Handling a Fever
Parents might worry when a child's temperature rises, but a fever itself causes no harm and can actually be a good thing — often, it's the body's way of fighting infections.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of a Fever?
A child who has a fever might be:
- warm to the touch
What Can I Do About a Fever?
Call the doctor’s office if your baby is younger than 3 months old with a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher. If you can’t reach the doctor, go to the ER.
It's best to keep a child with a fever home from school or childcare until their temperature has been normal for at least 24 hours. If your child is uncomfortable, here are some ways to ease symptoms:
- Offer plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration.
- Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen based on the doctor's recommendations. Do not give aspirin to your child or teen as it's linked to a rare but serious illness called Reye syndrome.
- Never use rubbing alcohol or cold baths to bring the fever down.
- Dress your child in lightweight clothing and cover with a light sheet or blanket.
- Let your child eat what they want, but don't force it if your child doesn't feel like eating.
- If your child also is vomiting and/or has diarrhea, ask the doctor if you should give a children's oral rehydration solution (also called oral electrolyte solution or oral electrolyte maintenance solution).
- Make sure your child gets plenty of rest.
Get Medical Care if:
- your baby is younger than 3 months old has a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher
- an older child has a fever and:
- looks sick
- develops a rash
- has lasting diarrhea and/or repeated vomiting
- has signs of dehydration (peeing less than usual, not having tears when crying, less alert and less active than usual)
- has a fever for 5 days
- has a medical problem like sickle cell disease or cancer
Can Fevers Be Prevented?
All kids get a fever from time to time, and in most cases they're back to normal within a few days. The key is to make your child as comfortable as possible until the fever passes, and get medical care when needed.
- What to Do About a Sore Throat
- Febrile Seizures
- How to Safely Give Acetaminophen
- Flu Center
- How to Safely Give Ibuprofen
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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