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The Best Baby Thermometer for Your Child: What You Need to Know

Baby Thermometer for Your Child

I hope you’ll agree with me when I say:

Being able to check your baby’s temperature is a necessity in today’s world.

Since most babies will get sick at least once in their first year, knowing an infant’s exact temperature can make a big difference in the way that an illness is treated. Babies cannot communicate how they feel, so having the best baby thermometer can help parents and physicians understand what is wrong. When infants have fevers they run the risk of developing other dangerous symptoms that can be life threatening. Without a top thermometer designed just for babies, parents are unable to know what is making their baby cry.

Choosing a baby thermometer can be overwhelming. There are so many option for different baby ages. Baby thermometers come in all price points, too. Depending on the age of the child, physicians will recommend certain types of thermometers because they get the most accurate reading in the fastest possible way with the least discomfort to the baby. Along with choosing the best baby thermometer, it is also important to understand how to use it so that you are able to help your child get well.

Infants are unable to communicate, so being able to trust what a thermometer tells you is important. If the thermometer is unable to get an accurate reading, parents will not know whether or not to take their babies to the hospital. There are a handful of different thermometers and they are appropriate for babies of different ages. Some of the thermometers are relatively easy to use because they get quick and accurate readings, but others that are more difficult to use actually get the best readings.

Newborn to Six Months

The best and most accurate type of thermometer is the rectal thermometer. But, they are also rather difficult to use, simply because most people are not sure how to use them. Due to the fact that babies do not understand how to hold a thermometer under their tongues, rectal thermometers are the best option. If you do decide to use a rectal thermometer, it is important to buy one that has a wide base so you do not risk inserting it to deeply. There are several wonderful options that have flexible tips that are designed for parents of newborn babies.

Rectal thermometers are ideal for babies who have not yet begun to crawl, but they can be used on babies and toddlers because they are quick and accurate. One of the best models is the Vicks Baby Rectal Thermometer. It has a short, flexible tip that is easy to use, especially with a little water-soluable jelly placed on the tip. The thermometer is very easy to read because it has a large screen with big numbers. The temperature is revealed after 10 seconds. It is shared in Fahrenheit. Rectal thermometers are quite affordable.

Six Months and Up

As babies get older and become more mobile, the temporal artery thermometer becomes a good option. These are the newest types of thermometers and they have quickly become favorites with pediatricians, nurses, and new parents. This type of thermometer uses infrared technology to scan the forehead to read the temporal artery. They are so accurate and easy to use that hospitals are using them on most children and adults. They do not need to touch the skin, so they are easy to keep clean, too.

Temporal thermometers are more expensive than the traditional rectal thermometer because the temporal style uses more technology. A good temporal thermometer is non-invasive, so parents feel better using them. The thermometer never touches the skin or any part of the baby’s body, so they are easy to use on babies who are upset and crying. Pediatricians have favorite brands and will happily tell parents what brands they like the most. There is a small learning curve with getting the right swipe of the forehead; most swipes should be done in a slow motion. Once you learn the swipe timing, the temporal thermometer will quickly become your favorite. Most temporal thermometers require batteries that are easy to replace. And, most of them will quickly display the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit on a digital LCD screen.

Two to Four Years

If you cannot get the swipe down and you prefer to avoid the rectal thermometer, the ear canal thermometer is a viable option. These are also less invasive than the rectal thermometer and they provide quick readings. You simply turn on the device, place them in the ear at the recommended angle and wait for the reading. These are best to use on toddlers because their ear canals are large enough to provide accurate readings. Prior to using an ear canal thermometer, it is wise to warm up the tip to room temperature. If the tip is too cold, it will give an inaccurate reading that reflects the way the cool tip cools the ear canal. With a warmed tip, the ear canal thermometer can be used on a sleeping toddler without worrying about waking the child. They are quiet and they usually get readings in just a few seconds.

