When your infant is small, any fever should be looked at seriously and most pediatricians will want you to call their office every time. If you have a newborn up through 8 or 12 weeks of age with any fever at all, read no further and go call your pediatrician now.
As your child gets older, you will find that those calls will be met with less concern and the doctor will tell you to treat the fever with typical measures unless it gets quite high (over 101 or 104, depending on the age) or if it is accompanied by listlessness or dehydration. Also, fevers that persist more than 24 hours should merit a call to your pediatrician.
When Gigi had strep throat, her fevers were VERY high and they were persistent. Although I found that Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) seemed to make her feel better for longer, the allowable dose for her age and weight still wore off hours before it was safe to give her another dose. Typically, most doctors will agree you need to wait 6 to 8 hours between doses.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be dosed every 4 to 6 hours. And, though it reduces a fever very much like Ibuprofen, it has different effects on the body.
In both cases, these fever reducers were not lasting long enough to keep Gigi’s fever down below 104. And, as her fever crept higher, she became more listless and uncomfortable.
So, I used the method of alternating Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen. In this way, I was able to safely give Gigi a fever reducer every four hours during her times of high fever. Experts do agree you should only use the method of alternating medications for 24-hours or less, and then you should return to using a single product in the prescribed manner.
noon: appropriate dose of Acetaminophen
4:00: appropriate dose of Ibuprofen
8:00: appropriate dose of Acetaminophen
midnight: appropriate dose of Ibuprofen
and so on for up to 24-hours.
Remember, for low grade fevers in children past their infancy, you don’t really need to treat the fever unless the child is uncomfortable. Most illnesses will not really need to be medicated for the full 24 hours. In Gigi’s case, she had strep throat and we did have to navigate through a long period of high fevers.
Always be mindful to give the correct dosage for your child’s weight. If you are unsure of that dosage, you can contact your pediatrician and they will calculate it for you.
I am not a medical professional and this article is in no means meant to be used for anything other than general information. Please call your doctor if you feel your child’s fever is of significant concern.