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When should I call the doctor if my child has a fever?

Children generally have higher fevers than do adults. The severity of the illness, however, depends on the age of the child. A temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit in a 3-year-old child may not indicate a serious illness. However, a temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit in a child under 3 months can be very serious.

If the child has no other symptoms, consult a doctor for the following:

  • The temperature is higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit in an infant under 8 weeks.
  • The temperature is higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit in a child under 4 months.
  • The temperature is higher than 103 degrees Fahrenheit in a child younger than 2 years.
  • The temperature is higher than 105 degrees Fahrenheit and is not responding to home treatment.
  • The temperature is higher than 106 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • The child has had a fever for more than 5 days.

Take the RealAge Test!

The definition of fever for each age does vary slightly among pediatricians, but here are some general guidelines.

  • Call immediately if your baby is younger than 3 months and has a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher. If the pediatrician can’t be reached, go to the emergency department.
  • If your infant is older than 3 months with a temperature above 102°F (39°C), call your pediatrician. The doctor will likely ask you about other symptoms (eg, cough, cold, vomiting, diarrhea) and how your child is acting overall to help determine if you need to bring your child in for evaluation or if you can wait and watch him at home for a few days.
  • For children older than 6 months, a temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher warrants a call (you’ll probably be calling before you read this anyway). Otherwise, they can be watched at home as long as they are alert, interactive, and drinking fluids. If the symptoms aren’t improving in 2 or 3 days or they are worsening, see your pediatrician.
Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents' Top 101 Questions About Babies and Toddlers

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.