Stony Brook Medicine Health News
Fever Too High for Child

When is a Fever Too High for a Child?

It’s natural to worry when your child has a fever, but not all fevers are cause for concern. 

A fever is a body temperature that’s 100.4°F or greater. Fever is the body’s natural response to fighting off infections, such as those caused by viruses or bacteria. It’s a warning sign that your child’s immune system is working hard to fend off illness. 

Fevers are common in children and necessary to fight infections. Still, it’s important to know how to manage them properly and when it’s time to see a doctor.

When is a Fever Too High for a Child?

A fever is considered high when it reaches 100.4°F or higher in infants younger than 2 months.  If your infant’s fever reaches this temperature, calling your doctor is recommended. 

Fevers in older children are less worrisome because their immune systems are more developed. It is more important to pay attention to your child’s other symptoms and behavior, than focus solely on the degree of the fever.   

Common Fever Symptoms

When your child has a fever, the following symptoms are considered normal and do not require medical attention unless they persist for longer than two days:

  • Tiredness or fussiness
  • Faster heart rate and breathing
  • Shivering
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Decreased appetite
  • Mild headache and body aches

What To Do at Home for Fever 

In most cases, your child’s fever and related symptoms will resolve on their own. Some tips for making your child feel comfortable include:

  • Dressing in light clothing
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Putting a cool washcloth on their forehead
  • Making sure they get plenty of rest
  • Putting your child in a lukewarm bath
  • Taking children’s fever-reducing medicine, if needed

It’s normal for your child’s body temperature to change throughout the day, typically rising in the afternoon and evening. You may notice that your child’s mood and energy levels change at different periods of the day, which is normal. 

When to See a Doctor for High Fever 

Call your pediatrician if your child has any of the following symptoms: 

  • Temperature of 100.4 or greater lasting longer than two days 
  • Extreme fatigue or irritability 
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe headache or neck stiffness
  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Rash or skin discoloration
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Severely decreased urination 

If you notice any of these symptoms or feel that something isn’t right, contact your doctor. If your child’s symptoms are severe and require an immediate response, call 9-1-1. 

  • Lauren Ng, DO
    Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

    Dr. Lauren Ng has been serving the Long Island community as a pediatric primary care doctor for over 10 years. She provides routine health care for newborns, children, and adolescents. She is a mother of three children and has a passion for supporting first-time parents. She has a particular interest in preventive medicine and promoting a healthy lifestyle at an early age.

This article is intended to be general and/or educational in nature. Always consult your healthcare professional for help, diagnosis, guidance and treatment.