What should you do when your child has a fever and how can you make him/her feel better? The Department of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine, Singapore General Hospital tells more.
Continued from previous page.
How do I make my child more comfortable when he/she has a fever?
You can make your child feel more comfortable by loosening his/her clothing and removing any overlying blankets. Move him/her to a cooler room and switch on the fan. Having a fever may cause some children to feel tired and achy.
Encourage your child to rest as much as desired, preferably in a cool environment and with light clothing. Encourage your child to drink more fluids, since dehydration can manifest as mild fever. Children with fever may not necessarily feel hungry, so it is not necessary to force them to eat. Examples of foods you can give include water, milk, pieces of soft fruit (such as watermelon, papaya), diluted fruit juice or milk. Older children may prefer flavored jelly, soups, ice-cream or frozen popsicles. Offer fluids in small amounts more frequently if your child is unable to take a large cup of water. If your child is unwilling or completely unable to drink fluids for more than a few hours, consult your doctor.
You can use “tepid sponging” to bring down your child’s fever. This means that you will need to place moist towels over the forehead, sides of the neck, under the armpits and over the groin – the arterial points – and change the towels frequently if the temperature exceeds 39.5ºC. You are advised to use tap water (not ice-water) when doing tepid sponging. Alcohol should not be used because of the risk of toxicity if absorbed through the skin. Advise your child to avoid strenuous activities until recovery. You should watch your child for any signs that his or her illness is getting worse.
You can also serve paracetamol (e.g. Panadol®) at a dosage according to the instructions of the bottle.
When do I bring my child to see a doctor for fever?
- Your child is less than three months old, regardless of how he/she appears.
- The fever is persistent for more than three days.
- The fever persists for another three days after your child was started on antibiotics.
- Your child looks more sick than before or has not improved over the past 48 hours.
- Your child has a history of febrile fits.
- Your child has the following symptoms along with fever:
- Poor feeding, with or without persistent vomiting
- Passes very little urine or wets the diapers less than five times a day
- Skin rashes
- Looks pale or blue
- Breathing difficulty or breathless
- Appears ill (eg, fussy, clingy)
- Appears drowsy or irritable, or does not seem to recognise you
- Has a headache, stiff neck or complains that the light hurts their eyes
- Pain e.g. tummy pain
You can consult your baby doctor at the
Singapore General Hospital (SGH),
Department of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine located at Block 5 Level 1 (OG Center) or any primary healthcare doctor that you are familiar with. When bringing your child for assessment of fever, do inform the doctor of any medications that your child has taken before and if any family member has been ill or travelling.
See previous page to learn how to use a thermometer properly, and causes of fever in children.