has a weak, high-pitched cry that’s not like their normal cry
is drowsy and hard to wake
is extremely agitated (does not stop crying) or is confused
finds it hard to breathe and sucks their stomach in under their ribs
is not responding like they normally do, or is not interested in feeding or normal activities
Contact your GP if:
is under 3 months and has a temperature of 38°C (101°F) or above
is over 3 months and has a temperature of 39°C (102°F) or above
has other signs of illness, such as a rash, as well as a high temperature
has a high temperature that’s lasted for 5 days or more
has persistent vomiting
does not want to eat, or is not their usual self and you’re worried
has a high temperature that does not come down with paracetamol
is dehydrated – such as nappies that are not very wet, sunken eyes, and no tears when they’re crying
If your GP is closed, phone 111.
If your child seems to be otherwise well – for example, if they’re playing and attentive – it’s less likely they’re seriously ill.
Fever in babies and children under 2 years of age self-help guide
Complete our self-help guide to check your child’s symptoms and find out what to do next.
Treating a fever
If your child has a fever, it’s important to keep them hydrated by giving them plenty of cool water to drink.
Babies should be given plenty of liquids, such as breast milk or formula. Even if your child isn’t thirsty, try to get them to drink little and often to keep their fluid levels up.
If it’s warm, you could help your child to stay at a comfortable temperature by covering them with a lightweight sheet or opening a window.
However, they should still be appropriately dressed for their surroundings and sponging your child with cool water isn’t recommended to reduce a fever.
Medicine to reduce fever (antipyretics)
Children’s paracetamol or ibuprofen work as antipyretics, which help to reduce fever, as well as being painkillers. You can’t give them both at the same time, but if one doesn’t work, you may want to try the other later.
Antipyretics aren’t always needed. If your child isn’t distressed by the fever or underlying illness, there’s no need to use antipyretics to reduce a fever.
Always read the patient information leaflet that comes with the medication. This will tell you the correct dose and frequency for your child’s age.
More serious illnesses
Sometimes a high temperature in children is associated with more serious signs and symptoms, such as: