Ibuprofen for fevers

Q: How many nights in a row is it OK to give a 2-year-old ibuprofen for a 100- to 101-degree fever?

A: I know having a sick 2-year-old in the middle of the night is never fun. The first thing you want to do is help him feel better. What I’d recommend is this: While you’re giving that first dose of ibuprofen to help with the fever, also get on the phone and call your pediatrician for further guidance on how long you can continue to safely treat your toddler at home. 

Even if it’s after usual clinic hours, there should be an after-hours number you can call to speak with a nurse or doctor on call. They can ask what other symptoms you’re noticing in addition to the fever, such as vomiting and diarrhea or coughing and changes in breathing. 

They may ask about overall fussiness or refusal to drink fluids to help determine what may be causing the fever and how sick the fever is making your child feel. They’ll also have access to your child’s medical history, so will know if your child has had all the recommended immunizations and if he has any other ongoing chronic health issues that may put them at higher risk of needing medical intervention with fevers, such as a history of febrile seizures.

This information will help guide them to counsel you on whether you can continue to safely treat your child at home, or whether it would be better to have your child seen at the clinic the next day or even that night in an emergency department.