How to look after your child with a temperature

A child will develop a temperature usually because of an infection. Most childhood infections are caused by viruses. These do not respond to antibiotics. The following advice is to help you bring your child’s temperature down and make them feel better. We expect you to keep a supply of paracetamol syrup (Calpol, Disprol etc) at home. If you wait until you need it there will be none close to hand. Take your child’s temperature if you have a thermometer. The normal temperature is 37.0 degrees Celsius. If the temperature is raised or you don’t have a thermometer, but you think that your child has a temperature, try to lower it as follows:

  • Give your child paracetamol syrup, the maximum dosage for their age.
  • Undress and unwrap the child. Most people wrap up children with raised temperatures. This can be dangerous and will make them feel worse. Clothing retains heat. Remove as much as you can. Much heat is lost through the head so leave it uncovered. Cool down the room by opening windows and lowering the heating.
  • Give plenty of cool drinks as fluid is lost with a fever. If reluctant to drink encourage small amounts of fluid from a favourite cup. For older children ice lollies are usually successful.
  • Repeat the dose of paracetamol every four hours as necessary.

Most children will respond to this but fevers often come and go over several days. You may need to repeat the treatment several times as most common infections last at least five days. If the above does not seem to be working or your child remains listless and appears particularly ill, call the doctor for advice. It is quite safe to bring a child with a temperature to the surgery. They will come to no harm by being outside, indeed the cooler air may well make them feel better. We therefore expect to see children in the surgery rather than be asked to visit at home.