A pediatrician should be consulted for fever in babies and children.
2. Is a temperature of 101°F or 38.4 high?
Low-grade fevers in infants between 3 months of age and 3 years, below 102°F or 39oC, is not serious. But a rectal temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) in infants below 3 months of age is considered high and could be a sign of a serious illness.
3. What are the signs of serious illness in infants?
Few signs of serious illness in infants include:
- high temperature that does not come down with medicines
- rapid breathing
- the baby is awake but not alert
- has a pale, blue or blotchy skin
- baby does not wet diaper or has not urinated in the past 8 hours
- baby is crying and cannot be calmed
- baby is listless and tired
- Strip-type thermometers: These are held against the forehead and do not give an accurate reading. They display the temperature of the skin, rather than the body.
- Pacifier thermometers: Though convenient, their readings are less reliable than rectal temperatures and should not be used in infants younger than 3 months. Kids also need to keep the pacifier in their mouth for several minutes without moving, which is a nearly impossible task for most babies and toddlers.
- Temporal artery thermometers: These thermometers are swiped over the forehead to behind the ear. It measures the temperature of temporal arteries, which are blood vessels in the forehead. Sweating can affect the reading while using this thermometer, so it is important to make sure that the child's forehead is dry and to take multiple readings to confirm the temperature.
The baby should be dressed in light cotton clothing as bundling up the baby does not allow heat to escape and does not help decrease the temperature.