Fever: When To Give A Hot Or Cold Sponge Bath?

Fever: When To Give A Hot Or Cold Sponge Bath

We know at least 10 babies and kids that got sick this holiday season. When I went to the pharmacy to get some paracetamol for my sick Mila, there were about 7 other moms getting the same for their feverish child. We went to the ER when we noticed some rashes on Mila's face and we were sent to the isolation room. They were concerned she may spread some virus to the 5 other toddlers at the pedia ER. That's one too many sick kid.

I think fluctuating temperature is causing kids to get sick. Not to mention that the new year festivities had saturated the air with pollutants. If the past few years would be any indication, it will just get colder until February. I'm wishing that there will be less kids getting sick. It's just so heartbreaking.

We were lucky that Mila's fever did not last long and was nothing serious. I knew it will pass. I prayed and claimed that she will get better in no time, and she did. But during the 3 days she had high temperature, I struggled to get her comfortable. It did not seem like she was in pain but I knew she was hot and irritable. On healthier days, that will mean it's time for a bath. I was not sure a bath is safe for fever.
when to give a hot or cold sponge bath for fever

I asked a friend nurse what to do aside from giving her medicine. She said I should give Mila a Cold Sponge Bath. When we were at the hospital, the doctor said it should be a Hot Sponge Bath instead. I asked Mila's pedia and she said to damp ice cold towel on the hottest part of her body which is what we were doing. Babycenter said tepid bath is best. These are all correct depending on the situation.

To avoid confusion, here's a quick guide on When to Give a Hot or Cold Sponge Bath for Fever


Hot sponge bath is recommended for kids with high-grade fever but with cold feet and hands. Use water that is as hot as possible without burning the skin, about 36 to 44°C. Make sure that the room is enclosed so there's no draft. You can cover the baby with a light towel or blanket if it's too cold. Rub the sponge on the face, ears, and neck. This is done quickly to get the blood to circulate properly. Immediate follow with another towel to dry, to prevent chilling. Do the same with the arms, chest, tummy, legs, feet and back, making sure you thoroughly dry each part before proceeding.


Cold sponge bath (15 to 24°C) is recommended for feverish kids who are hot to the touch. You can add ice to the water if the skin is too hot. The procedure is the same as the hot sponge bath. It is important to make sure you prevent chilling because that will cause the body temperature to rise further. Using alcohol on sponge baths are not recommended anymore because it can cause a sudden drop in temperature which can be dangerous for babies. The hot skin causes some moisture to evaporate and will aid in cooling the body. This is just like when you sweat after exercising, it feels refreshing as the sweat dries off. Repeat the procedure 30 minutes after giving a dose of antipyretic medications (usually 4 to 6 hours in between). In between sponge baths, you can use a cold compress. Apply to the forehead, nape, armpits, and groin.


Tepid sponge bath uses water that is just slightly lower than the body's normal temp (30 to 33°C). If your baby had develop flush color due to a low-grade fever, has warm and moist skin, accompanied by headache, tepid bath is recommended. This provides a soothing effect and is also used for those with anxiety, insomnia, and menstrual cramps so mommies will benefit from this too.  Immerse your baby up to the neck in a tub with tepid water. Keep checking the water temperature and ensure that the room is totally enclosed to avoid draft. Soak for about 15 minutes or longer, depending on the child's age and if she likes the bath. Use a large towel to cover and dry off.

BONUS: You can take a tepid bath with your child if you have a large bath tub. Lay your baby against your chest so she will be more comfortable and sing a lullaby. This will not only help lower her temperature and make her comfortable, it will also help ease your anxiety.


  1. Thanks for this info mommy paulline. Actually, nung may fever si Rhian during holidays more on tap water lang gamit namin sa kanya para bumaba yung lagnat nya, then hindi namin binabasa yung ulo nya. Nagkasakit rin pala si Mila, uso ata talaga sakit this season eh, ang lamig kasi ng panahon..

  2. Wow ang helpful nito, thank you Paulline. Panikera ako at times at pag magsakit si Enzo ndi ko na malaman kung hot or cold ba, atleast ngayon pwede ko na to balik balikan

  3. Paulline @ milastolemyheartJanuary 14, 2015 at 2:50 AM

    Thanks dear! Hope it helps! ;)

  4. Paulline @ milastolemyheartJanuary 14, 2015 at 2:51 AM

    Sobrang dami talaga may sakit these days. Kami ni hubs naman, nag argue if it's Ice cold water or tepid water lang. That's what prompted this post din eh. I'm just glad the two girls are all better.

  5. Thanks for sharing. This is very valuable information! My baby had a fever this past fall and I was very nervous on what to do. I just went with a lukewarm bath.

    1. Yeah. I struggled on this too. The first time she had fever, we ended up giving my daughter Cold Bath which made her shiver and I just felt so bad

  6. Thanks for this post! There's some really good information here. I never knew about the difference. Tweeting!

  7. Great post. Thanks for sharing. I haven't had to deal with this yet but I am saving it for reference!


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