When her young children became feverish, my sister would undress them and try to bring their temperature down.

However my mother is adamant that the right treatment is the exact opposite- Wrap them up warm, but give them plenty of liquid so they don't become dehydrated.

Which is the correct treatment?

  • 3
    Our local Red Cross' infant first-aid course made a big point to not overheat the child. A fever can be life-threatening if too high so don't pack the child in thick blankets and clothing. Jan 9, 2012 at 11:52
  • Interesting thanks. If anyone has links to official medical advice that I could show to my mother that would be much appreciated.
    – Urbycoz
    Jan 9, 2012 at 11:56
  • 1
    I added some links to Beofett's answer. Jan 9, 2012 at 13:59
  • 2
    A fever is a symptom, so the key is to try and find out the cause so that you can treat the cause. As for how to handle a fever, you don't want the child to overheat. Prolonged high temperatures cause brain damage or worse. CALL THE NURSE/DOCTOR! Typically they'll want you to treat it with fever reducing medication.
    – DA01
    Jan 10, 2012 at 23:08
  • A few reference points: according to our pediatrist, 37.5 - 38.5 °C (99.5 - 101.3 °F) is a raised temperature, above 38.5 °C/101.3 °F is a fever, and we should call him only when the temperature stays above 39.8 °C (103.6 °F) for more than one hour. Brain damage can occur at temperatures of 42 °C (107.6 °F) and above (see nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003090.htm)
    – Treb
    Jan 11, 2012 at 10:55

3 Answers 3


As Torben mentioned, you do not want to bundle them up and risk raising the fever.

However, the opposite extreme is not helpful, either. Undressing the child, cold baths, ice, or alcohol rubs can lower the skin temperature without lowering the fever. This can cause hivering, which can actually raise the core temperature further.

  • Do NOT bundle up someone who has the chills.
  • Remove excess clothing or blankets. The room should be comfortable, not too hot or cool. Try one layer of lightweight clothing, and one lightweight blanket for sleep. If the room is hot or stuffy, a fan may help.
  • A lukewarm bath or sponge bath may help cool someone with a fever. This is especially effective after medication is given -- otherwise the temperature might bounce right back up.

You are spot-on with suggesting plenty of liquids. Water, gelatin, soup, or even popsicles are all good ways to keep your child hydrated.

The old adage "feed a cold, starve a fever" is bad advice. If your child is hungry, let them eat.

As always, call your doctor if the fever gets too high:

  • Is younger than 3 months old and has a rectal temperature of 100.4 °F (38 °C) or higher
  • Is 3 -12 months old and has a fever of 102.2 °F (39 °C) or higher

Also call your doctor if the fever doesn't show signs of going away:

  • Is under age 2 and has a fever that lasts longer than 24 - 48 hours
  • Is older and has a fever for longer than 48 - 72 hours

Here are some official links:


NHS: Fever in Children

A fever is a high temperature. As a general rule, in children, a temperature of over 37.5°C (99.5°F) is a fever.


When to seek urgent medical advice

Contact your GP [doctor] or health visitor urgently if your child:
- is under three months old and has a temperature of 38°C (101°F) or above
- is between three and six months old and has a temperature of 39°C (102°F) or above
- is over six months old and, as well as a fever, has other signs of being unwell, such as floppiness and drowsiness

If it isn't possible to contact your GP, call your local out-of-hours service or NHS 111.

If your child seems to be well, other than having a high temperature – for example, if they are playing and attentive – it is less likely that they are seriously ill.

Treating a fever

If your child has a fever, it's important to keep them hydrated by giving them plenty of cool water to drink. Even if your child isn't thirsty, try to get them to drink little and often to keep their fluid levels up.

To help reduce your child’s temperature you can also:
- keep them cool if the environment is warm – for example, you can just cover them with a lightweight sheet (but they should be appropriately dressed for their surroundings)
- keep their room cool – 18°C (65°F) is about right (open a window if you need to)
- give them children's paracetamol or ibuprofen – you can't give them both at the same time, but if one doesn’t work you may want to try the other later. These are painkillers that also act as antipyretics, meaning they help to reduce fever

Antipyretics aren't always necessary – for example, if your child isn't distressed by the fever or underlying illness.
Always read the patient information leaflet that comes with the medication, when using antipyretics, to find the correct dose and frequency for your child’s age.

More: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/treating-high-temperature-children.aspx (including 'How do I treat a fever?' video).


My kid used to frequently reach 39 to 40°C.
We used to go to hospital, where they gave him all possible medications, but the only thing that worked was to wrap him in a wet towel -- not very cold but colder than room temperature.
This was changed every 10 minutes, and it could take up to two hours for the fever to go below 39.

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