Newborn temperature: when it is high, what to do

The body temperature of newborns

The temperature of newborns can undergo small variations even for no particular reason.

In their first days of life, their thermoregulation system is in fact still in an adjustment phase: but then, within about a week, their body temperature will settle around normal values.

Usually they are not symptomatic of any pathology in progress, so if they are not particularly relevant there is nothing to worry about. In doubtful cases, however, it is advisable to seek advice from your trusted pediatrician or subject the child to medical examinations.

After about a week, their body temperature stabilizes around 37 degrees with very slight fluctuations throughout the day. The ideal levels are approximately between 36.8 and 37.2 degrees, therefore  it should be considered normal within this range .

It may also happen that, due to some disturbance, their temperature changes and it is therefore important to be able to identify the cause.

The causes of temperature changes in newborns

We have said that during its first weeks of life, for various reasons, a newborn can easily experience changes in its temperature.

  1. ** For physical reasons, but also due to the environment in which he lives**: a slight fever can also be due to an overheated environment, and even to excessively heavy clothing.
    For this reason, it is important to avoid covering the little one too much, especially when he is at home, it is good to keep the rooms well ventilated and avoid excessive heat.
  2. Even a slight agitation , perhaps due to non-refreshing sleep or hunger, can lead to some small changes in the baby’s temperature.
  3. Obviously, even newborns can happen to have a cold , which often leads to a slight increase in temperature. This is not a problem that should worry: just contact your pediatrician. To quickly clear the baby’s nose, he will be able to recommend some natural remedy, such as an aerosol of thermal water.

How to know when the newborn has a fever

In the first few months of a child’s life, a temperature of at least 38 degrees is usually considered a fever. Having stated this, together with the temperature, it is also advisable to take into account various other elements including,

  • its duration (of the fever),
  • the presence of some symptoms, from stomach ache, to vomiting, colds and so on.

Clearly such a young child is unable to tell us what we should know about it. Consequently, in the presence of a significant variation in temperature, it is always advisable to contact your pediatrician.

It is also necessary to take into account that it is not uncommon for a small child to have a passing fever without particularly worrying reasons.

Often the fever of a newborn causes in his parents a strong apprehension – however not always motivated.

  1. As we have said, a sudden fever, even quite high, is in fact quite common at this age.
  2. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that this is caused by important pathologies: even a simple cold, an ear infection or a mild flu can cause a significant rise in the newborn’s body temperature.

A newborn, who is healthy, who has no previous pathologies, who does not have chronic diseases, normally tolerates fever without particular problems: his parents can only help him to reduce his malaise and discomfort.

Things to do in case of a baby fever

If it is a fever that resolves spontaneously after a few hours, this shouldn’t worry because it is most likely not linked to pathologies or infections.

But if, on the contrary, the fever persists and you notice other symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, drowsiness, loss of appetite, vomiting or skin rashes, you should contact your pediatrician or, if this is not possible, take the baby at the emergency room.

In fact, some clinical checks may be necessary to be able to establish what are the reasons for the rise in temperature in relation to the symptoms encountered. However in these cases, it is generally advisable,

  • do not cover excessively the newborn who has a fever,
  • if his temperature is higher than 38.5 degrees, possibly administer an antipyretic (in agreement with the pediatrician, of course).

It is important to bear in mind that fever represents a defense that our immune system puts in place to protect us from infections: for this reason, the intervention of the pediatrician is essential before resorting to an antipyretic drug: obviously also as regards the doses and the methods of its administration.

Breastfeeding is recommended to all mothers (when this is possible), as it is precisely through mother’s milk that the antibodies necessary for effective protection against infections and many pathologies are transmitted to the child.

How can you measure his fever

Especially if she is breastfeeding, a mother is often able to recognize the variations in her baby’s temperature even without a thermometer, also because a newborn with a fever appears hot, with red skin and rapid breathing.

However, the baby’s temperature must be measured with the utmost precision also to eventually give the doctor all the information that may be useful.

It is not always easy to measure a newborn’s fever with a  traditional rectal or axillary thermometer : especially the first few times, the baby can get annoyed and start crying, thus complicating the situation.

The most suitable ones for newborns are electronic thermometers  equipped with a flexible bulb: they take little time to measure the temperature and emit an acoustic signal to facilitate the measurement operation.

Classic thermometers – glass and mercury – are more accurate. However they are quite fragile to be used with a child. Therefore, even if it is slightly less precise, the electronic thermometer is preferable: possibly making several measurements to be sure of detecting the correct temperature.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform,

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