Knowing natural ways to treat a young baby’s fever may come in very handy, being that fevers are quite common in young children. Further, products with acetaminophen are not recommended for children under 2 years of age, and ibuprofen is not recommended for a baby younger than 6 months.
It’s important for parents to understand that a temperature or fever, in itself, isn’t necessarily bad. After all, a higher temperature is the body’s way of killing off bacteria or viruses that are causing an infection. When the body’s initial immune responses don’t manage to kill the invading microbes, or if the immune response has somehow been obstructed, the body sets its internal temperature higher, which kills off the germs.
Medical Guidelines to Follow for Your Baby’s Fever
You should call your baby’s pediatrician, if:
- Your baby is under 3 months and has a fever
- Your baby is 3-5 months, and her temperature is 100.5 degrees or higher
- Baby is 6 months or older and has a fever of 102 degrees or higher
- Fever is accompanied with unusual symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or purple spots on her skin; these may indicate a serious bacterial infection
- Fever has lasted more than 2-3 days and there is no common symptom associated with it, such as a runny nose or a cough
- Fever has lasted more than 5 days — even if your baby looks well
A normal body temperature is considered to be between 97 and 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (36 to 38 degrees Celsius). A fever will usually last from 1 to 3 days.Natural Ways to Make Your Feverish Baby Feel Better and More Comfortable
- Place cool, damp cloth on baby’s forehead while she rests.
- Loosen tight clothing and don’t use too many layers, as this will make baby even hotter. Use a light blanket, instead. But if baby starts to shiver, add a layer of clothing to keep her warm. Change her clothing if it becomes too wet from sweat.
- Bathe or sponge baby with lukewarm water. Do not use cold water, as a fever should be brought down gradually; to cool off baby too quickly could lead to other medical problems. Also, do not rub baby with alcohol, an old remedy, as it can be absorbed through the skin.
- Keep baby’s room at a comfortable temperature — neither too hot or too cold.
- You can set a fan on low, which will help air circulate; but don’t point fan directly on baby.
- Let baby get plenty of rest; fighting the infection uses energy from the body, and resting is more important than ever, as the body heals itself.
- Reduce baby’s activity. This will help her recover faster.
- Babies under six months should consume only breast milk or formula; if you give a baby younger than six months cool or warm water to keep her hydrated, give her only a small amount, such as one ounce, a couple of times a day. Babies younger than six months should not consume fruit juices because these may cause allergies later on.
- Babies six months and older are okay to drink fruit juices. Warmed orange juice is particularly beneficial for a baby who is achy or has cold/flu symptoms. Give baby a couple of ounces of orange juice every few hours, in addition to her regular diet (or in place of apple juice and other juices). Orange juice greatly relieves discomfort, though that benefit only lasts a few hours after ingestion. Its high vitamin C content and other antioxidants will also help fight the infection.
- For a baby older than 6 months, try comforting and soothing her with a little chicken soup. Studies have shown that chicken soup truly does help adults and children feel better and get better from a cold or flu.
- Use a bulb syringe aspirator to clear mucus from baby’s nasal cavities. But don’t do this more than a few times a day or you may irritate nostril’s lining. Also, you may find that covering the other nostril with your finger while you suction each nostril will help get more mucus out.
- Elevate your baby’s head by folding a towel and placing it underneath head of mattress. You can also place a baby pillow underneath mattress head. This method of elevating head avoids any danger of suffocation.
- Honey is good for soothing a sore throat and cough, if your baby is at least one year old. One study found that honey worked better for night-time coughs in children than cough syrups! But do not give honey to a baby who is under one year of age, due to danger of possible serious botulism infection. For a baby who is one year or older, give her half a teaspoon of honey, which can be mixed with hot water. Squirt a bit of lemon juice, and you will add disease-fighting antioxidants to the mix.
- Don’t wake baby to give her fever medication; sleep is extra important when she’s sick.
Some final notes:
- The American Academy of Pediatrics states that over-the-counter medications for colds and coughs are not safe for children under 2 years old.
- Digital thermometers provide the most accurate temperature readings. They cost about $10 and can be used rectally, by mouth, or under the armpit (if you use one rectally, buy an additional one for mouth or armpit).
- Checking your baby’s temperature once a day should be enough to monitor her fever.
By Jamell Andrews