How to bring down baby fever
“One rainy night, I cradled my three-month-old for a nightly breastfeeding session and found that her temperature was unusually high. I grabbed my thermometer and gently slid it into her mouth. Her temperature was almost 38 degrees Celsius. I went into panic mode and phoned the family pediatrician and said, please tell me how to bring down baby fever.”
If you are like Nkechi, whose baby suddenly came down with fever, you may be desperate to find a solution.
If your baby‘s temperature is unusually high (say above 36.5 degrees Celsius), don’t panic. You are not alone. Most parents often experience the horror and anxiety of caring for feverish babies.
“Fever is a symptom of an underlying sickness, and it is a sign that your baby’s immune system is fighting off an infection. Fever builds your baby’s immunity,” says Nneka Okey MD, a pediatrician at Parklane Teaching Hospital.
Nonetheless, it is important to control the fever so that it doesn’t lead to dehydration, seizures and intense discomfort.
Important facts to know about infants and fever
“Despite my knowledge of infant and maternal health, I discovered I still had more to learn. My drive to reduce my infant’s fever was misguided. The right goal should have been addressing the cause of the fever. (I would learn that ‘How to bring down baby fever’ isn’t the perfect question to ask.),” continues Nkechi.
In tropical regions like Nigeria, malaria is arguably the most common cause of fevers, although infants rarely come down with this illness until they reach the six-month-mark. Other viral or bacterial infections can also cause fever in babies. Night fevers are likely to be caused by bacterial infections.
Teething symptoms also often include fever, swollen gums, diarrhoea and itchy gums too. A research study reported that most teething symptoms are rarely about the sprouting teeth and are more associated with hygiene. Babies often scratch their gums with dirty fingernails and surrounding objects and that’s what causes bacterial infections and acute fevers.
The sight of a suffering infant can be unbearable especially to parents. Knowing how to bring down baby fever can help reduce the infant’s pain and suffering as well as your own anxiety.
“Fever in babies should be taken very seriously especially when the baby is under eight weeks,” says Dr Nneka. “Rush your baby to the pediatrician immediately you notice a fever. If the hospital is far from your home, you can give the right dose of Paracetamol to reduce the fever.”
Everything you should know about how to bring down baby fever
To lower your child’s temperature, parents can either employ non-medical strategies or administer fever-reducing prescription medications (e.g. Paracetamol drops or Ibuprofen). Many parents use both.
Here are the most effective non-medical fever-reducing techniques.
1. Cool towel massages
Dab a cold, wet towel on your baby’s forehead, neck and back. When the towel gets warm, rinse it in room temperature water and repeat the daubing process.
2. Lukewarm baths
Another strategy involves giving your baby a lukewarm bath. Do not use cold water as this can give the baby flu or pneumonia. “Room temperature water is fine. Use a thermometer if in doubt. “Old methods like alcohol baths are strongly discouraged as they can harm the child,” says Dr Nneka.
3. Keep your infant hydrated
Acute fevers often lead to dehydration and exhaustion. Give your baby lots of water and cool drinks they enjoy. This will help rehydrate your baby and lower their body temperature.
4. Dress your baby in light clothing
Remove extra layers of clothing. Your child’s skin needs to breathe cool air. Dress her in single layered garbs. If the baby feels cold, cover him or her with a shawl or Ankara wrapper. Remember to remove the covering when the child stops shivering.
5. Keep the room airy and cool
If the room is stuffy, open the windows or turn on the fan or air conditioning unit. But you must monitor the temperature to ensure that the room isn’t too cold. If you’re using a fan, make sure that it rotates. The cold air shouldn’t blast directly at your infant.
Occasionally, babies pick up bacterial or viral infections that can cause a fever. Other times, the fever might be as a result of an injury or body aches. The role of the parent is to cool down the fever while waiting for the doctor’s intervention.
Breastfeeding the baby is a great way to comfort and rehydrate the baby. Cool towel compresses and lukewarm baths are effective too. Ensure that the room is cool and well-ventilated.
Protect your feverish baby from the sun too. But most of all, call the doctor. They alone understand how to bring down baby fever and how to treat the fever-causing illness.