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Your child officially has a fever when the thermometer reads 100.4 F. or higher, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. When it warrants a call to your doctor, however, varies by age:
• If your child is under 2 months, call if his temperature is 100.4 F
• If your child is 3 to 6 months, call if his temperature is 101 F
• If your child is over 6 months, call if his temperature is 103 F
You should also call the doctor if your child is lethargic, irritable, has a sore throat or ear or stomach pain, regardless of how high or low her fever is, since how your child acts and feels is usually a better indicator of how sick she is than temperature alone. In fact, if your child has a high fever that doesn't necessarily mean she's sicker than if she has a low-grade one. (Can't find any obvious source of infection? That also warrants a call.) And always get help immediately if you have a feverish baby under 3 months old, no matter what her symptoms are. Infants that young are more susceptible to certain types of infections, so your pediatrician needs to rule out serious illnesses right away. --Avery Hurt
Originally published in Parents magazine, October 2007. Updated 2009
The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.