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Fever, Age 3 and Younger - Home Treatment

It can be hard to know whether you should call your doctor when your child has a fever, especially during the cold and flu season. The degree of the fever may not be related to the seriousness of the illness. The way your child looks and acts is a better guide than the thermometer. Most children will be less active when they have a fever.

If your child is comfortable and alert, is eating well, is drinking enough fluids, is urinating normal amounts, and seems to be improving, home treatment without medicine is all that is needed for a fever. Dress your child lightly, and do not wrap him or her in blankets. Dressing lightly will help your child's body cool down.

Try these home treatment measures to make sure your child is drinking enough fluids and does not get dehydrated while he or she has a fever.

Newborns and babies younger than 1 year of age

Don't wait until dehydration develops to replace lost fluids. Offer fluids to your baby often.

  • If you breast-feed your baby, nurse him or her more often.
  • If you use a bottle to feed your baby, the amount of fluid you normally use in the formula should be enough to replace lost fluids. Check with your child's doctor if you think you need to feed your baby more often.
  • Use an oral rehydration solution (ORS) if mild or moderate dehydration develops. The amount of ORS your baby needs depends on his or her weight and how dehydrated he or she is. You can give the ORS in a dropper, spoon, or bottle.
  • If your baby has started eating cereal, you may replace lost fluids with cereal. You also may feed your baby strained bananas and mashed potatoes if your child has had these foods before.

Children ages 1 through 11

  • Make sure your child is drinking often. Frequent, small amounts work best.
  • For children with dehydration, an oral rehydration solution (ORS) or plain water (if the child is eating food) may be used to replace lost fluids.
  • Allow your child to drink as much fluid as he or she wants. Encourage your child to drink extra fluids or suck on flavored ice pops, such as Popsicles. Children ages 4 to 10 should drink at least 6 to 10 glasses of liquids to replace lost fluids.
  • Cereal mixed with milk or water may also be used to replace lost fluids.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 07, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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