The Mistakes You’re Making When Treating Your Child’s Fever

thermometerMoms, we're doing it wrong! According to a new survey -- let's bring the dads into this conversation, too -- we parents are treating our kids' fevers the wrong way. There's a big disconnect between how we think we should be treating a fever and what pediatricians actually recommend.

The makers of Advil® sponsored a survey that talked with 1,026 parents of children ages 12 years and younger and over 250 pediatricians nationwide. They found out that half of us (52 percent) feel anxious, fearful, and helpless when our kids get a fever. And almost all (94 percent) pediatricians think we need to be better educated about how to handle those panic-inducing fevers. Wouldn't it be great if you knew EXACTLY what to do about your child's next fever? Read on to see if you're treating your kids' fevers right.

  • Half of us (54 percent) wake up our kids in the middle of the night to give them more meds. Pediatricians recommend letting your child keep sleeping, though it's smart to keep checking up on them.
  • More than a third of us (36 percent) give our kids a dosage according to their age -- but we should be going by their weight.
  • Half of us (52 percent) send our kids back to school or daycare less than 24 hours after they've recovered from their fever. Pediatricians recommend waiting a full 24 hours.
  • Dads feel more confident in handling kids' fevers (41 percent vs. 21 percent) -- but then, they're also more likely to dose based on age than on weight and they're also more likely to send kids back to school less than 24 hours after a fever.
  • A quarter of us (25 percent) are giving our kids the adult meds -- and we're just sort of estimating on the dosage. Yikes!

Ugh, some of this sounds familiar. You know how it is. Isn't it always in the middle of the night when your child wakes up with a fever? And you fumble to the medicine cabinet and make your best guess -- oops, out of children's meds again. And forget calling your pediatrician at 2:00 a.m.! The next day the fever is gone and you're faced with a tough choice: Play it safe and take a day off of work to stay home with your child, or send her back to daycare because she seems fine? 

Here's what Advil and pediatrician Dr. Alanna Levine recommend.

  • Stay Cool: Remember that most fevers are in fact indicators that the body is fighting an underlying illness.
  • Be Prepared: Start the season by talking to a pediatrician and gaining their insights on proper fever management. Also, check the medicine cabinet to ensure that all medications have not expired or been recalled.
  • Watch for Serious Signs: Generally, it’s time to call a pediatrician if your child is less than 3 months old and has a fever of 100 degrees or higher; the fever is over 103 degrees; if your child has a fever and looks and acts very sick; or if the fever lasts for more than a few days.
  • Long Lasting Relief: When choosing a fever medication, be sure to consider how long the medication will last. 

So today might be a good day to check those medicine cabinets, right? You can find more information about treating fevers at But because every kid is different, it's probably also a good idea to talk with your pediatrician during the next check-up to see what they recommend. Okay, so you're not going to panic now the next time your child has a fever, right? Me too!

How do you compare with the survey? Are you confident about how you treat your kids' fevers?


Image via Joe Seggiola/Flickr

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