When to Go to the Hospital for Child Fever: A Guide for Parents

Child fever can be a common occurrence in many households. It can be caused by several factors, including infections, teething, and vaccinations. While most fevers in children are not serious and can be treated at home, some may require medical attention. It is essential to know when to take your child to the hospital and when to relax.

Fever is a sign that the body is fighting an infection or illness. It is usually indicated by a body temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher. In infants and young children, fever can cause discomfort and irritability. It can also lead to dehydration, especially if the child is not drinking enough fluids. Therefore, it is crucial to monitor your child’s symptoms and body temperature and take the necessary steps to manage their fever.

When to Worry

Fevers are common in children and are usually not a cause for concern. However, there are times when a fever can indicate a more serious illness. Here are some signs to look out for:

Signs of Serious Illness

  • Dehydration: If your child is not drinking enough fluids, they may become dehydrated. Signs of dehydration include dry mouth, sunken eyes, and decreased urination. If your child has a fever and is showing signs of dehydration, seek medical attention.
  • Breathing difficulties: If your child is having trouble breathing, seek medical attention immediately. Signs of breathing difficulties include rapid breathing, wheezing, and difficulty speaking.
  • Seizures: If your child has a seizure, seek medical attention immediately. Seizures can be a sign of a serious illness and can be life-threatening.
  • Hospitalization: If your child has a fever and is showing signs of a serious illness, they may need to be hospitalized. Signs of a serious illness include a high fever that does not respond to medication, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C): MIS-C is a rare but serious condition that can occur in children who have had COVID-19. Symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. If your child has these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

If your child has a fever and is showing any of these signs, it is important to seek medical attention. Remember to keep your child hydrated and monitor their symptoms closely.

Taking Your Child’s Temperature

When your child is sick, taking their temperature is an important way to monitor their health. Here are some things to keep in mind when taking your child’s temperature.

Types of Thermometers

There are several types of thermometers available, including oral, rectal, and ear thermometers. Oral thermometers are placed under the tongue, while rectal thermometers are inserted into the rectum. Ear thermometers are placed in the ear canal. Each type of thermometer has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the right one for your child.

Normal Body Temperature

The normal body temperature for children is between 97°F (36.1°C) and 99°F (37.2°C). However, this can vary depending on the child’s age, activity level, and other factors. It’s important to know your child’s normal body temperature so you can recognize when they have a fever.

Fever Temperature

A fever is when your child’s body temperature is higher than normal. A temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher is considered a fever. If your child has a fever, it’s important to monitor their temperature and symptoms closely. In some cases, a fever can be a sign of a serious illness and may require medical attention.

When taking your child’s temperature, it’s important to follow the instructions for your thermometer carefully. Make sure the thermometer is clean and free from any debris before use. If you’re unsure about how to take your child’s temperature or what temperature is considered a fever, consult with your healthcare provider.

Managing Your Child’s Fever

When your child has a fever, it can be a scary experience for both you and your child. However, it is important to know that fever is a natural response to an infection and is the body’s way of fighting off the illness. Here are some tips on how to manage your child’s fever:

When to Treat a Fever

It is important to know when to treat a fever and when to seek medical attention. If your child’s fever is below 100.4°F (38°C), it is generally not necessary to treat it. However, if your child’s fever is above 100.4°F (38°C), you can give them fever-reducing medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If your child is younger than 3 months old and has a fever, you should call your doctor immediately.

Fever-Reducing Medications

Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are the most commonly used fever-reducing medications for children. Acetaminophen (also known as Tylenol) can be given to infants as young as 2 months old, while ibuprofen (also known as Advil or Motrin) can be given to children who are at least 6 months old. It is important to follow the dosing instructions on the label and to never give your child more than the recommended dose.

Fluids and Rest

It is important to keep your child hydrated when they have a fever. Encourage them to drink plenty of fluids, such as water, Pedialyte, or other electrolyte solutions. It is also important for your child to rest and get plenty of sleep to help their body fight off the infection.

