Last week I received an email from a worried mom asking how she could reduce her 3 year olds fever naturally, instead of Motrin or Tylenol.
Since all of us still have a long way to go through this year's cold and flu season I would like to share what I answered her just in case you find yourself in the same situation in the months to come.
If you are like most moms (including myself) chances are that it freaks you out if your kid is running a fever. BUT, that is actually a good thing. Fevers are beneficial!
Unlike drugs that stop fever altogether, lowering a fever slightly allows the mechanism of a fever to do its job of activating our immune cells.
Therefore fever improves our immune response and creates an unfavorable environment for viruses and bacteria to replicate and that's a GOOD thing!
So, the purpose of a fever is to help the body fight infection more efficiently. Fever itself is not a disease and we shouldn’t be afraid of fevers.
Because all of that bringing the fever down is not always the best course of action.
I often encourage parents to leave their child's fever untreated unless the child is in obvious pain, discomfort or delirious and to only medicate them at night if they can’t sleep because of the discomfort. These symptoms usually occur with a fever over 102°F or 38.9°C.
In this case dropping the fever for just 1°F is enough to make your kiddo feel more comfortable and help it fall asleep to get some good quality sleep to heal.
In my latest blog post I show you exactly how you can best do that at home, with your children, by using natural techniques, so you can stay away from drugs.
There are many effective remedies for the accompanying pain and discomfort of a fever ranging from herbs, homeopathy, and home remedies such as lemon socks and cool compresses.
Lemon Wraps to Naturally Reduce a Fever
A lemon fruit is very cooling in its nature. It can withstand extreme heat and even thrives in such a severe climate, making it an ideal therapeutic tool for navigating a fever.
You will need:
- an organic lemon (do not use store-bought bottled lemon juice)
- hot filtered water
- 4 thin washcloths or flannels (I used cut up flannel cloth nappies)
- a pair of adult wool or cotton socks
That’s how it’s done:
- Squeeze the juice of a lemon into a pan.
- Add 1 cup of filtered water and heat to almost boiling
- Let the mixture cool to a point where it is good warm but not burning
- At your child's bed, let your little one know what you are going to do Tell him that it won't hurt a bit and will help him to feel better.
- Soak 2 of the cloth in the warm mixture, wring them out and wrap them quickly around your child's feet and lower lower legs
- Then wrap a dry cloth on top of the wet ones
- Put on the dry socks all the way up to your child's knees
Apply the wraps for no more than 8-10 minutes and repeat after an hour as needed. The body temperature is allowed to drop only by 0.5 to 1 degree at a time. You can repeat the process as often as you'd like, using your child's demeanor and your intuition as guides.
Cooling Compresses or Sponge Bath
Peppermint contains menthol, which has a cooling effect on sore, achy muscles. It also has analgesic, antispasmodic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
You will need:
- peppermint oil (therapeutic grade)
- a bowl
- filtered water at room temperature
That’s how it’s done:
- Put 1 drop of peppermint oil in a bowl of room temperature water
- Moisten a wash cloth with it and put it on your child's belly
- When the cloth is warm, turn it over or remoisturize in the water mixture you prepared
Alternatively you can also do a sponge bath with the same water mixture. For the sponge bath you soak a sponge in the peppermint water and sponge off your kids whole body.
Homeopathic Remedies for a Fever
Using a homeopathic remedy can be a wonderful addition to your child's care. You can use any potency up to 30C. Just have your child take the remedy away from food and beverages so that there’s no hint of food in its mouth.
Belladonna at fever onset.
Gelsemium for droopy, achy, chilly, tired kids with fevers
Hepar Sulphuris for kids with really high fevers
With all measures you are taking, above all, make sure that your little one is getting enough fluids!
Some Red Flags during fevers that warrant an immediate call to your doctor
- Fever in a baby younger than 3 months old
- Has a fever over 105 °F (40.5 °C), unless it comes down readily with treatment and the child is comfortable
- A fever lasting more than 3 days
- Repeated vomiting, severe headache, stiff neck, extreme lethargy or unresponsiveness
- Has been having fevers come and go for up to a week or more, even if they are not very high
What about Febrile Seizures?
Febrile seizures are rare but they do happen in some kids.
A child having a fever seizure may demonstrate quivering, trembling or abnormal jerky movements associated with a fever.
Such episodes usually last less than 5 minutes and, though scary for most parents, are no cause for alarm. Be sure to turn your child on his side and move nearby objects safely out of the way. Otherwise, remain calm and understand that the seizure will pass.
Febrile seizures often tend to run in families. A child who’s had a febrile seizure is 2 times more likely to have another one.
Usually, at the onset of a febrile seizure, the child will start quivering or trembling. At that point, immediately take him into the shower with you to help drop his body temperature, which can prevent the child from having the seizure.
Three Guidelines for Navigating your Child's Next Fever as an Empowered Mom
- Trust that a fever is your child's friend and know when to ask for help
- Do everything you can to make your child comfortable while still allowing a fever to burn and do its job
- Reserve the use of fever reducers only for instances when your child is so uncomfortable he or she is unable to rest and heal
Give it a try next time your child is fevering and let us know how it works for you and your child in the comments below!