Maybe it is part of your daily routine to take a bath before bedtime, or you have a little one at home who would love to go in the water every day? Basically, there’s nothing against it – but if a baby or toddler is a bit under the weather and the thermometer is soaring, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

May I bathe my child with a fever of 38 degrees?
First of all, children and toddlers are only considered to have a fever when the temperature reaches 38.5 degrees, and a high fever when the temperature reaches 39 degrees. If the thermometer shows 38 degrees, it is an elevated body temperature, which of course must be kept in check. (the only exception: up to 3 months of age, 38 degrees already indicates a fever, which requires immediate medical attention!)

If your child’s general condition is good despite the elevated temperature and he or she feels like taking a bath, there is nothing to be said against it. As always, the water should not be too hot and the duration of the bath should not be too long – and of course you should always stay in the room.

Bathing at 38.5 degrees and more
If your child actually has a fever, you should carefully consider whether a bath is really that important. Most children have little desire to play when they have a fever and therefore hardly ever get dirty. For normal, daily body hygiene, you can simply use a washcloth and warm water. Bathing is not necessary and should always depend on the child’s general condition.

The general condition is decisive
If your little mouse is in a good mood despite the fever, plays a little and eats and drinks, you can of course put her in the tub for a short time. However, since the circulation can be quickly strained by fever, you should not bathe her too long or too hot. You may know this from yourself: With a fever, even a short, warm shower can quickly make you dizzy.

Children with high fever and poor general condition should not be in the bathtub. Please always consult your pediatrician, who can tell you more about fever-reducing measures.

Cool bathing with fever: Can this help?
The idea behind it sounds totally logical at first: The feverish child is put into cool water so that the temperature drops. But imagine now how you would feel to be put into cool water with a hot head and a hot body. Very uncomfortable – for you and for your child. And actually not a good idea.

Similar as with calf wraps, which the German Association of Pediatricians and Adolescents (Berufsverband der Kinder- und Jugendärzte e.V.) recommends only above a temperature of 40 degrees Celsius, the same applies to a cool bath: If your child’s arms and legs are cold and he or she is suffering from chills, you should not resort to calf wraps or other cooling measures. A child with a (high) fever should not be in a (cool) bath under any circumstances.
What to do in case of (high) fever?
If your child is feverish, make sure that he or she is only lightly clothed so that he or she does not overheat. You should also visit the pediatrician to discuss measures to reduce fever. Very important: If your baby is younger than three months, you should consult a doctor if the body temperature exceeds 38 degrees Celsius and under no circumstances should you give or use fever-reducing medication on your own.

May I give my child a shower when he or she has a fever?
Exactly as with the subject of bathing with fever, the same applies to the subject of showering: If the fever is not too high and your child’s general condition is good, you can give him or her a brief warm shower. However, as soon as the general condition is not good, your child is listless, cranky and tired, you should refrain from bathing and showering and instead simply use a washcloth and warm water for personal hygiene.

You should never give your child a cold shower to reduce the fever. If you are worried because the fever is high, please contact your pediatrician immediately, or the pediatric department in the hospital at night and on weekends.

May I bathe my child when I have a cold?
If your child has a mild cold with cough and runny nose and would like to take a bath, there is nothing wrong with it. For babies and toddlers who cannot yet speak, you should avoid bathing if you are in doubt and give preference to washcloths and warm water. This way you do not put unnecessary strain on the circulation.
Can a cold bath help?
Many adults enjoy a warm bath with added essential oils in the form of a so-called cold bath. However, this is not suitable for your baby or toddler. In addition to (mucus) skin irritations, essential oils can have really bad side effects up to the respiratory arrest come. Especially eucalyptus, peppermint or camphor do not belong near babies and toddlers.

Especially approved bath additives for babies and toddlers for colds and relaxation are available, for example, from Weleda, Babix or Penaten. You can read on the package from which age the products are approved and thus select the right bath additive for older children.