Fever in a Child

Fever is one of the ways the body fights infection, and if your child does not feel or look sick, then a low-grade fever may not need to be treated.

Take your child’s temperature rectally if the age is less than 5 years, or by mouth if 5 years or older. A normal rectal temperature is higher than the mouth temperature – up to 38.5 degrees C. A normal mouth temperature is a little lower – up to 37.5 degrees C in someone who is resting.

If your child has a fever …

  • Dress the child lightly so as to be comfortable for room temperature. Overdressing will make the fever higher.
  • Provide plenty of fluid intake such as juices, soft drinks or popsicles. Children with fever may not be interested in solid food.
  • Acetominophen (Tylenol®, Tempra®, Pandolol®, Atasol®) will help reduce the fever. Use the dosage of acetominophen marked on the box every four hours.

ASPIRIN®, or medicines containing (acetyl)-salicylic acid, ARE NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FEVER CONTROL IN CHILDREN!

If the child’s temperature is higher than 39.5 C (103 F), it may help to sponge bathe in lukewarm water for 20 minutes. If this causes more upset or shaking chills, then stop and dry the child off.

If your baby is 0-3 months old and has a fever, see a doctor IMMEDIATELY!

Get urgent medical advice or return to the Orleans Urgent Care or an Emergency Department if …

  • the fever remains greater than 39.5 C even with the correct regular doses of acetaminophen
  • the child develops a rectal temperature over 40.6 C (over 105 F)
  • the fever lasts longer than 2 days
  • the child develops new symptoms
  • the child is more lethargic than normal
  • the child seems to be in pain
  • there is vomiting, headache or painful or stiff neck
  • the child has a seizure or convulsion, develops abnormal movements of the face, arms or legs
  • the child has difficulty breathing
  • the child just seems sicker, or you have any concerns