How parents manage fever in children


A recent poll from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health showed how parents respond to potential fever in their children.

Parents revealed the actions they make when suspecting their child has a fever in a response to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.

Of the respondents, 89% shared a belief that a low-grade fever helps children’s bodies fight off infection.In regard to taking their child’s temperature, 75% of parents will act once they notice the issue, while 23% will wait to see if the issue worsens and 2% will only take their child’s temperature in rare situations.

When taking their child’s temperature, 45% of parents do so through forehead scan, 25% through mouth, 13% through ear scan, 10% through underarm, and 3% through rectal. Four percent of parents feel if their child is hot to touch to determine the presence of a fever. 

An underarm or rectal temperature scan was more likely to be performed by parents of children aged 0 to 3 years. Among parents, 72% believed their method of taking temperature was correct, with this belief seen in 90% of parents who take temperature rectally, 84% by mouth, 75% by ear scan, 70% by forehead scan, and 60% by underarm.

Confidence in being able to determine when their child needs medication for treating fever was expressed by 65% of parents. The minimum temperature for giving fever-reducing medication to their child was below 100.4°F for 35% of parents, between 100.4°F and 101.9°F for 50%, and 102°F or above for 15%.

Sixty-five percent of parents reported always or usually recording the time of each dose when giving their child anti-fever medication, while 84% reported always or usually retaking their child’s temperature before another dose. Two-thirds of parents preferred alternative methods such as using a cool washcloth before turning to medication.

When reporting results of the poll, the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health reminded parents that lowering a child’s temperature does not increase the speed of illness recovery. The common belief that running a low-grade fever helps against an infection is consistent with prior research.

If parents choose to avoid giving their child medication, they can monitor temperature while using alternative strategies such as keeping the child well hydrated and in light clothing. When decided whether to contact a doctor, parents of children aged 0 to 3 months should call a provider at any fever, while those of children aged 4 to 12 months should call a provider if the child presents with signs such as decreased urine output, increased fussiness, and decreased activity.


Figuring out fever in children. Mott Poll. February 20, 2023. Accessed February 20, 2023.

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