Baby Body Temperature – What’s normal

You’re worried your baby might have a fever and frantically trying to remember what the ideal body temperature is meant to be…don’t stress, read on and hopefully we have provided you with the help you need.

A normal temperature range for children is 36.5°C-37.5°C.

A temperature of 38°C or more in a baby under 3 months and a temperature of 38.5°C or more in older infants is considered high.

Taking your child’s temperature

There are many different ways to take your babies temperature and you need to keep in mind that the temperature will vary depending on the method you use and what area of the body you’re taking the reading from.

  • Normal temperature range with an ear thermometer is 35.8°C to 38.0°C
  • Normal oral temperature should be between 35.5°C and 37.8°C
  • Normal armpit temperature should be below 34.7°C to 37.3°C
  • For rectal thermometers, the normal range is 36.6°C to 38.0°C

We recommend using a digital thermometer which has been found to give the most accurate reading and is the easiest to use. The Oricom Non-Contact Thermometer is a great option to consider.

Some thermometers are more suitable for particular age groups so you should always read and follow the manufacturer’s directions to get an accurate reading. You can also ask your Maternal and Child Health Nurse, GP or pharmacist to show you how to use your thermometer.

Signs and symptoms of fever

Your child has a fever when their temperature reads above 38°C on a thermometer.

Your child may also be:
  • unwell and hot to touch
  • irritable or crying
  • more sleepy than usual
  • vomiting or refusing to drink
  • shivering
  • in pain

When to see a doctor

If your baby is under three months and has a fever above 38°C, or if your child has a weakened immune system due to a medical condition or medical treatment and has a fever above 38°C, then you should see a GP, even if they have no other symptoms.

For all other children, take them to see a GP if their temperature is above 38°C and they have any of the following symptoms:

  • a stiff neck or light is hurting their eyes
  • vomiting and refusing to drink much
  • a rash
  • more sleepy than usual
  • problems with breathing
  • pain that doesn’t get better with pain relief medication.
  • have a fever above 40°C, but show no other symptoms
  • have had any fever for more than two days
  • seem be getting more unwell
  • have had a febrile convulsion.

Even if you think your child is just teething but their reading is still greater than 38°C you should still visit your GP as it is more than likely that your child has an infection.

Things you can do to help

  • Give your child frequent small drinks. Many children refuse to eat when they have a fever. This is not a problem, as long as they stay hydrated.
  • Give extra breastfeeds, formula bottles or cooled boiled water to babies under six months old.
  • Give your child paracetamol and/or ibuprofen if the fever is making them miserable or they have other symptoms, such as a sore throat. Carefully follow the dosage instructions on the packaging. Do not give ibuprofen to babies under three months old or to any child who is dehydrated. Never give aspirin to children.
  • Make their sleeping arrangements as comfortable as possible ie: keep their room dark, check the room temperature and run a humidifier with essential oils
  • Try placing a sponge or face washer on your child’s forehead, soaked in slightly warm water to help cool them down. It’s important they don’t become too cold or uncomfortable when you do this. Cold baths or showers are not recommended.
  • Dress your child in enough clothing so that they are not too hot or cold. If your child is shivering, add another layer of clothing or a blanket until they stop.
  • Watch your child for signs that their illness is getting worse

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