Learn first aid for a baby or child with a fever

1. The baby or child has a raised temperature (above 37°C). They have hot flushed skin and may be sweating.

In the early stages of fever, a baby or child may have a raised temperature but complain they feel cold and they may look pale. They may also complain of a headache.

2. Check their temperature by using a thermometer.

A moderate fever may not be harmful, but you should monitor them. A temperature above 39°C can be dangerous.

3. Reduce their temperature: remove excess clothes and give them fluids such as water or diluted juice.

This will cool the baby or child and help to keep them hydrated. Do not cover the baby or child with blankets or anything that may make them hotter.

4. Give the recommended dose of paracetamol syrup.

This will help to reduce the baby or child’s temperature and pain.

Watch how to help a baby or child with a fever (1 minute 32 seconds)

Common questions about first aid for a baby or child with a fever

What is a fever?


Can I give paracetamol syrup to my baby?


Should I put my baby or child in a cold shower or cold bath, or sponge them down to cool them?


Could a fever be a sign of something more serious?


Can a fever or high temperature cause a febrile seizure?


Do I have to seek medical advice every time my baby or child has a fever?


 

What is a fever?

A fever is a body temperature that is raised higher than the normal temperature of about 37°C.

Fever is usually caused by an infection, which may present as an earache or a sore throat. Moderate fever is not usually harmful, but you should monitor the child or baby carefully in case it develops into something more serious.

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Can I give paracetamol syrup to my baby?

If your baby is under three months old you should not give paracetamol syrup, unless advised by a doctor. If they are older than three months then you could give them the recommended dose of paracetamol syrup.

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Should I put my baby or child in a cold shower or cold bath, or sponge them down to cool them?

No, it is not recommended to sponge a baby or child down to cool them. It is important not to cool them too quickly. Putting a baby or child in a cold shower or bath would be distressing and may cause hypothermia.

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Could a fever be a sign of something more serious?

Yes. It is important to monitor the baby or child for other symptoms, such as a severe headache, that could indicate serious conditions like meningitis.

Seek medical advice if you are in any doubt.

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Can a fever or high temperature cause a febrile seizure?

Yes, a baby or child can have a febrile seizure because of a high temperature. This is because they can’t properly regulate their temperature yet.

As the child gets older, their body will get better at regulating their temperature, reducing the likelihood of febrile seizures.

Find out how to help a baby or child who is having a febrile seizure.

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Do I have to seek medical advice every time my baby or child has a fever?

No, fevers are quite common in babies and young children. Often you don’t need medical advice.

Always seek medical advice if:

  • their temperature rises above 38°C for a baby less than six months old 
  • their temperature rises above 39°C for all babies and children over six months old
  • you are worried about their condition.

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Email us if you have any other questions about first aid for a baby or child with a fever.