As a young mother, there was nothing worse than dealing with a sick child that was burning up with a fever. The red-hot cheeks, the crying from discomfort and fatigue and their listless little bodies lying against your chest once they finally succumbed to sleep–it would break my heart.
Eventually, I understood that the fever itself wasn’t a bad thing. In fact, it was necessary–it is the body’s way of fighting off an illness and controlling its immune response.
What many parents don’t realize is that often, fevers are their child’s friend,” said Hannah Chow-Johnson, MD, Loyola University Health System pediatrician and assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
Fevers are not pleasant for kids. They can make them unhappy and fussy. They also force them to slow down, rest and sleep more, which are all necessary for a child to recover from an illness.
“Fevers can actually help your child recover more quickly, especially if he or she is battling a viral illness,” Chow-Johnson said. “I often wish thermometers had a gauge that read either ‘fever’ or ‘no fever.’ That would definitely help parents who worry if their child has a fever that’s too high,” Chow said.
She shares some facts to help parents better understand fevers.
- Fevers are safe. A fever is the body’s way of controlling its immune response. Your child’s body is controlling the temperature and it’s going to fluctuate no matter what you do. Don’t awaken a child from a deep sleep to give medications for the fever. Sleep is more important.
- Take oral temperatures when possible and rectal ones when not. Ear, sticker, pacifier and temporal artery thermometers are not reliable. Stick to a good, old-fashioned digital thermometer for the best accuracy. As far as how frequently a fever needs to be checked, once a day is sufficient.
- There is not a maximum number on the thermometer that means go to the emergency room, unless your child stops drinking, urinating or responding well. But if children are doing all three, parents can monitor them from home.
- Your goal should be your child’s comfort, not reducing the fever. Be generous with fluids, ice chips and popsicles. Dress children in light clothing and give tepid baths to help cool them down. Don’t use rubbing alcohol as this can be absorbed into the skin. Give fever reducers only if your child feels uncomfortable, not solely to reduce the temperature. And don’t alternate fever-reducing medications, as this could lead to overdosing or excessive medication that your child doesn’t need.
My first inclination was not to run to the pharmacy and pick up some fever reduction meds. I let the fever run its course and only tried to reduce my child’s temperature when they needed some relief and making them comfortable was paramount. That is when I looked into natural remedies for fever in earnest.
Most of the remedies I’ve listed are from expert advice. Others are from trusted methods are grandmothers and mothers probably used. Although there is one “remedy” my mom used that I would never try–an alcohol rub. Yes, really. I have a memory of laying on a white sheet, burning up with a fever and my mom rubbing down my legs with a stinky bottle of clear liquid. I’m sure the buzz of all that alcohol put me right to sleep–it’s okay, mom, I still love you.
Of course, there are times when natural remedies aren’t enough and you should seek medical attention:
- A child who is less than 8 weeks old and has a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher should be seen by a physician immediately
- A child who is undergoing chemotherapy or has a compromised immune system
- If there is no clear source for the child’s fever (no cough, runny nose or known pain) and the fever has lasted for 2-3 days
- If a fever lasts for more than 5 days, see a physician, even if your child looks well.
10 Home remedies for fever in babies
When your baby has a fever, it’s important to make sure she gets lots of water. Her body benefits from consuming plenty of water, juice, and yoghurt.
Apple Cider Bath
People often give babies and young children ice cold baths to bring down a fever, but this might not work. Your child’s body temperature can be shocked by a cold shower, and it won’t do much to bring down their fever. On the other hand, a lukewarm bath is easier on the body and can quickly bring down a high temperature. Add a cup of apple cider vinegar to a warm bath to make it even better. This is one of the best natural home remedies for kids with fever, and it has been used to treat fever in kids naturally for decades. You can also put a warm compress pack on your child’s forehead and add a few drops of apple cider vinegar to it.
Mustard Oil and Garlic Massage
When mixed together, mustard oil and garlic work like ginger to make you sweat and help you get rid of toxins.
To make this massaging oil, heat 2 tablespoons of mustard oil for 30 seconds in a microwave oven.
Mix well after adding one teaspoon of garlic paste. The heat helps the paste get mixed into the oil.
Let the mixture sit for about 2 minutes while it comes back to room temperature.
Now, use your hands to massage your baby’s chest, back, neck, palms, and feet with this mixture.
Since the massage also calms your baby down, this is a great treatment to do right before your baby goes to sleep.
Serve Nutritious Soup
When a child has a fever, the real danger is not the fever itself, but dehydration, which is a common side effect. Your child may sweat a lot and lose important minerals because of a fever. This is why you need to make sure your child drinks enough fluids throughout the day to make up for the electrolytes (s)he is losing. A hot bowl of soup is one of the best natural ways to bring down a child’s fever at home. Soup is not only full of vitamins and minerals that your child needs, but it is also easier for your child to digest. Try to stay away from instant soups, since homemade is always the best choice. There are a lot of quick and easy soup recipes that are also healthy.
Honey and Lemon
Both lemon and honey are great for boosting your immune system. Mix some honey with fresh lemon juice that hasn’t been watered down and a half teaspoon of ginger powder. Your child should get one teaspoon of this mixture twice a day.
Popsicles are one thing that children love whether they are sick or not. When your child is sick, don’t feel bad about giving them fruit popsicles. Iced popsicles can bring down your child’s temperature from the inside and keep them hydrated at the same time. Make your own fruit popsicles by freezing pureed fruit in popsicle moulds. Natural fruit sugars are fine, but you should not put refined sugars in your child’s popsicles. It can be one of the best home remedies for kids with fever.
Use an ice pack
A cold compress is a natural way to help a baby’s fever go down. A cold compress is used to make a big difference in how hot someone is. Four tablespoons of cold water and two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. The vinegar cools down the hot food. Mix everything together well. Put this mixture on the babies’ foreheads with a clean cloth that has been dipped in the mixture. Continue this process until the temperature starts to drop.
If your child is sick with a fever and won’t drink water, try giving them herbal tea instead. Herbal teas are safe for kids as long as they don’t have caffeine in them. They are one of the best natural home remedies for a child’s fever and will keep your child hydrated. Herbal teas are also good for you and can help treat your child’s fever. Chamomile tea is often used to treat fevers, and even babies can drink it without harm. Peppermint tea can help settle an upset stomach and clear up a stuffy nose. You can also put a teaspoon of honey in the tea to make it taste better and give it even more antibacterial power.
Egg whites are made of protein, which helps the yolk grow. Its unique viscosity makes it a good heat absorber. As it dries, it takes in a lot of thermal energy from its surroundings.
Split an egg in half and separate the yolk from the white. Beat the egg white well until it is smooth.
About a minute is enough time to soak two small washcloths in the beaten egg whites.
Wrap the wet washcloths gently around your child’s feet, and then put a pair of loose socks over them to keep them in place. Put this aside for about an hour.
It may be helpful for the youngster to wear clothing made of thin cotton or to remove unnecessary layers of clothing so that heat may escape more quickly via the skin. When children are unable to effectively regulate their own body temperature, it is more challenging to bring them back down to a normal temperature after they have become overheated using numerous layers of clothes. Naturally, this will bring the fever down.
How do you treat your baby’s fever?