If your child is younger than 3 months old and has a fever greater than 100.4° F, call your doctor immediately. For children older than that, temperatures below 102° F generally do not need to be treated.
For fevers of 102° F or above but less than 105° F, you should call your pediatrician to see if you should bring your child in for a visit. Monitor your child’s appetite, behavior and sleep. If your child is eating, behaving and sleeping normally, he probably has a viral infection and the fever will go away on its own in a few days. You can manage the fever with over-the-counter infant or children’s formula acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Never give aspirin to a child under 18, as it can cause a serious brain condition called Reye syndrome.
You might also give your child a bath in lukewarm water to help bring down her temperature. Do not use cold water or alcohol. Make sure your child gets plenty of fluids and rest. Clear fluids without caffeine, such as chicken broth, Pedialyte, ginger ale and sports drinks, are best for preventing dehydration.
The majority of fevers are caused by a virus. If you take your child to the doctor and he is diagnosed with a viral infection, your doctor will likely advise you to manage the fever with children’s acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Antibiotics do not treat or cure viruses.
However, if your child is diagnosed with a bacterial infection such as an ear infection, sinus infection, strep throat or urinary tract infection, the doctor will prescribe oral antibiotics. Your child might also receive a shot of antibiotics. If your child is vomiting or seriously dehydrated, she might be given medication to control the nausea and/or intravenous fluids.