Fever in Kids– Causes, Treatments, and When to Seek Medical Care

Fever in Kids 

Kids are scary. It’s true. Kids are like little germy 😦 Petri dishes. They lick things 😛. And eat off the floor. They love to chew on shoes. 👟 So what should you do about fever in kids?

The average kid gets about 10 illnesses a year 😳. So, let’s round that up and say they are sick once a month. They are probably sick for about 1 week straight. They are probably cranky a few days before they start coughing their brains 😷 out and it may linger for a few days after as well. There goes about 2 weeks of your month! Basically, kids are ALWAYS sick 🤒. Throw your kid in daycare or 1st grade and forget about it. 📚

Fever is the dreaded phone ☎️ call from school and the last thing you want to learn about when you just had a playdate.

Is Fever in Kids Bad?

Here’s the thing. Your child is building immunity. Fever means your body is fighting off viruses and bacteria. Fever 🤒 means your body is doing its job! Hurray! 🎉Despite what we all hear over and over, fever isn’t always a bad thing.

What’s a Real Fever– When to be Concerned

Let’s talk fever 🤒. Your 3-year-old has a temp of 99.4. Don’t panic, this ISN’T a real fever. Real fever is over 100.3. Anything below 100.4 doesn’t count. Your child doesn’t run low, or high. If you think he does, fine, but we won’t do anything different. 🤔 Don’t add a point for checking under the armpit or mouth. Just take the temp 🤒, tell us where you checked it, and move on.

Infant Fever & Baby Fever

If your baby has a fever over 100.3 then you need to have them checked. Any baby under the age of 3 months with a temp needs a once-over by a healthcare provider right away. Babies 👶🏼 get sick faster the younger they are. They are at risk for the infection spreading very quickly. So please, take a rectal temperature 🍑 on that baby, because it’s the most accurate method, and call right away for a temp over 100.3 (that’s 100.4 and higher 😊). If your baby is in that in-between 3 to 6 month period, check with your pediatrician before heading right in, they may say it’s ok to stay home. 🏠

Fever in Babies / Fever in Toddlers Over 6 Months

Babies over 6 months old can tolerate a fever much better than infants under 6 months old. By better, I mean they wake up at night 😴, want to be held 🤱🏻 all day and make sure you get nothing done. Anything over 100.3 rectally is a real fever.

As long as your kid (the over 6-month old one) doesn’t look like a wet noodle 🍜 (think actual noodle-head hanging, legs limp, doesn’t want to watch the iPad) then just note the temp and watch. If you feel like something is wrong, go with that mom/dad gut. You know your kid best! Not drinking, peeing, or perking up? Complaining of pain? Call your doctor and get that baby looked at. 👩🏻‍⚕️

Most fevers need 24 hours to really show their true colors (as long as your baby isn’t less than 6 months old, then don’t wait! Call your doctor!). 24 hours of fever gives the body a chance to fight it on its own. Fight what? Who doesn’t want to know why your kid has a fever?! Grandma 👵🏻 Martha is sure it’s the flu 🤧 and Nosey Nellie thinks the whole family will be puking 🤮 by the morning. Well, give it 24 hours and there is a good chance you will find out.

Maybe the sniffles 🤧 will start, maybe you will puke 🤮, it’s possible you will get a rash, maybe a sore throat, but as long as your child can drink, pee, perk up enough to fight you about bedtime, watch the iPad, take Tylenol, and brush their teeth, then it’s prob ok to watch Johnny for another day or so. We are happy to chat 📱 with you about your symptoms, but running to the nearest ED isn’t necessary, yet.

Fever and Trouble Breathing

If your child is coughing and you notice fast breathing, difficulty catching his breath, her ribs are sucking in when she breathes (example of child sucking ribs in), grunting, nose flaring (example of child with nose flares) or any other strange breathing pattern that doesn’t look normal to you, CALL your provider right away. This isn’t normal with or without fever. If your child turns blue, call 911.

When to Call the Doctor Right Away

If you child isn’t able to drink, hasn’t peed for 6-8 hours, looks BAD 😵 or ILL appearing, isn’t able to get up and about AT ALL, isn’t whining 😂 then someone needs to look 👀 (i.e. your doctor, an urgent care, or the ER).

If your child has NO symptoms other than fever 🤒 for more than 48-72 hours, then your pediatrician needs to see them. 👀

Most viruses will last about 7 days. Usually, a fever 🤒 with other symptoms that is caused by a virus will last only 4 days. ON the 4th day, your kid’s fever 🤒 should clear if this is JUST a virus. Your child’s symptoms may last a few days longer. If your kid has a fever for 5 days, he/she should be seen to figure out why they still have ongoing fevers. Fevers lasting OVER 4 days (did I mention 5 days) often need to be worked up by a healthcare provider. 🏥

Fever in kids— how high is OK?

Your 4-year-old kid has a fever of 104 but is running 🏃🏻‍♀️ around in the living room and fighting with his sister for the lightsaber… Great!!! Enjoy that glass of wine🍷 and relax! If your 3-year-old is 101 and looks AWFUL and you gave Tylenol an hour ago, call! Your child should perk up and look better after Tylenol or Motrin, not worse. Always go with how your child looks.

Please follow the over the counter directions for Tylenol or Motrin or chat with us 📱 about the dose and usage! How does your child look when they have the fever? How about when the fever goes away? Go by that. Give them a chance to perk up and if they don’t, call.

Whatever you do, if your kid has a fever, don’t throw him in an ice bath 🛁 or rub her down with rubbing alcohol. Grandma 👵🏻 may know a thing or two, but that trick is outdated. A cool cloth to the head is fine and a tepid bath is ok. You don’t want your child to shiver 🌬. A light blanket and some cool drinks should help. Get cozy!

With the exception of the red flags above, all in all, fever 🤒 is OK. Fever means your child’s body is doing its job. Your strong little babe is fighting the bad guys. Way to go!!! Take a deep breath, snuggle up, enjoy the quiet time, and get ready for the rest of the family to get sick 🤢 too. Questions? Chat 💭📱 with one of our Health Experts! 👨🏽‍⚕️

Nurse-1-1 Health Center is written by nurses in a straight to the point type of way to provide basic health information. We get a lot of people like you searching online for answers to health concerns or looking for a hotline to ask a nurse a few questions. Questions like, My toddler has a fever of 102. What should I do? Baby fever or fever in kids– how high should her temperature be before I call a doctor? Infant fever causes and treatments.  Well we can help. We put some info here for you to find while searching through all that other dry, scary medical information online. Stop that. Read our posts, or chat with us. This is not medical advice or a replacement for medical care, but see what we have to say with our free health information, and hopefully it will stop you from scaring yourself any more than you already have. We can help.