While most adults and older children experience a fever whenever an infection or other similar health hazard occurs, infants may experience either a fever or a drop in temperature once infection strikes. If your baby's temperature drops too low, hypothermia sets in. Babies under 6 months require immediate medical attention if their temperature drops near the point of hypothermia.
Normal Body Temperature
The normal body temperature for an infant ranges between 97 and 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Your baby's body temperature naturally fluctuates throughout the day by several tenths and sometimes by full degrees. The lowest body temperature of any individual occurs in the early morning while the highest body temperature occurs in the late afternoon. Regardless of the time of day, however, a temperature that falls above or below the standard range for infants indicates that something is amiss.
Fever vs. Hypothermia
Your infant has a fever once his temperature rises above the standard range. If his temperature drops too far below that range, he has hypothermia. According to both the Montreal Children's Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic, hypothermia officially occurs once your infant's body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Hypothermia occurs more often in newborns than in older babies, but any child experiencing hypothermia requires attention. If your baby is under 6 months old and has either a fever or hypothermia, call your doctor or emergency room immediately.
A below normal drop in temperature typically indicates that your baby has a serious infection. An infection becomes even more likely if she demonstrates other symptoms, such as sinus congestion, coughing, vomiting or diarrhea. Hypothermia has several other potential causes, though. MayoClinic.com lists inadequate home heating and excessive air conditioning as prime causes behind hypothermia for infants. Staying in wet clothes or cold temperatures for an extended time may also trigger a temperature drop. The Cleveland Clinic reports thyroid disorders can affect body temperature as well.
Once your infant's body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, seek immediate medical help from your doctor or emergency room. If your infant's temperature drops below 97 degrees Fahrenheit but stays above the hypothermia level, you may attempt home treatment, especially if you suspect environmental temperature to be the cause. MayoClinic.com recommends moving your child to a warm, dry location, changing him out of any wet clothing and covering him with dry blankets. Closely monitor your baby's temperature and breathing. If your infant struggles to breath, or if his temperature does not rise within 30 minutes or continues to drop, seek immediate medical attention.