Having to comfort a sick child is always a hard time for a parent. You want your little one to be happy, healthy, and ready to play.
When your toddler gets a fever, it can be especially difficult – as your child is too young to tell you how they feel or what they need. It’s on you to soothe them and bring down their fever to help them feel better as soon as possible.
Worried about reducing your toddler's fever? Learn when a high temperature needs to be treated and how to keep your child comfortable.
What temperature is considered a fever in toddlers?
The average body temperature for young children is around 37°C (98.6° F). This temperature may vary by half a degree throughout the day. Some elevations in temperature can be caused by movement, heavy layers of clothing, a hot bath or spending time outside in hot weather.
Once your toddler has a temperature of 38.1° C (100.5°F) or higher, this is officially considered to be a low-grade fever. This number is a little higher than the fever threshold for adults.
Although the body generally limits its temperature to a maximum of around 40°C (104°F), if your child’s fever rises to this point they should see a doctor immediately.
What can cause a fever in a child?
Fevers are most typically caused by viral infections like the common cold or flu. Bacterial infections, such as sinus infection, pneumonia, urinary tract infection or strep throat, can also cause a heightened temperature.
Sometimes if your child has spent time in a hot place, such as the car or outside in high temperatures, they can have a fever. Vaccinations can also cause a mild fever for 1 to 2 days. These kinds of fever typically go away on their own.
How long should a fever last?
Usually, body temperature rises when your body is fighting a sickness or infection. This should go back down once the body has overcome whatever it was fighting. The duration of a fever can depend on what ails your child.
Fevers in toddlers under 2 years old should not last longer than 24 hours. Children older than 2 should not have fever longer than 72 hours. If the fever persists or your child still feels sick once the fever is gone, call your doctor immediately.
When should you take your toddler to the doctor?
A fever is not necessarily a sign of something more serious, and often the body will fight it off naturally within a few days. Even so, it is important to monitor your child’s fever and check in with how they are feeling.
Here are some symptoms that warrant a visit to the doctor:
- If your child is crying constantly and complaining about being sick.
- If your child is difficult to get out of bed.
- If your child has spent time in a very hot place, such as a hot car.
- If your child has a severe headache or stiff neck.
- If you notice an unexplained rash on your toddler’s body.
- If your child is taking steroids or has an immune system issue.
- If the fever rises to 40 degrees or higher.
- If the fever is accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea.
If your child exhibits the following, take them immediately to the Emergency Room:
- If your toddler is unresponsive.
- If your child is having trouble breathing.
- If your child has blue lips or skin.
- If your child has a seizure or convulsion.
When should you treat a toddler’s fever at home?
Unless your child is uncomfortable or has an extremely high temperature, a fever does not need to be treated.
If your child complains of feeling sick, there are several ways you can reduce the fever and make your child more comfortable. Be aware that febrile seizures are somewhat common in children between ages of 6 months and 5 years, and these are usually harmless.
What at-home strategies help bring down a fever?
If your toddler experiences discomfort along with a fever, you should focus on giving them some relief.
Here are a few safe ways to treat your toddler’s high temperature at home:
- Give your toddler children acetaminophen or ibuprofen, which should reduce the fever by a few degrees for some hours.
- Dress your child in light clothing so their layers don’t hold in their body heat.
- In order to keep your child hydrated, encourage them to drink fluids such as water, Gatorade or juice. You can also give your toddler a popsicle.
- Bathe your child in mildly warm water. Not cold enough so they shiver, as this can raise their body temperature.
- Put cold washcloths or FeverMates Cooling Patches on your child’s forehead or wrists to provide some relief.
What NOT to do when your toddler has a fever:
- Worry too much about their high temperature. Unless it is accompanied by other symptoms, a low- to mid-grade fever is usually not dangerous.
- Give your child aspirin, as it can cause a serious disease called Reye Syndrome.
- Give your child an alcohol or ice bath, as this can raise their body temperature.
- Give your child cold and flu medicine if they are under age 4. If you have cold medicine specifically designed for children, call your doctor before providing it to your child.
- Even if your child is complaining of chills, it is best not to wrap them in huge blankets as that will raise their temperature.
What to feed your sick toddler when they have a fever
Often if your child’s only symptom is a fever, they will want to continue their normal eating habits.
The best way to combat sickness and fever with food is to serve your child meals that will keep them hydrated. This can include:
- Chicken soup with a warm broth.
- Fruits and vegetables, as they are full of water and vitamins that will help your toddler fight off sickness.
- Anything they will eat! It is important to keep up calorie intake in sick children so their bodies have the nutrients they need to fight.
Best way to monitor your toddler’s temperatureSick children do not like to be poked and prodded with thermometers, especially when they are trying to rest! Temperature readings also vary by the type of thermometer, with rectal and ear measurements higher than oral and armpit.
FeverMates are an easy solution! These hypoallergenic and latex-free temperature indicators come in a fun selection of colourful animal stickers and go right on the forehead. This allows you to monitor your child’s temperature for up to 48 hours without having to disturb their rest with a thermometer!
FeverMates provide an accurate and clear temperature reading at all times. Combine these thermometers with a cooling patch for the ultimate relief for your little one. Thermometers and cooling patches are easy to order online, but feel free to contact us with any additional questions about our product!
Further information about toddler fever control
Here's an easy-to-use Fever Reference Chart that FeverMates designed for ease of understanding. Print it out so your ready for the next fever that presents!