A mother checks her son's temperature. Learning about natural fever relief for kids will help decrease your stress when your child's temperature is high.

When it comes to children’s health, parental fears can often run as high as our children’s fevers! As parents, it’s totally normal to feel concerned and worried when our kids are sick. Understanding how to provide natural fever relief for kids while addressing these fears will help you provide the best care for your child. In this guide, you will expand your understanding of fevers and we will explore practical strategies to help you naturally navigate high temperatures with confidence.

Natural Fever Relief for kids

In the realm of childhood illnesses, numerous articles focus on battling fevers as if they were an enemy to conquer. This perpetuates the idea that fevers are something to constantly fear and stress over. I believe in taking a more diplomatic approach. When we understand the purpose of fevers and how the immune system works, fevers can be seen as mediators and messengers, instead of monsters to be afraid of.

Why do fevers freak us out?

There are legitimate reasons we become nervous when our children develope fevers:

Fear of the Unknown: Fevers can be unsettling when we don’t fully understand what they mean, why they are happening, or how to handle them.

Apprehension about the possible need for Medication: Many parents are cautious about giving their children medication, especially when seeking natural alternatives.

Anxiety about Serious Complications: It’s only natural to fear potential complications related to our child’s fever. We worry about dangerous illnesses and other problems our children might suffer from. Examples include:

  • Fear of Brain Damage: One of the most prevalent worries is the potential for brain damage caused by high fevers. However, it’s important to note that fevers from common illnesses, such as colds or flu, do not typically reach levels that pose a risk of brain damage. In fact, fevers caused by infections are a natural response of the body’s immune system to combat and eliminate harmful pathogens. Seattle Children’s Hospital states that it is exceptionally rare for a fever to rise to the extreme temperatures that could potentially cause brain damage. This is seen more often cases of extreme environmental heat exposure such as kids left in hot cars.
  • Concerns about Febrile Seizures: Febrile seizures are another source of anxiety for many parents. Febrile seizures occur when a child’s body temperature rises rapidly. It’s crucial to understand that while febrile seizures can be alarming to witness, they are generally brief and do not cause long-term harm or lead to epilepsy. According to the NIH, treating fevers does not lower the risk of febrile seizures. The majority of children who experience febrile seizures go on to develop normally without any lasting effects.
  • Worries about dangerous infections: Fever is a sign of infection. Luckily, most of the time, children with fevers have mild illnesses. Understanding the nature of infections, recognizing red flags, and seeking professional guidance will empower you to make informed decisions and ensure the safety your child. Remember, knowledge and proactive care are key to addressing your concerns.
Sign that says red flag.

Understanding red flags when your child has a fever: When to take your child to the doctor for a fever

No matter what the illnesses, the most important thing is keeping our children safe. By gaining knowledge about the characteristics of harmless fevers and potential indicators of more severe conditions, we can make informed decisions about when to seek medical attention. According to Harvard Health and the Mayo Clinic, you should have your child seen by medical professional for fevers when:

  • Younger than 3 months old and has a rectal temperature of 100.4 F (38 C) or higher.
  • Between 3 and 6 months old and has a rectal temperature higher than 102 F (38.9 C) or has a lower temperature but seems unusually irritable, sluggish or uncomfortable.
  • Between 7 and 24 months old and has a rectal temperature higher than 102 F (38.9 C) that lasts longer than one day but shows no other symptoms. If your child also has other signs and symptoms, such as a runny nose, cough or diarrhea, you can call sooner.
  • Your child over the age of 2 has a fever of 104 or higher
  • Your child as a fever that lasts longer than three days
  • If the fever is accompanied by a dark rash (small or larger spots, flat or raised) that looks almost like a bruise and doesn’t get paler when you press on it: This can be a sign of a serious infection.
  • Has a fever after being left in a hot car: Seek medical care immediately.
  • Is listless, confused or has poor eye contact with you
  • Is irritable, vomits repeatedly
  • Has a seizure associated with the fever. Call 911 if the seizure lasts more than five minutes or your child doesn’t recover quickly
  • If your child has severe pain, or difficulty moving any part of the body (like the neck)
  • If your child has trouble breathing, or is breathing more quickly or forcefully than usual
  • If your child has a condition, or is taking a medication, that makes it harder for them to fight infection

Always follow your gut instincts. If you feel like your child should be seen by a medical professional, just do it!

Once you know your child is safe, you can concentrate on comforting them at home. To comfort your child confidently, it helps to understand a little bit about how fevers and the immune system works.

A white blood cell that looks like a superhero defends against a virus.

Fevers and the Immune System 101

A fever is a temperature above normal. Normal ranges from 97-100.4

When our bodies detect an infection, our immune system kicks into action. One of the ways it responds is by raising our body temperature, which is what we call a fever. But here’s the thing: fevers can actually be a good sign!

