It is important that you know the best way to measure your child’s temperature using a fever thermometer. Getting an accurate measurement takes practice. Wondering how to take baby temperature? Read our tips below and you will learn about the different types of thermometers and how to take a baby’s temperature. Look at our links to the best fever thermometers for babies. If you still have questions about these instructions, ask your healthcare provider to show you how it is done.
TYPES OF THERMOMETERS
There are several different types of thermometers with different features and benefits. Take a look at the following best picks and tips.
A. TEMPORAL ARTERY (FOREHEAD) THERMOMETERS:
The most accurate fever thermometer is a temporal artery thermometer. They are also known as forehead thermometer or just temporal thermometer. These are infrared thermometers that read the temperature of the blood in the temporal artery. A temporal artery crosses the forehead on each side of the head. The advantage is that the fever temperature can be taken in just seconds and without awakening the child. It has a high temporal thermometer accuracy.
HOW TO TAKE A TEMPORAL ARTERY TEMPERATURE?
Place the sensor head at the center of the forehead midway between the eyebrow and the hairline. To scan for you child’s fever temperature, depress the scan button and keep it depressed. Slowly slide the thermometer straight across the forehead toward the top of the ear keeping in contact with the skin. Stop when you reach the hairline. Release the scan button. Remove the thermometer from the skin and read your child’s temperature on the display screen.
B. RECTAL THERMOMETERS:
Before Temporal Artery Thermometers came along, a rectal (in the bottom) temperature was considered the most accurate way to take a baby’s fever temperature. They measure temperatures quickly, usually in less than 30 seconds. The temperature is displayed in numbers on a small screen.
HOW TO TAKE A RECTAL TEMPERATURE?
Turn on your digital thermometer. Have your child lie stomach down on your lap. Before you insert the thermometer, put some water-based lubricating jelly on the end of the fever thermometer and on the opening of the bottom (anus).Insert the thermometer gently into the bottom about 1 inch (2.5cm).
If you child is younger than 6 months old, gently insert the thermometer only ¼ to ½ inch (about 1cm) If you put the thermometer in just until the silver tip disappears, that is about 1cm. Never try to force it past any resistance. Forcing could damage the bowel. Hold your child still while the thermometer is in. Take the thermometer out when you hear the beep. Read the temperature on the themometer. If the rectal temperature is over 100.4 degrees F, (38 degrees C), your child has a fever.
See our recommendations below for the best rectal thermometer:
C. DIGITAL ORAL (MOUTH) THERMOMETERS
Temperatures taken by mouth can be accurate if done properly. Digital oral thermometers measure temperatures with a heat sensor and require a button battery. They can measure fever temperatures quickly and easily, without discomfort to the child.
HOW TO TAKE ORAL (MOUTH) TEMPERATURES?
Be sure your child has not had a cold or hot drink the the last 30 minutes.
Turn the thermometer on. Accurate oral temperatures depend on putting the thermometer in the correct place. Place the tip of the thermometer under one side of the tongue and toward the back. Have your child hold the thermometer in place with his lips and fingers, not his teeth, just as he is sucking from a straw. He should breathe through his nose, keeping his mouth closed.
If your child cannot keep his mouth closed because his nose is blocked, suction out the nose. Leave the thermometer in the mouth until you hear the thermometer beep. Read the temperature. A fever is an oral temperature over 99.5 degrees F (37.5 degrees C).
See our recommendations below for the best digital oral (mouth) thermometers:
D. DIGITAL EAR THERMOMETERS
Many hospitals and medical offices now take your child’s temperature using an infrared thermometer that reads the temperature of the eardrum. In general, the eardrum temperature provides a measurement that is almost as accurate as the rectal temperature.
Earwax, ear infections, and ear tubes do not interfere with accurate ear temperature readings. The biggest advantage of this thermometer is that is measures temperatures in less than 2 seconds. It also does not require cooperation from the child and does not cause discomfort. Ear thermometers for use at home have been developed.
HOW TO TAKE AN EAR TEMPERATURE?
If your child has been outdoors on a cold day, he needs to be inside for at least 15 minutes before taking the temperature. Pull the ear backward to straighten the ear canal. Place the end of the thermometer into your child’s ear canal and aim the probe toward the eye on the opposite side of the head. Then press the button. In about 2 seconds, you can read the temperature. Your child has a fever if the ear temperature is over 100.4 degrees F (38 degrees C).
See our recommendations below for the best ear thermometer
E. DIGITAL ELECTRONIC PACIFIER THERMOMETERS:
The new electronic pacifier thermometers have a heat sensor and are powered by a button battery. These pacifiers let you measure oral temperature in younger children. To get an accurate reading, the child needs to keep the pacifier in the mouth for 3 minutes without moving. This is difficult for most babies and toddlers, but is good for babies over 3 months old who are accustomed to sucking a pacifier.
HOW TO TAKE A PACIFIER TEMPERATURE?
Be sure your child has not had a hot or cold drink in the last 30 minutes. Have your child suck on the pacifier until the temperature stops changing and you hear a beep. This usually takes 3 to 4 minutes. Your child has a fever if the pacifier temperature is over 100 degrees F (37.8 degrees C).
See our recommendations for the best pacifier thermometer:
F. AXILLARY (ARMPIT) THERMOMETERS:
These are the same as the digital thermometers used to take oral temperatures but they measure the temperature under the arm. An armpit temperature is best for a baby less than 3 months old because it is the safest and works fine for a quick check. It is also very popular for older children and adults because it is comfortable.
HOW TO TAKE A TEMPERATURE UNDER THE ARM
Place the tip of the fever thermometer in a dry armpit. Close the armpit by holding the elbow against the chest for 4 to 5 minutes. Do not remove it until the entire time has passed. Remove the thermometer after you hear the beeps. In general, you should add one degree to the axillary temperature to get a true temperature. Therefore, your child has a fever if the axillary temperature is 99 degrees F (37.2 degrees C). If you are not sure if it is correct, check it by taking a rectal fever temperature
See our recommendations below for the best axillary (armpit) thermometers.
G. SINGLE USE TEMPERATURE STRIPS:
Liquid crystal strips put on the forehead are not as accurate as other thermometers, but they are very convenient for travel or to keep in a first aid kit because they are disposable.
See our recommendations below for the best single use temperature strips:
H. GLASS THERMOMETERS
The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents not to use glass mercury thermometers due to safety issues with mercury and broken glass. They measure temperatures slowly and are often difficult to read. However, the newer glass thermomiters are mercury-free and some find them more accurate.
See our recommendations below for the best glass thermometer: