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Reducing Your Child's Fever

Expert Q&A

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Updated January 19, 2005

Q. What is the best way to reduce fever in an irritable child who doesn't want to take medicine? She used to like taking medicine. Her face and ears are red. She cries when you try to give her Tylenol and spits it back up. Lillian, Forest Heights, MD

A. One simple thing might be to just try a different medication or a different flavor of the same fever reducer. For example, Tylenol Infants' drops comes in different flavors, including grape and cherry.

There are also different forms of Tylenol, in addition to the oral suspension and concentrated drops, including:

  • FeverAll suppository form of Acetaminophen, which can be given to infants over 3 months of age
  • Tylenol Meltaways for children over age 2 years
If she is over 6 months old and won't take Tylenol, you might change over to a fever reducer with ibuprofen, such as Advil or Motrin.

A lukewarm sponge bath might also help to lower her temperature.

Things to avoid include:

  • using rubbing alcohol or cold water in a sponge bath
  • giving your child aspirin - because of the risk of Reye Syndrome
  • overdressing her or using heavy blankets
You should also avoid repeating the doses of Tylenol that your child spits up, unless instructed to do so by your Pediatrician.

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