When your baby is sick, the first thing you want to do is make sure they are comfortable. You also want to know what their temperature is so you can best treat them. This is where a thermometer comes in. A thermometer will help you get an accurate reading of your baby’s temperature.
There are different types of thermometers, the most common type for reading baby's temperature is the digital thermometer. You can use a digital thermometer rectally, orally, or under the arm. It is important to follow the instructions that come with the thermometer to ensure you are using it correctly.
Other types of thermometer for reading baby's temperature are forehead thermometers such as the ones commonly used by the NHS for a quick, fuss-less and contact-less reading as well as ear thermometers that I'm sure all us parents remember being used on us by Doctors as children.
Other types of thermometers available for keeping baby at the optimal temperature are baby bath thermometers and baby room thermometers. There are still old-school ways of testing the temperature of water, such as dipping in an elbow, so some parents don't see these as essential.
When considering which thermometer is best for reading baby's temperature it is important to note that the most accurate way to read a baby's temperature is rectally. This is especially true for babies under 3 months old.
This can, however, be a daunting prospect! So here is a guide on exactly how to take a reading safely and painlessly:
How to Use a Digital Thermometer Rectally
The most accurate reading of your baby’s temperature will be rectally. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to take your baby’s temperature rectally:
- Before you start, wash your hands with soap and water. You will also want to wash the tip of the thermometer with soap and water and then rinse it off and pat dry on a clean towel.
- Apply a lubricant to the tip of the thermometer. This will help it go in easier and prevent any discomfort for your baby. You can use a natural oil such as olive oil or a petroleum-based lubricant such as Vaseline.
- Hold your baby in your lap with their knees up near their chest and ensure they are calm and not wriggling too much. Gently insert the lubricated tip of the thermometer into their anus about ½ an inch (1 cm). The tip should point toward their back.
- Once the thermometer is in place, hold it there and wait for it to beep. This will usually take about 60 seconds, depending on the type of thermometer you have. It is important to try and keep baby calm and still. You could try singing or very gentle rocking (be sure not to move too much so the thermometer moves or becomes uncomfortable) to calm baby if needed.
- Remove the thermometer and read out the temperature before cleaning it off and storing it away.
- If you need to do a reading later with the same thermometer, be sure to use it rectally again or purchase a new thermometer if you wish to take a reading orally when baby is a little older. You should keep a rectal thermometer solely for rectal readings.
You will want to take your baby’s temperature rectally if they are 3 months old or younger. If they are older than 3 months, you can take their temperature orally or under their arm but those readings will not be as accurate as a rectal reading would be.
A fever can be a sign of a serious infection in babies so it is important to take their temperature as soon as possible. There are many different types of baby thermometers but digital, forehead, and ear are the most common. A digital thermometer is an important tool for parents to have when their baby is sick. Taking your baby’s temperature rectally will give you the most accurate reading and it is important to follow the instructions that come with your baby thermometer so that you get an accurate reading.
These step-by-step instructions will help you take your baby’s temperature rectally so you can best care for them when they are sick. You can check out my blog post on Baby Thermometers: Everything You Need to Know in 10 Minutes for more information on the best thermometers on the market and their best uses as well as guidance from Dr Elia Maalouf, consultant pediatrician and neonatologist at the Portland Hospital for Women and Children, the UK’s largest private children’s hospital on how best to use them.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this article, as a parent I find there is so much information out there for how to care for your child, it can often get confusing so I hope to break down the information that you need so that you can filter through it quickly, while sstill acquiring the knowledge you need.
Thanks for reading!