EXPERT Q&A

When should I contact my pediatrician about a fever?

New parents may feel uncertain about when to reach out to their pediatrician. Here are some useful tips from newborn care specialist Mirella Alexis on when to call your pediatrician if your baby has a fever.

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Question

I’m about to be a first-time mom and am trying to prepare myself now so I’m not completely overwhelmed once the baby arrives. I’ve read a lot of books and am trying to stay well-informed. But is there any basic information that I should know, especially when my baby is sick or has a fever?

Answer

First, congratulations to you and your growing family! We’re excited that you want to soak up all the knowledge you can beforehand! As a newborn care specialist, doula, and nanny, I’ve worked with both new parents and doctors. Parents often think about when they ought to call the doctor if their baby isn’t feeling well. In fact, it’s one of the most common questions I’m asked. So just know, you’re not alone in asking this.

So first, if you think your baby might be sick, or they are demonstrating symptoms such as looking flush, sweating, or shivering, this is when you should check their temperature to confirm whether or not they have a fever. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, for babies young than 3 years old, a rectal thermometer will give you the best reading, though you can use an oral thermometer instead. If using a rectal thermometer, be sure to clean and disinfect before and after use, and that is properly labeled. Another option is the tympanic (ear) thermometer, though these are more expensive than other options. For more information on thermometer use, read here.

If your infant under 3 months of age has a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, see your doctor immediately. But for babies ages three to six months old, a good rule of thumb is if the baby is exhibiting mild symptoms with or without a fever, such as symptoms from teething, you can give medication (for example, infant acetaminophen) for about two days before seeking medical assistance. It’s important to give babies the correct dosage of medicine based on their weight, not their age. However, you should always check with your medical professional before administering any medication.

If the symptoms persist, get worse—such as vomiting and diarrhea—or the baby is inconsolable and unable to eat or sleep, see your pediatrician immediately. And if they have a fever of 102 degrees or more, they should be seen by a doctor.

Here is a breakdown of when a child should see their doctor:

  • Ages 0 to 3 months: Any range of fever
  • Ages 3 months to 6 months: A fever of 100 degrees or more
  • Ages 6 months to 3 years: A fever of 101 degrees or more
  • Ages 3 years and older: A fever of 102 degrees or more

Also, if you have any concerns about your child’s health, do not hesitate to speak with your pediatrician. They can provide guidance on what symptoms to look out for and at which point you should bring them in for care.

We hope this is helpful, and please reach out with any other questions you have. The CareNectar team is here for you!

Meet The Expert


Mirella Alexis

Mirella has been a family and childcare advocate for nearly two decades. With her bachelor’s degree in early childcare education, Mirella immediately started expanding her portfolio as a professional nanny, early childhood educator, and newborn care specialist. She later obtained her certification in child nutrition, positive discipline, and child abuse prevention. She expanded her professional reach more in 2016 by taking on the role of labor and postpartum doula. In 2020, Mirella became the Vice President of The Nanny Sitter Fund. She’s excited to be bringing her passion for childcare to the masses, making child welfare everyone’s responsibility. Learn more about her at MirellaAlexis.com