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The Baby Fever Fighter:
Five Tricks To Try at Home

That wicked baby fever. His sad, tired eyes. Your anxious ones. It's heartbreaking.

Fortunately, you don't have to cross your fingers and hope for the best. I've researched up five tricks to treating fevers safely, most of are medication-free. When he's more comfortable, he'll eat better, sleep better, and most importantly, feel better.

But before we bring out our weapons of war and start hacking away at your baby's temperature, take a moment to think about what we're fighting. That baby fever isn't necessarily the enemy here.

It's not only sending up emergency flares to white blood cells, telling them to rally and fight an invader, but by raising your baby's natural temperature, it's making those evil viruses and bacteria bugs very uncomfortable.

So you're left with a delimma. Do you bring the fever down? Potentially lowering one of the body's offensive mechanisms for fighting disease?

Or do you leave it alone, letting your baby be uncomfortable and stop eating and sleeping? A body without good rest and food will not be as effective at fighting illness either...

It's a balance you must achieve. The higher the baby fever, the more likely your baby will stop eating and sleeping well. In which case, break out the big guns and start firing away, trying to bring the fever down.

But if your child has only a slight fever, and isn't showing many signs of being incapacitated, that baby fever may be better off left alone.

baby fever 1

You KNOW she doesn't feel well.
Make her more comfortable so her body
can work its healing magic.

Some Baby Fever Guidelines

  • Newborns 0 - 3 Months: Anything higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 C) warrants a doctor call.
  • Infants 3 - 6 Months: A baby fever higher than 101 F (38.3 C) should be called in to your pediatrician.
  • Babies 6 Months and Up: Only a temperature over 103 103 F (39.4 C) requires calling a doctor.
These temperatures help you know when to call the doctor. They don't necessarily tell you when to start treating it.

If your baby is 4-months-old but seems completely worn out with a fever of 100.3, start intervening. But on the other hand, if your 8-mont-old shows a baby fever of 101.6 but ate a big lunch and is resting well, intervention may not be necessary. You don't want to remove one of the body's defenders (the fever) unless you really need to.

There is a common urban myth that fevers can cause seizures (called Febrile Seizures). This has been proven to be untrue. That said, extremely high fevers (those over 107.6 F or 42 C) are still serious and should be handled at the hospital or nearest clinic.

number one

The Sponge Bath...With Variations

One of my earliest memories of being sick is having a cool wet washcloth on my forehead. A warm to lukewarm washcloth can drastically help lower a high baby fever. As the water evaporates from the skin it cools, drawing the fever out.

Some children make this easy and are nice and compliant, letting the washcloth perch on their tiny forheads. Others (like my Elena) are so grumpy that any form of touching is grunted at. In these cases, a lukewarm bath can be just as effective. Never use ice cold water, though, as it can cause shivering, signalling the body to heat up.

Besides the washcloth and bath options, you could also soak a pair of calf-length socks in luke-warm water. Ring them out and place the damp socks on his feet. Repeat once the socks have dried.

Two Things You Should Never Do...

As I researched this subject, I found a few sources suggesting parents use a soaked and wrung scarf wrapped around her head and neck. Yikes! BAD IDEA! At this young age, anything wrapped around your baby's neck is dangerous.

A second no-no to treating a baby fever is the traditional rubbing alcohol sponge bath. Yes, it will effectively and quickly lower the fever. But that's necessarily a good thing. It cools the skin so quickly that the body (not fooled) starts shivering, triggering a rise in body temperature.

Besides this undesirable long term affect, there's the issue of alcohol poisioning. Some of the rubbing alcohol evaporates, but much of it is absorbed, opening the door to alcohol poisioning. The short term benefit just isn't worth the risk, especially when safer alternatives are available.

infant thermometer

There are few things in this world as scary as an infant fever.
But you can conquer, you are MOTHER.
number two

Food Fighting

As your baby is sweating away the fever, it's essential to keep her nice and hydrated. For babies under 6 months who haven't started solids yet, this means increasing breast or bottle feedings. For older babies, offer cool yogurt or cottage cheese.

I've also frozen juices before, and then used a spoon to scrape the juice into a slushie, spoon feeding them as a cool treat. Mild juices, like apple or pear are the best choices for this, as babies as young as 6 months can digest those fruit enzymes. Older babies (a year and over) may enjoy a yogurt pop, just make sure he doesn't bite off any large chunks.

      Sidenote: I've written a free booklet on when it's safe to introduce your baby to certain foods and juices. Download The Ultimate Baby Food Guide, a free pdf.

