Keeping track of your child’s fever can be useful

The information can be shared with your pediatrician, babysitters, daycare workers, teachers, and others.

Download and print this convenient Fever Chart to use in your home.

Things to consider when tracking your child’s fever

Putting a fever in perspective

NOTE: Children under 3 months with a rectal temperature over 38 °C (100.4 °F) should see a doctor.

CAUTION: If your child’s fever persists for more than 4 days, if your child is in pain for more than 7 days, or if new symptoms appear, talk to your doctor.

How to take your child’s temperature rectally
  • Clean the thermometer with cool, soapy water and rinse.
  • Cover the silver tip with petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline).
  • Place your baby on their back with their knees bent.
  • Gently insert the thermometer in the rectum, about 2.5 cm (1 inch), holding it in place with your fingers.
  • After about 1 minute, you will hear a beep (if you are using a digital thermometer).
  • Remove the thermometer and read the temperature.
  • Clean the thermometer.
How to take your child’s temperature in the armpit
  • Use a rectal or oral thermometer.
  • Clean the thermometer with cool, soapy water and rinse.
  • Place the tip of the thermometer in the centre of the armpit.
  • Make sure your child’s arm is tucked snugly against their body.
  • Leave the thermometer in place for about 1 minute. If you are using a digital thermometer, leave it in place until you hear the beep.
  • Remove the thermometer and read the temperature.
  • Clean the thermometer.
How to take your child’s temperature orally
  • Only take your child’s temperature by mouth if your child is older than 5 years and can keep the thermometer under their tongue.
  • Clean the thermometer with cool, soapy water and rinse.
  • Carefully place the tip of the thermometer under your child’s tongue.
  • With your child’s mouth closed, leave the thermometer in place for about 1 minute. If you are using a digital thermometer, leave it in place until you hear the beep.
  • Remove the thermometer and read the temperature.
  • Clean the thermometer.
When is it time to call your doctor?

Contact your healthcare provider if your child:

  • has a fever and is younger than 6 months old.
  • has a fever for more than 72 hours (3 days).
  • is excessively cranky, fussy, or irritable.
  • is excessively sleepy, lethargic, or does not respond.
  • is persistently wheezing or coughing.
  • has a fever and a rash, or any signs of illness that worry you.
When to go to the hospital

Go to the hospital if your child:

  • is under 3 months and has a fever.
  • is having difficulty breathing.
  • is very sleepy and hard to wake up.
  • has signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth, or is not peeing at least every 8 hours.
  • has a headache or sore neck that does not go away with fever or pain medicine.
Tips and tricks
  • Babies younger than 6 months old should see a doctor when they have a fever. Older children can be treated at home as long as they get enough liquids and seem well otherwise. However, they should also see a doctor if their fever lasts for more than 72 hours.
  • If your child has a fever, the Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that you keep your child comfortable and offer plenty of fluids. If your baby has a fever, remove extra blankets and clothing so heat can leave the body and help lower the body temperature. Don’t take off all your child’s clothes because your child may become too cold and start shivering, which produces more body heat, causing the temperature to rise again.
  • Encourage your child to drink fluids. Children lose a lot of water when they have a fever.
  • Dress your child in one layer of clothing and avoid bundling your baby with blankets.
  • Sponge-, alcohol-, and cool baths are not recommended and may make your child more uncomfortable.
  • Many children get a fever after immunizations—give medication to lower the fever if needed.

Not sure whether your child has a fever?

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