Fever & Pain in Infants 0-24 Months

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About Fever & Pain

Knowing more about your baby’s fever or pain will help you help them feel better — especially when they’re so young that they can’t tell you what’s wrong. While it’s upsetting when your baby is uncomfortable, know that there’s plenty of advice that can help you relieve their pain or lower their fever. And, of course, a call to the doctor will likely put your mind at ease.

Common causes of fevers in babies

Fever is really a symptom and not a disease in itself. Usually, a fever means your body is fighting a harmful organism such as a virus or bacteria that has entered the body. When this happens, pryogens (fever-producing chemicals) are released. Pryogens reset your body’s internal thermostat to a higher temperature. Often, your body overshoots the mark and has to lose the excess heat. That’s why you get hot and appear flushed and sweaty. But while your body is trying to meet its higher internal temperature, blood flow to your skin is reduced — and that can cause shivering and chills. The same thing happens when a harmful organism has entered your baby’s body. And since your baby’s immune system isn’t fully developed, they are more likely to get infections. If they’re part of a playgroup or attend daycare, they may be more susceptible because they’re around other children.

The good news is that these frequent infections are helping to prepare and strengthen your baby’s immune system as they grow.

The most common cause of a fever is an infection, including:

  • Coughs, colds or flu
  • Throat infections (like tonsillitis)
  • Ear infections
  • Digestive tract infections (gastroenteritis)
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Childhood viral infections, like chicken pox, measles, rubella, roseola

Rare and serious causes of fever include:

  • Meningitis (brain infection)
  • Pneumonia
  • Bone or joint infection
  • Allergic reaction (rare)

Common symptoms of fevers in babies

Obviously, if your baby feels warm or hot to the touch they may have a fever. However, there are other symptoms that could signal your baby is running a fever:

  • Cold and clammy or hot and sweaty to the touch
  • Shivering
  • Listlessness, lethargy or fatigue
  • Crying or showing signs of distress or discomfort
  • Flushed face
  • Irritability or fussiness
  • Not interested in eating

To know for sure, here’s the correct way to take your baby’s temperature.

Common causes of pain in babies

Like fevers, pain is your body’s way of trying to protect or heal itself. For example, if your baby has a sore arm or leg, pain is the body’s way of ensuring that joint isn’t used so that it can heal. But pain can also be a warning sign that something needs to be treated, so call the doctor if you are concerned about your baby’s pain.

Common symptoms of pain in babies

Since young infants can’t tell you something hurts, watch for these general telltale signs:

  • Restlessness
  • Change of heart rate
  • Irritability
  • Lack of appetite

If your baby is less than 1 month old, they may:

  • Moan
  • Roll their eyes
  • Gag
  • Hiccup
  • Hold their breath

If your baby is between 1 to 24 months old, they may:

  • Show violent behavior, such as biting, hitting or have temper tantrums
  • Rub, pull at or guard an area that is sore

Your baby’s gender may also play a role in how they show pain:

  • Girls tend to be fearful and anxious when they’re in pain
  • Boys tend to be angry
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