As night falls, you walk carefully into your baby's room. Gently turn on a dim light and want to see how your little angel is sleeping as usual. However, when you get close to the crib, you notice that your baby's cheeks are flushed, beads of sweat are oozing from his head, and his body seems warmer than usual. Alarm bells go off and you start to worry if your baby has a fever. This is a problem that you will inevitably encounter in the process of taking care of your baby. Let's take a closer look at the symptoms and potential causes of baby fever, and learn how to provide appropriate care and clothing for a baby with fever at night.
Symptoms of baby fever
Elevated body temperature: The most obvious sign that your baby has a fever is an elevated body temperature and warm forehead. An anal temperature of more than 100.4°F (38°C), an ear temperature of more than 100°F (37.8°C), or an oral temperature of more than 99°F (37.2°C) are generally considered indicators of fever in infants.
Flushed face: Your baby's skin, especially on the face, may appear flushed or swollen.
Fidgety: A baby with a fever usually becomes fidgety and restless. They may cry more easily than usual and be more difficult to soothe.
Loss of appetite: A fever may reduce your baby's appetite. They may be less interested in eating.
Burnout and fatigue: Some babies with a fever are more tired and lethargic than usual. They may not be as active and alert as usual.
Common causes of baby fever
Infection: Most of your baby's fever is caused by an infection, such as a viral infection (like the common cold or flu) or a bacterial infection (like an ear or urinary tract infection).
Teething: Teething may sometimes cause a slight increase in body temperature, but usually not very high.
Vaccination: After vaccination, your baby may develop a mild fever due to the immune system's reaction to the vaccine. This is usually normal and lasts for a short time.
Environmental factors: Excessive clothing on your baby or placing them in a very warm room may cause an increase in body temperature.
Signs of underlying illness: In rare cases, a fever can be a sign of a more serious underlying illness. But this is less common.
Understanding the symptoms and causes is important to give your baby appropriate care and ensure your baby's comfort and health.
What should I do at night with my baby's fever?
Properly Dress a Baby with Fever at Night
Here are some tips for dressing a baby with a fever.
Choose lightweight, breathable fabrics: When choosing clothes for a feverish baby, the top priority should be lightweight, breathable fabrics like pure organic cotton or cotton blends. These materials allow baby's skin to breathe and reduce the likelihood of oversweating. Excessive sweating not only makes baby uncomfortable but also causes their clothes to get damp, lowering body temperature, which is not helpful for recovery.
Avoid too many layers: While staying warm is important, you also don't want to overdress the baby. Several layers of clothing may cause baby to overheat, which is very disruptive for temperature regulation and could make fever symptoms worse. So make sure baby is dressed warmly but not overly so.
Dress them in nothing or only a diaper: For a feverish baby, sometimes the best approach is no clothes or minimal clothing. You can strip baby down to just a diaper. This helps baby's temperature come down quickly, but make sure the room temperature is moderate to prevent chilling. Baby's skin is the best heat dissipater. With just a diaper or nearly naked, the skin can shed body heat more effectively to help lower baby's temperature. This is very helpful for managing a fever, as it can relieve baby's discomfort and help them get through the febrile period more comfortably.
Choose an appropriate sleep sack or sleeper: A sleep sack can keep a feverish baby nicely warm and cozy. It wraps around baby's whole body while allowing proper ventilation. You can choose an appropriate TOG rating based on room temperature.
For a warmer room, around 24°C/75°F or above, opt for a 0.5 TOG sleep sack or sleeper.
For a normal room temperature, around 20-24°C/68-75°F, a 1.0 TOG sleep sack or sleeper is a good choice.
For a cooler room, around 16°C/60°F or less, consider a 1.5 TOG or higher sleep sack or sleeper.
Then baby can wear a long sleeve bodysuit or sleeper to help keep their body warm while avoiding chills.
What else can you do to keep your baby's fever down at night?
Maintain proper room temperature and ventilation
Keep the temperature in baby's room appropriately around 20-22°C/68-72°F. Use a thermostat to adjust the temperature to ensure baby is comfortable and not overheated or chilled. Also open windows regularly to allow fresh airflow and maintain clean, moderately humid air indoors.
Monitor temperature regularly
Use a reliable thermometer to check baby's temperature routinely. This helps catch potential fevers early. Here are some methods to accurately measure baby's temperature:
Oral temperature: For older infants, oral temperature is effective. Use a digital thermometer and have baby close their mouth with the thermometer under their tongue. But be careful baby doesn't bite down.
Ear temperature: Ear thermometers provide a quick, convenient temperature reading but need proper placement. Gently insert the thermometer probe into baby's ear, ensuring it has close contact with the ear canal walls.
Armpit temperature: For infants and young children, armpit temperature is common. Place the thermometer in baby's armpit, ensuring contact with the skin, then wait to get an accurate reading.
Forehead temperature: Forehead thermometers measure temperature by scanning baby's skin and usually don't require direct contact. It's a no-contact method that is more comfortable for baby.
Normal temperature ranges from 36.5-37.5°C/97.7-99.5°F. Mild fevers often don't require immediate medical attention but can be helped by controlling room temperature, keeping baby hydrated, and rest. However, if baby's temperature persists over 38°C/100.4°F or is accompanied by severe symptoms like rapid breathing, seizures, constant crying, or extreme lethargy, seek medical help immediately as it could indicate an underlying illness. Early medical intervention is crucial for baby's health.
Regularly check for symptoms like hot or cold patches on baby's forehead, neck or back, flushed cheeks, abnormal breathing, vomiting, etc. Contact the doctor promptly if baby has abnormal symptoms.
Additionally, if your baby's fever persists, worsens, or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it's essential to consult a healthcare professional for guidance. Providing the right care and clothing for your feverish baby can help them rest better and recover sooner, ensuring both you and your little one have a more peaceful night.
Above all, your loving attention and care are the most significant sources of comfort for your baby during times of illness. Your soothing presence and tender care will go a long way in helping them feel better. Wishing your baby a speedy recovery and many peaceful nights ahead.