Understanding fevers and tips for how to deal with fevers in babies & children. When to trust the process & when to act, and how to support them naturally with natural fever remedies & tips for babies & children.
Fever phobia is rampant. Not just among parents but among practitioners. Many don’t really understand what fever is actually does for the body. Often the fear kicks in and you just want to give the paracetamol, right?
Most parents don’t know what to do. They’re afraid, and they’re not getting the advice that they need from their pediatrician.
So here are 5 tips & things to remember when your little one’s temperature starts to rise.
1. Fever has a purpose
So the first thing to understand is that fever is our body’s natural response to infection and inflammation. It’s how our body fights infections.
What happens when it’s really hot? Let’s say it’s 38 degrees outside. We slow down, right? In very simplistic terms, when our body warms up, it slows down the bugs so that our immune system can actually fight them better, and it slows us down so our energy is preserved for healing.
It slows your child down. When you have a fever and you’re sick, you shouldn’t be running around acting “normal,” right? You need to be a couch potato and let your body do its thing.
Often parents just want their child to be back to normal as soon as possible, as sick children trigger our fears.
For healthy children, fevers are not dangerous, but actually part of a finely tuned natural healing process that our bodies were perfectly designed for.
2. Understanding Pharmaceuticals
Pharmaceuticals may not help as much as you think, and may actually be doing more harm than good.
When you give your child fever-reducing medication, there are studies that show that it actually prolongs the duration of your child’s illness. So you may temporarily be helping them to feel better but you’re not helping them to fight that infection and fully recover.
Too often I see children who seem to come down with colds, coughs & flu’s SO regularly. There are many reasons for this (including a vaccine-impaired immune system and poor diet).
One of them is that giving children toxic medicines like paracetamol (tylenol in the US), nurofen & ibuprofen might take away some of the symptoms but are not allowing children to completely heal. So the infection takes off again.
So whats wrong with the drugs?
Well firstly, you’re artificially shutting down the fever response which is an important element to your child’s healing process.
Secondly, these drugs aren’t without their problems.
For example, paracetamol reduces the levels of a compound called glutathione in our body, which is a vital antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification support.
So when our levels of glutathione are depleted, we have a lower capacity to handle infections and fever.
All pharmaceuticals are toxic drugs which means the body just has more work to do in the long run mopping up their toxic residue, most have side effects, and ALL of them deplete the body of vital nutrients which is really the last thing you want when you’re sick.
Having said that, there are situations where fevers can become dangerous, as we all know, but in MOST cases these drugs are used unnecessarily.
So it’s wise to know the facts and use discernment with knowledge of your child and what’s best for them.
3. When does a fever require support?
I understand that for a parent who’s witnessed a febrile seizure that it’s very frightening, and if this is a risk, there is need to keep fevers under control.
A child who convulses with fever during a typical infection is generally dehydrated and inflamed. If your child was already acidic (due to diet – usually too much sugar, grains, and processed food), they will be even more acidic and inflamed when ill, so they are more at risk.
It’s not so much the height of the fever but how quickly the fever rises. Let’s say it goes from 37 to 39-40 in 10 minutes. In this case, you want to get on top of it.
But remember that a fever itself can’t actually do any damage. Only a body temperature of more than 40 degrees C can cause brain damage, which doesn’t happen with illness. Fevers caused by infection rarely go above 40 degrees C.
Even a febrile seizure can’t actually do any permanent harm.
Something to watch is if your child is so uncomfortable that they’re not able to drink water or sleep because hydration & sleep are keys to healing!
Breastmilk or an electrolyte drink will help to rehydrate. Children lose water faster than adults through fever.
What do I do?
Do what you can to keep them comfortable and get them cooling slowly not abruptly.
You can use therapeutic essential oils like eucalyptus (make sure it’s therapeutic quality, not from the supermarket or pharmacy) to support the body to regulate the fever response.
Other factors to watch
- It’s common for parents to say their child is lethargic when they’re sick, so I feel its important to clarify something here.
It’s totally normal for a child to be tired and just want to veg out on the couch, wanting to sleep a little more, cuddle a bit more when they’re sick. But lethargy in medical terms raises a red flag and is thought to mean difficult to arouse, confusion, difficulty waking.
If this is happening, don’t hesitate and seek medical support straight away.
- For most infections that cause fevers, the fever shouldn’t last for more than four or five days at the most. If it’s getting past that, it’s a good idea to have your child checked out just to make sure there’s not a silent urinary tract infection or something else going on.
- For very young babies, say six months or younger, their immune system might just not be quite mature enough to contain that infection in that time, so you need to keep a closer eye on them, and monitor temperature a bit more closely.
It’s generally recommended that you consult a doctor if your child is under 3 months old with a fever.
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4. So what CAN we do?
Of course, when your child is ill you want to do whatever you can to help them to feel better, to comfort them, make them as comfortable as possible and help them to heal.
And there are loads of things you can do.
Right now actually, our 14-month-old has a head cold. He feels terrible and it upsets him that he feels so terrible because he doesn’t understand it. He’s wanting lots of reassurance, comforting and cuddles.
I have the aromatherapy diffuser going, with a blend to help with infection control & immune support (Purification by Young Living) while he’s awake, and a blend for upper respiratory support (RC by Young Living) with lavender while he’s sleeping.
I’ve been using a Breathe Easy Chest Rub containing essential oils, plus massaging diluted essential oils into his feet.
I completely trust that his body is doing what it needs to do, and I’m happy he is getting an immune-strengthening bug to fight off whilst he’s still breastfeeding because he’s getting a super-boost of antibodies from the milk!
So we can use our natural medicines toolkit to help them fight the infection faster, and in doing that, will help bring down the fever, without artificially shutting down their fever response.
Cooling them off
If you’ve decided, back in point #3, that your child needs cooling down, you can support them to slowly cool by:
- loosening clothes and removing blankets
- getting air circulating (without blowing directly on them).
- Gently sponging pulse points, forehead & neck with a tepid (not cold), damp (not wet) cloth.
- You can add a diluted drop of eucalyptus & lavender pure essential oils to the sponge water for further support.
5. Hydration is essential
You want to make sure that they’re peeing at least every six to eight hours. They might not be having a really full wet diaper but we want them to have some pee. That’s a good marker that you’re getting enough fluids in.
Make sure your little one is getting plenty of fluids. In warmer weather our bub absolutely loves watermelon and this is such a great way of keeping him hydrated.
So in a nutshell, when a healthy baby gets sick with a very occasional infection and fever, this is nothing to worry about.
If the fever climbs too quickly cool them down and watch for signs of dehydration – little or no tears with crying, few wet diapers or the soft spot appearing sunken in babies.
If there are any of the following additional symptoms, best to see your child’s practitioner:
- unusual sleepiness or listlessness
- forceful vomiting or not keeping fluids down
- diarrhea or constipation
- unexplained rash with the fever
- or if the fever lasts longer than 5 days.
Over to You
Has your baby ever had a fever? How did you manage it? Please share any natural remedies that worked for you!
I hope this has helped to empower you and to take some of the fear out of the fever!
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