This overview helps you to decide which body temperature is normal for babies and when a baby has a fever. Also, a pediatrician will give tips on when suppositories are useful and in which cases you should inform a doctor.
Content tested by Dr. med. Ralf Brugel, pediatrician
In this article:
What body temperature is normal for babies?
The normal body temperature of babies should be between 36.5° and 37.5° Celsius Lie. In the beginning, children have great difficulty regulating their own body temperature – they cool down quickly and heat up quickly.
Too low body temperature in cold weather
Warning signals for hypothermia: Baby body temperature drops lower than 35° Celsius.
The younger children are, the easier they freeze. Infants still have little subcutaneous fat tissue, which insulates and protects against cold. In addition, their body surface is relatively large in relation to the body mass. As a result, they lose heat quickly. That a baby seriously hypothermia, happens only very rarely.
Hypothermic children appear pale and the skin can turn blue. They appear restless, the heartbeat and breathing are accelerated (slight hypothermia). babies can not yet tremble. Therefore, they lack this warning signal. If your child already seems listless and rigid, you should consult a doctor to be on the safe side.
Too high body temperature in heat
Warning signal for overheating: Baby body temperature rises higher than 38.8° Celsius.
A slightly elevated body temperature in the summer/ in the heat is no reason to worry at first. Especially not if your baby seems fit and alert. A sunken fontanel, on the other hand, is a warning sign in babies that they are already dehydrated.
Babies are not yet able to dissipate excess heat well (z. B. due to sweating). Therefore it can come more easily to a heat accumulation in the body. The child may be threatened with sunstroke or, in the worst case, heat stroke. A very red, very warm head is a clear warning signal. If your child vomits and the body temperature rises above 38.8° Celsius, inform the doctor
It is therefore important to check regularly whether your child is too warm or too cold. Of course, this does not mean that you should constantly check with a thermometer. You will quickly develop a feeling for it yourself.
A control grip on the neck can help: If the neck feels warm to the touch, then the baby’s temperature is okay. Feet and hands may sometimes feel cold without it being a sign that your baby is cold.
From when does a baby have a fever?
If the baby’s temperature rises, there is no reason to panic at first. As flippant as it may sound at first, "We pediatricians sometimes say, ‘The fever is the child’s friend,’" explains Dr. med. Ralf Brugel.
In a young infant, an illness is not always necessarily indicated by a significant rise in temperature. Your immune system has yet to learn how to properly deal with pathogens. This is why doctors call babies up to three months old with a temperature of 38° Celsius a fever.
You can check this fever chart to see what body temperature is basically normal for babies.
|Normal body temperature||36.5 °C to 37.5 °C|
|Increased body temperature||37.6 °C to 38.5 °C|
|Fever baby||from 38,5 °C|
|high fever baby||from 39 °C|
Children develop fever faster than adults. This is a natural protective reaction of the body. If the body turns up the heat, viruses and bacteria can multiply less easily than at normal body temperature. In addition, the immune system becomes more active.
How to tell if a baby has a fever? Symptoms and signs
Fever alone is not a bad thing at first. Much more important than the mere body temperature of the baby is his general condition. To assess whether a child is doing well or not, for dr. med. Ralf Brugel the following points significantly more decisive.
The pediatrician lists 3 important characteristics you should look for when a fever is present:
- appearance: A baby/toddler must have rosy, well-circulated skin.
- drinking behavior: A baby/toddler should drink/thirst and also pass urine appropriately. Eating in a toddler/child is not so important. The main thing is to drink.
- And the most important: The baby/child should have some basic activity and appear alert.
Dr. med. Ralf Brugel:
" It is always bad when a baby / toddler is motionless, lethargic or apathetic. This should always prompt parents to consult a doctor quickly, regardless of the fever level."
More than 90 percent of all children suffer from the so-called "three-day fever" once in their lives. This disease is transmitted by a herpes virus and is sometimes difficult to distinguish from a measles/rubella disease.
The most common symptoms of 3-day fever are:
- Baby has a fever above 40 degrees
- red skin rash without itching
- partial vomiting/ diarrhea
Here you get all information about the recognition and treatment of the 3-day fever in babies and toddlers.
fever baby when teething?
A slightly elevated body temperature may be possible when babies are teething. Tooth fever, however, is just a myth. Temperatures above 38.5 °C are not a "typical symptom" of teething.
In this article you will find tips and help if your baby is feverish during teething.
Febrile seizure in babies
Between two and five percent of all children under the age of five experience a febrile seizure at least once. Although such a seizure is usually very frightening for parents, it is usually a harmless side effect of harmless lung infections.