Fevers: friend or foe?

When our body temperature goes up, it creates an environment that’s not very friendly to the germs causing the infection. Many bacteria and viruses thrive in a narrow temperature range, so by raising our temperature, fevers slow down their reproduction. This gives our immune system a better chance to fight bacteria and viruses effectively.

Fevers also activate our immune response in other ways. They help to mobilize our immune cells, like white blood cells, and make them better at finding and destroying the invading germs. Fevers can even boost the production of certain immune cells called T-cells, which help to regulate inflammation and prevent it from going overboard.

Benefits of Fever:

  • Slowing Pathogen Replication: By raising the body’s temperature, fevers impede the rapid reproduction of infectious agents, limiting their spread and buying time for the immune system to mount a defense.
  • Shortening Illness Duration: Fevers can help super speed the recovery process by aiding the immune system in neutralizing the infection more swiftly. By reducing the duration of illness, fevers contribute to a faster return to normal health.
  • Intensity Reduction: Fevers can also reduce the severity of certain infections. By creating a hostile environment for pathogens, fevers help to weaken them, making them more vunerible to the immune system’s attack.
  • Immune System Activation: Fevers play a crucial role in activating and enhancing the immune response. They signal the immune cells to become more vigilant, aggressive, and efficient in eliminating the invading pathogens.

When we are overly aggressive in treating fevers, sometimes it’s like we’re shooting back at the messenger and the cavalry at the same time. By trying to attack every fever, we might unintentionally hinder the body’s natural defense mechanisms. Lowering the temperature can interfere with the immune response, potentially prolonging the illness or making it harder for the immune system to do its job.

On of the most natural ways to treat a fever is simply to comfort your child and monitor them carefully is as it runs its course.

When should you treat a fever in children?

To treat or not to treat a fever? According to John Hopkin’s Medicine, fever’s should be treated when your child is uncomfortable. It’s important to note that treating fever will not help you get rid of your child’s infection faster, it simply relieves discomfort caused by the fever.

What makes fevers so uncomfortable for children?

When we have a solid understanding of what makes fevers so uncomfortable, we can choose targeted interventions to help our children feel better.

Fevers can be uncomfortable for children due to a few reasons. When our body temperature rises during a fever, it can trigger various physical and physiological changes that contribute to the discomfort. Here are some factors that make fevers uncomfortable for children:

Increased Sensitivity: A higher body temperature can make children more sensitive to external stimuli. They may feel more sensitive to touch, causing even gentle contact to feel uncomfortable or painful.

To help alleviate the increased sensitivity to touch, opt for gentle and soothing contact with your child. Avoid rough or vigorous movements that may cause discomfort.

Muscle Aches: Fevers can cause muscle aches and soreness. This can make it uncomfortable for children to move or even rest in certain positions, leading to a feeling of general discomfort and restlessness.

For muscle aches, you can provide relief by gently massaging the affected areas with your hands or a warm compress. Encourage your child to rest in a comfortable position that minimizes strain on the achy muscles.

Headache and Body Discomfort: Fevers often come with accompanying symptoms like headaches, body aches, and general malaise. These discomforts can make children feel unwell and irritable.

To address headaches and general body discomfort, you can try using a cool compress or a cold washcloth on your child’s forehead. Make sure they are well-hydrated and provide a quiet healing space for relaxation.

Chills and Sweating: During a fever, children may experience chills and shivering as their body tries to raise its temperature. This can cause them to feel cold and uncomfortable. Conversely, as the fever progresses, they may start sweating, leading to feelings of clamminess or stickiness.

When your child experiences chills and shivering, provide extra blankets or warm clothing to help them feel cozy and warm. Conversely, if they start sweating, you can use a fan or adjust the room temperature to keep them comfortable and prevent overheating.

Appetite Changes: Fevers can affect a child’s appetite. They may experience a decrease in appetite or feel nauseous, leading to further discomfort.

It’s important to encourage your child to stay hydrated by offering small sips of water, clear fluids, or electrolyte solutions. If your child just doesn’t want to eat, focus on easily digestible foods such as soups, broths, or light snacks like crackers or fruits.

Sleep Disturbances: Fevers can disrupt normal sleep patterns. Children may struggle to fall asleep or have restless sleep due to the discomfort and changes in body temperature.

Improve your child’s sleep by having a calming bedtime routine. Decrease extra stimulation and treat pain as needed.

A sick young girl has sips of juice. Natural fever relief for kids includes offering fluids to help your child stay hydrated.

