Do Children Have Higher Temperatures Than Adults? And When Should I Be Concerned About Their Temperature?

Medically Reviewed by Dr Welras Long (M.B.B.S, Singapore. MRCS, England)

Understanding the dynamics of body temperature in children is essential for parents and caregivers to monitor their health effectively. Children often experience fevers, and it’s common for parents to wonder whether their temperatures are higher than those of adults. 

This article explores the differences in body temperature between children and adults, along with guidelines for when to be concerned about a child’s temperature, providing valuable insights for caregivers in Singapore.

Body Temperature in Children vs. Adults

Children typically have higher baseline temperatures than adults. A child’s normal body temperature can range from 36.1°C to 37.9°C, whereas the average adult body temperature is around 37°C. However, individual variations exist, and factors such as age, activity level, and time of day can influence body temperature readings.

Understanding Fever in Children

Fever is a common symptom in children and is often an indication that the body is fighting off an infection or illness. A fever occurs when the body’s internal thermostat, located in the hypothalamus of the brain, is set to a higher temperature in response to an invading pathogen. While fevers can be unsettling for parents, they are usually harmless and serve as a natural defense mechanism.

When to Be Concerned About Children’s Fever

While most fevers in children are benign and resolve on their own, there are instances when caregivers should be concerned about a child’s temperature. Here are some guidelines for when to seek medical attention:

Age of the Child

Infants under three months old with a rectal temperature of 38°C or higher should be evaluated by a healthcare professional immediately. Fever in newborns can be a sign of a serious infection and requires prompt medical attention.

Duration of Fever

If a child’s fever persists for more than three days or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as difficulty breathing, severe headache, or stiff neck, medical evaluation is warranted. Prolonged fever may indicate an underlying infection or inflammatory condition that requires treatment.

Temperature and Behavior

Pay attention to how the child is behaving along with their temperature. If a child has a high fever but is alert, responsive, and drinking fluids, it may not be cause for immediate concern. However, if a child is lethargic, irritable, or unresponsive, seek medical attention promptly.

Underlying Medical Conditions

Children with underlying medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or immunodeficiency may be at higher risk of complications from fever. Caregivers should consult their healthcare provider for guidance on managing fever in these cases.

Managing Fever in Children

While fever itself is not harmful, caregivers can take steps to make a child more comfortable and monitor their condition:

  • Fluid Intake: Encourage the child to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, especially if they have a fever.
  • Comfort Measures: Use appropriate fever-reducing medications such as acetaminophen (paracetamol) or ibuprofen to alleviate discomfort and reduce fever. Follow dosage instructions carefully and consult a healthcare professional if unsure.
  • Monitor Symptoms: Keep track of the child’s temperature and symptoms, and seek medical advice if there are any concerns or if the fever persists or worsens.
  • Rest: Ensure the child gets adequate rest to aid in recovery from illness.

When to Seek Medical Attention

While most fevers in children are self-limiting and resolve without complications, certain warning signs warrant immediate medical attention:

  • Seizures: If a child experiences a seizure (convulsion) associated with fever, seek emergency medical care.
  • Difficulty Breathing: Rapid or labored breathing, chest pain, or bluish discoloration of the lips or nails may indicate respiratory distress and require urgent evaluation.
  • Dehydration: Signs of dehydration such as dry mouth, sunken eyes, decreased urination, or lethargy warrant prompt medical attention.
  • Rash: If a child develops a rash along with fever, particularly if it does not blanch (turn white) when pressed, seek medical advice promptly.

The Role of Health Screening Clinics in Children Care

Health screening clinics play a vital role in a child’s health, providing comprehensive assessments, preventive care, and guidance for parents and caregivers. These clinics offer children consultations, vaccinations, and health screenings tailored to the unique needs of children at different stages of development. 

By partnering with experienced healthcare professionals, parents can receive personalized recommendations for managing childhood fevers and promoting overall well-being.


Understanding the nuances of fever in children is crucial for parents and caregivers to navigate their child’s health effectively. While children may have higher baseline temperatures than adults, fever is a natural response to infection and usually resolves without complications. 

However, caregivers should be vigilant for warning signs that warrant medical attention, such as persistent fever, severe symptoms, or signs of dehydration. For comprehensive child care and guidance on managing childhood fevers, visit Keystone Clinic & Surgery.

References 2022. Fever. 1996. Childhood Fever. 2024. Fever. 2023. Fever in Children.

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