Fever: When to Call the Doctor

Whether you’re a new or veteran parent, a sick baby can leave you confused and afraid. Is the baby’s fever dangerous? Should you call the doctor for a cough? Vomiting? Diarrhea?

It helps knowing that most common issues aren’t an emergency. A touch of stomach flu, a little fussiness, and a minor diarrhea usually resolve in a few days. Yet sometimes these can be signs of something else – or critical in their own right. So when should you talk to your doctor?


If you’re worried, call your baby’s doctor, period. “Trust your instincts,” doctors advise. If your child is weak, lethargic, or if you have any questions, always call. To get a handle on fevers, it helps to know your numbers. Generally, a low fever is under 102 degrees, a moderate fever is 102-104 degrees, and a high fever is 104 and over. Fevers aren’t dangerous to the brain unless they’re over 106. “The only thing a fever means is that the body is trying to fight an infection. So fevers aren’t themselves bad, but we treat them because they make you feel miserable.” Doctors recommend calling your pediatrician if:


  • For any fever in an infant under 3 months, even a temperature as low as 100.4 degrees.

  • For babies older than 3 months, call your pediatrician for a low fever if your child is acting weak, sick, or if the fever lasts for more than three days.

  • For fevers 105 degrees and up, your child should see the pediatrician the same day or go to urgent care.

If the fever is also accompanied by an inability to drink, confusion, rash, trouble breathing, seizures, constant crying, difficulty waking, persistent vomiting, or diarrhea, call your doctor immediately.