their fever. Offer your baby extra fluids, monitor their temperature and take them to your doctor if you’re worried or they’re aged three months or younger.
No, although they may feel warm and uncomfortable in hot weather, their body temperature shouldn’t go beyond the normal range of 36.5⁰C to 38⁰C.
Written and reviewed by Jane Barry, midwife and child health nurse on 16/04/20.