When your baby or infant has a fever


Alternative Names

Fever - infant; Fever - baby

What to Expect at Home

The first fever a baby or infant has is often scary for parents. Most fevers are harmless and are caused by mild infections. Overdressing a child may even cause a rise in temperature.

Regardless, you should report any fever in a newborn that is higher than 100.4°F (38°C) (taken rectally) to the child's health care provider.

Fever is an important part of the body's defense against infection. Many older infants develop high fevers with even minor illnesses.

Febrile seizures occur in some children and can be scary to parents. However, most febrile seizures are over quickly. These seizures do not mean your child has epilepsy, and do not cause any lasting harm.

Eating and Drinking

Your child should drink plenty of fluids.

Children can eat foods when they have a fever. But DO NOT force them to eat.

Children who are ill often tolerate bland foods better. A bland diet includes foods that are soft, not very spicy, and low in fiber. You may try:

Treating Your Child's Fever

DO NOT bundle up a child with blankets or extra clothes, even if the child has the chills. This may keep the fever from coming down, or make it go higher.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) help lower fever in children. Your child's doctor may tell you to use both types of medicine.

A fever does not need to come all the way down to normal. Most children will feel better when their temperature drops by even one degree.

A lukewarm bath or sponge bath may help cool a fever.

When to Call the Doctor

Talk to your child's health care provider or go to the emergency room when:

Also, talk to your child's provider or go to the emergency room if your child:

Call 9-1-1 if your child has a fever and:

References

Mick NW. Pediatric fever. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 167.

Nield LS, Kamat D. Fever. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St Geme JW, et al, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 176.


Review Date: 11/19/2015
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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