A guide for parents and caregivers on fever

What is a fever?

A fever is when the body’s temperature is higher than normal. In children under two years, a fever is a temperature greater than or equal to 100.4°F. In children above that age, a fever is a temperature more than 101°F.

What you need to know

Fever is the body’s natural response to an illness. When the body is warmer, bacteria and viruses are less likely to thrive. Fever also activates the immune system.

How you can help

In treating a child with a fever:

  • Encourage your child to drink more fluids. Water is best, but Pedialyte or watered-down juice can encourage more intake.

  • Dress them in loose-fitting clothing

  • Apply a cool compress to their forehead

  • Can give a lukewarm bath, never a cold bath. 

If your child has a fever and is fussy or complaining of not feeling well, it’s best to give them a fever reducer, such as ibuprofen or Tylenol. Be aware that ibuprofen should only be given to children 6 months and older. Tylenol is safe for all ages.

For a child that has a fever and is complaining about being uncomfortable, there are some things you can do to help them feel better.

When to contact your doctor

In some instances, a fever requires medical attention. You’ll want to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child is highly lethargic

  • Your child has had a fever for 2-3 days

  • Your child has a temperature of 105, especially if they are inconsolable or very ill-appearing

A fever of 100.4°F in a child younger than 2 months should be taken to the emergency room immediately.

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