When Is a Fever Too High for a Toddler?

 

Every parent worries about their toddler having a high fever. And historically, much advice was given out from healthcare professionals about the point at which parents need to worry when their toddler’s fever reaches a certain level.

 
 
 

Think a high fever means severe illness? Think again.

A large-scale medical study examining over 15,000 visits to an emergency room for children under 5 years of age found absolutely no connection between the height of fever and the severity of the illness.

In fact, your child’s body has built-in set points for temperature with a built-in safety mechanism.  This is such that there really isn’t such a thing as a fever from illness that will get so high that something bad will happen.

It is worth noting, however, that this is different from true hyperthermia which is what happens tragically each summer as infants and children are accidentally left in hot cars. The body has no mechanism to fight off these kinds of temperatures.

 
 
 
How high is a dangerous fever for a child?
 
 
 

How high is a dangerous fever for a child?

 
 

A normal body temperature range for a child can range anywhere from about 96 degrees F to 100.9 degrees F depending on how the temperature is taken.  The definition for a fever in a child is generally considered to be greater than or equal to 101F.

 
 

Every parent worries about fevers getting so high that something bad will happen. I’m happy to tell you that as scary as fevers can seem, there actually isn’t such a thing as a fever so high that your child will suffer lasting effects.
— Dr Corey Fish

Lowering your toddler's fever without medication

Tepid water sponge bathing

Dress your toddler in light clothing

Use light blankets

 

Treating a fever with medication

 

Acetaminophen Dosing by Weight*

(*Do not give to infants under 2 months of age without checking with your child's health care provider first)

 
Weight in lbs. Desired Dose 160 mg/5 ml 160 mg Jr. Strength Chewable Tabs & Meltaways 325g Regular Strength Adult Tabs 500 mg Extra Strength Adult Tabs
6 to 11 40 mg 1.25 ml = 1/4 teaspoon
12 to 17 80 mg 2.5 ml = 1/2 teaspoon
18 to 23 120 mg 3.75 ml = 3/4 teaspoon
24 to 35 160 mg 5 ml = 1 teaspoon 1 Jr. Strength Tab or Meltaway
36 to 47 240 mg 7.5 ml = 1 1/2 teaspoon 1 1/2 Jr. Strength Tabs or Meltaways
48 to 59 320 mg 10 ml = 2 teaspoons 2 Jr. Strength Tabs or Meltaways
60 to 71 400 mg 12.5 ml = 2 1/2 teaspoons 2 1/2 Jr. Strength Tabs or Meltaways 1 tab
72 to 95 490 mg 15 ml = 3 teaspoons 3 Jr. Strength Tabs or Meltaways 1 1/2 tabs
96+ 650 mg 20 ml = 4 teaspoons 4 Jr. Strength Tabs or Meltaways 2 tabs 1 tab
 

Ibuprofen Dosing by Weight (6 months and older*)

(*Children under 6 months cannot have ibuprofen)

Desired Dose 50 mg/1.25 ml 100 mg/5 ml 100 mg Junior Strength Motrin Chewables 200 mg Regular Strength Adult Tabs
50 mg 1.25 ml 2.5 ml = 1/2 teaspoon
80 mg 1.875 ml 4 ml = 3/4 teaspoon
100 mg 2.5 ml 5 ml = 1 teaspoon 1 chewable tab,20 ml = 4 teaspoons
160 mg 4 ml 8 ml = 1 1/2 teaspoon 1 1/2 chewable tab
200 mg 10 ml = 2 teaspoons 2 chewable tabs 1 tab
250 mg 12.5 ml = 2 1/2 teaspoons 2 1/2 chewable tabs 1 tab
300 mg 15 ml = 3 teaspoons 3 chewable tabs 1 tab
400 mg 20 ml = 4 teaspoons 4 chewable tabs 2 tabs
 
 

When to come to Pacific Crest

Pacific Crest Children's urgent Care

While fever isn’t dangerous, generally you should bring your child to Pacific Crest if they:

  • have fever past 48-72 hours,
  • show signs of dehydration (drinking less, less urine output),
  • are struggling with low energy.

If your child is under two months of age and has a fever greater than or equal to 100.4 rectally, they should proceed directly to the emergency department and bypass Pacific Crest Children’s.

About us

Pacific Crest is a kid's urgent care clinic in Portland, Oregon. If you're worried about your little one, come to us for expert advice, care and the confidence that comes with talking to a specialist. We won't charge the earth, we're here after-hours and we work with most insurers. But even if we don't support your provider, you'll find our out of network costs affordable, and in nearly all cases, less than the emergency room.


 
 
Corey Fish