There are so many different thermometer options out there, that it’s no surprise that you’re confused and not sure how and what to do. If you haven’t yet, read my post: best thermometer for infants. Even though taking your child’s temperature might sound easy, if you’re a new parent, you must have some questions. Let me try to help you, by going through some of them.
Different thermometer options
I guess it was a bit easier for our parents, back when a glass thermometer with mercury was the only option. Nowadays, not only mercury thermometers are not longer recommended by doctors, but there are so many other safe options to choose from:
● Digital thermometers: Those can be used in the rectum, mouth or armpit. Keep in mind that armpit temperatures are the least accurate of all three.
● Digital ear thermometers: These use an infrared ray to measure the temperature inside the ear canal. But do keep in mind that earwax or a curved ear canal can interfere with the thermometer’s accuracy.
● Temporal artery thermometers: These use an infrared scanner to measure the temperature of the temporal artery in the forehead. These are handy, since they can be used even while a child is asleep.
The type of thermometer you choose, and the way to use it, also depends of your child’s age.
● Birth – 3 months. Use a regular digital thermometer and take a rectal temperature.
● 3 months – 4 years. Use a digital thermometer to take a rectal or an armpit temperature or a temporal artery thermometer. But, make sure you wait until your baby is at least 6 months old in order to use a digital ear thermometer.
● +4 years. By the time a kid is 4 years old, it’s big enough to use any type of thermometer. Like a digital thermometer under the tongue, a digital thermometer to take an armpit temperature, or a temporal artery thermometer or a digital ear thermometer.
How to take your child’s temperature
Follow these guidelines for the different ways of taking temperature:
● Rectal temperature. Lay your baby / child on their back, lift their thighs, and insert a lubricated thermometer 1/2 to 1 inch into the rectum. Hold the thermometer in place until it signals that it’s done. Remove it and read the temperature.
● Oral temperature. Place the tip of the thermometer under your child’s tongue toward the back of their mouth and ask your child to keep their lips closed. Remove the thermometer after the signal.
● Armpit temperature. Make sure the thermometer touches skin. Hold it tightly in place until it signals that it’s done.
● Ear temperature. Place the thermometer in your child’s ear and follow the directions that come with the thermometer. Hold the thermometer in place until it’s done.
● Temporal artery temperature. Gently sweep the thermometer across your child’s forehead.