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Fever is a source of considerable concern among parents. Is a fever bad? What does it mean? Will the fever harm my child? Will it cause a seizure? The answers are no, no, no, and no (unless your child is pre-disposed to febrile seizures), respectively. In fact, fever is usually a good indicator that the immune system of your child is responding appropriately to some foreign invader, usually viral or bacterial.

A fever associated with a virus can last from 1 to 3 days and vary in magnitude from 101 to 104.

A fever is defined as a rectal temperature of 100.4ºF in an infant under 90 days old or a temperature of 101ºF in a child older than 90 days.

boy with fever
Rectal temperatures are preferable in newborns and infants. Tympanic thermometers are considered reliable after 12 months of age. It is not advisable to take your child's temperature daily, and he/she won't appreciate it. Research has shown that a parent can detect fever by touch over 80% of the time. Wait until you have a reason, trust your judgment, and then take a temperature.


Most fevers can be treated at home by following these tips:
  • You can give acetaminophen (Tylenol) to children to bring a fever down. Tylenol can be given every 4 to 6 hours as needed. However, call the office first with any fever of 100.4 or higher before giving Tylenol to children under 3 months.
  • Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) works two hours longer than Tylenol. It can be given ever 6 to 8 hours as needed in children over age 6 months. Make sure your child eats something with Ibuprofen because it can cause stomach upset on an empty stomach.
  • Avoid aspirin. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not giving aspirin to children (through age 21 years).
  • Sponging. You can give your child a lukewarm bath to bring the fever down faster.
  • Encourage your child to drink a lot of cold fluids.
  • Have your child wear as little clothing as possible because this will help bring down the fever.

Dosing Information

This Dosing Chart for Tylenol and Motrin may be helpful during the treatment of a fever.

Call The Office If:

  • Your child becomes jittery, shaky, or incoherent.
  • Your child develops a temperature that exceeds 104ºF.
  • Your child is less than 2 months old.
  • Your child has a fever that does not go down at least 1 degree within 1 hour after he/she takes Tylenol or Motrin/Advil.
  • Your child does not perk up within one 1 hour after taking a fever reducing medicine.
  • You do not know how much Tylenol/Advil/Motrin to give your child.