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Caring for a Toddler With a Fever

August 8, 2013 by HealthyFamilies BC

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toddler sleeping, with red face indicating fever

 

 

A toddler has a fever if his or her temperature is 37.4°C (99.4°F) or higher. You need a thermometer to know for sure. Feeling your toddler's forehead or neck for warmth is not enough.


The best way to take your toddler's temperature is in the armpit with an easy to read thermometer, such as a digital thermometer.

Place it high up in the centre of the armpit. Make sure it is touching bare skin on all sides. Hold your toddler's arm close to the body and wait at least three minutes. Comfort and distract your toddler while taking the temperature. If the reading is high or you are not sure if it is accurate, wait a few minutes and try again.

You may have heard of other ways to take your child's temperature, but these methods are not recommended:

  • Mercury (glass) thermometers. If the thermometer breaks, your toddler might be exposed to the mercury, which is poisonous.
  • Rectal temperature. Can cause rectal injury. 
  • Forehead strips or pacifier thermometers. These are not accurate.
  • Thermometer placed in the mouth of a child under five years. Young children cannot keep the thermometer under the tongue long enough. Never use a glass thermometer in a toddler’s mouth.

Did You Know? Teething doesn’t cause fever. If a baby is teething and has a fever, look for other symptoms that may need to be evaluated.Fevers can cause discomfort and dehydration; however a fever in a healthy toddler is usually not dangerous. This is especially true if the toddler does not have other symptoms and the fever goes away in three to four days. It's important to look for other symptoms of sickness besides fever. The degree of fever may not indicate the severity of your child’s illness. 

If you're concerned about a fever, call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 or contact your public health office or family doctor.


Resources & Links: 
HealthLink BC: Fever, Age 11 and Younger
Coping with Crying

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Topic

  1. Activity & Lifestyles
  2. Aging Well
  3. Pregnancy & Parenting
    1. Pregnancy & Birth
    2. Babies (0-12 months)
    3. Toddlers (12-36 months)
    4. Preschool (3-5 years)
    5. Children (6-11 years)
    6. Teens (12-18 years)
  4. Food & Nutrition

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