WORDS: Tiny Hearts Education
At the end of the day there are many things paediatric nurses know that will never be useful in day to day life. Understanding fevers however is a different story! I have lost track of the number of times a mama friend has contacted me when their bub’s temperature has gone through the roof and they’re questioning themselves. What I’ve realised is that just about every time, that mama does know what to do but she just needs reassurance. It got me thinking that parents might feel more confident and empowered if they had a little more knowledge about fevers and what to do about them when they strike.
Perhaps the first thing to know is that fevers are common in kiddos, and they’re also a perfectly normal response of their little bod to an infection. I know a fever can be concerning, but when it comes to a child’s immunity we can praise fevers for letting us know bub’s immune system is doing its job – and that’s a good thing! The key factor I want you to remember is that when it comes to fevers, it’s not about the number on the thermometer but about how your little love is within themselves.
So, what classifies a fever?
A fever is a high temperature, specifically a temperature of 38 degrees celsius or higher.
What’s happening in bub’s body when they spike a temp?
Our bodies are pretty clever. All of us have a little body part that’s like an internal thermostat, which resides in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. This little guy knows what temperature your body is meant to be, so it’s constantly sending chemical messages to the other systems to keep it that way. T
he body’s temperature will fluctuate during the day and may go up with exercise or after a hot shower, overdressing or time in the sun, but in general the hypothalamus keeps our body temp on a pretty even keel. If the hypothalamus senses an infection however, it will “reset” the body’s internal thermostat to a higher temperature, essentially activating “fight mode.” Researchers believe that the reason for this is to make the body a more uncomfortable place for germs, and hence harder for these nasty bugs to survive.
What are signs my bubs may have a fever?
- Bub may seem hot to touch
- Just as common they may be shivering and feel cold
- Appear unwell
- Miserable, irritable or just not themselves
- Sleepier than usual
- Not tolerating food or fluids or vomiting
- Bub appears to be in pain
What are the red flags with a fever?
And what signs require urgent medical help?
- A temperature of 38 or higher in a baby under 3 months, even if they have no other symptoms.
- A non-blanching rash. This may indicate a serious illness such as meningitis/meningococcal.
- Breathing difficulties, change in colour, blue lips.
- A stiff neck or eyes that are sensitive to light
- Leaning forward and drooling.
- If bub’s soft spot on the top of their head (fontanelle) is sunken in or bulging out.
- Seizures or fits.
What about febrile convulsions?
You may have heard about febrile convulsions, a type of seizure, which can occur when a child’s temperature rises very rapidly. Most children who get fever will only have mild discomfort, however, about 1 in 30 children experience a febrile convulsion. They are most common between the ages of 6 months and 6 years. It’s reassuring to remember that it’s not the fever itself that causes them, but rather the speed at which it’s occurred. For this reason, febrile convulsions often happen before a parent has even realised their child has a fever. Febrile convulsions can be scary to witness but please know they are not harmful to your bub and do not cause long term brain damage. At Tiny Hearts Education, we cover febrile convulsions in our baby first aid courses to empower parents in the event of a seizure.
Things to remember
- All kiddos get fevers from time to time as their body’s normal response to infection.
- Fever is not an illness in itself, but is a sign of one.
- Most fevers in children don’t need medical attention. Rest, cuddles and care at home will often do the trick.
- Remember to treat the symptoms not the number!
- Look out for the red flags and have a trusty thermometer on hand for insight and calm.
- If you’re in doubt about how your bub is or you’re becoming more concerned, trust your gut and head to the doctor.
Trust yourself mamas and papas, You’ve got this!
Tiny Heart’s new Infrared Thermometer is a must-have in your home to support and protect your little ones from sickness.
Easy to operate with fast and accurate results, other features include:
- Dual Mode: You can check your child’s temperature via ear or forehead.
- Fever Alert: The colour-coded display allows you to quickly assess your child. You will know within seconds if your child has a normal, rising or elevated temperature.
- Multi-Functional: Toggle between baby and adult mode. Measure room, milk and water temperatures.
- Fast and accurate: Designed to quickly read your child’s temperature and provide you with accurate information needed to care for your baby.
- Memory Recall: Recalls 35 memory sets, so you can look back at bub’s temperatures taken previously.
- Mute Function: You can check bub’s temperature while they sleep without waking them!
Helping you feel prepared for parenthood is what Tiny Hearts is all about. For more life-saving info, book into the Tiny Hearts Education Baby + Child First Aid course and let the team teach you everything they know, empowering you to face parenthood without fear.