Cool Bath for Fever? Warm Bath for Fever?

Updated on June 03, 2012
K.G. asks from Fort Lauderdale, FL
13 answers

I have ALWAYS thought, if your child has a fever you put them in a cool bath to lower their temperature.. My friend told me today, that it's not true. She said you put them in a warm, not hot, bath. If they go into a cool bath, your body will automatically gets chills. Chills give your body a reaction to automatically warm itself up to help stop the chills... With that being said, getting chills won't "lower" your temperature, it will "raise" it.... Thoughts?

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So What Happened?

Thanks moms!!! No more cool baths :)

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answers from Kansas City on

Yes, I do believe that is right, although it isn't the opinion that once was! I just wish some of these old wives tales would stay true, it's hard to keep up! ;)

Even when my kids have super high fevers, I find that just sticking with the Tylenol/Motrin works the best. Usually they are so miserable the last thing they want to do is get in the tub.

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answers from Honolulu on

A "tepid" bath.
ie: slightly warm.

Never a "cold" bath.

Fever, serves a purpose. To fight the virus/illness.
If the fever is very high then you do need to bring it down. With a tepid bath, or cool wash cloth on the forehead or under the armpits. Or via Tylenol or Motrin and fluids.
But it the child is still sick... the fever WILL return.
These methods only serves to temporarily, reduce the fever and discomfort. But if the child is still sick, the fever will return.

Fever... also can cause headache or chills. Regardless if they are in a bath or not.
A person, can have a fever, and feel hot, but have chills at the same time. It is because the body is fighting the illness.
Just because a person has "chills" it does not mean they don't have a fever. They still do have a fever and a temperature reflecting the fever.

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answers from Provo on

I know of a child who was running a high fever and his father put him in an ice cold bath and it sent him into a seizure. A bathwater similar to body temperature is best. I always put a cool washrag on their head and tummy.

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answers from Washington DC on

My Mother and Mother-in-Law both stated MANY times - hot/warm/tepid to cold and as the water cools it pulls the fever from you....

If you start out cold - your body will go into heat up mode.

I have never been steered wrong by either my mother or MIL when it came to taking care of my kids when they were sick.

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answers from Missoula on

Very true. If you cool off a child with a fever too fast, they can go into a febrile seizure. You want to cool them off slowly... put them in a lukewarm-slightly warm bath. Let them sit in it as the water cools on it's own. :)

My general guidelines for fevers are as follows...

99-102, but acting 'normal' (playing, happy) = do nothing. Let the fever go.

100-103, acting 'off' (clingy, grouchy, obviously not feeling good) (or 102+, acting normal) I will try to cool with the bath, cool cloths, etc. If they STAY hot and grouchy after that, I give Tylenol (in addition to other cool-off methods).

Anything over 103, extended fever, or worsening fever I call the pediatrician and follow his advice. :)

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answers from St. Louis on

I know when my kids were younger they said dump their poor butts in ice water. I only freaked out once enough to do it. She lived. Apparently the new thought is the cool bath.

At least from my experience it is getting something in them so their body lowers its own temperature. So after abusing my second in this manner I just gave them Tylenol and monitored that their temperature was going down.

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answers from Minneapolis on

When my oldest was 21 months he had croup and a high fever (nearly 105). We called my MIL who is a pediatric nurse and she told us to give him a cool bath... and medicate (tylenol - which of course we were doing).

His fever wasn't going down, I was freaking out (I also had a newborn) so we called the nurse line. She said TAKE HIM OUT OF THE TUB for the exact reason your friend said.

Just goes to show that even nurses can be out of date on what's current and it's always best to call if you have a question.

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answers from Chicago on

TEPID ... basically one or two degrees lower than what they are, so if they are 101 do a 99 bath.

Obviously if they are very little they can not have a 99 bath, try to keep it close though, and NOT cold.

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answers from Cumberland on

warm-and your goal is to keep get their head cool, too



answers from San Francisco on

Tepid....if it does not go down in a few hours....take child to ER or the PED.

Hope this is a late post and your child is doing better.



answers from Minneapolis on

Warm bath

I just went through this two or three days ago. My son had a fever of 102.5. I put him in a cool bath (And by cool I mean JUST UNDER what would be considered warm). The next day my doctor told me to do warm baths, not cool baths. Her reason was that what is cool to us is FREEZING to a toddler with a temp, while what is warm to us is actually cool to a toddler with a temp.



answers from New York on

I always understood a cool bath. Luckily with my kids never had to do it.
They were all pretty healthy. However, when I was quite ill in the hospital
with ragiing fevers they put me on a cooling blanket!!!! Wow! Never again.
Once again when I was very ill, they were going to put me on, but I begged
them not to do it. I won!! After that I know I would never put my child in a
cool bath.


answers from Redding on

Starve a fever means (at least the way my mom taught me) that you usually have the chills when you have a fever and you want more blankets, so mom only let us have a sheet on us during that time, the fever is the result of your own antibodies battling that virus. Letting the fever run it's course when you can without fear of a seizure and or other complications that come with an extremely high fever, is the best way to handle one. As for the bath, when my kids had a fairly high fever I put them in a warm bath and let cold water slowly run until the water was cooler and brought their fever down. I would never plunge myself or my kids into cool water.... it would be so uncomfortable and also delays the healing process.
Cool cloths to the forehead, back of the neck and under the arms is a soothing way to cool a fever without disrupting the fever's goal.

Next question: Bringing Fever Down!