How to manage your
child's fever

Caring for a child with fever
When your child is sick, it is common to also have a fever. Fevers will not hurt your child, they are the body's normal response to infection. Usually fevers go away after 72 hours (3 days). Learn how to take an accurate temperature and keep a feverish child comfortable.

Tips for temperature taking

Select your child's age from the categories below to view instructions on taking temperature.

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Do not use a glass thermometer.
Glass can break, and the mercury inside can be toxic!

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Fever strips and home thermometers that you sweep across the forehead are not accurate or reliable enough.

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Do not use an oral thermometer to take a rectal temperature, or a rectal thermometer to take an oral temperature

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Digital thermometers can take rectal, armpit, or oral readings. They are unbreakable, easy to read, and measure quickly.

Use the right method for your child's age

There are several ways to take your child's temperature. The right method depends on your child's age to ensure accuracy. Click the button below showing your child's age for instructions on the ideal and optional methods for taking temperature.

NORMAL TEMPERATURE RANGE
ARMPIT METHOD
36.5° C to 37.5°C
97.8°F to 99.5°F

  1. Place the tip of the thermometer in the centre of your child's armpit.
  2. Tuck your child's arm snugly against their body.
  3. Hold the thermometer in place for about 1 minute, until you hear the beep.
  4. Remove the thermometer and read the temperature.

NORMAL TEMPERATURE RANGE
EAR METHOD
35.8° C to 38°C
96.4°F to 100.4°F

  1. Use a clean probe tip each time, and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  2. Gently pull back on the ear to straighten the ear canal and make a clear path to the ear drum.
  3. Gently insert the thermometer until the ear canal is fully sealed off.
  4. Press and hold the button for one second.
  5. Remove the thermometer and read the temperature.


NORMAL TEMPERATURE RANGE
ARMPIT METHOD
36.5° C to 37.5°C
97.8°F to 99.5°F

  1. Place the tip of the thermometer in the centre of your child's armpit.
  2. Tuck your child's arm snugly against their body.
  3. Hold the thermometer in place for about 1 minute, until you hear the beep.
  4. Remove the thermometer and read the temperature.

NORMAL TEMPERATURE RANGE
MOUTH METHOD
35.5° C to 37.5°C
95.9°F to 99.5°F

This is the most accurate method for children 5 or older.

  1. Clean the thermometer with soapy water and rinse.
  2. Carefully place the tip of the thermometer under your child's tongue.
  3. With your child's mouth closed, leave the thermometer in place until you hear the beep (about 1 minute).
  4. Remove the thermometer and read the temperature.


NORMAL TEMPERATURE RANGE
EAR METHOD
35.8° C to 38°C
96.4°F to 100.4°F

  1. Use a clean probe tip each time, and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  2. Gently pull back on the ear to straighten the ear canal and make a clear path to the ear drum.
  3. Gently insert the thermometer until the ear canal is fully sealed off.
  4. Press and hold the button for one second.
  5. Remove the thermometer and read the temperature.


NORMAL TEMPERATURE RANGE
ARMPIT METHOD
36.5° C to 37.5°C
97.8°F to 99.5°F

  1. Place the tip of the thermometer in the centre of your child's armpit.
  2. Tuck your child's arm snugly against their body.
  3. Hold the thermometer in place for about 1 minute, until you hear the beep.
  4. Remove the thermometer and read the temperature.

What if the temperature is above normal?

The degree of a fever does not tell you how serious your child's illness is—how your child is acting (e.g., sleepy, active, cranky, happy, etc) is usually a better sign.

Caring for a child with fever

Most fevers can be cared for at home (see tips below), but seek help from a healthcare provider if your child:

  • Has a fever and is less than 6 months old.
  • Has a fever for more than 5 days.
  • Is excessively cranky, fussy or irritable.
  • Is excessively sleepy, lethargic or does not respond.
  • Is persistently wheezing or coughing.
  • Has a fever combined with a rash or any other signs of illness that worry you.

Caring for a feverish child

When caring for a feverish child at home, the following tips will help keep your child comfortable until their fever natually resolves:

ALERT: An infant, child or teenager with a fever should not be given aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid (ASA))

Home care

Keep your child comfortable and offer plenty of fluids (water, clear soup, breast milk, etc.).

Remove excess (but not all) clothing and blankets.

Monitor for signs of dehydration.

Check on your child during the night.

Keep your child at home.

Medication

Medication is not always needed to reduce a child's temperature.

Treat aches and pains with ibuprofen or acetaminophen (not Aspirin (ASA)).

Always follow the directions on the bottle and do not exceed recommended dosages unless your doctor prescribes a different dosage based upon your child's weight .

Remember that a fever is the body's natural response to infection, and most fevers will go away after 72 hours.