We spent Christmas Eve and Day with my parents and brother in Huntsville, per tradition. This year was a bit different for several reasons: We were all trying to save money and buck materialism, so gifts weren't as big as usual; we're all trying to eat healthier (and still recovering from prepping our giant Thanksgiving meal), so the food was pretty basic; and--oh yeah!--this year we had a baby to enjoy Christmas with!
But baby Charles' body didn't know it was supposed to feel good for such a joyful occasion, and so Christmas Eve he woke up with only his second fever ever. His first fever was a couple of weeks ago, and had he not been too warm, I never would have known he was ill. This time was a bit different--he obviously didn't feel well at all, and he was pretty pitiful for the rest of the day.
Both fevers seemed to be related to constipation and teething, and the Christmas fever added some congestion to the mix. Both were under 48 hours, and both were relieved when he finally did have a good diaper-full.
I didn't run for a fever-reducing medication at the first sign of a temperature, though I monitored it fairly closely. We've learned that fevers are a symptom, not a disease and that you should treat the baby, not the symptom. That means that 1) fevers have a purpose and are a vital part of our body's immune response, so suppressing fever is actually suppressing the immune system, and that 2) since in both cases Charles was handling the fever just fine--no screaming, no extreme lethargy, no glazed eyes or bulging fontanel--we should let it run its course while trying to keep him as comfortable as possible and supporting his little body's efforts to heal itself.
I'm still learning how to do that well, but these are the measures we took to help him:
- We wore him a lot while he was feeling icky, which both comforted him and helped his body regulate its temperature and immune response.
- Since he still nurses for over half his food, we went back to a "liquid only" diet of breast-milk and sips of water to allow his body to focus its energies on healing rather than digesting food (and since constipation was also a problem, he didn't need to be packing any more solid food in there!).
- We pulled out our new Essential Oils and boosted his immune system with Thieves, comforted him with Lavender, and helped manage his fever with Peppermint. We applied the oils (diluted in coconut oil) to the soles of his feet, the back of his neck, and behind his ears, and we also diffused the same blend into the air.
- We tried to keep the atmosphere calm and relaxing--soft lights, no extra noise, and little stimulation.
- Since constipation seemed to be the main known issue, we tried to help him have a BM by massaging his little tummy with Peppermint oil and encouraging the intake of liquids.
That's about it! Both times he's recovered well and seemingly quickly--and by Christmas morning, though not 100%, he felt well enough to enjoy opening his presents! Hopefully we'll post pictures of that fun time soon.
How do you help your child when he/she has a fever?
This is his "I really don't feel good, and this silly hat isn't helping" face