Children's Fever

Fever is a symptom - a sign that your child's body is fighting off an infection. Most fevers are caused by common childhood illnesses such as colds, ear infections, bronchitis and tonsilitis. 

Normal body temperature is not a single number but a range: 97° to 100.4°F or 36° to 38°C. It also varies depending on the time of day, age, general health and physical activity. 

What should I do when my child has a fever? 
It is important to use a thermometer to accurately determine your child's temperature. Rectal or Tympanic (ear) thermometers are recommended for children less than 3 years old. Oral thermometers can be used for children over 3 years. 

When should I call the doctor?
Call your doctor right away if...

If your child is younger than 3 months and rectal temperature goes above 100.1°F

If your child is 3-6 months and rectal temperature is 101°F or higher

If your child is 6-12 months and rectal temperature is 103°F or higher

At any age, call your doctor right away if fever lasts more than 3 days or is accompanied by: 
  • Unusually fussy, sleepy, cranky or quiet behavior
  • Confusion or hallucinations
  • Convulsions
  • Stiff neck
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Ear or sore throat pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin rash
  • Whenever you have concerns

If your child is over 1 year of age, and is eating, sleeping and playing normally, there is usually no need to call the doctor unless the fever persists for more than 24 hours. 

Your doctor may give you additional guidelines for when to contact a healthcare professional. Remember to follow your doctor's advice.

To help lower your child's fever: 
Place a cool washcloth on your child's forehead, or sponge your child with tepid water (85°F to 90°F). Make sure the water is not cold, and stop if your child starts to shiver. Never use rubbing alcohol - the vapors are toxic and can be absorbed through the skin. 
Keep your child's room comfortably cool. 
Depending on your child's age and your doctor's recommendations, encourage your child to drink fluids such as water and diluted fruit juices. 

Remember, you know your child best. So don't be afraid to call your pediatrician if you are unsure about what to do.