If there is a question that being asked a lot by pediatricians when your child is sick, it will be “does he/she have a fever?” And there are good reasons for them to ask that question since it could be an indicator that your child is fighting some infections, or it could be something more serious. Fever not only makes our child uncomfortable, but it could also result to other problems, such as dehydration, or convulsion (febrile seizures).
Therefore, it is important to keep track of the baby temperature, especially in the first few months and years of life.
It is amazing that we have a smart “thermostat” in our own body. Interesting fact, do you know that hypothalamus (which is a part of our brain!) is responsible for regulating our own temperature to make sure everything works properly? In babies and children, the normal average temperature is between 97.9°F (36.6°C) to 99°F (37.2°C). However, there are time that the body temperature rises in response to infection, illness, or other environmental factors.
One of the common causes is overdressing your child, especially newborns since they don’t regulate their body temperature very well yet. Sometimes, immunization could also cause low-grade fever. It is a sign that the body is developing the immunity. The fever can also be caused by either viral or bacterial infection. Colds and flu are the most common viral infections. The symptoms can start with fever and follow with runny nose, cough, loose stools, or rash (roseola). A bladder infection and strep throat are good examples for bacterial infections which often cause unexplained fever, or more extreme example is sepsis (a bloodstream infection). Bacterial infections and fever in newborn babies (3 months or younger) are serious. It can get worse very quickly and need to seek medical treatment immediately. There is also meningitis, a very rare but serious bacterial infection, that infects the membrane cover the spinal cord and brain, and if it is not treated immediately could cause brain damage. It is always best that parents get medical attention and advice for fevers.
Myth vs. Fact, research show that “teething” does not cause fever contrary to many believe.
There are many ways to get children temperature from temporal artery, ear, oral, armpit to rectal. And there are many options available for thermometers as well: digital thermometer (specifically designed for ear, temporal or rectal), skin strip, or infrared thermometer. Tips for parent, ALWAYS use digital thermometer to check children temperature, and for my international friends NEVER use mercury thermometer (since I know that US has not been produced or sold mercury thermometer in years). Skin strip is not recommended since it doesn’t give accurate result, especially for newborns. Even though rectal measurement is more recommended, it is certainly not the easiest way to achieve the result.
If you have ever done it, holding a screaming, irritable child in the middle of the night, trying to measure his/her temperature, while he/she is wiggling away is never an easy process. And just when he/she is falling asleep, you would want to measure it again to make sure everything is good. And here we go, the cycle repeats itself, until the sun rises, and you haven’t slept a wink. But as soon as you hold that baby in your arms, looking at him/her sleeping peacefully, all that tiredness and worry disappeared. That is a part of being a parent!
P.s: Just make sure that you invest in a nice thermometer or baby temperature monitor to keep an eye on your child wellbeing and make those challenging night a little bit easier on both of you and your child.