Treating Fever in Children
Call 911 if the child:
- Is limp or unresponsive
- Is having trouble breathing
- Is vomiting and has a headache or a stiff neck
- Has blue lips or skin
- Has a seizure
- You don't need to treat the fever unless the child is uncomfortable.
- Make sure the child gets plenty of fluids and rest.
A high temperature can be alarming and serious in some cases, but a fever often means that a body is working the way it should and fighting off infection.
Call Doctor If:
- You think the child needs medical attention.
- The child is younger than 3 months old with a rectal temperature of 100.4 F or higher.
- The child is 3 to 6 months old with a temperature of 101 F or higher or has had any fever for more than one day.
- The child is older than 6 months and younger than a year with a temperature of 103 F or higher or has had any fever more than one day.
- The child is 1 to 2 years old with a high fever lasting more than 24 hours.
- The child is any age with a temperature of 104 F or higher.
- The soft spot on the child’s skull is bulging.
- The child vomits repeatedly or has severe diarrhea.
- The child has signs of dehydration, such as not wetting diapers, crying without tears, dry mouth or mucous membranes, or sunken soft spot.
- The fever triggers a seizure.
- The child has a fever and a rash.
For Infants Younger Than 4 Months Old
1. Take Temperature
- The most accurate way to take a temperature is rectally. If you are uncomfortable with this, then take temperature under the armpit. If it is higher than 99 F, then double check it rectally using a rectal thermometer to get the most accurate reading.
2. Call Your Pediatrician
- If the child's temperature is higher than 100.4 F, call your pediatrician.
- Bathing or sponging the child with lukewarm water may help bring down a fever. Do not use cold water, ice baths, or alcohol.
For Children 4 Months Old or Older Who Have Been Immunized
1. Take Temperature
- Rectal. For a child under 4 or 5, use a rectal thermometer to get an accurate reading. A child has a fever if the rectal temperature is above 100.4 F.
- Oral. For a child over 4 or 5, you can use an oral or pacifier thermometer. The child has a fever if it registers above 100 F.
- Ear. If the child is 6 months old or older, you can use an ear or temporal artery thermometer, but this is not usually an accurate way to take temperature. To be more accurate, take a rectal temperature.
- Armpit. If you take the child’s temperature in the armpit, a reading above 99 F usually indicates a fever.