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When to Take Your Child to the Doctor for a Fever

January 8, 2015

when to take your child to the doctor for a feverTaking care of a sick child is never easy. Often, they can’t effectively describe how they’re feeling and you’re left to guess at how serious their symptoms might be. You don’t want to be an overbearing parent, but you also don’t want to take any unnecessary risks. 

Fevers can be an especially unsettling symptom. Low-grade fevers can be a reaction to something as mild as teething, while a high fever can be potentially life threatening. How do you know when to take your child to the doctor with a fever? 

Your first course of action should be to take your child’s temperature as accurately as possible. Once you have a reading, you can assess how serious the fever is, depending on your child’s age. 

Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • If your child is less than three months old, any fever registering 100.4 degrees or above is a good reason to call your doctor. 
  • If your child is between three and six months old, your doctor will likely want to see them if their fever goes above 101 degrees. 
  • For any child over six months old, a fever of 103 degrees means it’s time to contact your doctor. 

Chances are, once you talk to your doctor on the phone, you’ll either be told to administer a basic home treatment or bring your child in for an appointment. Here are some helpful tips for taking care of a child with a fever. 

Trust Your Instincts

As your child’s guardian, you have certain instincts that shouldn’t be ignored. If you feel strongly that a medical professional should see your child, stick to your guns. 

Administer a Fever Reducer (with your physician’s permission)

While you should always make sure to review the correct over-the-counter medication and dosage with your doctor, most will tell you that giving your child a mild fever reducer, like acetaminophen, is perfectly safe. Just remember, these medications only mask the symptoms your child is experiencing. Even if your child temporarily feels more comfortable, the fever might not actually be gone. 

Run a Lukewarm Bath

Even though your first instinct when your child is burning up is to cool them off with cold water, a lukewarm temperature bath is actually much more effective. Water that is too cold could cause your child to shiver and lead to a spike in temperature afterward. A lukewarm bath can help reduce a fever and bring some relief to the symptoms. 

If you’re uncertain about whether your child needs to see a doctor for any particular ailment, remember our offices are only a phone call away. Our physicians can give you a fair assessment over the phone and decide whether your child needs an appointment. Having a sick child is scary, but keeping your cool is the best way to eventually break their fever. 

As a parent, you want to make sure your child receives quality care at all phases of their life. Download our free guide, “From Crib to College,” to learn more about being an advocate for their health as they grow up.