What is a normal body temperature for babies and kids?
Picture this. Your precious baby has just woken up halfway through the night. She’s crying more than usual, but you’re not sure why. As you gently try to rock her back to sleep, you notice that she feels a little warm, so you take out your thermometer and slip it under her arm. It beeps. You glance down at the screen and see those flashing numbers peering back at you–38.7 degrees. You panic. Isn’t that...high? You slowly realise, as you pack away the thermometer and consider your next steps, that you’re not actually sure what a normal baby or child temperature is.
When a child has a higher temperature than normal, often, our first instinct is to worry. And rightly so. A fever in children can be a symptom of conditions that are completely benign or very serious. But when is your baby’s temperature normal, and when should you seek medical attention?
How to tell if your child has a high temperature
Sometimes, you will be able to tell if your child has a high temperature just by touching their skin. Other signs to look out for include 1:
● Your child feels hotter than usual when you touch their forehead, back or stomach
● Your child appears hot and flushed, with red cheeks
● Your child feels sweaty
If your child shows any of the fever symptoms listed above, or you suspect that they have a high temperature for any other reason, you should always check their temperature with a thermometer.
What is a 'normal' temperature for a baby or a child?
Once you take their temperature, you need to work out whether it’s normal or not. A normal baby’s body temperature should be around 36.4, but this will vary from child to child1 . In children under 52, a fever (high temperature) is considered to be a temperature of 38C (100.4F) or above. A temperature of 38C or higher in babies under three months of age, or a temperature of 39C or more in babies between 3-6 months old, should be seen by a doctor1.
How to take a child’s temperature
Digital thermometers can give you a fast, accurate temperature reading and can be purchased from your local pharmacy or large supermarket3. To take your child’s temperature, hold them comfortably on your knee and place the thermometer under their armpit. Hold their arm gently yet firmly against their body so the thermometer doesn’t fall out. Keep it there until the reading is complete–some digital thermometers beep when they’re ready. Always use a thermometer in the armpit for children under the age of five.
How to make sure that your baby’s temperature reading is accurate
Digital thermometers can help to give you an accurate reading of your baby’s temperature, but there are a few things which could affect the accuracy of the readings. It’s best to wait a few minutes before taking your baby’s temperature if they have been3:
● Wearing lots of clothes
● Having a bath
● Tucked up in a blanket
● In a very warm room
● Physically active
How often should you check your baby’s temperature?
When your baby has a fever you should be regularly checking their temperature to make sure they are okay. However, it’s important that your baby gets as much rest as possible to help fight the infection or virus causing the fever. Using a traditional digital thermometer may wake your baby or child. One way to avoid waking them up at night to take their temperature is to use the Nurofen for Children FeverSmart Temperature Monitor .
The FeverSmart consists of two things: the wearable patch and an app you download to your phone. The wearable patch is applied to your baby or child and automatically syncs to the FeverSmart app on your smartphone. meaning you can monitor your baby’s temperature continuously without needing to disturb them. This helps to give you , as the parent, peace of mind and may allow you all to get more rest than if you were to manually check your baby’s temperature throughout the night*.
While it’s difficult to see your baby feeling under the weather, most will recover from a fever after a few days without further treatment. However, in some cases, you may need to treat the high temperature afflicting your baby or child and/or seek medical attention.
*It is important that you always continue to monitor your child's wellbeing and check for signs and symptoms of illness. Disclaimer: Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist see your healthcare professional.
1. NHS-UK. Fever in children. www.nhs.uk Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/fever-in-children/. (Accessed: 8th October 2018)
2. NHS-UK. Treating a fever (high temperature) in children. nhs.uk Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/treating-high-temperature-children/. (Accessed: 16th October 2018)
3. NHS-UK. How to take your baby’s temperature. www.nhs.uk. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/how-to-take-your-babys-temperature/. (Accessed: 8th October 2018)