What is the best way to check a baby’s temperature?

How do I check my baby’s temperature? 🤒 What is the best way to check a baby’s temperature? There are so many different types and brands of thermometers out there. What thermometer should I buy? We're here to answer all your questions!


Each method measures your child’s temperature in a different way, and the results can vary depending on the type of thermometer you use.


In Australia, the most accurate way to check a baby’s temperature is with a digital thermometer under their arm (axilla).

This is considered the gold standard way of measuring a baby's temperature.


Baby with parent hand holding digital thermometer

How to Use an Under the Arm (Axilla) Digital Thermometer

• Place thermometer tip in the centre of the armpit over the axillary artery, ensuring skin is dry and intact prior to probe placement.

• Place the patient’s arm securely against their body.

• Turn thermometer on. For a more accurate reading, wait >3 minutes with thermometer in situ before obtaining a measurement.

A digital thermometer is one of the 123 items included in our Family First Aid Kits and is also available for individual sale on our site!

Digital Thermometer

What about Ear ( Tympanic) Thermometers?


Ear (tympanic) thermometer (for children over 6ish* months) depends on the size of the baby and when the ear thermometer can fit in the ear canal to accurately measure the temperature. If the ear thermometer doesn't fit, the under the arm thermometer is the most accurate.


Other Methods

There are other ways of taking a child's temperature such as infrared forehead thermometer or plastic tape thermometers used on the forehead (these are not as reliable as ear or under the arm and should be used with caution).


A recent study was conducted in the Emergency Department at The Royal Children’s Hospital. You can read more about this here. The study conclusion states ‘Education to public and health-care providers is required to avoid usage of infrared devices in this population.’


No matter what kind of thermometer you have, it’s important to carefully read the instructions that come with it before using it for the first time.


What about Rectal Thermometers?


🍑 It is NOT recommended that you check your child’s temperature rectally. There’s a risk that the tip of the thermometer could damage the lining of your child’s rectum.


You do not need to ‘add’ a degree or half a degree’ to any temperature on a digital thermometer.


Mercury Thermometers

Mercury thermometers are no longer sold in Australia, but you may stumble across one.

They can poison a child if they break. If you’re using a mercury thermometer, consider replacing it with one of the types of digital thermometers above.


For more information on this topic- come over and follow us on Instagram @rhythm.firstaid where we have videos demonstrating how to check a baby’s temperature.


Written on the 27th of January 2022 by Nicole, the founder of Rhythm and a Paediatric Emergency Nurse. As always, information on this website is for educational purposes only.

Please consult your GP for information specific to your child.


References


https://raisingchildren.net.au/newborns/health-daily-care/health-concerns/taking-your-childs-temperature

https://www.rch.org.au/rchcpg/hospital_clinical_guideline_index/Temperature_management/

https://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/fact_sheets/fever_in_children/

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jpc.15787



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