Pregnancy and baby

Treating a high temperature in children

How do I treat a fever? (9 to 30 months)

Media last reviewed: 28/02/2013

Next review due: 28/02/2015

Fever in children

A fever is a temperature of over 37.5C (99.5F). Fevers are quite common in young children and are usually mild.

If your child’s face feels hot to the touch and they look red or flushed then they may have a fever. You can also check their temperature with a thermometer. Safe, cheap digital thermometers are available from your pharmacist.

Measured under the arm, normal temperature is about 36.4C (97.5F). Under the tongue, normal temperature is slightly higher at about 37C (98.6F). This may vary slightly depending on the time of day and what your child has been doing.

If you're worried speak to your GP or call NHS 111. If the surgery is closed, contact your GP out-of-hours service. If you're still concerned, or if your GP or out-of-hours service can’t come quickly enough, take your child straight to your nearest Accident and Emergency (A&E) department.

Always contact your GP, health visitor, practice nurse or nurse practitioner if:

  • your child has other signs of illness as well as a raised temperature
  • your baby’s temperature is 38C (100.4F) or higher (if they’re under three months), or
  • your baby’s temperature is 39C (102.2F) or higher (if they’re three to six months)

If the doctor doesn’t find a reason for the temperature they may ask you to collect a urine sample in a sterile container so they can test for infection.

How to treat a young child's fever

It’s important to keep your child hydrated. Even if your child isn’t thirsty try to get them to drink little and often to keep their fluid levels up. Don’t give them food unless they want it.

Treat discomfort and fever with paracetamol or ibuprofen (always follow the dosage instructions carefully). Do not give your child aspirin.

The following suggestions may help your child feel more comfortable:

  • Give your child plenty to drink.
  • Undress them to their nappy or vest and pants.
  • Cover them with a sheet if necessary.
  • Keep the room well aired and at a comfortable temperature of about 18C (65F) by adjusting the heating or opening a window.
  • If your child is distressed and uncomfortable, try giving them paracetamol or ibuprofen. You can’t give them both at the same time, but if one doesn’t work you may want to try the other later. Always check the instructions on the bottle or packet to find out the correct dose and frequency for your child’s age.

Further information

Page last reviewed: 07/02/2014

Next review due: 07/02/2016


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The 2 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

SRiv said on 16 June 2013

It doesn't appear to be clear from this article whether I should be concerned, and contact GP, when the temperature is 38/39 degrees or when it is 40/41 degrees. Could this be clarified ? Thanks

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janeellis74 said on 01 February 2012

NICE Guidelines:

Feverish illness in children: Assessment and initial management in children
younger than 5 years

Antipyretic interventions
Antipyretic agents do not prevent febrile convulsions and should not be used
specifically for this purpose.\

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