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Fever treatment for children

A fever will run its course regardless of treatment. Fever is one of the ways the body fights infection. Your child’s temperature will return to normal when the infection or other cause of the fever has completely gone.

In children under 12 months, fever might be a sign of a more significant illness, and you do need to seek medical advice.

Babies under 3 months of age who develop a fever must be seen by a doctor immediately, because it’s harder to tell if they have a serious underlying illness.

In older children, treat the fever only if you feel it’s making your child uncomfortable, irritable or so lethargic they're not drinking enough fluids.

Generally, children handle fever well. If your child has a fever, here are some ways that you can make them more comfortable:

  • Dress them in light clothing.
  • Give them small quantities of clear fluids such as water, weak tea or diluted soda water, lemonade or juice to drink. Lemonade and juice are too strong for a child with gastroenteritis with diarrhoea – they must be diluted. Do this often. If your child isn’t hungry, that’s OK. The most important thing is to make sure they're drinking enough to avoid dehydration.
  • Paracetamol can be given to children over 2 months for pain and symptoms of fever. Make sure you’ve got the right strength for your child's age and weight as overdosing can be dangerous. Read and follow the directions on the label carefully. If you are not sure check with your doctor or pharmacist.

Cool baths, sponging and fans can actually make your child more uncomfortable, and shivering can increase the body temperature.

Source: Raising Children Network (fever)

Last reviewed: August 2015

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