Expert tips & videos

Fever in babies & young children

A fever is a body temperature ≥100.4°F (38°C). It is a natural response that helps your baby’s body fight infection. You’ll need a thermometer (a rectal thermometer is most accurate for babies) to know for sure if your baby has a fever, but even more important is assessing how your baby is acting and seems to be feeling.


Keep Cool

Dress in light layers

Keep the room at a comfortable temperature

If it's hot outside, keep baby inside; if you have to go out, stay in the shade

Some pediatricians recommend putting a cool damp washcloth on the back of the neck for relief, but avoid using very cold cloths or ice packs as the goal is to provide relief, not shock the system


Fevers can cause a child to lose fluids more quickly

<6 months: Offer breast milk or formula regularly

≥6 months: Water, Pedialyte, and popsicles are also an option


Optional; use if baby is in pain or uncomfortable. Usually fevers don't cause discomfort until they're above 102°F, but every child is different so go based on how your child seems to be feeling

<3 months: See doctor before treating!

≥3 months: Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

≥6 months: Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)


Let your baby sleep as much as they want to help their body recover

This is not the time to sleep train or to wake your sleeping baby!

quick reference dosage chart

quick reference dosage chart


When to call your pediatrician

You don't need to check any of the boxes below – call whenever you have any questions or concerns about your baby!

<3 months old with fever (≥100.4°F)

Call your doctor right away as this could be a sign of an infection

Do not give medicine before baby is seen

Any age with any of these signs or factors

Fever is high (≥104°F) and/or lasts >24 hours

Fever comes back after getting better

Nonstop crying or unusual drowsiness

Baby has been in a hot place (e.g., hot car)

Unexplained rash or area of redness

Dehydration (dry mouth, no tears, no urine for >8 hours)

Baby has immune system problems or is taking steroids

Baby has a seizure

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