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When To Call Doctor For Fever? Caring For Your Baby

When To Call Doctor For Fever? Caring For Your Baby

As parents, we have an obligation to care for our children – especially in their early years of life. What behavior is normal in babies, particularly newborns? How do you know to when to call doctor for fever?

If you are new to parenting, every little thing can seem scary, and childcare may prove to be a challenge. In this article, we discuss the signs of serious illness we should look out for and what shouldn’t worry you too much.

What is “normal”?

Fevers are the body’s way of fighting a virus or bacteria. Though high temperatures can be frightening, this is not necessarily a cause for alarm for children 12 years old or younger. Because a child’s immune system is not as sophisticated as that of an older person, it attacks every microbe at full capacity. All children get fevers every now and then. Instead of thinking that this is when to call the doctor for fever, keep in mind that this is a sign that the body can fight infection.

Fevers have a number of causes:

  • Overdressing: Babies could get fevers if they’re bundled up too much or if they’re in a hot environment. Their bodies cannot regulate temperature as well as older children.
  • Vaccination: Infants and young children can get low-grade fevers after receiving the necessary shots.
  • Infection: It’s important to remember that the fever itself is not what you should be fighting, but the underlying cause. At their root, many fevers are caused b by infection or other ailments.

How do you know when to call doctor for fever?

The body’s normal temperature is 37 degrees Celsius. It may vary from person to person and from day to day, but a good indicator of fever is if your child’s temperature is at 38 degrees Celsius or higher.

Here are the temperatures per age group that indicate when to call doctor for fever:

  • 38.9C or higher: 3 to 6 months
  • 38.9C or higher lasting more than a day, no other signs or symptoms: 6 to 24 months

Symptoms to watch when your baby is sick

Look out for the following signs of a fever potentially caused by something serious:

  • Appetite changes: Observe your child’s eating habits. Is he eating the same as usual? Is he eating less? Or does he not want to eat at all?
  • Behavioral changes: Is your baby sleepier than usual? Is he hard to awaken? Is he crying harder than normal? Is he hard to calm down?
  • Tenderness in navel or penis: Check your child’s navel area or penis for redness, oozing, or bleeding.
  • Diarrhea: Check if your child poops more than three times and if stool is loose and watery.
  • Vomiting: Compared to normal spit-up, worrisome vomiting is more forceful and not just dribbling from the mouth. If your baby can’t keep liquids down for 8 hours, this is when to call doctor for fever.
  • Dehydration: Notice if your baby cries with fewer tears or if his diaper is drier than usual. Check your child for signs of dry mouth or a sunken soft spot.
  • Constipation: See if your child is having fewer bowel movements or if he looks like he’s having a hard time on the toilet.
  • Colds: A fever may be accompanied by a cough and colds. If these symptoms make breathing difficult and last more than 10 days, it may be time to see the doctor. Keep a look out for ear pain and coughs lasting over a week as well.
  • Rash: An sudden or unexplained rash with fever is cause for concern, especially if it looks infected.
  • Eye discharge: Monitor if one or both of your baby’s eyes are red, swollen, or leaking mucus.

Key Takeaway

Fevers are a normal occurrence in babies and young kids. In non-serious fevers, this is typically a sign of the body warding off infection. Germs do not thrive in high temperatures. The main thing to monitor is your child’s behavior. As long as it hasn’t changed drastically and first-line-of-defense medicines like acetominophen or ibuprofen are working, then there’s no need to be excessively concerned.

As always, you know your child best. Any time you are not comfortable with your child’s illness, that is when to call doctor for fever.

Learn more about Child Health here.

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


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The Convention on the Rights of the Child: The children’s version, https://www.unicef.org/child-rights-convention/convention-text-childrens-version. Accessed 13 Mar 2022

Choosing a Pediatrician for Your New Baby, https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/find-ped.html. Accessed on 13 Mar 2022

Sick baby? When to seek medical attention, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/healthy-baby/art-20047793. Accessed on 13 Mar 2022

When Your Child Has a Fever: 5 Myths Debunked, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/your-childs-fevers-5-common-myths-debunked/. Accessed 13 Mar 2022

Fevers, https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/fever.html. Accessed 14 Mar 2022

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Written by China Logarta Updated Apr 05
Fact Checked by Kristel Lagorza