One of the scariest things for a parent to encounter is kissing your baby only to find that they are burning up with a fever. If your baby has a fever of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius you should consult your pediatrician right away. Only after your doctor has sent you home with instructions to "wait and see" should these methods be used. Most pediatricians will recommend infant Tylenol or Ibuprofen to help bring down your baby's fever, but there is a growing feeling among many parents that they would rather take a more natural approach. While there is nothing quite as natural as letting a fever run it's course without interference, this can be very uncomfortable for your baby. Here are 5 tips to help you naturally reduce your baby's fever (and if you need some additional ideas, here are 5 more tips on the same topic).
1. Cool water baby massage.
In a warm room lay out a towel on a waterproof pad (like a changing table pad with the cover removed). Get a bowl of lukewarm water, add a chamomile tea bag to the water if desired, and set it near by. Lay your baby on the towel and remove their clothing (you can leave on the diaper if you want to). Now dip your hands in the water and gently place your hands on your baby's chest. Fan your fingers out and slide your hands down your baby's sides. Take each leg in turn and gently slide your hands up the leg from the toes to the hip 3 or 4 times in a row. Now repeat this motion on each arm 3 or 4 times from fingertips to shoulder. Cup your baby's shoulders in your palms then slide your hands down to the chest and begin again. continue to dip your hands in the water throughout the massage as needed. This soothing combination of simple strokes should have a calming effect, if it seems to cause your baby any stress discontinue the massage right away. Every baby is different, and some remedies will work better for some than for others.
2. Cucumber pacifier.
The cucumber is often used by spas as a way to reduce tissue inflammation and swelling around peoples eyes. It can have a similarly soothing effect on your baby when used as a pacifier. I recommend that parents take a whole young cucumber (young cucumbers have fewer seeds) and peel one end, then use a paring knife to whittle it into the shape of a thick finger tip, thicker at the base, and slimming near the rounded tip. Remember not to expose any seeds, if the seeds are exposed, they must be trimmed away before the cucumber is offered to your baby. Hold the unpeeled body of the cucumber like a bottle, and offer the cool peeled tip for your baby to suck on. Keep a close eye on the cucumber to make sure that it is not starting to come apart. The cooling effect of the cucumber should start to reduce your baby's fever right away. Keep in mind that you should take your baby's temperature under the arm once they begin to suck on the cucumber.
3. Feed your baby more frequently.
Though your baby may seem to have less of an appetite, they actually need more fluids than normal. Dehydration is a very real danger when your baby has a fever, and since often the last thing they want to do is eat, try to offer them smaller feeds more often. If they are breastfeeding you can let them self-regulate, but just offer the breast more often. If your baby is bottle fed, offer about half what they normally eat, but twice as often. Also bottle fed babies can be offered room-temperature bottles rather than warm ones to help cool the fever further.
4. Take a lukewarm bath together.
Both the skin-to-skin contact and the tepid bathwater should be soothing and cooling for your little one. Even if you just give your baby a bath instead of joining in, it is a great way to reduce a fever and sooth the aches and pains that a fever causes. As you probably know I am a big fan of chamomile, so I personally recommend adding a chamomile tea bag to the bath water, but it isn't really necessary to help reduce the fever.
5. Use a cool swaddle.
Having a baby with a fever is extra hard because swaddling them like normal will just cause over-heating, but chances are they still sleep best when they are swaddled. I do have some help for you though, it is a certain doctor recommended swaddle wrap I designed to keep babies cool. Just use a normal receiving blanket, folded in half to form a triangle.
Lay your baby left-of-center with shoulders and head above the folded side of the blanket. Now tuck your baby's left arm under the blanket
and fold the rest of the large right side under your baby so both tips of the folded edge of the blanket are on
the left side of your baby.
Now tuck your baby's Right arm under both layers of folded blanket,
and fold the bottom layer of blanket under your baby's arm and body so it is once again on the right side of
Now bring both of the folded tips of the blanket to the front of your baby, and do a starter-wrap with them, ("left over right, then under and pull") as if you were preparing to tie your shoe.
Now bring the bottom tips of the blanket up and tuck them under the starter wrap.
Now your baby is securely swaddled, but exposed on the chest, shoulders and neck. This is the best wrap for a baby with a fever, secure, but not too hot. I recommend using light cotton blankets for this wrap. Even a sheet would be a good material for it.
Always keep a close eye on your baby's temperature when they are running a fever, and never hesitate to contact your pediatrician if they get too hot, or if they develop new or different symptoms. These tips are only meant to sooth the effects of a fever, not to treat or cure any underlying cause for it. I hope this proves useful for you and your poor sick snuggy-bug. Questions and comments are welcome, and please pass these tips on to any new parents you know who might need them. Happy parenting!