A fever is defined as a temperature of 100.4°F or higher when taken rectally and 99°F when taken orally. When your child gets a fever, you have three options: to dial 911, visit the nearest emergency room, or try treating your child at home.
The at-home treatment will depend on the temperature of the child as also on what other signs and symptoms are present along with the fever. Whatever be the case, some self-care measures can reduce the fever and make the child comfortable. These include:
- Sponging the child: Cold sponging is one of the most effective steps for bringing a child’s fever down. You can submerge a clean, soft cloth in water and place it over the child’s head, armpits, and groin. Remove it after 3 minutes, wring the cloth, soak it in the water again, and repeat.
- Lukewarm baths: Give the child a lukewarm bath, but do not leave them alone in the bathtub.
- Giving or encouraging your child to drink water: Fever can dehydrate the child. Regardless of age, when suffering from a cold and cough, keep your child well hydrated by giving them plenty of fluids to sip. If the child has a cold as well, this helps clear excess mucus in the sinuses. Try giving them warm water, Gatorade, fruit juices, and clear soups.
- Give them chicken soup: Chicken soups and warm vegetable broths help in soothing the throat and relieving congestion in the chest. Warm milk with a pinch of turmeric works as well.
- Make use of pain-relievers (only if necessary): Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce the fever and pain of the child. However, don’t give ibuprofen to babies aged younger than 6 months. Read the labels. Never give aspirin, as it can cause potentially life-threatening condition known as Reye’s syndrome.
- Dress your child in layers: Keep the child comfortable by dressing them in layers or breathable clothes.
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When should you seek medical help?
Any child aged younger than 5 years and especially those younger than 2 years are considered “high-risk” because they are more likely to experience complications from the fever, including pneumonia than healthy adults. If your child is 3 months old, do not treat them at home but only under the supervision of a doctor.
The suggested measures can help your child stay comfortable till the fever tides over. However, you should not delay seeking medical help when your child shows the following signs and symptoms of flu:
- Fever goes and keeps coming back particularly (fevers above 104°F)
- Persistent fever for more than 3 days
- The child’s neck is stiff, complains of severe headache, and is insensitive to light
- Not drinking enough liquids
- Signs of cyanosis such as bluish skin or lips
Medically Reviewed on 1/4/2021
Caring for Your Child’s Cold or Flu. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/highrisk/infantcare.htm