"(You) should (…) keep calm and call the emergency doctor on 112. You can place your child in the recovery position after the seizure – until the doctor arrives – so that saliva and vomit, if any, can flow out of the mouth and not enter the airway. Under no circumstances should they shake the child!"
Here you can read all the information about symptoms, triggers and treatment of a febrile seizure in babies and toddlers.
How to measure fever in baby?
With babies brings a Rectal measurement (in the bottom) the most accurate result. To do this, lightly cream the tip of the thermometer and carefully insert it two centimeters deep into the buttocks.
Ear thermometer are not recommended for babies under three months. Their ear canals are still too narrow to insert the sensor properly. The measurement result can be inaccurate.
Forehead thermometer better to use only for a first orientation. They work quickly and easily, but do not measure the core body temperature. This makes them inaccurate.
How to best measure your child’s fever, explains Dr. Brugel in the video:
What helps when the baby is feverish?
Fever is a protective mechanism of the body against pathogens. If the fever is suppressed too hastily, the body can no longer defend itself effectively against the intruders. Therefore, it should not and does not need to be lowered immediately, as long as your child is eating normally and the baby’s body temperature does not rise into a critical range. Therefore it is important to Check temperature regularly.
Lowering fever with home remedies
What can I do if my baby has a fever?? With lots of love, attention and a few home remedies, you can support the natural healing process.
- Baby should drink a lot
Home remedies number one and two: Cuddling and drinking. If your child is weakened by fever and feels sick, he needs you all the more. Take it now especially much in the arm and be even more at his side than already. You should make sure that he drinks enough.
- Cold calf compresses/ lukewarm washcloths on the forehead
Other proven home remedies for gently reducing a baby’s fever include a damp, lukewarm washcloth on the forehead and calf wraps.
- Sleeping helps against fever
Make sure your baby gets plenty of sleep now and doesn’t get stressed out. The day should be organized accordingly calm: stay at home, cancel visits and provide enough rest breaks.
In general, the following applies to all measures: They only relieve discomfort but do not fight the cause of the fever. If it lasts longer, please inform your pediatrician.
When should fever suppositories be given??
The German Federal Center for Health Education recommends only in exceptional cases and best of all only at temperatures from 39° Celsius To take fever-reducing medication. At young infants accordingly already at a Body temperature above 38° Celsius. Please always consult your pediatrician beforehand!
Paracetamol or ibuprofen are recommended as antipyretics. Namely, when the fever noticeably weakens babies, they drink poorly and sleep restlessly. Usually the medicine is given in the form of suppositories or juices. Here applies:
- Paracetamol juice/paracetamol suppositories:
Babies weighing three kilograms or more can take the medicine
- Ibuprofen juice/ibuprofen suppositories:
Are only prescribed from the fourth month of life and with a body weight of at least six kilograms.
Tip from the pediatrician: "I always advise parents to give paracetamol or ibuprofen primarily as a painkiller and less as a febrifuge. If a child has a fever of over 30°C, but is drinking well and is "content", then the body temperature does not necessarily have to be lowered. If a child can’t sleep because of aching limbs, then giving painkillers also makes sense, even if the fever is not high.", explains Dr. med. Ralf Brugel.
Fever suppositories are often easier to administer to babies and toddlers. It may help if you warm the suppository in your hand beforehand and moisten it slightly.
Baby has a fever: When does the baby need to see a doctor??
Regardless of the level of fever, you should take the baby to the doctor,
- in case of febrile seizure
- if you are worried about the general condition
- when there is a persistent loss of appetite
- for diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain
- If the fever does not go down despite fever-reducing measures
- when the baby is sensitive to touch and cries shrilly
The younger your child is, the sooner you should react. For children under three months, you should already be cautious when their body temperature is above 38 degrees. Infants don’t always respond to infections immediately with a significant fever.
If your baby also seems exhausted and listless, has little appetite and is unusually pale, please inform your pediatrician immediately.
In older children, high fever should be from 39° Celsius be checked by a doctor, which lasts for several days. This does not necessarily mean that your child is seriously ill. But a doctor must clarify possible causes.
"If the child’s general condition is good and there are no specific symptoms, such as a strong cough, increased vomiting or severe ear pain, a doctor should be consulted after no more than three days with a fever," explains pediatrician Dr. med. Ralf Brugel.
ImportantIf you are unsure and cannot assess your child’s condition correctly, you should always ask a pediatrician for advice – and not only in the case of fever.