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Vital Signs in Children

Overview

Vital signs include heart rate, respiration (breathing rate), blood pressure, and temperature. Knowing the ranges for vital signs for your child can help you notice problems early or relieve concerns you may have about how your child is doing.

0 to 12 months old

Vital signs for infants ages 0 to 12 months include the following:

Heart rate

This is measured in beats per minute (bpm).

Respiration (breaths)

This is measured in breaths per minute.

  • 0 to 6 months: 25-64
  • 6 to 12 months: 22-61footnote 2

Temperature

This is measured in degrees Fahrenheit (F) or Celsius (C).

  • 0 to 12 months: 98.6 °F (37 °C). The normal range is 97.4 F–99.6 F (36.3 C–37.6 C).

1 to 11 years old

Vital signs for children ages 1 to 11 years include the following:

Heart rate

This is measured in beats per minute (bpm).

Respiration (breaths)

This is measured in breaths per minute.

  • 1 to 3 years: 21–33
  • 4 to 11 years: 17-25footnote 2

Blood pressure (systolic/diastolic)

Systolic blood pressure is the upper number of a blood pressure reading. Diastolic is the lower number. They are measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

What is normal and what is high blood pressure depends on your child's age, sex, and height.footnote 3

Temperature

This is measured in degrees Fahrenheit (F) or Celsius (C).

  • 1 to 11 years: 98.6 °F (37 °C). The normal range is 97.4 F–99.6 F (36.3 C–37.6 C).

12 years and older

Vital signs for children ages 12 years and older include the following:

Heart rate

This is measured in beats per minute (bpm).

Respiration (breaths)

This is measured in breaths per minute.

Blood pressure (systolic/diastolic)

Systolic blood pressure is the upper number of a blood pressure reading. Diastolic is the lower number. They are measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

For children who are age 12, what is normal and what is high blood pressure depends on your child's age, sex, and height.footnote 3

For children who are 13 and older, normal blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg or lower.footnote 3

Temperature

This is measured in degrees Fahrenheit (F) or Celsius (C).

98.6 F (37 C). The normal range is 97.4 F–99.6 F (36.3 C–37.6 C).

References

Citations

  1. Bernstein D (2016). Evaluation of the cardiovascular system: History and physical examination. In RM Kliegman et al., eds., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 20th ed., vol. 2, pp. 3120–3127. Philadelphia: Elsevier. https://ebookcentral.proquest.com. Accessed January 6, 2022.
  2. Fleming S, et al. (2011). Normal ranges of heart rate and respiratory rate in children from birth to 18 years: A systematic review of observational studies. Lancet, 377(9770): 1011–1018. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(10)62226-X. Accessed January 6, 2022.
  3. Flynn JT, et al. (2017). Clinical practice guideline for screening and management of high blood pressure in children and adolescents. Pediatrics, 140(3): e20171904. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2017-1904. Accessed August 31, 2018.

Credits

Current as of: July 11, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.