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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Helping your child with fever (high temperature)

Sick child gets a glass of waterYou can look after your tamaiti (child) with a fever at home if they:

Undress them so they're just wearing a single layer (maybe a singlet and pants). Make sure the room is not too hot or too cold. These are the best and most comfortable ways to bring their temperature down. It's best not to give them a bath or shower to cool them. You could use a cool face cloth.

Your tamaiti may need extra rest, or they may want to play. This is OK.

Encourage them to drink fluids and eat healthy small meals.

If they're happy and well, you do not need to do anything more. You do not need to treat the fever with medicine.

If your tamaiti is miserable because of the fever, you can give them paracetamol to make them more comfortable. You must follow the dosage instructions on the bottle. It's dangerous to give more than the recommended dose.

You do not need to give your tamaiti paracetamol before or after immunisation.

If your doctor gives your tamaiti ibuprofen, only use it if they're miserable.

Do not give them cold or flu medicines.

Never give them aspirin as this may increase the risk of Reye syndrome, which is a rare and serious illness.

Helping children less than 3 months old

Young pēpi (babies) (less than 3 months old) need a different and more cautious approach. Pēpi Babies get fevers for the same reasons as older tamariki (children), but they aren't as good at fighting off infections.

Always take your pēpi to a doctor if they have a fever and are less than 3 months old. If you're worried, take them to your doctor even if they do not have a fever.

Some pēpi may have an unstable temperature with an infection. They may be colder than normal. In a sick pēpi this is a worrying sign and is a reason to see a doctor urgently.

You need to keep them warm, but they can get too hot if you wrap them in too many layers when they're in a warm place. A good guide is to dress them in one more layer than you're comfortable wearing in the same environment.

Getting help for your child with fever

If you're worried about your tamaiti child , whether or not they have a fever, you should take them to see a doctor.

If they have already seen a doctor but they're getting worse, take them back to the doctor.

For more detail about when to see a doctor see Overview of fever (high temperature) in children.

Content shared between HealthInfo Canterbury, KidsHealth and Health Navigator NZ as part of a National Health Content Hub collaborative. Last reviewed November 2021.

Page reference: 734267

Review key: HIFEC-49206