Baby Temperature Range: What’s Normal?
There are few things scarier for a parent than helplessly watching their baby fall ill.
As much as you research, you may never feel fully prepared for when baby comes home, especially when your little one seems to be a little warmer than usual and/or appear under the weather. Because babies cannot regulate their own body temperature, it is important that their temperature is monitored regularly for the first several months of their life to ensure their safety.
As most of us know, the average human body temperature is 98.6° Fahrenheit or 37° Celsius, and this includes infants as well. Nonetheless, everyone is different and internal temperature can vary based on the time of day, activity, and age of the person. According to the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP), “Infants tend to have higher temperatures than older children, and everyone’s temperature is highest between late afternoon and early evening and lowest between midnight and early morning.”
In terms of a typical range for baby, as outlined by the AAP, anywhere between 97.5° F (36.4° C) and 99.5° F (37.5° C) is totally normal. A temperature reading of 100.4° F (38° C) is considered to be the beginning of a fever and should typically be accompanied by other symptoms. If a temperature reading exceeds this, depending on the severity, consult your physician immediately. Important to note: If an infant is under the age of six months, any fever can be cause for concern; if older, usually the fever can be treated at home.
It is important to remember that a fever is not a form of illness. In fact, a fever is typically brought on by the body fighting off an infection or as a result of an immunization. Because a fever is generally caused by fighting off an infection, this can even be taken as a good sign of baby’s developing immune system (depending on the age). Nevertheless, we all know that having a fever is uncomfortable, and watching your baby battle a fever can be scary to deal with.
There are many ways to accurately read a baby’s temperature: rectally, orally, axillary (under the armpit), temporal (forehead) and via the ear. If your child is under the age of three, it is recommended to take their temperature rectally as this is typically the most accurate. The AAP strongly encourages the use of digital thermometers as the use of mercury thermometers can be dangerous if broken.
Did you know? Simply feeling for a warm forehead may not tell you whether or not your child has a fever. Any one of these factors can also indicate that your infant might have a fever: overly thirsty, lethargic, poor appetite, poor sleeping, or a seizure (febrile convulsion or “fit”).
To help offset the fever, depending on the severity, lessen the layers of clothing or remove some of the bedding so that your child can cool off gradually. It is not recommended to immediately place baby in a cold bath as babies do not regulate temperature as well as adults do. A lukewarm bath or sponging with tepid water will assist in cooling baby off gradually and will prevent him/her from getting too cold too quickly. It is also encouraged to ensure your baby is drinking a lot of liquids and kept in a cool room, out of the sun. If the fever is high, an oral acetaminophen or ibuprofen is usually okay to give them – but be sure to consult your physician first. According to Birth.com, if the fever reaches 102.2° F (39° C) or above, immediately give them medicine and seek urgent medical care as a temperature this high makes baby prone to seizure (febrile convulsion).
For an intricate breakdown of what each temperature reading indicates, click here.