Treating Your Child’s Fever

We all want to keep our children as safe from harm as possible. But sometimes exposure to harm is largely out of our control, especially when it comes to our kids contracting viruses like a fever. While it’s normal to react in a protecting, nurturing way when our children are sick, many times parents can overreact. Thus, as a rule of thumb, if your child is over 6 months of age and in good health, a fever (which is a body temperature of 100 degrees and higher) is not cause for alarm. However, if your child is under 3 months and has a fever, they should be given immediate medical attention at a hospital.

For kids 3 to 6 months and a fever, they should be taken to a doctor as soon as you can. If your child is over 6 months, again, there’s no need to be alarmed, but if they also have diarrhea and are vomiting for 24 hours or more, and complain of headaches and stiff neck, medical attention should be sought. Overall, however, children with a fever who are not showing any alarming signs can easily be treated in your own home. Below are a few helpful tips to manage your child’s fever.

Keep Cool

One important tip to follow when your child is suffering from a fever is to keep them cool. This can be done as easy as keeping them clothed in loose, cool, cotton clothes. Also, make sure that the temperature of their bedroom, or whichever room they are resting in, is neither too hot nor too chilly. Furthermore, always be on hand to offer your child all the fluids they may require. Additionally, it is unadvisable to give your child with a fever a bath in cool water. Doing so may actually force their body temperature to decrease too rapidly, causing your child to become very uncomfortable. A compress can be applied to the child’s forehead to reduce the temperature a bit, and provide relief from the heat. Just be sure that the compress is a cool temperature, rather than freezing cold.

Mother taking daughter's termperature.

Give Medication

Oftentimes, cool compresses and breathable clothes just aren’t enough, and certain medications may be required to provide further assistance in lowering the child’s temperature. To feel relief, it should take only a couple of degrees in dropped temperature for your child to feel more comfortable. Thus, giving your child some ibuprofen or acetaminophen, or even better a bit of both, can often do the trick nicely. Just make sure the medication is of the children or baby strength, and also be sure to follow the directions regarding dosage according to your child’s body weight and age.

The reason why giving a mix of both medications is wise is because some viruses react better to either one form of medication or another. So if you do plan on giving both types of pain relief, be sure to give the acetaminophen first, and then at the 3 hour mark follow it up with the ibuprofen. One more precaution when it comes to giving your child medication, especially ibuprofen, is to make certain that you give your child lots of water to take with the ibuprofen, as this medication is absorbed through the kidneys, and thus can be rough on the body and cause stomach problems if water is not taken.

Child laying down with a cool cloth on his head to break a fever.

When To Seek Medical Care

As discussed above, there are times when your child’s fever can no longer be managed at home, and medical care needs to be sought. For example, sometimes when children 5 years old and younger have a fever, they can have seizures. The statistical rates of these seizures are about one child for every 20 who have a fever. Also, if a child experiences one of these seizures, they are very likely to get another one. For parents, witnessing these seizures can be a scary thing. However, their duration is short, and do not usually result in any long lasting damage to the child. If your child should be having one of these fever-related seizures, turn the child over to his side and be sure there is nothing obstructing the child’s airways. If the seizure lasts for more than 5 minutes, call 911. Also, later on, contact your doctor to make sure your child’s seizure is not related to more complicated health issues such as meningitis.