How To Measure Baby’s Temperature
There are various ways to measure a baby’s body temperature when you suspect he or she may have a fever. Although obtaining a reading via the rectum is generally considered the most precise, other types of readings can also provide accurate results. Age is also an important factor when selecting the which method is suitable.
For babies under 3 months old, it is recommended to take only a rectal or temporal artery (forehead) temperature for an accurate reading. You can use a digital thermometer to take an armpit or ear temperature reading for children above 3 months. By 4 years of age, your child should be able to get a quick, accurate reading with an oral measurement.
To take a rectal temperature, firstly make sure the thermometer is clean before lubricating the tip with petroleum jelly. Lay your baby on the belly, or back with legs bent upward and toward the chest, before gently inserting the tip around ½ to 1 inch into the rectal opening. If there is resistance during insertion, do not force the thermometer any further. Hold the thermometer in place until the reading is complete, then remove the tip.
A normal rectal temperature ranges between 97.2°F and 99.9°F. Your child has a fever if rectal temperature is 100.4°F or higher.
Temporal Artery (Forehead) Temperature
After turning on the thermometer, gently sweep your child's forehead from one side to the other, as a single point reading may give you an inaccurate reading. Remove the thermometer and read the measurement.
A normal temperature is between 96.3°F and 99.1°F. Your child has a fever if temporal artery temperature is 100.4°F or higher.
Wipe the armpit dry and turn the thermometer on, placing the probe in the armpit and making sure it touches the skin, not clothing. Keep your child’s arms firmly at the side until the reading is complete, then remove the thermometer to read the result. The armpit reading method is less accurate than other methods and should not be used if a precise measurement is required.
The normal armpit temperature is between 95.4°F and 98.1°F. Your child has a fever if armpit temperature is 99.0°F or higher.
Turn on the thermometer, take off the probe cover, and then gently place the sensor in your child's ear. Make sure to follow the product instructions to ensure you insert the thermometer at a proper distance into the ear canal. Hold the thermometer in place until it signals the reading is complete, then remove.
An average ear temperature is between 99.1°F to 99.6°F. Your child has a fever if ear temperature is 100.4°F or higher.
After turning on the thermometer, place the tip under your child's tongue toward the back of the mouth and get him or her to keep the lips closed. Remove the thermometer when it signals completion. If your child has been eating or drinking, wait 15 minutes before taking his or her temperature by mouth.
An average oral temperature is 98.6°F. Your child has a fever if oral temperature is 100.0°F or higher.
Little Martin’s Drawer will be releasing a set of thermometers designed specially for use on babies and younger children for all 5 methods mentioned above. These devices will produce calibrated results according to the type of temperature reading taken in order to provide the most accurate indicator on whether the child has a fever.
- Agnes Yoon