Fever is a rectal temperature of 100.4°F or higher
Your baby wakes up with flushed cheeks, his skin radiating heat.
You take his temperature with a digital rectal thermometer, and it reads 99.9 degrees Fahrenheit.
Is it time to grab medicine or call the doctor?
Technically, this doesn't even qualify as a fever:
A rectal temperature of less than 100.4 degrees is considered normal, even in the very youngest infants.
Babies' temperatures – like adult temperatures – can rise slightly for all kinds of reasons, from physical exertion to a warm bath to being a little overdressed.
Even time of day can have an impact, with body temperatures rising in the late afternoon and dropping in the early morning.
So unless the rectal thermometer reads 100.4 degrees or higher, you can consider your little one fever-free.
Note: Heat stroke is sometimes confused with fever.
This condition occurs when the body temperature rises to dangerous levels (from overdressing your baby in hot, humid weather, for example).
When it's hot out, dress your baby in lightweight, loose clothing and never leave him in a closed car, even for just a minute.
How can I reduce my child's fever without using medicine?
To avoid fever-reducing medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen – or when you just don't have any handy – you can try a non-medical approach to lowering your child's fever.
Reducing your child's fever doesn't help to cure the underlying illness or problem.
(And a fever can actually help your child's body fight off an infection.)
But if a temperature climbs high enough to make your child really uncomfortable or dehydrated, lowering the fever can help.
Here are some methods to try:
Place a cool, damp washcloth on your child's forehead while she rests.
Give your child a lukewarm tub bath or a sponge bath.
As the water evaporates from her skin, it will cool her and bring her temperature down.
Don't use cold water.
It can make her shiver and cause her body temperature to rise.
Likewise, don't use rubbing alcohol (an old-fashioned fever remedy).
It can cause a temperature spike and possibly even alcohol poisoning.
Offer your child plenty of fluids and chilled foods, such as ice pops and yogurt, to help cool the body from the inside out and keep her hydrated.
Use a fan.
Again, you don't want your child to be chilled.
Keep the fan at a low setting and have it circulate the air around her rather than blow directly on her.
Remove layers of clothing so your child can lose heat more easily through her skin.
Dress her in one light layer.
If she's shivering, give her a light blanket until she's warm again.
Stay indoors in a cool place.
Or, if you're outside, stay in the shade.
Call the doctor right away if your child is younger than 3 months old and has a fever.
For a baby 3 to 5 months old, call the doctor if her temperature reaches 101 degrees or higher.
Once she's 6 months old, call if her fever reaches 102 degrees or more.
No matter your child's age, call the doctor if she has a fever along with other serious symptoms, like difficulty breathing or purple spots on her skin.
These can be a sign of a serious bacterial infection.
text adapted from babycenter.com