Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Evaluation taking temperatures Treatment Home Care medications vomiting warning signs Underlying Cause Types

Fever in Children Home Care

Home care for a fever in a child includes:

  • Dress the child in light, cotton clothes.
  • Provide plenty of liquids.
  • Encourage plenty of rest.
  • Acetaminophen for fever
    • Dosing is 10-15 mg per kilogram (5-7 mg per pound) of body weight every 4-6 hours, up to the adult dose.
  • Ibuprofen for fever
    • Dosing for children over 6 months of age is 7-10 mg per kilogram (4-5 mg per pound) of body weight every 6 hours, up to the adult dose.
  • Tepid baths for high fevers:
    • Tepid water is lukewarm or about 85-90 degrees F (29-32 C)
    • Sponge the body with tepid water.
    • No more than 20 to 30 minutes at a time
    • Increase the water temperature if the child begins to shiver.
  • Do not use cold-water for baths.
  • Do not rub the body with alcohol:
    • Alcohol is absorbed through the skin and can cause seizures.
  • Learn how to take your child's temperature.
    • Measure the temperature every 2-4 hours.

For more information:

Fever in Children Medications

Common medications used at home for fever in children include:


Aspirin and most of the other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are not used in children except under a doctor's care.

Acetaminophen
  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Dosing is 10-15 mg per kilogram (5-7 mg per pound) of body weight every 4-6 hours, up to the adult dose.
  • Do not exceed the maximum daily dose.
  • Acetaminophen products come in various strengths. Always follow the package instructions.
  • Avoid this drug in children with liver disease or an allergy to acetaminophen.
  • Common acetaminophen products include Tylenol, Panadol and many others.

Ibuprofen

Naproxen

Fever in Children Vomiting

Home treatment of vomiting in children includes hydration and dietary therapy. Those who are able to drink liquids can restore lost water and salt with oral rehydration therapy (ORT).

ORT fluids used in infants include:

  • Infalyte
  • Lytren
  • Naturalyte
  • Pedialyte
  • Rehydralyte

ORT fluids used in older children include:
  • Sports drinks (Gatorade)
  • Broth
  • Dilute fruit juices
  • Flat soda
  • Weak tea with sugar

Strategies for breast-fed infants younger than 6 months:
  • If the infant tolerates breast milk, continue breast-feeding in small amounts very frequently.
  • Provide additional ORT fluids to supplement breast milk.
  • Feed very small amounts every 30-60 minutes, or try giving small amounts more frequently, such as:
    • Children up to 5 kg (11 lb): give 5 ml (1 teaspoon) every 5 minutes
    • Children 5-10 kg (11-22 lb): give 10 ml (2 teaspoons) every 5 minutes
  • Watch for dehydration: dry mouth, decreased urination, dark yellow urine and lack of tears.

Strategies for formula-fed infants younger than 6 months:
  • If the infant tolerates formula, continue to provide small amounts very frequently.
  • Provide additional ORT fluids to formula.
  • Try giving small amounts more frequently, such as:
    • Children up to 5 kg (11 lb): give 5 ml (1 teaspoon) every 5 minutes
    • Children 5-10 kg (11-22 lb): give 10 ml (2 teaspoons) every 5 minutes
  • Watch for dehydration: dry mouth, decreased urination, dark yellow urine and lack of tears.

Strategies for children over 6 months:
  • Provide as much ORT fluids as your child desires.
  • If vomiting occurs, provide small amounts of ORT fluids more frequently:
    • Children 10-20 kg (22-44 lb): 15 ml (1 tablespoon) every 5 minutes
    • Children 20-40 kg (44-88 lb): 22 ml (1 and 1/2 tablespoons) every 5 minutes
    • Children 40 kg (88 lb) and over: 30 ml (2 tablespoons) every 5 minutes
  • Watch for dehydration: dry mouth, decreased urination, dark yellow urine and lack of tears.

Dietary Therapy
Most children with vomiting improve in a few hours and symptoms usually resolve in one day. Once vomiting and nausea resolves, provide bland foods first. If bland foods are tolerated, then you resume a normal diet.

Foods that are easiest to tolerate include:
  • Crackers
  • Oatmeal
  • Jell-O
  • Soft foods
  • Yogurt

Foods to avoid include:
  • Concentrated fruit juices
  • Junk foods
  • Milk products
  • Recently introduced foods
  • Spicy foods

Nonprescription medicines for vomiting should only be used under the direction of your doctor.

Fever in Children Warning Signs

Notify your doctor if your child has a fever and any of the following:

Continue to Fever in Children Underlying Cause

Last Updated: Dec 13, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Fever in Children References
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  4. McCarthy P. Fever without apparent source on clinical examination. Curr Opin Pediatr. 2005 Feb;17(1):93-110. [15659971]
  5. Miller LC, Sisson BA, Tucker LB, Schaller JG. Prolonged fevers of unknown origin in children: patterns of presentation and outcome. J Pediatr. 1996 Sep;129(3):419-23. [8804332]
  6. Noyola DE, Fernandez M, Kaplan SL. Reevaluation of antipyretics in children with enteric fever. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 1998 Aug;17(8):691-5. [9726342]
  7. Perrone J, Hollander JE, Datner EM. Emergency Department evaluation of patients with fever and chemotherapy-induced neutropenia. J Emerg Med. 2004 Aug;27(2):115-9. [15261351]
  8. Russell FM, Shann F, Curtis N, Mulholland K. Evidence on the use of paracetamol in febrile children. Bull World Health Organ. 2003;81(5):367-72. [12856055]
  9. Tolia J, Smith LG. Fever of unknown origin: historical and physical clues to making the diagnosis. Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2007 Dec;21(4):917-36, viii. [18061082]
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