A fever is not by itself an illness. It is the body’s natural defense to systemic infection caused by bacteria or viruses. In most cases a fever is not dangerous. On the contrary, fever can help your baby fight off infection and help her get rest. Occasional fevers, as well as the viruses and bacteria that cause them, are part of how children build a robust immune system.
Your baby’s hypothalamus gland regulates her body’s temperature, keeping it around 98.7°F most of the time. With a fever, the hypothalamus turns up the heat, which signals her immune system to act and makes her body less hospitable to pathogens. The measure of a temperature does not correlate to the severity of the disease or stressor. Children routinely run fevers that are higher than those in adults.
In general, fever can be viewed as your child’s partner in health. In the past, parents were advised to suppress fever. Now, most health care providers advise parents simply to keep their fevered children comfortable and hydrated and to monitor their temperature.
- Body temperature above 99°F (normal body temperature ranges from 97°F to 99°F)
- Fatigue, lethargy, irritability
- Flushed face
- Elevated breathing, pulse, and heart rates
- Little to no appetite
- Accompanying symptoms such as sneezing, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, sore throat, sweating, nasal discharge
The causes of fever range from a serious disease to simple overheating. When a fever is present, something else is usually off balance in your child’s body. Here are some common causes of fever:
- Bacteria or virus
- A developing chronic condition
- Exhaustion, overexertion, or overstimulation
- Reaction to a vaccination
- Rapid temperature changes in your child’s environment, such as seasonal changes
- Any type of body stressor
Fever is a sign that your child’s immune system is working. It is not an illness in itself; rather, it alerts you to illness. You can help your child avoid fevers caused by environmental factors by taking care that she does not become overstimulated, stressed, overheated, or exposed to extreme temperature changes.
Fever: Suggestions for Care
When your child has a fever, she needs rest and a calm environment. If possible, keep her at home from school, child care, and other activities. Once her temperature returns to normal, keep her at home for another 24 hours, if possible, to help her regain her strength.
While your child has a fever, encourage her to rest, sleep, and drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Perspiration helps release excess salts and restore balance. In the early stages of a fever, keep her covered, but be careful that she is not wrapped so tightly that she overheats and develops a higher fever. On the other hand, take care that she does not become chilled, which can lead to shivering and thus can increase her fever.
A lukewarm bath can help your child feel better when she has a fever. You can add several cups of chamomile, or other herbal tea, to her bath for a soothing effect. When your child has a fever, do not bathe her in a cold bath or a bath containing rubbing alcohol, which can constrict her blood vessels and make it difficult for her skin to expel excess heat and toxins.
Food and Remedies for Nursing Mother or Baby Older than Six Months
Most children have a low appetite during a fever, so do not worry if your child does not want to eat. Keep her hydrated, and make sure she gets enough nutrients to maintain her strength.
Foods to Emphasize
Water, diluted herbal teas, broths, and rehydrating fluids; simple and easy-to-digest foods such as soft rice porridge and steamed or fresh vegetables and fruits. Other remedies include miso soup, kuzu, and herbal tea, such as chamomile.
Foods to Avoid
Eggs, meat, milk, and sugar.
Essential Oils for Baby
Acupoints for Baby
- Large intestine 11
- Stomach 36
- Heart governor 6
- Gallbladder 20
- Liver 3
- Governing vessel 14
Reiki for Baby
For two or more minutes, place your hands on the following parts of your child’s body: forehead, temples, back of head, back of neck, throat, top of head, stomach, and intestines.
Massage for Baby
- Massage down the breastbone to her navel.
- Massage your baby’s upper chest from her breastbone outward.
- Massage down the center of her spine and on either side. Pay special attention to her shoulder blades.
- Massage your baby’s large-intestine channel.
- Pay special attention to the points on her hand, and work from her shoulder to her fingertip.
Your child’s behavior is an indicator of the seriousness of her illness. If she continues to play and to drink fluids, then her body is probably healing by itself. If she is lethargic, even if her fever is mild, then her condition may be more serious. Call for professional medical assistance when your child fits any of these criteria:
- Is under three months old and has a rectal temperature above 100.4°F
- Is three to six months old and has a rectal temperature above 101°F
- Is between six months and two years old and has a rectal temperature above 102.2°F
- Has a fever of 104°F or above at any age
Note: The suggestions and ideas in this article are not intended to take the place of professional guidance or treatment; they are meant to complement the advice of your child’s health care provider, caretakers, and educators, while offering consolidated information to help you develop your intuition and make choices that fit with your own personal, religious, or spiritual philosophies. There is no guarantee as to the effects of the use of the recommendations and no liabilities can be taken.