If you find your baby does have a fever you might also notice they:
- Feel hotter than usual when you touch their back or chest
- Feel sweaty or damp
- Look unwell
A feverish child may also
- Complain of feeling cold at the start of a fever
- Look pale and shivery but feel hot and dry to the touch
- Seem irritable, listless or sleepier than usual
- Drool more, which may be a sign of a sore throat
- Feel sick and be off their food
What causes fever in children?
A higher temperature than normal (38°C or above) shows that your body's immune system may be fighting an infection, from a virus or bacteria. Colds and flu are some of the most common viral infections that can cause fever. Vaccinations can cause your baby's temperature to rise slightly, but this is unlikely to last very long. Heat stroke can also cause your child's body temperature to rise, however this is different from fever as it is caused by external factors.
What’s the best way to measure a child’s temperature?
Use a digital thermometer that can be purchased from a pharmacy, to take your child’s temperature. Follow the instructions in the leaflet provided with the thermometer.
How to take your baby’s temperature:
- Place the thermometer under your baby or child’s armpit and gently but firmly close their arm over the thermometer.
- Leave it in place for the length of time recommended on the instruction leaflet (usually about 15 seconds).
- Remove the thermometer and read the temperature on the display screen of the thermometer.
How can you relieve your child’s fever?
When your child has a fever, make sure they stay hydrated, offer them plenty of fluids and give them food if they want it. Check on them regularly and keep them at home.
If the fever is making your little one distressed, you can give them medicine designed specifically for children. Nurofen for Children contains ibuprofen and starts to work in 15 minutes to relieve fever and lasts for up to 8 hours.
When should your child see a doctor?
Most fevers are the result of mild childhood illnesses and can usually be managed at home. However, you should see a doctor immediately or call 111 if your child is under three months and has a temperature of 38°C or higher, if your child is 3 to 6 months old and has a temperature of 39°C or higher, if you feel worried or if you think they have a high temperature.
For all other children, call 111 or take them to see a doctor if their temperature is above 38°C and they have if they have other signs of illness such as:
- A rash
- A high temperature that’s lasted for 5 days or more
- Is not eating or isn’t their usual self and you’re worried
- A high temperature that doesn’t get better with medicine such as paracetamol
- Is dehydrated, for example, they have dry nappies, sunken eyes and no tears when they cry.
Call 999 or take your child to A&E if they:
- Have a stiff neck or a rash that doesn’t fade when you press a glass against it
- Are bothered by light
- Have a fit for the first time
- Have very cold hands or feet, or blue, pale or blotchy skin, lips or tongue
- Have an unusually weak or high-pitched cry, unlike their normal cry
- Are drowsy and difficult to wake, and doesn't respond like they usually do
- Are very agitated or confused, refusing to eat or not interested in normal activities
- Have difficulty breathing
Although a high temperature in children is common and should come down in 3 to 4 days, it can be a difficult time for you both. You can help your little one feel more comfortable by dressing them lightly, covering them with a light blanket or bedclothes, giving them plenty of fluids and offering food if they want it. Before long, your child should be back to normal but until then, keep them at home, give them lots of cuddles and check on them regularly.