A fever is when the body temperature is 38°C (100°F) or higher. Fever means that the body temperature is higher than normal.

Observe Your Child

If you child has a fever, they will often appear ill. Your child may:

  • Look flushed or pale
  • Feel hot or cool to the touch and/or sweaty
  • Be fussy or groggy
  • Have “goose bumps”, shivers or tremors
  • Be thirsty

Take Your Child’s Temperature

The safest way to take your child’s temperature is with a digital thermometer in the center of their armpit. If your child is over two years of age, an ear thermometer can be used.

Toronto Public Health does NOT recommend:

  • Taking the temperature in the rectum (bum). This can be dangerous and upsetting to your child
  • Using fever strips and pacifier thermometers as they do not give accurate temperature readings
  • Using mercury thermometers. Exposure to this toxic substance can occur if the thermometer breaks
  • Taking the temperature in the mouth (oral) as your child can bite and break a glass thermometer. Also, the reading can be wrong because it is hard to keep a thermometer under your child’s tongue

Take Your Child to Your Health Care Provider If Your Child

  • Is under 6 months and has a fever, see baby’s health care provider right away
  • Is excessively cranky, fussy, sleepy or lethargic
  • Is persistently wheezing or coughing
  • Is vomiting or has diarrhea
  • Has a rash, stiff neck, earache, headache, sore throat, or any other signs of illness that worry you
  • Has a fever for more than 48 hours

If you are unsure, call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 (toll-free number) if you live in Ontario.

Caring for Your Child with a Fever

  • Contact your child’s health care provider to determine if medication is needed
  • Offer plenty of fluids to drink such as water, soup, juice, “flat” soft drinks or popsicles
  • If your child is breastfeeding, offer more frequent breastfeeding opportunities
  • Remove extra blankets and clothing so heat can leave your child’s body. Cover only with a sheet
  • Keep your child in light clothing: diapers or underwear and a light shirt
  • NEVER use alcohol or cold water to sponge or bathe your child. Alcohol is a poison and can be absorbed through your child’s skin