A baby thermometer is a medical tool that is used to measure the body temperature of children and infants. Of all the medical instruments and devices that can be used in the comfort of your own home, the baby thermometer is the most useful and most handy. Household thermometers have evolved from m the simple and basic mercury thermometers. Now almost everyone has access to get the most accurate digital baby thermometers and has become an essential component of a first aid kit that we keep at home.
Keeping a thermometer handy to take the baby’s temperature, will allow you to truly determine if the child needs a dose of medication, to see the pediatrician or just watchful waiting for the fever to subside.
Benefits of Having a Baby Thermometer at Home
- A baby thermometer is able to measure the actual body temperature. It uses special infrared laser methodology to record the internal temperature of the body very accurately.
- A baby thermometer will give the readings in a matter of few seconds compared to old thermometers which take time to give the temperature readings. They would take more than one minute to show the temperature. But, digital thermometers today need not any recalibrating or shaking and show the reading in the blink of an eye.
- Most baby thermometers can store almost ten of the previous readings. This will help parents and caregivers in comparing the improvements during a fever.
- Baby thermometers are sleek and very handy. All that is needed is to press a button lightly and temperature readings are readily available, provided the device is charged or has working batteries. The mercury thermometer had to be shaken vigorously to make it work efficiently, and it is also not prone to breakage like the glass thermometers.
- For all those people who do not understand the different scales of temperature, a digital baby thermometer is a stroke of luck. It shows the temperature in both degrees Celsius and Fahrenheit.
When do I Need to Call the Doctor?
Most relevant in this trying time, calling the doctor once the child has fever may be the first thought to come in mind particularly for new parents. It’s always good to contact medical experts but there are times it is okay for fevers to let it run its course naturally. Contact your doctor if:
- The child is younger than 3 months old and has a rectal temperature of 100.4 F (38 C) or higher.
- The child is between the ages of 3 and 6 months and has a rectal temperature of 102 F (38.9 C) or higher, or if the child seems unusually irritable or lethargic even though their temperature is below that range.
- The child is between the ages of 6 and 24 months and has a rectal temperature higher than 102 F (38.9 C) that lasts longer than one day but shows no other symptoms.
If the child is exhibiting other signs and symptoms like a cough, cold, or diarrhea, you may want to call the child’s doctor sooner based on severity. And when in doubt, call.
What are the Different Types of Thermometers?
There is a variety of baby thermometers out there, and there are a few points to look at when buying one for your little one.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that newborns and kids up to 3 years old use rectal thermometers because research shows they are the most accurate and measure the core body temperature the best.
Axillary or Underarm Thermometer
These thermometers are laid down on the armpit skin. It is thought to work best for toddlers who can cooperate and hold the thermometer in place without moving until the thermometer beeps. This method is easier to use than a rectal thermometer, but not as accurate.
The thermometers which are conveniently placed against the baby’s forehead and ear, are easier to use than a rectal thermometer, but not as accurate. Forehead and ear thermometers can be used to get a quick reading but you will need to follow up with a rectal reading.
For older children, over 3 or 4 years old, oral thermometers can be used, by placing them under your child’s tongue. If used correctly, these thermometers can be really accurate at estimating the core body temperature. But in general, toddlers can’t keep the thermometer under their tongue for around a minute, so the results are less accurate in kids who are too young to cooperate.
Best Baby Thermometer by Children’s Age
Rectal thermometers are still best for babies younger than 6 months as it is the most reliable reading in the digital thermometer. Infants who are younger than 3 months old and have a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher must be cleared by a medical professional. A temporal artery thermometer, or the forehead thermometer, can also be used for children over 3 months of age, but it is less accurate.
For kids between 6 months and 4 years old, a digital rectal thermometer is also advised for accurate readings. Ear and armpit thermometers are other options, but they’re less accurate.
For kids 4 years or older, a digital baby oral thermometer can be used to get the temperature if the child will cooperate. Bear in mind that your child will have to breathe through their nose while you take their temperature with an oral thermometer, so this isn’t a great choice if your kid is coughing or has a blocked nose.
What is the Correct Way of Taking Baby’s Temperature?
Turn on the digital baby thermometer and use petroleum jelly to lubricate the tip. The easiest approach is to lay the baby or child on their back, lift the thighs, and insert the lubricated thermometer 1-2 centimeters into the rectum. If you feel any resistance, do not try to push the thermometer in. Hold the baby thermometer in place until the thermometer signals that it’s done, and then remove the thermometer and check the reading.
Firstly, make sure you wait 15 minutes after your child eats or drinks, otherwise the temperature of their food and drink will affect the temperature in their mouth. Turn on the digital baby thermometer, place the tip under the child’s tongue toward the back of the mouth, and ask the child to keep their mouth closed. Remove the thermometer when it beeps, and read the number.
The pit-fall with armpit temperatures can be if the thermometer is in contact with clothing rather than skin. Turn on the digital thermometer, place it in the armpit, and close your child’s arm. A hug can be a great way to make sure the thermometer stays in place while it is reading.
