Nobody likes to see their baby in pain, but if you know the signs to look for and what you can do to help at least you can take some control of the situation and help relieve their discomfort.

Since we have had childhood immunisation programmes in the UK, you tend to hear less of children catching some of the more severe illnesses that used to be a problem, such as mumps and measles. But of course, that is not to say that they don’t still get ill. With their immune systems still developing children are prone to other conditions such as colds, tonsillitis and earache.

A raised temperature, or fever, is a common sign to look out for as this is indicative of many infant ailments but how can you tell what is normal and when to be concerned?

Normal body temperature varies between 36oC and 37oC, depending on the individual baby and the time of day (evening temperatures can be between 0.5oC and 1oC higher than morning temperatures). You can usually tell if your baby is feverish because they may look flushed and sweaty and will usually have a temperature above 37.2oC. This is because when we have a fever, the heat-regulating centre in the brain sets itself to a higher temperature than normal. They may also start to shiver. This is simply our body’s way of helping to raise our temperature to reach the new, higher setting.

How to Take a Temperature
Probably the best way to take a temperature is to pop a digital display thermometer under the tongue.

Fever strips can be placed flat on the forehead and register the temperature after about 15 seconds using heat sensitive liquid crystals. This may seem an easier option, particularly if your baby is upset, but it is not quite as accurate as a digital thermometer.

Another alternative is to place the thermometer under the armpit and bring the arm down to hold it in place for two minutes. This will provide a reading that is about 0.6oC lower than the temperature measured in the mouth.