How to dress baby with a fever for sleep

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Having a sick child is often one of the hardest and most stressful times being a parent. We wish we could take the sickness for our children. However, we know that, unfortunately, sickness is inevitable for our little ones, whether this be as a baby, when they start daycare or as they grow. We know that it is common for healthy children to have up to 12 viral illnesses a year in the first few years of life (this is hard to hear as parents!).

When our little ones are sick, knowing the contrasting signs of a healthy and unwell baby can be helpful, so we’ve provided a list below. We will also provide information on how to dress your little one when they have a fever. Spoiler alert: it is not as complex as it may seem. 

How to tell if your baby is sick with a fever

It can be distressing as parents to see our babies feeling sick and with a fever. Fevers are a common symptom of various illnesses, but it's essential to know how to assess your baby's condition properly and when, in turn, to seek medical attention. 

A fever is a body temperature above 38 degrees Celsius. Remember, fevers are often a sign that your baby is fighting off an infection (which is a positive of our clever bodies), so it is essential to provide them with plenty of rest, fluids, and comfort.

How to check baby for a fever

Check their temperature - a simple underarm digital thermometer is most accurate for any age, and we have linked a trusted brand we recommend this one
If your baby under three months old has a fever above 38 degrees Celsius, immediately take them to the nearest hospital emergency department.

Gif of mum checking baby for fever

Signs of illness and fever in babies

  • Their face is hot to touch
  • They look red or flushed
  • They are uncomfortable or showing signs of discomfort
  • Chills or shivers when their temperature is rising
  • Sweating when their temperature is falling
  • Vomiting
  • Change in colour
  • Feeding less volume or frequency than usual
  • Not as active as usual and/or sleeping more (think about how we feel when we are unwell ourselves)
  • It is essential to monitor your child's behaviour, look for any other symptoms, such as respiratory distress or dehydration, and seek medical help.


Signs of a healthy newborn

  • Normal skin colour for them
  • Alert and active when awake
  • Waking for feeds
  • 2-3 wet nappies per day in the first 3-4 days, then at least five wet nappies a day
  • 1-2 soft bowel motions per day (or their regular pattern)
  • Baby is feeding at least six times per day (this will probably be more like 8-12 times a day)
  • Baby is putting on weight (this will be monitored in conjunction with your trusted healthcare providers)
  • Baby is breathing easily, about 40-60 times per minute


How to dress a baby for sleep when they have a fever

The aim of dressing a sick baby is to keep them comfortable. Feel the front of their chest or back to check their warmth or coolness (it is important to note that hands and feet do not accurately indicate temperature). 

If your child is very hot with a temperature, remove a layer of clothing to make them more comfortable. This is a time when the environment temperature is not as integral, and it is more important to feel your baby's temperature and adjust their clothing accordingly. 

If your baby has been sweating, it is also important to change their ergoPouch Layer, Bedding, Cocoon, or Sleeping Bag if they are moist, as this can, in turn, make them cold once their temperature returns to normal. 

Dressing an infant with a fever in winter

These same principles apply when dressing your baby with a fever in winter. As mentioned above, the environmental temperature is not as imperative as at other times. This is a time to tune into your baby's temperature, feel their body temperature, and dress them to keep them comfortable. 

Dad cuddling a baby who's sick with fever, kissing them on the head

Explore more tips on how to help your child sleep when sick.

By dressing your baby appropriately for sleep when they have a fever, you can help them feel more comfortable and promote a restful night's sleep to aid their recovery.

As always, it remains imperative to trust your intuition as parents. If you are concerned about your child's health, please seek medication attention from your trusted health professional. 

About the author

Nicole Gleeson is a paediatric emergency nurse and the founder of Rhythm First Aid. Nicole is on a mission to educate and empower our community. Working as an Emergency Nurse in a trauma centre, she has experienced first-hand the importance of well-developed first-aid knowledge and skills. Armed with experience, knowledge, and determination to improve outcomes for families and businesses, Rhythm First Aid was established with a vision to ensure quality and fun CPR and first aid training accessible for all.

You can connect with Nicole via her Instagram account and website.

With love,


Baby laying awake on back with dad's hand on tummy

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