Checking Your Child's Fever at Night

Expert Q&ampA

Girl sick in bed
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Although some parents will find this surprising, as many still have a big fear of fever, in general, you should not wake up an older child to check his temperature or give him a fever reducer.

If you consider that the main reason that you give your child Tylenol or Motrin is to make him feel better, since the fever is just a symptom and isn't going to really hurt him, then it doesn't make sense to wake him up if he is already sleeping comfortably.

Checking Your Child's Fever at Night

It might be a good idea to wake up your child to check his temperature or give him a fever reducer if he:

  • is a newborn baby or younger infant, especially less than two or three months old, at which age fever can be a serious symptom.
  • has a chronic illness, like cancer, other immune system problems, chronic urinary tract infections, etc.
  • is sleeping, but is sleeping very restlessly and you think he will get a better night's sleep if you give him a fever reducer.
  • has had a fever that has been fairly consistently been going up and down and you know that he is due for a fever spike which is going to make him miserable.
  • may or may not have a fever, but you will sleep much better knowing for sure.

You might also need to wake up your child and call your pediatrician if your child has any other symptoms, whether or not he has a fever, such as being irritable and inconsolable, having trouble breathing, or being hard to wake up, etc.

Some parents might also want to be more aggressive in checking and treating a fever if their child has febrile seizures, but there is no research to show that this really prevents further seizures. You can wake your child up and give him a fever reducer at the first sign of fever, though, if you feel that it helps.

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