WINTER HEALTH SPECIAL
Few things worry mums more than their baby having a high temperature. Set your mind at ease by learning what’s normal and what to do when your little one is unwell
Everything you need to treat fevers, colds and flus
At two o’clock in the morning, you lean over your sleeping baby’s cot and touch his tiny forehead. It’s burning hot and his cheeks are flushed pink. But there’s no need for you to fret when your baby’s temperature rises above normal, not when you’re armed with the knowledge that will let you handle the situation effectively.
Consultant paediatrician and neonatologist Dr Elia Maalouf, who specialises in fever treatment, says a child’s body is working all the time to maintain its optimum core temperature, which all his organs need to function. “When we take a baby’s temperature, we’re really measuring the core temperature of his body rather than that of the surface of his skin,” he says. “In order for a body to function effectively, that temperature must be within the normal range of 36.5 to 37.5 degrees.”
There is a range within ‘normal’ temperature because our bodies have to respond to external temperatures. For example, in a heatwave our bodies will cool slightly within the normal range, to adjust. Alternatively, on a cold day they will warm up towards the top end of that range. “Sweating and shivering are your body’s methods of cooling or raising its temperature to stay within this range,” explains Elia.
Factors that contribute to a raised temperature
Sometimes the body needs to adapt its temperature because of internal factors rather than external ones. “Infections are the most common reason your child will get a temperature,” says Elia.
When your little one has an infection, his body mounts an inflammatory response against it. Blood circulation increases around the infected area, carrying the antibodies needed to fight it. This causes