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.
A fever usuallyTrusted Source means that a child’s body is fighting off an infection. However, there are symptoms a person should look for when a toddler has a fever.
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 higher temperaturesTrusted Source than adults, as they have a larger surface area compared to their body weight. Toddlers also sweat less and have a faster metabolism, which can cause them to have a higher body temperature.
According to a 2019 articleTrusted Source, a fever alone is rarely harmful and does not typically exceed 105.8ºF (41ºC). While fevers higher than this temperature can be dangerous, they are rare.
A febrile seizure is a seizure that occurs when a toddler has a fever. Although they may seem alarming, they are not dangerous and typically last a few minutesTrusted Source.
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:
1.loss of consciousness
2.uncontrollable shaking of legs and arms
5.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 102ºF (38.8ºC) or moreTrusted Source.
A parent of caregiver should also contact a doctor if the toddler has:
1.other signs of illness, such as rash
2.a fever that lasts for 5 days or more
3.a fever that does not reduce with acetaminophen
4.a cough that lasts for more than 3 weeks
5.persistent ear pain
6.signs of dehydration
A review from 2019 noted that only 1 in 100 childrenTrusted Source with a fever will require urgent medical attention. However, an individual should seek urgent care if the toddler experiencesTrusted Source:
1.difficulty breathing, including nostrils widening with each breath
4.shortness of breath
5.ribs showing with each breath
6.excessive crankiness or sleepiness
7.symptoms seeming to be getting worse
9.fever that comes and goes
10.blue or grey lips
Additionally, meningitis is a serious condition that can causeTrusted Source fever in toddlers. A person should take the child to the emergency room immediately if they experience fever along with any of the following symptoms:
3.dislike of bright lights
5.trouble waking up
9.lack of appetite
10.lack of energy
11.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:
1.ensure the child drinks plenty of water
2.put cool, damp cloths on the foreheads, wrists, and calves
3.dress them in loose, light clothes
4.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 below the age of 2 yearsTrusted Source.
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:
1.on the stomach
2.on the groin
3.under the armpits
4.behind the neck
Parents and caregivers should be aware of the following when treating a toddler’s fever:
1.do not rub a toddler down with alcohol, as the skin may absorb it, leading to coma
2.do not put a toddler in a cold or ice bath, as this can cause shivering and increase their temperature
3.do not undress the toddler
4.do not delay seeking medical attention for a toddler who appears very ill
5.do not give a toddler any medication not meant for a child
A person should also avoid giving aspirin to children as this can increase the chance of developing Reye’s syndrome.
A person can take a child’s temperature in a variety of ways, including:
1.Forehead temperature: Although this is appropriate for children of any age, using it in direct sunlight can affect temperature readings.
2.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.
3.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 three times a dayTrusted Source, if possible.
There are many reasons why a toddler might have a fever. Possible causes include illness due to viruses or bacteria, such as:
1.the common cold
2.urinary tract infections
Other causes include:
1.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 102ºF (38.8ºC)Trusted Source or more.
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.