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What should I do if my child has a fever?

Every parent dreads their child getting a fever. At best, it means discomfort for your child and a broken night’s sleep for you. It can also be a worrying time as a fever can be a sign of serious illness.

In this article, we’ll explain what a fever is, how to look for signs and what causes it. We’ll also describe how to treat a child’s fever at home and when to call a doctor.

When you’re prepared, you can act with confidence if your little one develops a fever. This means peace of mind for you and a swift recovery for your child.

What is a fever?

A fever is a temperature of 38°C or above. The child fever range can extend to a few degrees above this temperature.

A fever is a sign that your child’s body is fighting an infection, and it is very common.

Often, a fever is mild and can be treated at home with some simple care. Sometimes, your child may have fever and headache or other symptoms.

What are the signs of a fever?

Your child may have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Flushed cheeks
  • Skin that feels either hot or sweaty or clammy
  • Chills or shivering

What causes a fever?

An infection is the most likely cause of a fever. It may be caused by viruses – for example:

  • A cold
  • Flu
  • COVID-19
  • Chickenpox

A fever may also be caused by a bacterial infection like:

  • Ear infection
  • Throat infection
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Pneumonia

Other causes of fever include reactions to vaccines, tummy upsets and joint inflammation.

How to treat a child’s fever

There are several things you can do to treat your child’s fever at home.

Monitor their temperature by taking it at regular intervals. You can use an infrared forehead thermometer. Just hold it a few centimetres away from your child to get a reading. Stick-on fever indicators are effective, too. You can use them instead of taking a child’s temperature in the mouth or under the arm.

  • Give your child plenty of cool fluids to drink to avoid dehydration.
  • The healthdirect website says that you can give paracetamol to children older than one month. Ibuprofen can be given to children three months and over who weigh more than 6 kg.
  • Keep them comfortable with a cooling patch. Simply stick the patch gently on your child’s forehead for up to eight hours’ relief.
  • Dress them in thin, light layers to keep them cool.
  • Cover them with a cotton sheet if they are shivering.
  • Make sure their room is set at a comfortable temperature.
  • If your child has fever at night, check on them regularly.

If you are concerned about your child’s health, you should seek medical advice.

When should I call a doctor?

In most cases, a child’s fever will get better within hours or a day or two. But you should be aware of signs that you should consult a doctor straight away. You should do this if your child has fever and vomiting or:

  • Has a febrile convulsion – this is a seizure that is triggered by a fever. It can often be a one-off event, and a child may not ever have another one
  • Has fever and a headache that doesn’t get better
  • Has tummy pain that won’t go away
  • Has a stiff neck
  • Has a rash that does not fade when pressed
  • Is sensitive to light
  • Has a bulging fontanelle (the soft spot on a baby’s head)
  • Has trouble breathing
  • Does not respond to your voice
  • Is having difficulty drinking fluids
  • Is not passing urine well
  • Has had the fever for over three days
  • Has been in contact with someone with a serious infection

Thermometers and cooling patches to soothe fever

At FeverMates, we stock a range of thermometers and cooling patches. Make sure you have both at home so you’re prepared next time your little one is unwell.

You can also browse our range of other health products. Our custom silicone handbands will communicate a message for you or can be used at events.

Our medibands display medical information and contact details, which are vital to know in an emergency.

We also offer first aid supplies to help you keep your first aid kit up-to-date.

You can also browse our complete range of sanitisers, thermometers, cooling patches and face masks online.

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