• Fever (Young Child or Infant)

    What is a Fever?

    Fever is defined as an elevated body temperature above the normal range of 97.7° F–99.5° F (36.5° C–37.5° C). Fever is a common sign of illness in children and is often accompanied by other signs and symptoms of illness, such as a headache, muscle aches, chills, loss of appetite, low energy, difficulty sleeping and vomiting. An infant who has a fever may seem fussy, or he or she may be quiet and not as active as usual.

    Fevers that last a long time or are very high can result in febrile seizures. A febrile seizure is a convulsion brought on by a fever in an infant or small child. Febrile seizures are the most common types of seizures in children. Most febrile seizures last less than 5 minutes and are not life threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the designated emergency number for a febrile seizure if:

    • This is the first time that a child has had a febrile seizure.
    • The seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes or is repeated.
    • The seizure is followed by a quick increase in body temperature.

    Emergency Steps


    Check the scene safety, form an initial impression, obtain consent and put on PPE, as appropriate.


    Check for signs and symptoms.

    • Temperature: 100.4°F (38°C) or higher (younger than 3 months)*
    • Temperature: 102.5°F (39.2°C) or higher (younger than 2 years)*
    • Seizure*
    • Signs & symptoms of shock*
    • Fussiness (infant)*
    • Neck pain, headache or rash*
    • Trouble breathing*
    • Pain in abdomen or with urination*
    • Decreased level of energy, activity, appetite or urination*
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Runny nose, cough, sore throat, aches, chills

    Note: Signs and symptoms with an * require immediate emergency medical treatment.


    Call 9-1-1 and get equipment if the person requires immediate emergency medical treatment.


    Give Care.

    General Care

    1. Make them comfortable.
    2. Encourage them to rest.
    3. Keep them from getting cold or overheated.
      1. Ensure child or infant is not overdressed or covered with too many blankets.
    4. Offer clear liquids, including water, breast milk or formula if alert and able to swallow.
    5. Continue checking them as appropriate to determine if additional care is needed.
    6. Give care for shock, if necessary.
    7. Position them as appropriate.
    8. Reassure them you will help and that EMS has been called (if appropriate).
    9. Watch for changes in condition, including breathing and responsiveness, and give care as appropriate and trained.
    10. Call a healthcare provider if symptoms persist.
    11. Call 9-1-1 if the child or infant has a seizure or condition worsens to include:
      1. The infant is younger than 3 months with a fever of 100.4° F (38° C) or greater.
      2. The child is younger than 2 years with a fever of 102.5° F (39.2° C) or greater.
      3. The fever is associated with (Change in behavior or activity):
        1. Neck pain
        2. Poor feeding
        3. Decreased urination
        4. Trouble breathing
        5. Abdominal pain
        6. Pain with urination
        7. Back pain or a rash

    Young Child or Infant with Fever FAQs

    I heard that rubbing alcohol is good to use to cool the body and bring down a fever. Is that true?

    Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) is dangerous to use. It is quickly absorbed through the skin and is easily inhaled, placing the infant or child at risk for alcohol poisoning. Alcohol only cools the skin; it does not lower the internal body temperature.

    Can I give a child or infant aspirin to treat a fever or illness?

    Never give aspirin to a child or an infant who has a fever or other signs or symptoms of a flu-like or other viral illness. In this situation, taking aspirin can result in Reye’s syndrome, an extremely serious and life-threatening condition that causes swelling in the brain and liver.

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