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One of the basic things you’ll learn how to do as a new mother is to take your baby’s temperature.

When you’re shopping for thermometers, you may be unsure which one to choose and the most accurate method for children as they age.

In this guide, we’ll cover what you need to know about taking a baby’s temperature and what to do if they have a fever.

When Should You Take Baby’s Temperature?

If you’ve never taken your baby’s temperature before, it will likely become a part of your routine when you suspect she’s sick.

You should take your baby’s temperature when:

  • You think she’s sick
  • She feels warm
  • You want to check her health status (ex. is she getting sicker or recovering?)
  • You notice she’s showing fever symptoms

There’s several types of thermometers:

  • Digital thermometers (for under the tongue, armpit or rectum)
  • Digital ear thermometers
  • Forehead thermometers
  • Non-contact thermometers(uses infrared)
  • Pacifier thermometers (can have accuracy problems, not recommended)
  • Glass or mercury thermometers (old-style, not recommended)

It may also be helpful to have multiple thermometers for different purposes. For example, separate ones for temperatures taken under the tongue and rectally. You may also have an ear thermometer at home, and a mini portable non-contact one for when you leave the home.

Some thermometers also come with connecting apps that provide additional background information, such as normal temperature ranges.

What Thermometer is Best?

When you’re searching for baby supplies, a thermometer is a standard item, but there’s so many choices. So which one should you pick?

The first thing to know is that most professionals agree that digital thermometers and non-contact thermometers are typically the best options.

Then there’s other considerations. Some thermometers also come with connecting apps that provide additional background information. This can be an easy way to know normal temperature ranges.

The type of thermometer that works best will also depend on how old your child is and the best way to take their temperature. Look for a thermometer depending on how you’ll take her temperature.

  • Newborn-3 months:The most accurate way to take the temperature of a newborn is by inserting it into their rectum. If this makes you uncomfortable, the next best option is under the armpit. Some research also suggests that forehead temperatures may be accurate for newborns.
  • 3 months to 4 years:Continue taking armpit or rectal temperature or start taking forehead temperatures.
  • 4+ years:Take temperature under the tongue, armpit, forehead or ear.
How to Take Baby Temperature: 6 Ways

There are several ways you can take a baby’s temperature and the method you use will likely change as your child grows up. Before we jump into the instructions on each, here are some general tips for taking a baby’s temperature:

  • Use the best/most accurate method for your baby’s age
  • When you’re reporting your baby’s temperature to your doctor, be sure to note the method you used (ex. oral, rectal, forehead, etc.)
  • Make sure to clean thermometer tips before and after every use
  • Use different thermometers for different areas (ex. one for oral and one for rectal temperatures)
  • Read the instructions for your specific device to ensure you’re using it correctly
How to Take Baby Temperature Rectally

Taking a baby’s temperature rectally may make you squeamish, but it’s the best and most accurate way to get a newborn’s temperature. Here’s how:

  • Lubricate the tip of the thermometer with petroleum jelly.
  • Turn on.
  • Lay baby on their back on a flat surface or changing table.
  • Insert lubricated tip ½ to 1 inch inside the anal opening, being careful not to force it.
  • Hold the thermometer until it beeps and/or provides a reading.

If your baby fusses while you hold the thermometer in place, you can talk to and try to soothe her.

If you can’t take your newborn’s temperature rectally, you can also take it under the arm or using the forehead.

How to Take Baby Temperature Under Arm

Here’s how to take your baby’s temperature using their underarm:

  • Remove their shirt so their underarm is exposed. You want the thermometer to touch the skin only—not the shirt.
  • Turn the thermometer on.
  • Place the thermometer tip under their arm.
  • Fold their arm closed to “lock” in the thermometer (or hug them).
  • Hold the thermometer until it beeps and/or provides a reading.
How to Take Baby Temperature By Ear

If you want to take your baby’s temperature by ear, here’s what to do:

  • Read the thermometer’s instructions to ensure you know how far to insert it into the ear for an accurate reading.
  • Turn the thermometer on.
  • Place the tip inside the ear canal, being careful not to force it in too far.
  • Hold the thermometer until it beeps and/or provides a reading.
How to Take Baby’s Forehead Temperature

Here’s how you can take your baby’s forehead temperature:

  • Turn the thermometer on.
  • Press and hold the scan button.
  • Gently touching the skin, sweep the device across your baby’s forehead.
  • Read the temperature.
How to Take Child’s Oral Temperature

Since babies have a hard time holding an oral thermometer under their tongue, oral readings are typically reserved for children 4 and up. Make sure to wait 15 minutes after eating or drinking to take your child’s temperature orally. Here’s how:

  • Turn on.
  • Place the tip of the thermometer under your child’s tongue toward the back of the mouth.
  • Ask your child to keep their mouth closed.
  • Hold the thermometer until it beeps and/or provides a reading.
How to Use Non-Contact Thermometer for Babies

Non-contact thermometers use infrared technology to take your child’s temperature without even touching them. It can be a great choice to take a baby temperature when sleeping without any fuss. Simply turn the device on and place it in front of the forehead. These also come in handy when you want to test the temperature of baby bathwater.

If you’re new to non-contact thermometers, check out:

  • Non-Contact Forehead Thermometer($29.95)— This 1-second thermometer makes it easy to take your child’s temperature. All you need to do is turn it on and see the reading.
  • Ultra-Portable Android Smartphone Thermometer($52.46)— This non-contact thermometer is so tiny that you could store it in your pocket or purse. Simply plug one end into your smartphone and use the small device to detect temperatures. Download the connecting app to see the readings and get information on normal ranges.
Baby Temperature Ranges

When you’re taking your baby’s temperature, you’re looking to see if she has a fever. A fever is considered:

  • Taken rectally or using the ear or forehead:4F or higher
  • Taken orally:100F or higher
  • Taken using the Armpit:99F or higher

If your baby has a fever, remind yourself that most don’t need to be treated and your baby is likely ok. A fever that’s too high or can’t be treated should be reported to your doctor. Also, if your baby is less than one month old, it’s a good idea to let your doctor know immediately.

When Baby Temperature is Too High

If your baby’s temperature is too high, try not to panic. If you have a newborn under one-month-old or your child’s fever is too high, contact your doctor for advice.

In most cases, fevers don’t need to be treated and your baby’s body will fight it. These are good signs that your baby is doing okay despite having a fever:

  • She’s still smiling at you
  • She’s still drinking and eating
  • She’s still interested in playing
  • Her skin color is normal

You can help ease her comfort by dressing her in light layers and giving her enough fluids to prevent dehydration.

If your baby is older than 6 months and you have the ok from your doctor, you can give her children’s acetaminophen or children’s ibuprofen.

You should call your doctor if your baby isn’t recovering or if you notice her symptoms getting worse.

Summary on How to Take Baby Temperature

You will probably take your child’s temperature many times throughout the years. Whenever you suspect they’re sick or they’re getting fussy, you may pull out the thermometer to see if it detects a fever. There are several thermometers you can use depending on how old your baby is. You’ll find the most accurate temperature when taking a newborn’s temperature rectally. As your baby grows, you can start using forehead, armpit and oral thermometers too. You can also use non-contact thermometers, which make temperature-taking easy with no fuss and no germs.

If your baby is under one month old and has a fever, you should alert your doctor. For older babies and children, they can expect to recover without treatment. If you notice their symptoms getting worse or the fever getting higher, contact your doctor.

P.S. No-Fuss Temperature-Taking. Get the Ultra-Portable Non-Contact Thermometer Today!

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