My kids are champs of the high fevers. No – more like masters. No wait – high fever freaking NINJA masters. Yes – that’s definitely it and totally a thing. Why? Because I swear the high fevers come out of completely nowhere. One minute the boys are running, wrestling, and screaming at each other, and the next they are crying to me with a pounding headache literally feeling like they are on fire. When my boys run a fever, we don’t do 100 to 101. Oh no, we go all out. At first sign that I need to break out the thermometer, we are typically at 103.9 or so already.
Our boys are currently 9 and 7, and our youngest is just recovering from his latest nasty high fever. The culprit? We have absolutely no idea. Blood tests revealed the infection was definitely bacterial, but other tests came back totally fine. So we had to do an antibiotic that would cover multiple areas. For a kid who has only been on an antibiotic maybe a handful of times in his entire life, he has certainly mastered the art of freaking out momma with a high temp. He’s much better today; thank you for caring.
So what qualifies me to provide you with advice for treating a high fever? Not much. But I am a momma and I am a lifelong learner. I’m almost a doctor of special education and absolutely love to research. So my advice isn’t my own. These tips come straight from research, pediatricians, and my own momma experience. Take it or leave it, but I am writing it with hopes to help you if you are new to the high fever world.
So here we go, you just temped your babe and found that the fever is much higher than you would like. Now what do you do? (I use “he” because I have boys, but substitute “she” for your princess.)
Give a fever-reducing medicine. I always head for the Ibuprofen first; it just tends to work better to bring down the fever quicker. Be sure to give the correct dosage for the age/weight of your child as is listed on the bottle. For example, Asher is 7-years-old but is 55 pounds. He can have 300 mg, or 15 mL, of Children’s liquid Ibuprofen. And don’t forget you can alternate Ibuprofen and Tylenol every two to three hours depending on your doctor’s recommendation. So ask.
Call the doctor and make an appointment. No amount of advice you will ever read online can cover for the importance of getting to the source of the infection. Be prepared for throat swabs, blood draws, and maybe even the ever-feared (and understandably so) nose swab. If you get in right away, be sure you still followed the first step and gave a fever-reducing medicine.
Place a cool cloth on your child’s forehead and strip him down to his skivvies. Yes, he will feel freezing. It’s okay to allow him a blanket because priority number one is keeping him comfortable. The cloth will help. Use another cool cloth and gently wipe his skin. I always sing songs while I’m wiping his arms, chest, legs, etc. as the other cloth stays on the forehead. Every now and then, turn the cloth over to be sure the cool side is against his skin. Some pharmacies have “fever patches” that are really cold when opened. But my boys find those are too cold, so I stick with a cool cloth.
Get out the bucket. Oftentimes, high fever is accompanied by vomit. Just be prepared.
Give a lukewarm bath with lots of bubbles and toys. My boys end up taking two to three baths a day when they don’t feel well, but be careful with this one. NEVER leave a child, especially with a fever, alone in a bathtub. Also, many will tell you that a cool bath is best. I’ve researched this a lot because of how often (and how long) my boys take baths when they are sick. The old-school way says that a very cool bath will bring down the fever quicker. But think about it…your body is running at 103.9, yet you feel freezing, and you get thrown into a tub of 80 degree or below water. That’s not comforting; it feels like torture. Research has shown that it is better to stay within 10 degrees of actual body temperature and slowly adjust the bath water as needed. Being in too cool of a bath can actually have the opposite effect on a fever since the body can feel like it has to fight to stay warm. I usually start with 90 to 95 degrees, depending on the boys’ temperature. It’s a comfort for them because it still feels warm, but is actually around 10 degrees cooler than their current body temperature so helps bring down that fever.
Push the fluids. I always make a big deal out of going to the store specifically for the mini Gatorades when the boys are sick. They tell me what color they want and feel so special they get those little juices that are just the right size. Also get a water bottle and fill with ice water. Keep both those drink options next to your kiddo. It’s especially handy when they have to take medicine and quickly want to get rid of the yucky taste.
Couch party with his own tray. The challenge is always keeping kiddo down after the meds kick in and help him feel better for a short period of time. In order to combat this, we always say that the sick one has control over the TV. I put a TV tray next to the couch with the remote, meds, tissues, thermometer, drinks, etc. That way my little one has everything he needs right at his fingertips and can just chill and heal.
If he’s hungry, feed him. Almost all my eating rules go out the window when a high fever is around. Want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while you take a bath? Heck yeah! Soup and crackers at 10 a.m.? Sounds awesome! If he has an appetite for something, that’s a good sign. So give in…within reason of course.
Break out the Clorox wipes and Lysol spray, and wash all bedding. I kind of turn into a cleaning freak when I have a sick one. I spray all doorknobs, light switches, toilet handles, etc. with Lysol, use Clorox wipes everywhere else I can think of, and wash towels, sheets, and blankets like crazy. My boys also happen to be stuffed animal nuts, so I wash those they sleep with also.
Take plenty of time for snuggles. Never underestimate the power of snuggles with mom and dad.
I hope my list has helped you take care of your little one, or at least to get some ideas to be prepared! Take good care of each other!
~ Bailey Koch
As always, if our story touches you or if you know of anyone suffering from mental illness or supporting a loved one suffering, please share our story. Our “Anchoring Hope” support group meets every Sunday evening from 6:30 to 7:30 at United Way in Cozad, Nebraska. Please join us. You are never alone.
And if you don’t live near us, please like our page on Facebook to follow our journey and share our mission with others. https://www.facebook.com/jeremyandbaileykoch/