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Your Baby’s First Fever: What to Do?

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Should you go to the emergency room, call the doctor, use a cold compress? Discover what constitutes a fever and what to do about it.

The first time your baby spikes a fever can be scary. But how do you know if it’s the real deal? If his or her temperature is above 99 degrees (oral) or 100.4 degrees (rectal), your little one has a fever.

Don’t panic, as a fever usually means the body is fighting off a mild infection. Just keep these do’s and don’ts in mind, and your baby should feel better within two to three days.


  • Call your pediatrician before giving your little one medicine. The doctor might recommend acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen.
  • Dress your baby in one lightweight layer of cotton clothing and one lightweight blanket for sleeping.
  • Keep your baby’s bedroom comfortable, around 74 degrees.
  • Give your infant a lukewarm bath, but only if you are giving acetaminophen, too.
  • Use a digital thermometer, and clean it after each use.
  • Give your child plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.


  • Send your child to daycare.
  • Bundle your baby in blankets or extra clothes. This can cause the fever to climb.
  • Give aspirin unless your pediatrician approves.
  • Use a mercury thermometer.
  • Take your baby’s temperature right after a bath.
  • Force your child to eat.

When to visit the ER

Sometimes a fever signals a more serious medical problem. Call your child’s doctor or head to the emergency room right away if your baby:

  • Does not act alert after the fever has gone down.
  • Does not have wet diapers.
  • Has a rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher if younger than three months; 102 degrees or higher if 3 to 6 months.
  • Has other symptoms such as an earache, diarrhea, skin rash or vomiting.
  • Recently had an immunization.

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