Raised temperature: when to call the doctor

When does a raised temperature become a fever that you should be concerned about?

In the first year of life, you will find that your baby’s temperature can suddenly rise, but that doesn’t always mean ‘danger’.
Your baby’s body is getting used to so many things and sometimes this raised temperature is just part of their system dealing with that process. Common issues like teething can also temporarily push your child’s temperature up, and whilst it’s important to keep an eye on their body heat to ensure they are not over dressed for the season and their surroundings (eg not leaving a coat on when you are inside, even if your child is asleep), a raised temperature is not always a cause for alarm.
So what are the signs of a dangerously raised temperature?

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When to call the doctor
If you notice any of the following, call your GP or NHS Direct on 0845 4647. Your child’s condition still may not be serious but it is worth checking it out. If in doubt, call anyway.

  • Your baby is younger than three months old – and has a temperature of over 38 degrees C.
  • Your baby has a sustained temperature over 38 degrees C – even if she is older than three months. If it spikes over 38 degrees but cools again when you remove layers of clothing and take your child to a cooler (but not excessively cold) room, and does not go up again, then this should not be a cause for concern.
  • Your baby seems to be more limp than usual – and/or less engaged with you as usual.
  • Your baby has a raised temperature for more than 48 hours – even if she is just very hot for this time and her temperature does not go over 38 degrees C.
  • Your baby has a rash – which does not appear to be simply a red patch which disappears when she changes position. (Eg, like us, sometimes babies get a warm red patch where they might be sleeping against you or snuggled against their clothes.)

NB NHS Direct advises that if your baby is showing other signs of being unwell and her hands and feet are cold but she has a temperature of over 38 degrees C, you should call emergency services immediately. For more about this, go to www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk.

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For more useful information, why not check out the following articles?
ThinkBaby Buyer’s Guide to Baby Thermometers
Safe Sleeping Temperatures for Babies
Stocking Your Family First Aid Kit

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