also see Fever, Fever in Children
Generally a sign that body is marshalling its resources to fight and destroy infection; however, in very young babies, whose temperature regulation mechanism may not be mature, temperature quickly rises in response to hot weather, hot rooms, or too many clothes or blankets.
Automatically reaching for aspirin, paracetamol, etc. when a baby has a temperature is to be condemned; aspirin should not be given to young children because of risk of Reye's Syndrome, a rare but fatal disease which seems to be linked to taking of aspirin. In most cases the homeopathic remedies listed below effectively bring temperature down; sometimes simply undressing the baby or giving tepid sponge-downs brings temperature back to normal. Junior paracetamol should only be given if fever rises above 39°C (102°F) and homeopathic remedies are not working, if baby is prone to Febrile Convulsions (fits which come on when temperature rises above normal), or if fever is preventing baby from sleeping.
If, despite all efforts, baby's temperature remains above 39° (102°F) for more than 2 hours, call your medical doctor. Also, if your baby has a history of febrile convulsions, call your medical doctor as soon as fever develops. If baby goes into convulsions, or if skin develops bluish tinge, contact Emergency Medical Services.
Conditions such as Croup and Stridor (crowing intakes of breath), acute Bronchitis and Bronchiolitis (rapid breathing, gasping for breath), Pneumonia (dry cough, wheezing, rapid breathing), and Meningitis (unusual drowsiness or irritability, unusual high-pitched cry) are accompanied by fever, and require prompt medical attention; appropriate action is to consult your doctor if there is no improvement in 2 hours. Fever can also be an indication of Gastroenteritis (diarrhoea, perhaps vomiting as well) or of one of the childhood fevers (see Measles, Chicken Pox, etc); appropriate action is to consult your doctor if there is no improvement in 12 hours. Middle Ear Infection (sudden waking, crying, puffing at affected ear) and throat infections (refusing solids) can also be accompanied by fever; keep infant under close observation, and if there is no improvement within 24 hours, call your medical doctor.
Specific remedies to be given every hour for up to 10 doses as soon as fever comes on
- Sudden rise in temperature after exposure to cold dry wind, baby restless, shivery, and thirsty Aconite 30c
- Sudden onset, baby very thirsty, with burning hot skin and staring eyes, unusual noises and movements Belladonna 30c
- Baby very restless and thirsty for small drinks at frequent intervals, symptoms worse between midnight and 2 am Arsenicum 30c
- Slightest movement causes baby to cry out, large quantities of fluid gulped down Bryonia 30c
Self-help: Tepid sponging is a very effective method of bringing temperature down. Spread a clean towel on the floor in a warm room, undress the child, and lay him or her on the towel; sponge face, arms and legs, and front of body with tepid water, then pat dry with a second towel; turn baby over, wet-sponge arms, legs, and back, and pat dry. Repeat this procedure, front and back, six times. If temperature has not come down within 2 hours, repeat the process. Give baby as much to drink (dilute, unsweetened apple juice, for example) as he or she seems to want.
Sometimes, simply undressing baby and giving frequent small drinks does the trick.
If fever is not due to overheating nor accompanied by any other obvious symptoms, a low-level infection may be the cause. If this is the case, give Ferrum Phos. tissue salts every 30 minutes for up to 4 doses, then every 2 hours for up to 4 doses. If there is no improvement within 48 hours, see your medical doctor.