It is very common for babies to develop a fever at some point during their first year of life. Most of the time, fevers are not serious and are part of the body's normal response to fighting off infection. You can aid your child's recovery by offering fluids, rest and when appropriate, fever-reducing medication.
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Feeding a Fever
It is a misconception that milk will cause stomach upset or other problems in infants with fever. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that infants should be offered more frequent breast or bottle feedings during a bout of sickness. Increased fluids, in the form of human milk or formula, will help prevent serious dehydration. There is no need to restrict or dilute milk or formula. Your baby will regain energy faster if you offer regular, undiluted feedings.
Viral infection is the most common cause of fever in young children. Colds, flu, roseola, chicken pox, fifth disease, and hand, foot and mouth disease are common childhood sicknesses caused by viruses. These do not respond to antibiotics and usually last several days. Bacterial infections, including ear infections, sinus infections, pneumonia, bladder infection and strep throat, also cause fever. They are typically treated with antibiotics. Teething is another common cause of fever, although it rarely produces temperatures higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
If your baby is 3 months or older and has an temperature lower than 102 F, offer rest and extra fluids. For a fever of 102 F or higher in a baby 3 months or older, give acetaminophen and continue to monitor the temperature. Do not give aspirin to a child younger than 12 years old.
When to Call a Doctor
Contact a doctor for any fever in an infant younger than 3 months. Do not give medication to a baby younger than 3 months unless directed to do so by a doctor. For older babies, seek medical attention for a fever over 104 F that does not come down quickly with treatment, or if a fever of 102 F or higher persists for longer than one day. If your baby's fever is accompanied by lethargy or inconsolable crying, call his doctor.