What to do when baby temperature is low
The average healthy body temperature is 98.6°F. Shifts in a baby's activity level or environment can affect their temperature, while different methods of taking a temperature can give slightly different readings.
Newborns and babies are less able to regulate their body temperature. Because of this, when a baby has a low temperature, it is important to address the cause quickly.
A baby's temperature may be low following a prolonged period in water.
A variety of factors can cause a low temperature in a baby. They include:
- cold weather
- prolonged periods in water
- not drying a baby after birth
The most common reason for low body temperature is that babies, especially newborns, as well as older children and adults. So exposure to even slightly low temperatures is more likely to cause a low body temperature in a newborn.
It is also important to note that taking temperatures incorrectly or using inaccurate equipment may give incorrect readings. Using a variety of methods or thermometers may address inaccuracies.
Accompanying symptoms and complications
A low body temperature poses more dangers , especially those born prematurely or at a low birth weight.
A baby who has a low body temperature may:
- develop blue lips or fingers
- feel very cold
- act lethargic or sick
The risks of a prolonged low body temperature include:
- , even when low body temperature is not the direct cause of death
Ideal baby temperatures
A rectum temperature reading usually provides the most accurate information.
The ideal baby temperature depends on the method a person uses to take the temperature. In babies younger than 2 years old, temperature readings offer the most accurate information, provided the parent or caregiver takes the measurement correctly, using working equipment.
- Rectal: 97.9 to 100.4°F
- Mouth: 95.9 to 99.5°F
- Armpit: 97.8 to 99.5°F
- Ear: 96.4 to 100.4°F
Temperatures below these ranges may signal hypothermia, which is a dangerously low body temperature. Temperatures above these ranges could be a sign of a fever. A fever may mean the baby has an infection or is too hot.
Each baby is different. Sometimes a falling temperature indicates a problem even if the baby's temperature is within the normal range. So ask a healthcare provider about the ideal temperature for the baby.
recommend measuring a very unwell baby's temperature as frequently as hourly. In a very small baby, taking the temperature two to four times daily can help with detecting unhealthy temperature swings. The WHO advise taking daily temperature readings in an infant whose condition is improving.