By Mathew Miller, Sharon Perkins

So when is a fever a fever? Knowing can be hard, especially when dads juggle half a dozen methods of temperature-taking in an attempt to get an accurate reading. The following guidelines explain what your medical practitioner means when he talks about a fever:

  • In an infant up to three months, a rectal temperature of 100.4 (or an oral pacifier temperature of 99.5) or higher needs immediate evaluation. Small babies don’t normally run fevers, so even these seemingly low temperatures need attention.

  • Between 3 months and 3 years, you should report a rectal fever of 102 or higher to your medical practitioner. Although fever is important, the way your child is behaving is equally important. A child with a high fever who is still eating, drinking, and playing happily is less concerning than a lethargic child with a lower fever.

  • An axillary temperature of 99 or higher may be a fever. Confirm the exact reading rectally, if at all possible.

  • Ear temperatures are roughly equivalent to rectal temperatures. If you’re sure the tip is properly inserted into the ear, call your doctor for a temperature of 100.4 for infants up to age 3 months and 102 for ages 3 months to 3 years.

How dads treat a fever

Fevers of 100.2 or less don’t always need treatment. Fever is the body’s way of fighting off infection, so giving your child medication at the first sign of a fever doesn’t help his immune system to develop. You can give infants children’s acetaminophen or ibuprofen in recommended doses. Don’t give aspirin, though, because of the possibility of your child developing Reye’s syndrome.

Basics of Febrile seizures for dads

Febrile seizures, or convulsions, are extremely scary for parents, although the child probably won’t remember them. Most febrile seizures occur when a child’s temperature rises suddenly, but the exact degree of fever isn’t the determining factor of whether the child has a febrile seizure. Around 3 to 5 percent of children experience febrile seizures, usually between the ages of 5 months and 5 years.

Don’t try to do anything while your child is having a seizure, other than trying to cool her off by sponging her down with cool water. Don’t put anything into her mouth or try to restrain her; more damage is done by these attempts to prevent damage.

Move any hard or sharp objects away from the child during a seizure to prevent injury. Remember to move the objects away from the child; don’t try to move the child away from the objects.

Most febrile seizures last only a few minutes, but your child may be limp and lethargic afterward. Follow up with medical personnel immediately after a seizure; your doctor may want you to bring the baby in immediately or may be okay with a visit the next day to determine the fever’s cause.

Be guided by his advice. Most parents who have just experienced an infant seizure want the reassurance of a visit.

If your child’s seizure lasts 15 minutes or more, she starts to turn blue, or she remains unresponsive after a seizure, call 911 immediately.