Pediatric providers define a fever as a temperature that is greater than or equal to 100.4°F in a child under 2 years old and more than 101°F in a child over 2 years old.
Fever is a natural response to an illness, and there's no temperature at which the fever itself will damage your child. This being true, it is recommended you give your child fever reducers such as ibuprofen (for children older than 6 months) or Tylenol only if they're fussy or not feeling well. But if your child has a fever and is uncomfortable, there's a few things you can do to help.
Home care tips for fever:
- Dress your child in loose fitting clothing
- A cool compress applied to their forehead may help them feel better
- Tylenol if your child is less than 6 months old
- Ibuprofen if your child is older than 6 months (ibuprofen is more effective at reducing fever and it lasts longer than Tylenol)
- Help prevent dehydration by offering extra fluids (or even bribing them with treats like popsicles). Drinks like Pedialyte can be beneficial in keeping electrolyte levels normal
When to contact a provider about your child's fever:
- A fever of 100.4°F in a child younger than 2 months should be evaluated immediately in an emergency room
- If your child is acting extremely sleepy or not responding to you, and they don't improve with Tylenol or ibuprofen within 45-60 minutes, they should be evaluated in an emergency room
- If your child has had more than 2-3 days of fever, they should be evaluated at a same day visit with your PCP or at a pediatric urgent care