Fever Guide for Fearsome Parents

Dealing with children’s fever is daunting. While staying up all night checking on Dan’s temperature in the past two days, I came across an informative guide from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario to help me demystify fever.

What is fever?

Fever is the body’s normal way of fighting infection. It alerts us to keep an eye on our child. Normal temperature is between 97°F–100.4°F. A child has a fever if his temperature is higher than 100.4°F.

Putting the fever in perspective

Fevers between 100.5°F–105°F are common in children with illnesses. The height of the fever does not necessarily correlate with severity of illness. We treat children with fever reducing medication to make them more comfortable. Never wake a child just to take a temperature or to give fever reducing medication. Fevers are generally not dangerous until they are over 107°F. Children under 3 months of age with a temperature over 100.4°F should see a doctor.

What to do?

If a child has a fever, dress him in light clothes and encourage him to drink fluids. Avoid bundling him in heavy blankets. Sponge and cool baths are not recommended and may make a child more uncomfortable. If you choose to use a fever reducing medication, we recommend either acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil). We do not recommend alternating these medications or giving them at the same time. These medications will reduce the temperature 1-2 degrees and last several hours. Reducing a temperature to normal is not necessary because a little fever can be beneficial in helping a child fight infection. How a child looks and acts is more important than the number on the thermometer.

Contact doctor’s office if the child is:

  • Very irritable
  • Not drinking or urinating
  • Looking and acting very sick or seems confused
  • Feverish for longer than 3 days
  • Having difficulty breathing
  • Unable to swallow
  • Very sleepy and hard to wake up
  • Or if you have any concerns


Parents are often concerned that a child’s fever will cause a seizure. It is important to note that the risk of seizures is very low. In addition, seizures from fever are not known to cause any long-term problems.