1. A High Temperature
A normal body temperature can vary depending on things like time of day, activity and amount of clothing. You can use an electronic thermometer to take your child's temperature which you can buy from pharmacies and supermarkets. A high temperature in children, either during the night or during the day is above 38°C.
Depending on your baby’s age or certain signs, your child may have a more serious infection. Keep checking your child regularly and take them to a doctor as soon as you can, if they:
- Are 0-3 months of age, with a temperature over 38°C or you think they have a high temperature.
- Are 3 to 6 months of age with a temperature over 39°C or you think they have a high temperature.
- Have had a high temperature for 5 days or longer.
- Cannot be soothed and remain fussy and uncomfortable or does not want to eat.
- Are showing signs of dehydration or have other signs of illness such as a rash, or a high temperature that does not come down after taking children’s paracetamol or ibuprofen.
Shivering can also be a sign of a fever. The movement of shivering increases body temperature, as the body is trying to prevent heat from escaping. Your child may feel hot and dry to the touch, even though they are shivering, but this is because their body is trying to reach a higher temperature. Children with fever should not be underdressed or over-wrapped.
3. Appearing Hot and Flushed
Once your child’s body reaches the temperature needed to fight germs, they will stop feeling cold and shivery but this will be replaced by sweating and feeling flushed, as their body tries to lose the extra heat. Don’t try to cool their body by using a damp sponge or bath, but rather cool their room if it is too warm. Help prevent dehydration by offering liquids such as water or their usual milk. If they’re distressed, try giving them paracetamol or ibuprofen and then offer a drink half an hour after giving the medicine.
4. Looks or feels unwell
Keep an eye on your baby and check their temperature regularly with a thermometer, including 2 to 3 times during the night if they have a fever. Offer regular feeds to keep them hydrated and note down how much your baby is feeding, so that you can talk to your doctor if you’re concerned.
When to see your doctor
You know your baby best so trust your instincts when it comes to what is normal (or not) for your little one. If you notice that your baby is not eating their solid foods or milk feed, has unusually dry nappies, sunken eyes, no tears when crying, a rash, other signs of illness, a temperature for over 5 days, or a temperature that doesn’t come down after giving them ibuprofen or paracetamol, it could mean that something isn’t quite right and it’s advisable to speak to your doctor immediately.
When it’s an emergency
Call 999 or go to a hospital if you think your child has a fever, and they also have any of the following symptoms:
- has a stiff neck or light is hurting their eyes
- has a rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is pressed against it
- is drowsy and hard to wake or isn’t responding like they normally do
- has problems with breathing
- has unusually cold hands and feet.
- can’t stop shaking, has blue, pale or blotchy skin, lips or tongue
- is extremely agitated or confused, does not stop crying, has a high-pitched or unusual cry
Note: This is not a complete list of possible symptoms. Always speak to your doctor for advice.
Tip to remember: Temperature is not the only sign of serious illness. It’s also important to monitor the other symptoms such as dehydration and any of those listed above.
Often, your baby’s fever will pass after a few days of looking after them at home. In fact most fevers will come down quickly if there is nothing more serious, returning your little one to their normal selves again. You can also try giving them medicine to bring down fever (known as an antipyretic) and if they are distressed and unwell, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Nurofen for Children Oral suspension contains ibuprofen and is suitable for babies from 3 months old and weighing over 5kg. If you are still concerned then don’t hesitate to take them to a doctor.