During a child’s first few years of life, particularly when they attend a nursery, it can feel like as soon as they get over one illness, another one is on its way. Fevers in young children may be incredibly common but they can make for a very stressful and upsetting time for parents and children.
A fever is a natural and healthy response to a viral or bacterial infection and in the vast majority of cases, children cope with them. In this article, we will explore how to establish if your child has a fever, what action should be taken to manage it effectively and how to recognise when you need to seek medical attention.
A normal temperature for a child over 12 months old is between 36.4c and 37.4c but this can vary from child to child. Some children naturally run a cooler temperature whereas others may run slightly higher.
Medically, a fever presents itself as a body temperature of 38c or higher. This may occur because of the following:
If you think your child may be running a temperature, the most accurate way of checking is to use a digital thermometer. This is placed gently into the ear and measures their temperature.
Symptoms of a high fever in a baby or child include:
If you take your child’s temperature and find that they are running a fever, your child should be monitored and cared for at home. Paracetamol and ibuprofen can be used to manage the temperature and control the symptoms. Always make sure you read the instructions and give the correct dosage for your child’s age or speak to your doctor.
If the fever has not subsided after a couple of days, seek medical attention.
When your child is running a fever, you should:
There are some important things that you shouldn’t do if your child is running a fever. These include:
Although fevers in children are generally manageable at home, there are times when they can become more serious. In these instances, you should seek medical attention either in the form of an urgent GP appointment via the 111 service or by calling your doctor's surgery directly.
You should seek medical attention if your child:
There are rare occasions where a fever could be an indicator of something more serious and will require immediate medical attention. Symptoms of this include:
In rare cases, a high fever may cause a febrile convulsion. This is also sometimes referred to as a febrile seizure and is triggered by a high fever that spikes very quickly. It can be very frightening to witness, particularly if you have never seen a child experience one before. However, it is important to remember that convulsions are unlikely to cause any harm to your child or cause long-term effects. Symptoms of a febrile convulsion include:
If your child displays any of these symptoms for the first time, is having difficulty breathing or has a seizure that lasts longer than 5 minutes, call 999. Remember that you know your child best. If you are in any doubt about their condition, seek medical help.
There are plenty of benefits of nursery, but it is not a place for children if they are sick. If your child has a fever, we advise you to keep them at home.
A fever will most likely make them feel unwell and they should rest as much as they can while they get better. It is also worth bearing in mind that most nurseries will not provide your child with paracetamol or ibuprofen to help keep the fever at bay. This would mean that your child would have to tolerate the symptoms of a fever whilst at nursery.
Keeping your child at home while they are running a fever also helps to keep germs at bay and stop the spread of illness to other children.
There are a couple of exceptions where your child’s nursery may accept your child while they are running a fever. These include:
A nursery is a place where children can have fun and enjoy exploring the world with their friends. At Abbey Wood Grange Day Nursery and Preschool, our staff are trained to spot the signs of illness in all our children. Our infection control policy is designed to protect other children and staff from sickness and our medication policy is there to protect the child.