safe motherhood


My baby has a temperature

You will gradually get to know your baby's personality and their pattern of sleeping, waking and feeding. You should be able to detect any change from their normal routine, although illness can go unrecognised.

Some signs that your baby is unwell are:

• Listlessness;
• No wet nappies;
• Greeny-yellow dirty nappies;
• Your baby is not interested in feeding;
• They are irritable when picked up;
• There is vomiting;
• Your baby is hot and sweaty, or hot and dry.

The only really accurate way of taking your baby's temperature is by using an ear thermometer. These are quite expensive and you don't really need one. Test your baby's 'core temperature' by placing your hand flat on the skin of their chest or back. If your baby feels neither hot nor cold nor clammy, but just warm, they are fine. (Skin strip thermometers are not very useful with a baby because they don't test the core temperature.)

If he or she seems unwell, telephone your doctor's surgery for advice and don't wait for a doctor to come before giving paracetemol. Always follow the dose recommended on the bottle. Keep the room reasonably cool and make sure your baby is wearing light clothing.

Sponging to lower a temperature

Remove all the child's clothing except the nappy and sponge gently all over with lukewarm water. This will evaporate on the skin so don't dry with a towel. Keep doing this until the temperature is loweredalthough your baby won't like it!

Febrile convulsions (fits)

A febrile convulsion is a type of fit or seizure caused by a sudden rise in your baby's temperature. About 4% of children have at least one, many of which occur before the age of one. It's very frightening to watch. If your baby is ill with a temperature, the removal of layers of clothing, sponging with tepid water and the giving of paracetamol will help to prevent this happening.

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