Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: During my sons’ first years, they did get a few fevers. My philosophy is that fever is our friend; it’s not really a bad thing. A fever is telling you that your immune system is working to fight something off. I understand that it causes parents to worry though. Most of my phone calls when I’m on call are about fevers.
As long as my babies looked at me, made eye contact, and interacted with me, I didn’t even treat fevers under 101°F. Those lower fevers help the body to fight things off.
If a child’s fever is over 101° though, I’d take off the baby’s clothes, give him a weight-appropriate dose of Tylenol (acetaminophen), and get plenty of fluids into him. (Don’t give this or any medication to your baby without talking to his pediatrician.)
To check my kids’ temperature, I used an axillary thermometer. That’s probably the least trendy type, but it was best for me. I’ve never invested in fancy thermometers. We’re very low-tech at our house.
Truth be told, it’s not really that important what the exact temperature is; what’s more important is whether the baby has a fever or not. I take the axillary temperature, and it it’s greater than 99.4°, they have a fever (since you need to add a degree to an axillary temp). If it’s below that, I’m not worried. I do recommend that parents of newborns follow up with a rectal thermometer if an axillary is over 100° though because it’s more accurate.
—Jill Wireman, MD, a mom of 14- and 11-year-old sons and a pediatrician in private practice at Johnson City Pediatrics in Johnson City, TN