A fever can occur in toddlers for a variety of reasons. While not all fevers are serious, certain conditions that cause high temperatures in toddlers need urgent medical attention.
Read on to learn when a toddler with a fever needs urgent medical attention, as well as treatments and potential causes.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a child’s normal body temperature should be between 97ºF (36ºC) and 100.4ºF (38ºC).
Children and babies can have
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The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke notes that these types of seizures occur in 2–5% of children below 5 years old.
Symptoms of a febrile seizure include:
- loss of consciousness
- uncontrollable shaking of legs and arms
- eye rolling
- stiff limbs
- twitching in one area of the body
If a toddler’s febrile seizure lasts more than 5 minutes, or the child does not seem to be getting better, seek immediate medical attention.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends contacting a doctor if a toddler experiences a fever of
A parent of caregiver should also contact a doctor if the toddler has:
- other signs of illness, such as rash
- a fever that lasts for 5 days or more
- a fever that does not reduce with acetaminophen
- a cough that lasts for more than 3 weeks
- persistent ear pain
- signs of dehydration
- difficulty breathing, including nostrils widening with each breath
- fast breathing
- shortness of breath
- ribs showing with each breath
- excessive crankiness or sleepiness
- symptoms seeming to be getting worse
- excessive crying
- fever that comes and goes
- blue or grey lips
Additionally, meningitis is a serious condition that
- stiff neck
- dislike of bright lights
- trouble waking up
- lack of appetite
- lack of energy
- a rash that does not fade under pressure — use a glass to test for this
A caregiver does not always need to reduce a fever. A fever lower than 101ºF (38ºC) does not require treatment unless the toddler is uncomfortable.
Fever occurs due to the body reacting to contracting a viral or bacterial infection. Bacteria and viruses can thrive at the body’s normal temperature — by increasing its internal temperature, the body can help kill the infection.
While certain drugs can help lower a child’s fever, they do not treat its underlying cause.
To help make the toddler feel more comfortable, a person can:
- ensure the child drinks plenty of water
- put cool, damp cloths on the foreheads, wrists, and calves
- dress them in loose, light clothes
- give them medication, such as ibuprofen or paracetamol
When giving a toddler medication to treat their fever, a person should ensure they give the correct dose. The FDA recommends that an individual speaks with a doctor before giving medication to a toddler
Nationwide Children’s Hospital says that a person can also give the child a sponge bath if they have a fever over 104ºF (40ºC) and are vomiting and unable to keep the medicine down. To do this, a caregiver should place the child in a bath with lukewarm water of approximately 85–90ºF (29–32ºC) and sponge the water over the skin.
If the child is unable to sit in the bath, a person can lay a lukewarm, wet washcloth:
- on the stomach
- on the groin
- under the armpits
- behind the neck
Parents and caregivers should be aware of the following when treating a toddler’s fever:
- do not rub a toddler down with alcohol, as the skin may absorb it, leading to coma
- do not put a toddler in a cold or ice bath, as this can cause shivering and increase their temperature
- do not undress the toddler
- do not delay seeking medical attention for a toddler who appears very ill
- do not give a toddler any medication not meant for a child
A person can take a child’s temperature in a variety of ways, including:
- Forehead temperature: Although this is appropriate for children of any age, using it in direct sunlight can affect temperature readings.
- Mouth temperature: This is suitable for those above the age of 4 years. A person places the tip of the thermometer under the tongue and waits until they hear a beep. To get an accurate reading, individuals should wait for 30 minutes after the child has had anything hot or cold to drink.
- Ear temperature: This is appropriate for those older than 6 months. When using an ear thermometer, aim the tip slightly diagonally toward the face.
A person should take the child’s temperature
There are many reasons why a toddler might have a fever. Possible causes include illness due to viruses or bacteria, such as:
- the common cold
- urinary tract infections
- ear infections
- scarlet fever
Other causes include:
- having a vaccination
There are many reasons why a toddler might have a fever. This symptom is a byproduct of a child healing from acquiring an infection, and it does not necessarily need treating. However, a caregiver can provide home care to help the infant feel more comfortable.
Seek medical help if a toddler has a fever of
Many conditions can lead to a toddler experiencing a fever. If a parent or caregiver has concerns about the toddler’s temperature, they should speak with a doctor.