Fever in Babies and Children: When to Worry

Feb 15, 2023
Fever in Babies and Children: When to Worry
Not all fevers are bad. However, there are some concerning signs and symptoms to watch for when your child’s temperature starts to climb. Check these facts from our team about kids and fevers and when it’s time to see the doctor.

Fevers usually develop as part of your immune system’s response to infection. They’re uncomfortable, but most aren’t dangerous. However, depending on your child’s age, even a seemingly mild rise in body temperature could signal signs of serious illness.

Board-certified pediatrician Phani Bodavula, MD, and his team at Garland Pediatric Practice in Garland, Texas, deliver outstanding medical care for children of all ages, from infancy through adolescence. 

In addition, Dr. Bodavula has a passion for developing lifelong, supportive relationships with his patients and their caregivers.

Here’s what Dr. Bodavula and his team want you to remember about fevers in babies and children and when to call the doctor.

What should your child’s temperature be normally?

Normal body temperature can vary slightly from child to child and may depend on the time of day and activity level. 

For instance, your temperature is usually lower in the morning and higher in the afternoon or evening. However, a temp of 98.6°F (37°C) is about average. Fevers occur when your child’s temperature is 100°F or higher per oral thermometer.

Fevers in babies and children are generally related to viral or bacterial infections. Also, some immunizations can cause discomfort at the injection site and a low-grade fever. These side effects typically respond well to over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen (Children’s Tylenol).

Never give medicine to a child younger than 6 months without a physician’s direction. Also, children and teens with a viral illness shouldn’t take aspirin or products containing aspirin. The use of aspirin during a viral infection has been linked to Reye’s syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition.

When should you call your child’s doctor about a fever?

Dr. Bodavula encourages you to call the Garland Pediatric Practice office whenever you have questions about your child’s health, even for a low-grade temperature.

Otherwise, consider your child’s age. For instance, always call if your baby is less than 3 months old and has a rectal temperature of 100.4°F or higher. 

You should also call Garland Pediatric Practice if your baby is 3-6 months old and has a rectal temp of 102°F or above. Finally, contact us regarding children 7-24 months with a temperature of 102°F or higher that lasts longer than a day.

Dr. Bodavula also recommends calling the office or scheduling a visit for older children with temps of 103°F or above, especially if the fever doesn’t respond to fever-reducing medication.

When it’s more than a fever

Even low-grade fevers require a doctor’s care if your child is also exhibiting other concerning symptoms, such as:

  • Unresponsiveness or listlessness
  • Skin rash
  • Confusion
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty breathing

Also, schedule a visit at Garland Pediatric Practice as soon as possible if your child experiences a febrile seizure. Call 911 if the seizure lasts longer than five minutes. 

Schedule a visit today for more information about caring for your child during a fever. Call the office or request an appointment online. After-hours care is available.