When infants get a low-grade fever, many parents panic and start worrying that something is seriously wrong with their baby. Although this condition is a common occurrence among infants, it is not always harmful. Also, it does not have any negative impact on the baby. When the normal functioning of the body gets affected due to some reasons, say germ attack, then the body raises its temperature to fight off the harmful substance which is causing the imbalance.
Temperature Range for a Low-Grade Fever
Like in adults, the body temperature often varies from one infant to another. In general, the body temperature of an infant between 97 °F and 99 °F is considered normal. When it rises above normal but is below 101 °F, then it is categorized as low-grade fever. The body temperature of an infant can be taken both orally as well as rectal, and both the readings may differ slightly. Most doctors believe that the temperature taken rectally is more accurate as compared to that taken orally. For a low-grade fever in infants, the rectal reading lies between 100.4 °F and 100.9 °F, whereas the oral reading lies between 99.5 °F and 101 °F.
A low-grade fever can be a sign of an infection in babies. However, sometimes, it can be triggered by some other factors as well. Commonly found causes are as follows:
- Upper respiratory infection, which is characterized by a sore throat, stuffy nose, cough, etc.
- Infection in the gastrointestinal tract triggered either by viruses or bacteria. Here, the fever is accompanied by diarrhea and vomiting.
- Teething is another major cause of this condition in babies. The teething time for infants usually starts when they are 3 months old. At this stage, the body temperature may rise slightly.
- Chickenpox, a viral infection where small fluid-filled blisters appear on skin surface.
- Measles, a viral infection that can be identified with blotchy skin rashes along with fever.
- Mumps, where the salivary glands are attacked by virus. As a result, the salivary glands on both sides of the face get swollen, and they get puffy cheeks.
- Urinary tract infection (or UTI) or bladder infection. In few cases of UTI in infants, there may not be any symptom other than fever. Others may get symptoms like strong smell in urine or cloudy urine.
- Low-grade fever is common after certain types of immunization. This fever usually lasts for one or two days, and then subsides on its own.
There is a misconception among parents that if the low-grade fever in children is left untreated, it may turn into a high-grade fever. This is far from the truth. It is not always necessary to treat the fever. Sometimes, lowering the body temperature does not help at all because the body raises its temperature to eliminate some germs from the body. However, a low-grade fever in a newborn child should be taken seriously, and a doctor should be consulted immediately. Similarly, persistent low-grade fever in babies should not be overlooked.
For babies that are at least 3 months old, it is advisable that parents keep a close watch for some other symptoms that are may accompany the fever. The activities and alertness of the baby should be monitored. Take a look if the baby is responding when you are trying to comfort him or her. See whether the baby is taking foods or not. Check the temperature after every hour. If you notice any other symptoms or change in behavior of the child, then take him/her to the doctor without delay.
When the fever is due to a harmless cause like teething, you have to provide a little bit of care and comfort to the baby. If your child has chills, cover up the body so that he/she does not shiver. This is because shivering can raise the body temperature further. A cold compress can help provide a lot of relief from the discomfort. Place a wet washcloth on your baby's forehead, neck, armpits, and groin repeatedly. Placing the baby in lukewarm bath can also lower the body temperature. Fever-reducing medicines like acetaminophen or ibuprofen are safe for infants; however, consult your doctor before administering them.
So, next time, when your child develops a mild fever, just do not fret. Rather, think rationally and take necessary steps to prevent any further aggravation of the symptoms. Most importantly, cuddle your baby as much as possible because nothing is more comforting for them than your warm, cozy touch!
Disclaimer: This AptParenting article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.