Fever (high temperature)

Often children have a high temperature (fever) when they are sick. Most fevers occur to help the body fight an infection.

If your child is sick, you may want to use a thermometer to find out if they have a high temperature. A normal temperature is 36ºC to 37ºC.

You can get a variety of thermometers:

  • mercury - put under the armpit for 3 minutes
  • digital - put under the armpit
  • ear - with a probe tip placed in the ear
  • temperature strips placed on the forehead (temperature strips show a range of temperatures but not a precise reading).

If you do not have a thermometer, you can check your child’s temperature by slipping two fingers under their clothes down the back of their neck, in between the shoulder blades, to see if they feel hotter than normal.

If your child is very hot, you can help keep them more comfortable by:

  • taking off layers of clothes
  • covering them with only a sheet when asleep
  • keeping the room cool (but not too cold)
  • giving them extra drinks
  • giving toddlers and preschoolers ice blocks if they are not interested in drinking.

It is safest to have your child checked out by a doctor if their temperature or fever remains high, if they are unwell with other symptoms or if you are concerned.

A baby under 2 months with a fever should be taken to the doctor urgently. Some children can have a febrile convulsion (fit) when they get a high fever.


For help and advice call PlunketLine 0800 933 922, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If your child is sick please call Healthline, 0800 611 116, New Zealand's 24-hour telephone health advice service. All calls are answered by registered nurses.
In an emergency phone 111.
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