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Fever in Babies

When to Call Your Doctor

According to the AAP, call your doctor if your baby:

  • Is under 3 months old and has a fever; if your baby is under 1 month of age and has a fever, it is considered an emergency. Seek immediate medical care.
  • Is lethargic and not responsive
  • Has problems breathing or eating
  • Has a rash
  • Shows signs of dehydration, such as fewer wet diapers, dry mouth, no tears with crying, or sunken soft spot on the head
  • Has a seizure

It can be difficult for doctors to tell whether a newborn has a simple virus (like a cold), or a more serious infection (like pneumonia or meningitis). That's why doctors will sometimes order special tests (such as blood or urine tests, or a spinal tap) to pinpoint the exact cause of an infant fever, and to look for more serious infections in young babies.

 

What Should I Do If My Baby Has a Fever?

If your baby is under 1 month old and has a fever, contact your child's health care provider right away. For older babies, try these tips:

  • Bathe your child with lukewarm water -- always check the temperature of the water on your wrist before washing your baby.
  • Dress your baby in a light layer of clothes.
  • Give your baby enough fluids to avoid dehydration. Those fluids should be breast milk, formula, an electrolyte solution, or water depending on the baby’s age. Contact your baby's health care provider for guidelines. A dehydrated baby may have fewer wet diapers, no tears with crying, or a dry mouth. 
  • If your doctor says it is OK, you can give your baby children's Tylenol or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin). Never give babies aspirin for a fever because of the risk for a rare but potentially dangerous condition called Reye's syndrome. Also, do not give a baby under 6 months of age Advil, Motrin, or other medicines that contain ibuprofen. Be sure to ask your doctor about the dosage and read the package instructions before giving your baby a fever lowering medicine. 

If you are concerned about your baby's fever, call your health care provider for advice and reassurance.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on August 06, 2012

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