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How do I know if my baby has a fever?

With an immature immune system, babies are especially susceptible to infections and colds - especially during cold and flu season like we're in now.  One of the tale-tale signs of an infection is a fever.  So let's take a moment to review 'what is a fever' for your baby.

A normal temperature for a baby is between 97 and 100.3 degree fahrenheit.  A rectal temperature greater than of 100.3 degrees is considered a fever, and lets you know that your baby’s body is reacting to an infection and is working to fight it off.  With fevers, though, it is important to remember that the context and features of the fever can be just as important as the number itself.

Fevers can be either more concerning or less worrisome for a variety of reasons.  For babies under 3 months of age, any rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees or greater should always be considered a serious and you should contact your doctor immediately.  If your baby is older than 3 months and is behaving normally there is really no need to worry about a low grade fever (below 101).  However, if the fever is not coming down after 24 hours, the fever is very high, or your baby is not eating or playing normally you should call your doctor’s office for assistance.  Remember, you know your baby best, so trust your instincts and If you’re worried about how your baby is acting call your doctor’s office for advice.

Older than 3 months the official recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics is to call your doctor if:

1)  Baby is between 3 and 6 months old with a fever of 101 degrees F or higher or

     Older than 6 months old with a fever of 103 degrees F or higher.


2)   Baby is not eating, has a cough, has signs of an earache, has vomiting or diarrhea, or is unusually fussy or sleepy.