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How to check your child’s temperature

Find out what to do when you think your child has a temperature or fever, and the type of thermometer to use.

A temperature of 38°C degrees Celsius (100.4°F) or above is high for a child.

High temperatures are often caused by common illnesses like colds, flus or mild infections. They usually get better within 3 days.

It's important to keep a close eye on your child and talk to your GP if you think their temperature could be something more serious.

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When to get medical help for your child

Find out what to do if your child has a high temperature from

When to check your child's temperature

You should check your child’s temperature if they:

  • have flushed cheeks
  • feel hotter than usual on their chest, forehead, back or stomach
  • are sweaty
  • are more irritable than usual

How to check your child's temperature

The best way to check your child's temperature is with a digital thermometer. Ear or strip thermometers may not be as accurate.

You can buy a digital thermometer at a pharmacy, supermarket or online. The thermometer will come with instructions.

Do not take your child's temperature immediately after a bath or when they're wrapped in warm clothing, as you will not get an accurate result.

Do not use a mercury thermometer

Never use a mercury thermometer. They can break, exposing your child to glass splinters and mercury which is highly poisonous.

If your child is exposed to mercury

Call 01-8092166 immediately if your child is exposed to mercury. The Poisons Information Lineis open every day between 8am and 10pm.

Contact your nearest hospital emergency department (A&E) that treats children or call 999 if your child comes into contact with mercury outside of these hours.

Page last reviewed: 20/11/2018
Next review due: 20/11/2021