- Baby’s Head Feels Warm
There you are being mom of the year (per usual). You reach over to brush a piece of hair/glob of food/booger off of her face and notice her skin seems hot. You put your wrist on her forehead. Then you touch your own face. Then you touch her face again. She does indeed seem warm. HOLY SHIT.
- Baby Has Elevated Temperature
You hurdle the couch, step on the dog and take the stairs 4 at a time to go retrieve your thermometer. You engage in a life-or-death struggle with your infant to get what you hope is a successful, accurate reading. Resisting the thermometer is one of those skills babies seem to be born with (see also: acting like the washcloth is soaked in chloroform when you wipe their faces). Repeat 10-15 times until you’re satisfied you’ve gotten at least one accurate reading.
- Google “Fever in Infant”
How high is too high? If you’re like me, anything above 99.0 is alarming, so it’s comforting to see that even the Internet (which is a well-known over reactor when it comes to medical issues) agrees that elevated temps are pretty common in babies. Here are the basic guidelines (according to the Mayo Clinic) on when to freak out and when to stay calm:
Baby Age Guidelines Less than 3 months Call your doc for any fever. 3-6 months If your baby has a temperature up to 102 and seems sick or has a temperature higher than 102, contact the doctor. 6-24 months If your baby has a temperature higher than 102 that lasts longer than one day but shows no other signs or symptoms, contact the doctor. If they have other symptoms — such as a cold, cough or diarrhea — keep an eye on the severity and use your best judgement on whether to contact the doctor sooner.
Remember: If your baby (no matter their age) has a fever that lasts for more than 3 days, contact the doctor.
- Second-Guess Yourself on Whether You Should Take Them to the Doctor…For the Next 18 Years
Even if you’ve convinced yourself, based on the age/fever guidelines, that your baby is totally fine, there’s always the nagging thought in the back of your mind, “But is she really totally fine?” Never in your life will you wish you’d become a pediatrician more than when you are unsure of whether your child is sick. A lot of damn good that liberal arts degree is doing us in the middle of the night with a hot, sweaty baby!
You’ll oscillate between relaxed on the play mat with your baby to cramming on your shoes and dialing the pediatrician at least 20 times in a single day. One minute you’ll feel stupid for overreacting and the next you’ll have visions of 250 reporters chasing you through the streets and shouting, “Is it true your baby had a fever leading up to [insert disastrous outcome]?”
Here’s the thing: Take your baby to the doctor if you’re truly worried for their safety. More than likely, it’s nothing to freak out about. But your pediatrician will flag a problem if there is one and help you relax if it’s truly nothing of concern. Always remember that they’ve dealt with more neurotic parents than you and won’t judge you for overreacting.
- Baby’s Fever is Finally Gone
And then the nightmare is suddenly over. Just as quickly as the fever came, so it went, laughing maniacally at the wreckage it has left behind in your fragile, sleep-deprived mind. Maybe it was teething, maybe a daycare virus, maybe your baby was just manipulating you by purposefully mustering a fever. The world may never know.
The first fever changes you. Your thermometer will never be far from reach and you may even invest in a second (just in case the first one falls in a ball pit or gets swallowed by your Roomba). Please just try to remember how your child came out the other side of their first fever a-okay. You’re a good mom and you’ll know when shit gets real and it’s time to truly panic. Good luck out there!