In addition to these tips, there are also other products on the market that claim to reduce fever in children. However, it is important to be cautious when using these products and to always consult with your doctor before using them.

Overall, managing your child’s fever can be a stressful experience, but with the right treatment and care, your child will be on the road to recovery in no time.

When to Call the Doctor

If your child has a fever, it’s important to know when to call the doctor. Here are some situations where you should contact your healthcare provider:

Febrile Seizures

If your child has a seizure while they have a fever, call the doctor immediately. Febrile seizures are not uncommon in young children and usually last only a few minutes. However, they can be scary for parents to witness. Most febrile seizures do not cause any long-term harm, but it’s still important to seek medical attention.

Shortness of Breath

If your child is having trouble breathing or is experiencing shortness of breath, call the doctor right away. This could be a sign of a serious respiratory infection or other condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Rash or Pain

If your child has a rash or is experiencing pain along with their fever, call the doctor. This could be a sign of a more serious condition that requires medical care.

Persistent Fever

If your child’s fever lasts longer than a few days, or if it is not responding to over-the-counter fever-reducing medication, call the doctor. This could be a sign of a more serious underlying condition that requires medical attention.

Remember, if you are ever in doubt about whether to call the doctor, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Your child’s pediatrician or healthcare provider is there to help you and your child get the medical care you need. If you cannot reach your doctor, go to the emergency room or emergency department.

It’s important to note that aspirin should never be given to children with a fever, as it can lead to a serious condition called Reye’s syndrome. If your child is experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, or any other concerning symptoms along with their fever, call the doctor right away.

Preventing and Treating Infections

Preventing and treating infections is essential for maintaining good health in children. The immune system of children is not fully developed, making them more vulnerable to infections. Infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that enter the body and cause an immune response.

Common Childhood Infections

Common childhood infections include strep throat, ear infections, and urinary tract infections. These infections are usually caused by bacteria and can be treated with antibiotics. It is important to finish the entire course of antibiotics prescribed by the doctor to prevent the infection from returning.

Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections can be severe and require immediate medical attention. Symptoms of bacterial infections include fever, chills, and fatigue. Some bacterial infections can be prevented by maintaining good hygiene, such as washing hands regularly and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

Viral Infections

Viral infections are caused by viruses that can spread easily from person to person. Some common viral infections include the flu and COVID-19. These infections can be prevented by practicing good hygiene, such as washing hands regularly, wearing masks, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

In some cases, viral infections can lead to complications such as pneumonia or bronchitis. It is important to seek medical attention if symptoms persist or worsen.

Infectious diseases are caused by microorganisms that can spread from person to person. The immune system produces antibodies to fight off these microorganisms. However, in some cases, the immune system may not be able to fight off the infection, leading to serious complications.

It is important to keep children away from people who are sick to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Children who have a fever or other symptoms of an infection should be kept home from school or daycare until they are no longer contagious.

Fighting an infection can be challenging, but there are steps that can be taken to prevent and treat infections. Maintaining good hygiene, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and seeking medical attention when necessary can help keep children healthy and free from infections.


In conclusion, fever is a common symptom in children and can be caused by a variety of factors. While most fevers are not serious, some can be a sign of a more severe underlying condition. As a parent, it’s essential to monitor your child’s fever and know when to seek medical attention.

If your child has a fever and is irritable or lethargic, it’s crucial to monitor their symptoms and seek medical attention if they persist or worsen. Additionally, if your child has difficulty breathing, a runny nose, or other allergy symptoms, it’s essential to consult with a medical professional.

It’s important to remember that not all fevers require a trip to the hospital. However, if your child has a fever greater than 102°F or 39°C, it’s worth checking in with a doctor or nurse to go through things and see if a visit to the office or emergency room makes sense.

Finally, it’s essential to stay informed and seek out reliable health information when it comes to your child’s health. By staying knowledgeable and acting quickly when necessary, you can help ensure your child’s health and well-being.

About the author
Piper is a seasoned parent who has been through the ups and downs of raising toddlers. As a writer, she shares her experiences and offers practical advice to help other parents navigate the challenges of parenthood.