Besides these food remedies, Mom's Magic Trauma Sprinkles is a homeopathic remedy that can help calm and comfort your infant. A calm baby is a healing baby. These sprinkles instantly dissolve on the tongue and are safe for babies as young as 6 months old.

What About Tea?

Weak tea, even herbal varieties, is not recommended. The reason? The polyphenols in tea keeps iron from being absorbed. And iron is vital for healthy infant growth and development.

That said, I do know several families who have stirred weak chamomile tea into a bottle of formula. Call your doctor to discuss this treatment as an option. He can help you weigh the possible pros and cons.

If you do decide to give your baby tea, I would use only herbal or non-caffeinated versions. Sweetening with honey is not advisable for babies under 12 months.

baby fever 2

My children NEVER took their medicine this easily.
Which is why I chose either the sneaky syringe or
nipple method of giving medication.
number three

Clothing: Less is More

Another easy trick you can use to drive that baby fever down involves air circulation. Having a humidifier circulating around the room will keep the air fresh and clean. Stale air is sick air.

Dress him in a light single layer of breathable fabric, like cotton. It's tempting to over-bundle, but resist. (But he shouldn't just be in a onesie in the middle of an ice storm either...remember...balance!) Some feetie pajamas will actually help drive the temperature down. If he's too bundled he could overheat, driving his temperature up.

Again, you must walk the line between avoiding-a-chill (which will tell his body to turn up the heat) and smother-with-layers, which will prevent the fever from leaving.

number four

Egg On Your...Feet?

Yes, this is a strange one. I found it while researching, and it has been highly recommended with over 135 happy users. Here's the gist of the procedure: Soak 2 folded paper towels (not washcloths) in egg whites and place on the soles of the feet, covered with socks. Repeat this method when the egg white dries up.

A similiar homeopathic remedy is to place cold potato slices in his socks. It's a lot less messy than the egg whites. You'll also avoid a potential allergic reaction by using potatoes.

number five

Using Over-the-Counter Medications

And so we come to the most common baby fever fighter: over-the-counter medications. If you chose to use this method (and most of us do at some point), it is vital that you understand that you are putting powerful ingredients inside your baby's body. They can be very helpful in helping him recover, when administered in the right manner.

Do not guess when you are giving your baby medication. Be sober-minded and thoughtful, charting your doses and amounts. All medications have side effects, so read the label and know what to look for in case of a reaction.

  • The OTC medicines that are okay to give your baby (over 6 months) are: Acetaminophen (also labeled as Paracetamol or Tylenol), or Ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil).
  • Babies under 6 months should not be given any medication without a doctor's permission and guidance.
  • Always purchase Infant Tylenol (or Motrin, Advil, etc.) for babies under 1 year, and Children's for those over 1 year. Never attempt to adjust the dose of adult medication for babies and childrens. Labels are important!
  • Aspirin should never be given to babies. It is linked to a potentially fatal disease called Reye's Syndrome.
  • Start with the acetaminophen first. If that doesn't seem to be helping after an hour or so, alternate it with an Infant's Ibuprofen.
  • Research has shown that about half of all parents don't give their children the correct dose of medication. Yikes! It's all about WEIGHT. Don't use age, it's not accurate enough. If you're not sure how much he weighs (and they do grow fast!), weigh yourself first (or make your husband...) then weigh yourself holding your baby. Subtract the two to get your infant's current weight.
  • Always write down which medication you gave, how much, and when you gave it. Don't assume you'll remember. Trust won't. Play it safe and write it down.
  • Use a measuring device to give medication. (Again, no guessing!) Personally, I recommend something that will bypass the tastebuds, with a nipple design, or a syringe-style that dispenses the medicine quickly and mess-free.
  • Cold medicines are not recommended for babies, as they have not been scientifically shown to be effective. However, if your doctor prescribes something be sure to tell him if you have been giving any baby fever medication, since some of the cold and cough medicines also contain acetaminophen. You don't want to accidentally overdose her.

flower logo
Fighting an entrenched baby fever is no easy task. Hopefully I've given you a few weapons you didn't have before.

Just remember this: When in doubt, give Doc a shout! If you are not sure about something, call your doctor. And if he/she seems put off by your call, start looking for a new one.

Of course, it's good to remember that it's not the baby fever that's the enemy. (The fever is actually your friend!) It's a sign that there's something else going on inside. Is it a viral cold? to be simply survived? or a bacteria (like an ear infection)? that needs a more aggressive offense?
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