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How to reduce a fever in babies
A fever is a common sign of illness, but it's not always a bad thing. In fact, a fever is usually a normal response of a child's immune system to a virus or bacterial infection.
Most healthy children can tolerate a fever well, and it lasts about 3 to 5 days under normal circumstances.
The most common cause of fevers in babies is a viral infection. In some cases, teething can cause a slight increase in body temperature. In younger babies, a fever could be a sign of a serious infection.
When you see your baby's temperature rise, it can be a great concern for you. You may be in a dilemma whether to call the doctor or get emergency medical care. The guidelines below may be helpful.
Baby fever guidelines as per the American academy of pediatrics (aap):
Newborns up to 3 months of age: anything higher than 100.4 degrees (38 degrees celsius) is a matter of concern.
Infants between 3 and 6 months of age: a fever higher than 101 degrees (38.3 degrees celsius) should be checked by your pediatrician.
Babies age 6 months or older: a temperature over 103 degrees (39.4 degrees celsius) needs an immediate consultation with a doctor.
If your baby shows other signs or symptoms of illness, such as a cold, cough, vomiting or diarrhea, consult your doctor. Moreover, as a parent, always trust your instincts. If you think you should contact the doctor, go ahead.
In any situation, in addition to your doctor's prescribed medication, you can follow a few tips to help manage or reduce your baby's fever.
Here are the top 10 ways to reduce a fever in babies.
1. Cold compresses
As soon as your baby develops a fever, the first thing to do is put a cool, wet washcloth on your baby's forehead. As the water from the wet washcloth evaporates from the skin, it will draw the fever out and the temperature will come down quickly.
Put some cool tap water in a bowl.
Soak a clean washcloth in the water.
Wring out the excessive water, then place the wet cloth on the baby's forehead.
Once the cloth warms, remove it and repeat again.
Do this until the fever has gone.
You can also use the damp washcloth to sponge areas like your baby's armpits, feet, hands and groin to reduce the temperature.
Note: never use very cold or ice water, as it may cause the internal body temperature to increase.
2. Lukewarm bath
A lukewarm bath will help relax a fussy baby and help regulate the body temperature. It will even help your baby sleep better, which is needed for faster recovery.
For babies younger than 6 months, give a lukewarm sponge bath 2 or 3 times a day.
For babies, 6 months or older, give them a regular bath in lukewarm water a few times a day.
After each bath, dress your baby immediately.
Note: never use very hot or cold water, as it may cause the internal body temperature to rise.
3. Breast milk
For babies younger than 6 months old who have a fever, breast milk is very important. It offers a unique balance of nutrients that strengthens a baby's weak immune system and is tailored to fight a baby's illness.
Breast milk is quickly and easily digested. It will even keep a sick baby properly hydrated, which is essential for faster recovery.
Try to breastfeed your young baby frequently. If your baby refuses to nurse while experiencing a fever, try different nursing positions. You can keep the baby upright while breastfeeding to make your baby more comfortable during feeding sessions.
If your baby regularly refuses to nurse, pump out the breast milk and feed it to your baby using a spoon or bottle.
4. Give more fluids
For sick babies, it is important to increase fluid intake. Fluid will help cool them down and replace the fluid lost through sweating to prevent dehydration.
Dehydration may lead to various other complications and delay recovery.
Due to having a fever, babies may refuse large amounts of fluid at a time. So, try to give them smaller amounts more often.
Give oral rehydration solutions (either homemade or readily available in the market) along with lukewarm water to small babies younger than 6 months old to help replenish fluids and electrolytes.
Along with water and oral rehydration solutions, cold milk, ice pops, fruit juice and chilled yogurt can be given to babies 6 months or older.
5. Keep your baby in a cool place
When taking care of a sick baby, it's important to keep a close eye on the room temperature. It should not be too hot or too cold. Keep your baby's room at a comfortable temperature between 70 and 74 degrees (21.1 to 23.3-degree c).
If using a fan, keep it on a low setting. However, make sure your baby is not sleeping directly under the fan.
If using an air conditioner, keep the temperature at a comfortable level. Make sure your baby doesn't shiver and raise his or her temperature.
Also, avoid using the room heater nonstop, as it can make your baby overheated.
Keep your sick baby indoors in a cool place most of the time. If you are taking your baby outside, try to stay in the shade.
6. Dress your infant comfortably
Many parents make the mistake of bundling up their sick child with layers of clothes or extra blankets. This is something parents should avoiding doing, as it may keep the temperature from going down or even make it go higher.
Infants cannot regulate their temperature well, hence, when bundled in layers, it will be harder for them to cool down once overheated. Too much clothing will even prevent radiating body heat into the surrounding air.
Dress your baby in one layer of lightweight clothing. If needed, use a light blanket when your baby is sleeping.
Also, keep your baby in a comfortable room, where the temperature is not too hot or too cool.
7. Foot massage
Rubbing the soles of your sick baby's feet with some warm oil is one of the best ways to calm your fussy baby. Apart from relaxation, it will promote better sleep, which is necessary for quick recovery.
Foot massage also helps regulate body temperature.
Rub some warm olive oil on the bottoms of your baby's feet.
Apply gentle pressure on the soles with your thumbs.
Finally, give a nice massage to the whole foot.
Do this for just a couple of minutes and repeat as needed.
When it comes to a foot massage, be careful not to do too much.
8. Apple cider vinegar
For babies 1 year and older, you can try an apple cider vinegar remedy. Because apple cider vinegar helps draw heat out of the body, it can reduce a high body temperature.
Add a quarter cup of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a large bowl of lukewarm water.
Soak a washcloth in it, then wring out the excess liquid.
Use this damp cloth to give your baby a sponge bath.
Repeat 2 or 3 times a day until the fever has dropped.
For bringing down a fever, basil is suitable for babies older than 1 year. The herb can help reduce the heat in the body. It works as a natural antibiotic and immune booster.
Boil a handful of basil leaves in 2 cups of water, until the solution is reduced to half. Add a little sugar and give it to your little one, a few times a day.
If your baby is big enough to chew basil leaves, give him or her some thoroughly washed basil leaves to chew at regular intervals.
10. Monitor body temperature
Another important thing when your baby is having a fever is to regularly monitor his or her body temperature. Do not rely on your hand as a means of assessing the child's temperature.
Instead, you can try several ways to take your baby's temperature:
Rectal method (by the rectum)
Oral method (by the mouth)
Axillary method (under the armpit)
Tympanic method (in the ear)
Regularly take your baby's temperature and write it down on a notepad. This will help a doctor assess the changes that have occurred during the days when your baby is not well.
Check on your sick baby from time to time during the night, also.
Monitor your baby and if you notice signs of dehydration and rashes, consult a doctor immediately.
Your baby should urinate at least every 4 hours and the urine should be light colored.
If your child is inconsolable and doesn't stop crying, consult your doctor.
Do not send your baby to daycare until he or she recovers fully.
If your baby is fussy, try to rock your baby while walking to ease his or her distress.
Do not leave a small child with a fever alone for any length of time.
You can give solid food to your baby during a fever, but do not force it.
It is better to feed them foods that are soft and low in fiber, such as bread, crackers and refined hot cereals like oatmeal or cream of wheat.
If your doctor has prescribed medicine, never give more than the recommended dosage to your child.
Always use a measuring device to give medication.
Don't treat a fever in children under 18 years of age with aspirin, as it can lead to serious health problems.
Make sure to keep your baby up to date with all of his or her immunizations.