Fevers can be downright scary, as your baby can feel like he or she is “burning up” while acting miserable. But rest assured, most fevers in babies over 3 months of age are nothing to worry about. A fever is simply your baby’s immune system trying to fight off an infection. Still, while fevers are natural, they are uncomfortable and you may want to take steps at home to make your baby feel better.
Note, however, that if your baby is under 3 months of age and gets a fever, he or she should be seen right away by the pediatrician or in the emergency room. Further testing may be necessary to figure out what’s causing the fever. In babies this young, it’s important to get to a doctor quickly, and you shouldn’t give any medication to bring the fever down.
For infants over three months of age, here are some doctor-recommended tips to control fever:
- Putting your child in a lukewarm bath or giving your child a sponge bath
- Placing a cool, damp washcloth on your child’s forehead
- Offering your child cold water or milk to stay well hydrated
- Dressing your child in a light layer of clothing instead of multiple layers
You can also use over-the-counter medications to reduce pain and fever. In infants over 3 months of age, acetaminophen is an effective fever reducer. This medication is based on your child’s weight so it’s a good idea to check with your doctor at each well visit to make sure you’re using the right dose. Acetaminophen can be given by mouth from a marked syringe (never a teaspoon) every 4 hours.
Acetaminophen can also be given as a suppository. This can be especially useful for children who refuse to take medicine by mouth or children who are vomiting. Suppositories are available in various dosages. Once again, it’s a good idea to discuss the dose with your child’s doctor before using to prevent an accidental overdose.
Infants aged 5 months and older can also use ibuprofen to help reduce fever. Because ibuprofen is metabolized through the kidneys, an infant younger than 6 months of age should never be given ibuprofen as their kidneys are too immature. Ibuprofen is also dosed based on your child’s weight and can be given every six to eight hours.
- Fevers are a natural immune system reaction.
- In babies under 3 months of age, fevers should be evaluated by a doctor immediately.
- Home remedies include lukewarm baths, cool washcloths, staying hydrated, and dressing in light clothing.
- Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are both effective fever reducers.