Fever in Toddlers

Fever. Illness. Sickness. These could be the stuff of some parents’ nightmare. I know it is mine. Seeing your child trying to fight off an invisible infection. Feeling so helpless. The only thing I could do was to make him feel as comfortable as possible.

The past few days have been tiring due to my 26-month-old contracting fever. For the first two days, he was still active. Able to laugh, run and jump. The next two days, he was clingy and had no appetite. No other symptoms. The only thing that frightened me was his fever reaching as high as 40°C / 104°F, especially after reading about the dangers of high fever. Although I wanted him to fight off the fever naturally to build his immune system, seeing how he was suffering changed my mind.

The visit to the doctor was terrible. He wouldn’t open his mouth when the doctor wanted to check his throat. He cried and struggled as we tried to hold him down. After a few tries, the doctor concluded he had throat infection. Antibiotics and fever medicine was prescribed.

(Photo by Lori Martin/Dreamstime Stock Photos)

(Photo by Lori Martin/Dreamstime Stock Photos)

Giving him the antibiotics was another headache. Though we tried to mix it in his favorite drinks, the bitter taste was too strong. So, there was another crying and struggling session as we force fed him the medicine. Good news was his fever went off almost immediately. Bad news was he had diarrhea. For two days, he had diarrhea. On the third day, he had red spots all over his face and body. It took a few days for everything to go back to normal.

So, all in all, I had about a week of scary moments.

Nothing makes a mother happier than a happy healthy child. A few things I learned from this horrendous experience.

Keep your child hydrated.

If your child is healthy, a fever usually doesn’t indicate anything serious. Yes, it can be frightening when your child’s temperature rises but fever itself can actually be a good thing — it’s often the body’s way of fighting infections. This will then boost his immune system.


High fever, however, can make a child uncomfortable and make problems (such as dehydration) worse. Offer plenty of fluids like water, soup, electrolytes since fevers cause kids to lose more fluids than usual. 

Watch your child’s behavior.

If your child has temperatures lower than 102°F (38.9°C), there is no need for medicine unless he is uncomfortable.

If your child is between 3 months and 3 years old and has a fever of 102.2°F (39°C) or higher, take behavior and activity level into account.

The illness is probably not very serious if your child:

  • is still interested in playing
  • is eating and drinking well
  • is alert and smiling at you
  • has a normal skin color
  • looks well when his temperature comes down

Visit the doctor

If you have an infant 3 months or younger with a rectal temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, call your doctor or go to the emergency department immediately. Even a slight fever can be a sign of a potentially serious infection in very young infants.

Also, visit the doctor if your child is having trouble breathing, is breathing faster than normal, or continues to breathe fast after the fever comes down.

Immediately go to the emergency center if your child shows any of these signs:

  • crying that won’t stop
  • extreme irritability or fussiness
  • sluggishness and trouble waking up
  • rash or purple spots that look like bruises on the skin (that were not there before the child got sick)
  • blue lips, tongue, or nails
  • infant’s soft spot on the head seems to be bulging outward or sunken inwards
  • stiff neck
  • severe headache
  • limpness or refusal to move
  • difficulty breathing that doesn’t get better when the nose is cleared
  • leaning forward and drooling
  • seizure
  • abdominal (belly) pain

When to worry, when to relax

A child with a fever usually doesn’t want to eat. This is very common with infections that cause fever. But if they still drink and urinate (pee) normally, not eating as much as usual is OK.

A mother’s instinct is usually spot on. When in doubt, pay a visit to the doctor to put your mind at ease.


Angel is a mother of one and works as a full time editor and writer. She writes on a wide variety of topics in a number of reputable publications.

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