My baby has a fever
A fever means you have a temperature of 38 degrees or above. Fever is the body’s normal response to an infection. These infections are usually caused by a virus, sometimes also by bacteria. Fever can also occur as a result of vaccinations. Fever does no harm and won’t hurt your baby. Fever will usually go away after a few days. The best way to measure a fever is with an ear thermometer. Temperature is best measured via the anus when using a normal thermometer. Body temperature fluctuates throughout the day. That’s why it’s recommended to choose one fixed time of the day to measure the temperature.
How your baby feels and behaves is more important to your GP than the level of the fever. A baby with a fever will often act completely out of character and you’ll just know something isn’t right.
Your baby may also have a febrile seizure as a result of the high temperature. Please refer to our page about febrile seizures.
Babies will often have the following symptoms:
- Tired (your baby may be difficult to wake up)
- Crying a lot
- Shortness of breath
- Audible breathing
- Rapid breathing
- Looking pale
- Drinking less
- Urinating less
- Sore throat
This is what you can do yourself:
- You don’t need to lower the temperature if your baby has a fever
- It also won’t matter if your baby doesn’t want to eat for a few days. His or her appetite will come back on its own
- But do make sure your baby drinks plenty. Regularly offer your baby small amounts of water
- Your baby can do everything they normally do. There’s no need to leave your baby in bed
- It’s not necessary to dress your baby warmly. Don’t cover your child too warmly either. You can temporarily cover up your baby a little bit extra if he or she starts to shiver
- It’s important to give your baby pain relief with paracetamol if he or she has pain symptoms, like a sore throat or earache
Do pay careful attention to the dosage if you give your baby paracetamol. The maximum dose depends on your baby’s weight and age. Please refer to the package leaflet for the maximum dose. Never give your baby more than the maximum dose.
You should always call your GP if your baby is younger than 3 months and has a fever.
If your baby is older than 3 months, you should call your GP if your baby has a fever AND one of the following applies to your baby:
- Not easy to wake up
- Short of breath or noticeable rapid breathing
- Is becoming increasingly unwell within a matter of hours
- Has spots you don’t trust
- Is drinking less than half the usual amount
- Is vomiting a lot
- Often has diarrhoea
- Has pain when urinating
- You don’t recognise your own baby and you have a strong suspicion something isn’t right