A fever is defined as a body temperature above 38°C and is usually the first sign of a cold or flu. It is important to note that a high fever does not indicate the severity of the infection; similarly, a low-grade fever should not be casually dismissed.
What To Do About Baby Fevers
When should I visit the doctor?
For babies under three months old, you should visit a doctor immediately for any fever above 38°C. If the doctor has determined that there is no other cause for concern and is safe for you to manage the fever at home, continue to monitor the baby for the next 24-48 hours for any other symptoms such as:
- Difficulty breathing or change in breathing pattern
- Unusual crying (an indication of pain)
- Lethargic and drowsy, difficult to wake
- Repeated vomitting and/or frequent diarrhea
- Signs of dehydration
If any of the above symptoms show up, take baby to the nearest hospital, or call the Health Direct 24/7 hotline 1800 022 222 to speak to a health professional.
Should I let the fever run its course?
A fever is the body’s natural way of fighting infections by increasing the body temperature so that it’s harder for viruses and bacteria to survive. In this regard, a fever is actually a good response to illnesses and kick starts the production of white blood cells which help fight the pathogens.
However, till this day, it is still scientifically debatable whether a fever should be suppressed or let alone. A handful of small scale studies have indicated that letting a fever run its course may reduce the length and severity of common colds and flu.
Generally though, the consensus among pediatricians is that a mild fever under 39°C can be left alone if it’s not affecting your baby’s feeding and sleeping. Beyond 39°C, children may start feeling the effects of the fever and show signs of restlessness and discomfort.
The general rule of thumb is to watch the behaviour of the child, not the thermometer. Some babies tolerate fevers very well and are happy and settled even with a fever that seems high; others may start fussing even with a low fever.
So the best practice is to follow your baby’s cue – if the fever is stressful for them, then you can bring it down to give them some comfort.
Should I let baby sleep with a fever?
If the baby is able to sleep, let him sleep as much as possible. Rest is essential for recovering from a cold or flu, so as long as the baby is sleeping well, there is no need to wake him even if he has a fever.
How should I dress my baby with a fever?
It is important not to dress the baby too warmly for sleep if he’s running a fever. There is no evidence that “sweating out” a fever will help with recovery. If anything, it is extremely dangerous for a baby because it can cause overheating and dehydration, particularly if the baby is already having difficulty feeding due to the cold.
Going by the TOG rating of a sleep bag and temperature of the room is a good way of dressing baby for sleep. The guideline on the next page is for normal circumstances when the baby is well. But, if baby is running a fever, you should dress her slightly cooler than normal because her body temperate is already higher.
For instance, if the room temperature is 18°C, you would normally dress the baby in a short sleeve onesie, plus a long sleeve onesie and a 1.0 TOG sleep bag. But if she had a fever, you could consider taking off the short sleeve onesie.
Best Way To Bring Down A Fever
Pediatricians do not recommend sponging a baby, using a fan, cold baths, or ice packs to bring down a baby’s fever.
For a baby at least a month old, the safest and most effective to reduce a fever is to use paracetamol. In Australia, although Panadol Babies is the most well-known brand of paracetamol, personally I highly recommend Dymadon Babies for several reasons.
Dymadon vs Panadol For Babies
1) The flavour of Dymadon has a much higher acceptance rate amongst children than Panadol.
Every parent knows how difficult it can be to get babies or toddlers to take oral liquid, so having a taste that they naturally like is important. All three of my kids prefer Dymadon over Panadol.
Dymadon comes in three flavours – Original, Orange, and Strawberry – so you are bound to find something your baby likes; Panandol on the other hand only comes in Cherry Vanilla flavlour.
2) ‘Dymadon Babies’ has a longer shelf life.
Dymadon is suitable for up to two years of age, so you can use it for toddlers as well, whereas Panadol Babies only goes up to one year old.
In the case of our household, our kids rarely have high fevers requiring paracetamol, so the fact that Panadol Babies can only be used for one year meant we had to throw it out before we even finished it.
3) Dymadon is cheaper than Panadol.
Dymadon at just $5.95 for 60ml is three times cheaper than Panadol, which sots $6.95 for just 20ml.
4) Dymadon has higher customer ratings than Panadol.