What is a high temperature for a child?

September 14, 2023

High Temperature In Children

A high temperature can be worrying for parents. What is a normal body temperature? Should you take your child to the doctor if they have a high temperature? How do you treat a high temperature at home? These are questions that many parents ask themselves when their child has a temperature.

It’s important to know what is considered normal and what isn’t, so here is all the advice and information you need from Childhealthy.

If you’re worried your baby is having a lot of colds, you can check out our advice in this article for tips and reassurance.

a mother checking their child's temperature by feeling their forehead

What is a high temperature for a child and how do I know if my child has one?

The body temperature of a child is usually between 36.5 to 37.5 ° Celsius. A high temperature for children is is defined as being above 37.5°C (approximately 100°F), however above 38°C considered a more significant fever.

There are a few different ways to tell if your child’s temperature is too high. We recommend you invest in a good thermometer to check their temperature. If their forehead feels hot, they may have a temperature. If they have other symptoms such as coughing or sneezing, they could have a slight cold or other illness, so do check their temperature.

If your child has a temperature and you’re worried, here is a useful flow chart that can help you decide what steps to take.

How to help your child when they have a temperature

There are a few ways you can help relieve your child’s temperature and make them feel more comfortable.

  • Make sure to keep them hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids such as water.
  • Encourage them to rest and avoid any strenuous activities until their temperature goes down.
  • Infant paracetamol or ibuprofen can alleviate pain associated with colds and temperature.

When should you call the doctor about your child’s temperature?

A temperature above 37.5°C is considered a raised temperature. In babies less than three months old, an elevated body temperature above 38°C could mean that they may have something more serious going on such as sepsis or a urinary tract infection and you should always seek medical assessment urgently in this situation.

It is important to attend an emergency department or see a doctor if your baby has symptoms such as fast or laboured breathing, drowsiness, a rash, reduced feeding, cold hands and feet, and drier nappies.

Why does my child have a temperature after a vaccination?

A temperature is very common after your child has a vaccination. It is especially common after the Meningococcal B vaccination that babies have at 8 weeks and the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccines at 12 months. Here is what your baby’s Red Book recommends:

“After vaccination with Men B.

Fever can be expected after any vaccination, but it is very common when the MenB vaccine is given with the other routine vaccines at two and four months. The fever shows the baby’s body is responding to the vaccine, although not getting a fever doesn’t mean it hasn’t worked. The level of fever depends on the individual child and does not indicate how well the vaccine has worked. Giving paracetamol will reduce the risk of fever, irritability and general discomfort (including pain at the site of injection) after vaccination.

After each of the two and four-month vaccinations, you will need to give your baby a total of three doses of paracetamol (2.5ml of infant paracetamol 120mg/5ml suspension) to prevent and treat any potential fever. You should give the first dose of paracetamol as soon as possible after your two-month vaccination visit. You should then give the second dose four to six hours later and the third dose four to six hours after that. You will need to follow the same steps after your four-month vaccinations. Your nurse will give you more information about paracetamol at your vaccination appointment and you may be given a leaflet to take away with you with written instructions.”

You can find out more about what to expect after vaccinations in your baby’s health record (the Red Book).

There are many reasons why your child might have a temperature, but it is important to know what the normal temperature range is so you can determine whether it should be treated as an emergency. Do consult this chart to help you determine what to do.

If you’re feeling worried or unsure about your child’s temperature, you can always talk with one of our paediatricians. Please feel free to contact us at Childhealthy, we will be happy to help.


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