Location: St.Albans - Hatfield Road
18th November 2016

Health Visitor Blog

Temperatures in young children


What is normal?


A normal body temperature in a child varies . The NHS says that a normal body temperature is around 37C (98.6F) however it does depend on other things such as age, the time of day and what they’ve been doing amongst other variables so it is generally accepted that normal body temperature ranges between 36.1C to 37.2C


As a general rule though, a temperature of over 37.5C in a child is a fever.


What Causes a Fever in Children?


Most fevers are caused by infections or other illnesses. Common conditions that cause fevers in children are:


  • Upper Respiratory tract infections
  • Flu
  • Ear infections
  • Roseola (a virus that causes a temperature and rash)
  • Tonsillitis
  • Kidney or Urinary tract infection (UTI’s)
  • Common childhood illnesses such as chicken Pox and whooping cough.

(NHS Choices 2016)


Teething and Temperature


Some of you may have noticed that your child gets a mild temperature when they are teething. Anecdotally this is quite common however it must be treated with caution!


Sometimes a child’s temperature will rise the day before a tooth cuts through and may last until it has come through. That said, any temperature in a child should not be just attributed to teething as most fevers in children are indicative of an underlying infection (Tinsley 2016)


Never make an assumption that your child’s temperature is purely down to teething without exploring other possible causes.


Infections remain the leading cause of death in children under the age of 5 years. ( National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE),2013).



How to Manage a temperature


  • Keep children well hydrated
  • Keep the child cool
  • Fever reducing medication. ( Parents are advised to alternate paracetamol and ibuprofen if one alone does not reduce the fever)

 Sponging a child with cool water is Not recommended to reduce a fever (NHS Choices 2016).


When to contact a GP


  • If your child is under 3 months and has a temperature of 38C or above
  • If your child is 3-6 months and has a temperature of 39C or above
  • Has any other signs of being unwell such as persistant vomiting, refusal to feed , drowsiness or floppiness.


When to attend A&E


  • A high pitched, weak or continuous cry
  • A lack of responsiveness, marked slowdown in activity or increased floppiness
  • In babies, a bulging fontanelle
  • Neck stiffness
  • Not drinking for more than 8 hrs
  • A high temperature but cold hands and feet
  • A high temperature with quietness and listlessness
  • Fits, convulsions or seizures
  • Turning blue, very pale, mottled or ashen
  • Difficulty breathing , fast breathing , grunting whilst breathing or if a child is working hard to breath,
  • If the baby or child is unusually drowsy, hard to wake up or doesn’t appear to recognise their parent.
  • If the child is unable to stay awake even when their parent wakes them
  • A spotty, purple red rash anywhere on the body. (This could be a sign of meningitis)
  • Repeated vomiting or bile stained green vomit


(NHS Choices 2016)



When to call an ambulance.


Parents should be advised to call an ambulance if their child:


  • Stops breathing
  • Is struggling for breath
  • Is unconscious or seems unaware of what is going on.
  • Will not wake up
  • Is having a fit for the first time , even if they seem to recover.



(NHS Choices 2016)