If your child is two months or younger and has a rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) or higher, call your pediatrician immediately. This is an absolute necessity. The doctor will need to examine the baby to rule out any serious infection or disease.
You also may need to notify the doctor if your child is between three and six months and has a fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 degrees Celsius) or greater, or is older than six months and has a temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius) or higher. Such a high temperature may indicate a significant infection or dehydration, which may require treatment. However, in most cases, your decision to call the pediatrician should depend on associated symptoms, such as a severe sore throat, a severe earache, a cough, an unexplained rash, or repeated vomiting or diarrhea. Also, if your child is very fussy or sleeping more than usual, call your doctor. In fact, your child’s activity level tends to be a more important indicator than the height of the fever. Again, fever in and of itself is not a sickness. It is a sign of sickness.
If your child is over one year of age, is eating and sleeping well, and has playful moments, there usually is no need to call the doctor immediately. If a high fever persists for more than twenty-four hours, however, it is best to call even if there are no other complaints or findings.