How to Lower a Child's Fever Naturally

Four Methods:Reducing a Fever NaturallyRiding Out a FeverKeeping Your Child ComfortableKnowing When to Intervene

It can be scary to see a child you care about come down with a fever. While a fever can be beneficial in fighting off an underlying infection,[1] it can also make a child very uncomfortable. You can often help them feel better by taking a few steps to gently reduce the fever with natural methods.

Method 1
Reducing a Fever Naturally

  1. 1
    Bathe your child in lukewarm water. The evaporation of the water will cause your child’s temperature to go down.[2]
    • Don't use cold water. It may seem counterintuitive, but a rush of cold water will cause shivering and will in turn raise their body temperature.[3]
  2. 2
    Place cold, damp washcloths on your child’s forehead and wrists. These will reduce your child’s core body temperature and will temporarily lower the fever.[4]
  3. 3
    Dress your child in light cotton clothes. Heat is lost more easily through the skin when layers of clothing are removed, and cotton is one of the most breathable fabrics.[5] However, if your child starts to shiver, you will want to cover them with a light blanket. [6]

Method 2
Riding Out a Fever

  1. 1
    Find comfort in the fact that fevers can help fight off infections. Fevers are not dangerous in themselves.[7] They are the body’s natural response to an underlying condition. Many germs cannot survive at higher temperatures, so fevers are actually positive (though misery-inducing) agents.
  2. 2
    Allow the fever to run its course. You don’t necessarily need to actively try to bring down a child’s fever. In fact, recent studies show that riding out a mild fever might be the best way to deal with one: fevers make certain parts of the immune system work harder, which can help get over colds faster than with medication.[8]
    • It can be hard to step back and recognize that there’s nothing more you can or should do as caretaker to bring down your child’s fever. However, sometimes just palliating the symptoms is enough and can go a long way to helping your child bravely endure this rough patch.
  3. 3
    Monitor your child’s temperature consistently. Riding out a fever still involves a checkup of the numbers to make sure that the child’s condition does not worsen. Many different kinds of thermometers are available, since you can measure a fever a number of different ways. Typically all you need is a digital thermometer,[9] though other options, such as the more expensive temporal artery thermometers or tympanic (ear) thermometers are also available.
    • Rectal thermometers provide the most accurate readings for infants.[10] These should have a flexible tip and a wide handle.
    • Wait at least 20 minutes after a bath or after feeding your child to take their temperature. These are factors which could affect the reading.[11]

Method 3
Keeping Your Child Comfortable

  1. 1
    Tend to your child’s needs. In your role as caretaker, making the child feel as secure as possible during the 3-4 days that it normally takes for a fever to go away will increase their comfort level.[12]
    • If your child is seeking company while they lay bored in bed, try to stay by their side. If they want to be alone, check in on them occasionally.
    • The palliation of symptoms can take many different forms, but if you observe your child’s behavior and looks and monitor their temperature, you can be sure you are providing the best care possible.
  2. 2
    Encourage your child to rest. When your child has a fever, they should exert minimal effort. If possible, this means they should refrain from going to school, roughhousing with friends, and playing sports until the fever subsides. This way, the fever has a lower chance of being prolonged or worsened and your child has a higher shot at a much faster recovery.[13]
  3. 3
    Encourage your child to drink more fluids. Fevers can cause children to lose copious amounts of water and salt, leading to dehydration.[14] Prevent this complication by encouraging your child to take in more liquids, especially water or orange juice.
  4. 4
    Don’t force your child to drink if they resist. Instead, you could try giving them a cool treat like grapes.
    • Low-sugar fruit popsicles, frozen yogurt, or sherbet are also appealing ways to increase hydration levels.
    • Offer your child a cup of diluted yarrow,[15] chamomile,[16] or elderflower tea.[17] Many people recommend these as safe ways of encouraging liquid consumption.

Method 4
Knowing When to Intervene

  1. 1
    Recognize unusual or extreme symptoms. These could be signs of a serious or worsening condition that should be properly assessed by a medical professional. While a fever is a natural response, your child should still be seen by a medical professional if they display symptoms such as:[18]
    • Lethargy
    • Excessive fussiness or unusual drowsiness
    • Severe cough
    • Sore throat
    • Ear pain
    • Stiff neck
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Seizure
  2. 2
    Observe how your child is looking and acting. The child could only have a mild fever in terms of temperature, but if they are acting lethargic or unresponsive, this calls for a visit to the doctor for closer examination.[19]
  3. 3
    Watch out for the signs of dehydration. If you suspect your child is dehydrated, call the pediatrician right away. Mild to severe dehydration can have significant consequences, so be on the lookout for[20]:
    • Excessive sleepiness, fussiness, or tiredness
    • Dry/sticky mouth
    • Thirst
    • Decreased urination
    • Dry skin
    • In infants, no wet diapers for 3 hours
  4. 4
    Consult with a pediatrician if your child has other known medical problems. A weakened immune system in conjunction with a fever can lead to additional complications. In this case, the treatment plan may differ and will likely be tailored to your child’s individual needs.[21]
    • Check with your child’s doctor prior to giving your child any new medications.
  5. 5
    Recognize when to call a doctor. While fevers will often run a smooth course, there are certainly times when it is best to contact a doctor:
    • Call your child’s doctor right away if a child less than 2 years old has a fever lasting more than 1 day or if a child age 2 or older has a fever lasting more than 3 days. [22] They may encourage you to come in for an exam.
    • Call the pediatrician immediately if your child's temperature is too high. Specifically, see a doctor right away if you measure a rectal temperature of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or above in a child younger than 3 months old or if the fever rises above 104°F (40°C) for a child of any age.[23]
  6. 6
    Consult with your child’s doctor prior to administering ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). These medications have side effects and their administration should be based on the child’s age, weight, and overall health.[24]
  7. 7
    Check with your healthcare provider to see if they offer a free nurse hotline. Nursing hotlines can be extremely helpful if you are seeking advice on a particular medical concern. If so, carry this number with you and call if you have a question about your child’s health or about how to best care for their fever.[25]


  • Call your child’s doctor immediately if you notice any of the aforementioned causes of concern.
  • Always consult with your child’s doctor prior to administering a new medication or dose.

Sources and Citations

Show more... (22)

Article Info

Categories: Childhood Health