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My Newborn Has a Fever: What Should I Do?

My Newborn Has a Fever: What Should I Do?

As a parent, nothing is more alarming than realizing your newborn has a fever. While common and often nothing to worry about in older infants and children, a fever in a newborn can be a sign of a serious infection. 

The compassionate and knowledgeable team at Rapid City Healthcare in Irving, Texas, offers the following to help you understand how to respond to a fever in your newborn to ensure their safety.

Understanding fever in newborns

A rectal temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher in babies under three months old is considered a fever. Fever is a natural response of the body to fight infection, but in newborns, it can be a sign of something more serious, such as a bacterial infection.

How to take your baby’s temperature

The most reliable method of taking a newborn's temperature is using a digital rectal thermometer. Oral or ear thermometers are not recommended for newborns due to their inaccuracy at this age.

To take a rectal temperature, place your baby on their back, apply some petroleum jelly on the thermometer's tip, and gently insert it about a half-inch into the rectum. Hold the thermometer in place until it beeps, indicating the reading is complete.

What to do if your newborn has a fever

If you detect a fever in your newborn, taking immediate action is essential.

1. Contact your pediatrician

If your newborn is under three months old and has a fever, contact your pediatrician at Rapid City Healthcare immediately. Do not give any medication unless advised by your health care provider.

2. Keep your baby hydrated

Ensure your baby remains hydrated. Continue breastfeeding or bottle-feeding as usual. If your baby is having difficulty feeding, contact the office. Do not give juice or other liquids unless instructed by your doctor. 

3. Monitor for other symptoms

Besides fever, look for other signs of illness, such as difficulty breathing, rash, vomiting, diarrhea, or unusual fussiness. These symptoms should be reported to your pediatrician.

4. Keep your baby comfortable

Dress your baby in lightweight clothing and use a light blanket. Overdressing can trap body heat and cause the temperature to rise.

When to seek emergency care

There are certain situations where seeking immediate medical attention for your newborn with a fever, including:

You should also seek emergency care if your newborn’s fever is accompanied by other serious symptoms like trouble breathing, unresponsiveness, a rash that doesn't fade when pressed, continuous vomiting, or signs of dehydration.

How to prevent your newborn’s risk of infection

While it's impossible to shield your newborn from all germs, there are steps you can take to reduce their risk of infection:

If you're using formula, ensure that all bottles, nipples, and preparation areas are clean. Follow guidelines for formula preparation and storage strictly to prevent food-borne illnesses.

Urgent care at Rapid City Healthcare

Knowing how to accurately measure your baby's temperature and understanding the signs that require immediate attention helps you ensure the best care for your little one. Rapid City Healthcare provides health care services to children and adults of all ages, including an urgent care center open six days per week. Visit for walk-in service, call, or schedule an appointment online.

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