Fever in Children

Fever is not an illness. In fact, the body makes heat to kill germs. It’s natural to worry when your child has a fever. If you cannot reach your Doctor after hours, call the IEHP 24-Hour Nurse Advice Line.

How to take your child’s temperature

  • Infants (less than 3 months): use a digital thermometer in the baby’s rectum (bottom). Do not take the temperature in the infant’s ear.
  • Babies (3 months – 2 years): use a digital thermometer in the baby’s rectum or use an electronic ear thermometer.
  • Toddlers (2 – 3 years): use a digital thermometer in the child's rectum or use an electronic ear thermometer.
  • Children (3 years and up): use a digital thermometer in mouth or ear.
  • Make sure to read the thermometer’s instructions. Do not use a mercury thermometer.

When to call your Doctor

Call you Doctor if your child has a fever and:

  • Constant diarrhea or vomiting
  • Earache or pulling at ears
  • Sore throat
  • Dry mouth or will not drink fluids
  • Severe rash or skin infection
  • Fever comes and goes over a few days
  • If your baby is less than 3 months with a rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher for 2 days or longer.
  • If your older child has a temperature of 102 degrees or higher for 3 days or longer.

Ways to help your child feel better

  • Give your child lots of liquid
  • Keep your child’s room cool
  • Place a cool washcloth on your child’s forehead
  • Give your child a sponge bath with luke-warm water. Do not use cold water, ice, or rubbing alcohol in their bath. That can cause rapid body temperature changes.

Learn more about child health by joining the Healthy Babies Program - it's FREE for IEHP Members.

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