Turn on the baby thermometer. Follow the directions that come with the thermometer to ensure that the baby thermometer is inserted properly and gently into the ear canal. Hold the thermometer in place until the thermometer signals usually with a beeping sound that it’s done; then you can remove the thermometer and check the reading.
Temporal Artery Temperature
Infrared thermometers are the easiest forehead thermometers to use. Turn on the temporal artery thermometer and gently sweep it across your child’s forehead. Remove the thermometer and read the number.
When you tell your child’s doctor their temperature, make sure you let them know the method you used to check the temperature.
Baby Thermometer Safety
For the most accurate results, read the instructions carefully before using a new thermometer to check the baby’s temperature. Whether parents and caregivers choose a rectal thermometer, an ear thermometer, or a forehead thermometer, it is a must to keep it clean. You don’t want your baby thermometer to reintroduce germs to the baby after they recover from a fever. Also, if the thermometer available at home is a multi-use thermometer, the one with dual or triple modes, try to designate it for just one use — oral, rectal, underarm, or forehead —to avoid transferring bacteria from one body part to another.
Overall, baby thermometers that contain mercury are a no-no. These are the old-fashioned glass thermometers without backlit display used by the whole family that mothers used to stick under the tongue during your fever. If there is still this type used at home, it is best to discard them. In addition to the dangers posed by broken glass, these thermometers contain mercury, which is highly poisonous for the whole family most especially when it comes to the little one.
We don’t recommend pacifier thermometers, as they are not very accurate. Also, poorly-made pacifier thermometers can pose a choking hazard to babies and many are not BPA-free. Oral thermometers, on the other hand, are most suitable for children who are four years or older. This is used for more mature kids, older children who can keep the device firmly in their mouths to obtain accurate temperature reading.
Never leave the baby unattended while you are checking his or her temperature.
Best Baby Thermometers on the Market
Fridababy Quick-Read Rectal Thermometer
The shape of rectal thermometers like this one matters most especially for worrisome new parents who are afraid they might over-insert the thermometer and will add to the fuss of the already sick baby. The short probe makes it easier to adjust the baby’s rectum and avoid injuring the baby. The bulb gives a good grip because of its large size. It only needs 10 seconds to give an accurate rectal reading and the backlight helps with nighttime temperature taking and the large screen display offers easy-to-read temperatures.
Kinsa QuickCare Smart Stick Thermometer
Kinsa QuickCare Thermometer is FDA-cleared for accuracy and temperatures can be taken in three ways – orally, rectally, or axillary – and comes with a travel case for parents and caregivers on the go. The coordinating smartphone app allows you to create profiles for different members of the family, track medications, and will even offer information on what to do next. It is best for note-taking other symptoms the baby is feeling for the pediatrician’s assessment later on. But because the family can use it, the thermometer must be used in one mode only to avoid transference of germs and bacteria.
This baby rectal thermometer gives a reading in just 8 seconds and has a flexible tip for maximum comfort during temperature-taking. It also has a large bulb to assist during use and prevent it from getting too far up. The phone powers the device so there is no need to check the batteries.
iProven DMT-489 Dual Mode Thermometer
For parents and caregivers who are unsure if they will get the forehead thermometer or the ear thermometer, this is the perfect device for you. The iProven has both ear and forehead thermometers modes and has a backlit screen that will support readings made in the middle of the night. For using the mode like ear thermometers, the baby’s ear must be pulled back and up while aiming the ear canal while inserting. This would assure a much more accurate reading as an ear thermometer.
Braun ThermoScan Ear Thermometer
A fever can be different depending on the person’s age so it is helpful to use an ear thermometer that lets you have peace of mind while using it. This device will let you enter your child’s age range, and save the last nine temperature readings. Reviews also boast the long lifespan of this ear thermometer as it is already a known trusted brand. The Braun digital ear thermometer has a pre-warmed tip for greater accuracy and also lets you know if it is positioned correctly inside the ear canal with a light and beep alert. It also has disposable covers for hygiene and a small, flexible tip that makes measurement gentle on the baby.
Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer
The Exergen forehead baby thermometer is, in our opinion, the best forehead thermometer. It is an infrared thermometer which means it gets its temperature from a portion of thermal radiation emitted by the baby’s forehead with a push of a button and swipe across the forehead. Exergen temporal artery thermometers allow for a non-contact accurate reading. This infrared thermometer only needs 2 to 3 seconds to give a reading and is considered more accurate than an underarm or ear thermometer. This infrared baby thermometer is helpful for taking the temperature of babies that are asleep without waking them up and does not make the baby feel uncomfortable too. It saves the last 8 results and is suitable for use of the entire family without the worries of transferring any bacteria from disposable lens filters.
Many parents find axillary baby thermometers or ear and forehead thermometers easier to use on their children, but for the most accurate results, you should ideally follow up with a rectal reading, especially when taking the newborn baby’s temperature. Baby rectal thermometers are still the most accurate for infants, according to the AAP.
The right thermometer for the whole family, especially the newest addition to the family, is the one that feels comfortable using during what can sometimes be a worrisome time. Armed with a thermometer and a good pediatrician, parents and caregivers will be assured that the baby will get the best care they need, when they need it.