Natural Fever Relief For Kids: A holisitic approach to bringing down fevers

Sometimes instead of treating the symptoms of fevers, you’ll want to bring your child’s temperature down. This can provide extended relief so they can get the rest they need to recover. Here are some ideas of how to do it:

Hydration: Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids, such as water, diluted fruit juices, or clear broths. Staying hydrated is important to prevent dehydration caused by a fever.

Rest: Make sure your child gets lots of rest and sleep. Resting allows their body to focus on fighting off the infection and promotes a faster recovery.

Lukewarm Sponge Bath: Gently sponge your child’s body with lukewarm water to help cool them down. Avoid using cold water or alcohol-based solutions, as they can cause shivering and potentially worsen discomfort.

Dress in Light Clothing: Dress your child in lightweight and breathable clothing to help regulate their body temperature. Avoid overdressing or bundling them up too much, as it can trap heat and make them more uncomfortable.

Room Temperature: Maintain a comfortable room temperature in your child’s environment. Opt for a slightly cooler temperature to help alleviate any feelings of overheating.

Comfortable Bedding: Ensure that your child’s bedding is comfortable and appropriate for the temperature. Use lightweight blankets or sheets to avoid excessive warmth.

Herbal Teas: Offer your child herbal teas like chamomile or peppermint, which can provide soothing relief. Make sure the tea is lukewarm or at room temperature before giving it to them.

Cool Compresses: Apply cool compresses to your child’s forehead, wrists, or the back of their neck to provide temporary relief from fever-related discomfort.

Natural fruit popiciles: Your child may enjoy a nice fruit popicline that will help cool them down.

Place a fan in your child’s room: Using a fan is a great way to apply direct cooling to help comfort your child.

Essential Oils: Some essential oils, such as lavender or eucalyptus, may help promote relaxation and provide a soothing effect. Consult with a healthcare professional or aromatherapist for proper guidance on their safe usage for children.

Remember, it’s essential to monitor your child’s fever and consult with a healthcare professional if it persists or if your child’s condition worsens. These natural remedies can help provide comfort, but they should not replace professional medical advice when needed.

Thoughts about medications

If your doctor prescribes your child an antibiotic for a bacterial infection it is important that you give it to your child as directed. Some infections can be dangerous in young children and you will want to do everything you can to keep your child safe.

Tylenol and Mortrin are a popular option to help bring a fever down and treat aches and pains. Be sure to check the dosing before giving. Do not give Motrin to babies under 6 months old.

Do not give children Aspirin as if puts them at risk for reyes syndrome

Questions about fevers in children

When should I take my child’s temperature?

You may want to take your child’s temperature when you notice

  • Your child is more fussy than usual
  • Your child has flushed cheeks 
  • Your your child is sweaty and clammy 
  • Your child is less active
  • Your child isn’t sleeping well
  • -Your baby isn’t feeding or nursing like they normally do

Do fevers rise higher at night?

Yes, fevers do tend to spike at night because our bodies natually have a higher temperature at certain times of the day. This has do do with our hormone levels and circadian rhythm. 

Should I wake my child to check a temperature or give medications?

If your child is comfortable and sleeping, let them rest!

Why do we worry more about fevers in babies?

Babies are more at risk for getting very sick due to the immaturity of their immune systems and lack of immunizations. 

I’m still feeling nervous about my child’s fever, what should I do?

Seek Accurate Information: Educate yourself about fevers and their causes from reliable sources such as healthcare professionals or reputable medical websites. This knowledge will empower you to distinguish between common misconceptions and the facts, alleviating unnecessary anxiety.

Trust Your Parenting Instincts: Remember that you know your child best. Trust your instincts when assessing their behavior and overall well-being. If you have concerns, reach out to a healthcare professional for guidance and reassurance.

Focus on Comforting Your Child: Redirect your energy towards providing comfort and support to your child. Offer soothing words, gentle touch, and reassurance that you are there for them. Your presence and love can go a long way in helping them feel better.

Utilize Stress-Relief Techniques: Engage in activities that help you relax and reduce stress. Whether it’s taking a warm bath, practicing deep breathing exercises, listening to calming music, or going for a walk, find what works best for you and make time for self-care.

Limit Excessive Googling: While it’s important to stay informed, try to avoid excessive searching on the internet, as it can often lead to information overload and increased anxiety. Stick to trusted sources and set boundaries for your online research.

Final Thoughts:

By embracing a balanced perspective, educating ourselves, and employing natural fever relief strategies, we can provide the best possible care for our children. Remember to watch for any red flags that may indicate a more serious underlying condition. Knowing when to seek medical attention is crucial. As we adopt a holistic approach that combines natural remedies with professional advice, we can navigate fevers with confidence instead of fear!

Looking for more information on how to comfort your kids? Check on my articles on understanding children’s pain and the ultimate guide to soothing kids sore throats

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