How to Take the Temperature of a Child & What Thermometer to Use

child having fevere

When your child is sick, besides cuddling a lot with them and providing them comfort, you should keep track of their temperature. This will help you know whether the child needs medication and whether or not you should take them to the doctor. And although taking their temperature doesn’t seem like a complicated task, it can be very confusing with the wide range of thermometers available on the market. To make your life easier, we have compiled a list of the ways to measure temperature with each type of thermometer you may have!

What to Use for Measuring Temperature

First, let’s discuss your options. There are digital thermometers, ear thermometers, and forehead thermometers. Here’s also the place to say that you may own a mercury thermometer, but should avoid using it on your child because if it breaks, it will release a poisonous vapor. So, let’s see how to use each of the other, safer options.

Digital Thermometer

How to Take the Temperature of a Child & What Thermometer to Use

This is a basic type of thermometer you can find at any pharmacy. They are accurate and easy to use. But, the thing is that if your child is under 5 years of age, it’s better to take their rectal temperature for more accurate results. Yes, it’s not fun to do that and your child may not allow you, but if possible, especially if the child is under 6 months of age, take the rectal temperature. You can also take the armpit temperature if they are fine with keeping the thermometer there while you cuddle with them, for example. In either case, you should keep the thermometer in place for about a minute. For the rectal reading, you should clean the tip very well and apply bum cream before inserting it.

Ear Thermometer

If you’re wondering if it’s worth spending more money and getting an ear thermometer instead of a digital one, you should know that this type isn’t really recommended to be used on kids under the age of two. Their ear canals are very small before they turn two years old and the reading may not be accurate. If you have an older child and you decide to get one, you will be able to measure their temperature in a few seconds. Just keep in mind that if they have excess earwax or an ear infection, the results may not be accurate.

Forehead Thermometers

Forehead thermometers, or temporal artery thermometers, are becoming a popular option. They take the temperature in a few seconds without touching the child. You just need to hold it against their forehead. Specialists are not completely sure if this is a better alternative to the other thermometers and they are still trying to figure out what is best. It’s usually a bit more expensive than an ear thermometer but it can’t be stopped by barriers like earwax, so the reading will be with similar accuracy every time.