Fever is a sign that your baby’s fighting off an infection. Here we look at some common myths about fevers. While most fevers do not require a visit to the Emergency Room, it is important to remember, if your baby has a fever more than 100.4°F and is less than 3 months old, call the provider immediately!
MYTH: Anything above 98.6°F is a fever
FACT: It’s true that 98.6°F is a common normal temperature. But a lot of people run cold or hot. A temperature of 99°F could be a sign that the baby is fighting sickness. Or it could be nothing. If your baby is younger than 3 months and has a rectal temperature of 100.4°F or higher, call your provider right away.
MYTH: You will get the same reading no matter where you take the temperature
FACT: If your child is under age 3, it is important to use a rectal thermometer. Taking a temperature under the arm will be about 1 degree lower. The reading from an ear is usually higher.
MYTH: Using a rectal thermometer is hard!
FACT: You just need to know how to do it. Put a dab of petroleum jelly (Vaseline) on the very end of a digital thermometer. Then lay the baby on his or her side and gently push the end about ½ inch past the baby’s anus and into the rectum. Hold the thermometer there until it beeps.
MYTH: You can “catch” a fever
FACT: Fever is a symptom of something else going on in the body. If the temperature is above 100.4°F, the illness that the baby is fighting could be viral or bacterial and is probably contagious.
MYTH: Tylenol or Advil “breaks” a fever
FACT: Always talk with your provider before giving your baby any kind of medicine. He or she will tell you the right dosage, based on baby’s weight. If your baby is 6 months or younger, don’t give ibuprofen (found in Advil and Motrin, and other over-the-counter drugs).
Drugs can lower a fever, but it can’t fight the infection that’s causing the fever. That means that when the medicine wears off, the fever could come back. Medications will typically only lower a temperature by 1-2 degrees, they will not necessarily bring the temperature down to 98.6°F.