Many illnesses can cause your child to run a fever, including colds, the flu and bacterial infections. Fever is a normal body response to illness, and a low-grade fever is nothing to be concerned about, unless it drags on for several days. However, using home remedies to help lower or break your child's fever may make him more comfortable.
When to Call a Doctor
For many doctors, the threshold for a fever is an oral temperature of 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit or above or a rectal temperature of 100.4 or above. Anytime a baby under 3 months of age runs a temperature this high, you should call a doctor. For babies 3 to 6 months, call the doctor if the fever rises to 101 degrees F or higher. For children 6 months or older, you should call a doctor if a fever of 102 degrees F or higher lasts for more than two days, and you should call your doctor immediately if the fever hits 103 or higher.
Keep it Cool
One of the best non-medicinal ways to help keep your child's fever in check is to make sure his environment is comfortable. This includes dressing him in light clothing and keeping the room temperature as cool as possible. When he is sleeping, allow him only a light blanket, unless he is shivering, in which case you should give him an extra blanket.
Plenty of Fluids
Fluids play a dual role in treating a fever. Not only do they help cool the body, but adequate fluids help prevent dehydration, which is a real concern in a child with a fever. Your doctor may recommend giving your child water, clear soups, popsicles and gelatin. For babies under 1 year old, your doctor may recommend an oral rehydration solution, which not only helps with hydration, but also helps ensure the correct balance of electrolytes.
When your child is sick, he should get plenty of rest, because it helps to speed recovery. But rest is especially important if he is running a fever. Activity can cause your child's body temperature to rise, which can make a fever worse.
Giving your child a lukewarm bath may help lower his temperature. Your doctor may recommend a five- to 10-minute soak in lukewarm water. The temperature of the water is very important. If it's too warm, it can raise your child's temperature even more; too cold, and it can cause your child to start shivering, which raises body temperature. Your doctor may also recommend giving your child acetaminophen before the bath to help prevent shivering.
Matt Olberding has been a professional journalist for nearly 20 years. His career has included stints as a copy editor, page designer, reporter, line editor and managing editor at newspapers ranging from community newspapers to major metros. Olberding has been a business writer and editor for a decade.