A child has a Fever if their temperature is 100.4°F or higher. A tactile or subjective fever is when the child feels warm to the touch - this is the least reliable way to measure a fever. Oral, rectal, tympanic and temporal temperatures are much more accurate. Most fevers are a result of a viral infection and are beneficial for sick children because they help the body to fight infection. The goal with fever therapy is to bring the fever down to a more comfortable level.
Encourage drinking more fluids. Until 6 months of age only give extra formula or breast milk.
For fevers 100-102°F, fever medicine is rarely needed. Fevers of this level don’t cause discomfort, but they do help the body fight the infection. Before administering medication, please review our medication dosing guides. Note: It takes 1-2 hours to see the effect of fever reducing medications.
Dress your child in 1 layer of clothing, unless shivering.
Sponging With Lukewarm Water:
- Sponging is optional for high fevers and is rarely needed.
- You may sponge for fever above 104°F AND doesn’t come down with acetaminophen or ibuprofen AND causes discomfort.
- Always give the fever medicine at least 1 hour to work first before sponging.
- Use lukewarm water (85-90°F). Sponge for 20-30 minutes.
- If your child shivers or becomes cold, stop sponging or increase the water temperature.
Warm Clothes for Shivering:
- Shivering means your child’s temperature is trying to go up and will continue until the fever medicine takes effect.
- Dress your child in warm clothes or wrap them in a blanket until they stop shivering.
Most fevers associated with viral illness fluctuate between 101-104°F and last for 2 or 3 days.
When to Call the Office
- Your child looks or acts very sick.
- Serious symptoms occur like difficulty breathing.
- Your child is under 12 weeks old.
- Fever without other symptoms lasts over 24 hours (if age less than 2 years).
- Fever lasts over 3 days or goes above 105°F.
- Your child becomes worse.
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The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.