Your child’s normal body temperature ranges from 97 to 100.4 degrees fahrenheit – anything over this range is regarded as being a fever.
This can be a sign that your child is fighting an infection but keep in mind that his temperature will be higher if he’s been running around and tends to be higher in the evening because of muscle activity throughout the day. If your child’s temperature is high, wait for 20 minutes and take it again to check it’s still high.
How to take your child’s temperature
It’s best to use a digital thermometer to take your child’s temperature since these are fast and more accurate. Most can be used rectally (your pediatrician may recommend this method if your baby is under three months), orally or in the armpit. Carefully follow the instructions no matter which method you use, and don’t take your child’s temperature after he’s had a bath since it will be temporarily higher.
What should I do if my baby has a fever?
Don’t panic – a raised temperature is actually a good sign, because it means your child’s immune system is working to fight off an infection. However it still needs to be treated, because a high temperature in young children can lead to convulsions.
Make your child more comfortable by taking steps to cool him down with tepid sponging, or by removing some of his clothing or bedcovers. You can also give fever reducers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen (never give your child aspirin, as it has been linked with a dangerous condition called Reyes syndrome).
If your baby is under three months, call your pediatrician as a precaution, since fevers can be serious in young babies. With older children, be guided by whether the fever is making them lethargic and affecting their appetite. Look for other symptoms too – if your child has signs that indicate an ear infection, vomiting, diarrhea or a pinprick or blotchy purplish rash along with his fever, call your pediatrician. If the rash doesn’t fade when firmly pressed with a glass, take him to the ER straightaway since this can indicate meningitis.
Keep in mind that an abnormally low temperature can also indicate a problem – if it falls under 95 degrees, hypothermia can develop.