Fever in children

A fever is when the body’s temperature rises above 38°C. It is often a sign of infection in the body.

Fevers are common in children. Most are caused by viruses and do not need antibiotics. Sometimes however, they can be due to a bacteria which may require treatment.

You may want to take your child’s temperature if they are:

  • Unwell and feel hot
  • Irritable or crying
  • More sleepy than usual
  • Vomiting or refusing to drink
  • In pain

Caring for your child

Treat your child’s fever to make them more comfortable
  • Dress your child in enough clothing so they are not shivering
  • Give your child frequent small drinks of clear fluid (eg. Water, diluted fruit juice or cordial). If your child is younger than 6 months old, give extra breast feeds, bottles or cooled boiled water.
  • If the fever is above 38.5°C and your child is miserable or has other symptoms such as a sore throat, giving them paracetamol will make them more comfortable. Paracetamol can be given every 4 hours as directed on the bottle. Do not give this for more than 2 days without seeing your doctor.

See your doctor if your child:

  • Complains of a stiff neck or light hurting their eyes
  • Vomiting or refusing to drink much
  • Rash
  • More sleepy than usual
  • Problems with breathing
  • Your child is in pain
It’s especially important to get your child checked if:
  • Your child is under 3 months old and has a fever
  • Your child’s fever is above 40°C

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