Ear canal thermometers are another option that is affordable and easy to use. Unlike the temporal thermometer, the ear thermometer does need to have new covers put on the tip each time it is used. These covers are usually called lens filters. The newest ear canal thermometers are easy to use because they have built-in guidance systems that help parents know where the tip of the device should be placed for the best reading. Most ear canal thermometers require batteries, but they last a long time. Since eardrum uses the same blood supply that controls the brain, the core body temperature is well represented by the reading from an ear canal thermometer. An ear canal thermometer is affordable, but priced closer to the temporal thermometer rather than the oral or rectal thermometers.

Five Years and Up

The oral thermometer is a safe and accurate option for children who are old enough to understand directions. Since the oral thermometer needs to placed under the tongue, it can be helpful to let a child practice before the actually reading is taken. These are not quick; some oral thermometers need to spend at least 90 seconds in the mouth. They beep when finished and the temperature can be given in Fahrenheit and/or Celsius.

There are several oral thermometers that perform rather well on young children. They are affordable options that can read a temperature in 15 seconds or less. It is best to use this type of thermometer on a four-year old who can sit for an extended period of time and isn’t fussy or upset from not feeling well. If you are using an oral thermometer, be sure that you use a new model that does not use mercury.

Compare and Contrast

When it comes to using a thermometer, the most flexible option is the temporal thermometer. Despite the fact that these are designed to be used on babies who are six months and older, they can really be used on any one – even the oldest adult. Once you understand the process of swiping, you can easily swipe anyone’s forehead and get an accurate temperature reading. However, there are plenty of other features to compare and contrast when you are choosing a thermometer for your baby and older child.

The most important feature to consider is accuracy. If your thermometer does not give an accurate reading, then it is useless. The two most accurate types of thermometers are rectal and temporal. After that, the oral thermometer offers an accurate reading. The ear canal thermometer is accurate, but as accurate as the rectal and temporal options – especially if the temporal option uses infrared technology.

The consistency of the readings is also important. The thermometer you choose needs to give an accurate reading every single time you use it. If you get a misdiagnosis, your baby could suffer instead of getting the right care for her needs. As long as your baby thermometer is accurate and consistent, you have the perfect thermometer. The rest of the features are just icing on the cake. Rectal, temporal, and oral thermometers tend to have these two features.

Since babies, toddlers, and preschool-age children do not like to sit still and they do not like to be bothered when they are not feeling well, it is a good idea to use a thermometer that gets a quick reading. Long gone are the days of parents using glass thermometers filled with mercury, because they are slow and unsafe. Now, you can find thermometers that give an accurate reading in less than 20 seconds and some give them in less than 5 seconds. A quick thermometer is a gift for parents. The temporal thermometers give the quickest readings. Oral thermometers and rectal thermometers are usually slower than the temporal types.

Your thermometer should also be easy to use and to keep clean. The three thermometers that enter the body need to be kept clean and many models are not supposed to be submerged in water. Ear canal thermometers are easy to use and to keep clean because filters are put over the tip. Rectal thermometers can also have sheaths put over the tips. Many of them can be cleaned with rubbing alcohol, but always read the instruction manuals first. The temporal thermometer does not touch the body, so it is the easiest to clean. However, the technique of swiping the temporal thermometer can be difficult to master. The oral and rectal thermometers are easy to use, too.

It is also a good idea to choose a thermometer that fits your needs and your baby’s needs. For example, if you have a newborn baby, the only option that is reliable is the rectal thermometer. In most cases, pediatricians will recommend using temporal thermometers once the baby is at least three months old. But, if your baby has diaper rash or is constipated, a rectal thermometer might not be the best choice and a temporal thermometer might be the only viable choice. If you are trying to get a temperature, but your child has a painful ear infection, it is best to avoid the ear canal thermometer. Many parents will have a few different types of thermometers in their first aid kits because they want to be prepared for all situations. Of the types of thermometers to have on hand for young children, the oral thermometer is often the least used – simply because the other types are so much easier to use on babies and toddlers who are suffering from pain, an illness, or a fever.

Of all of the features, it is important to be able to easily read the thermometer. The old-fashioned glass thermometers were not easy to read, but the modern digital choices are. For parents, bigger screens and backlit displays are easy to read, especially if they have to get a temperature while their babies are sleeping in dark rooms. Another favorite feature is a completion notification. Many thermometers chirp when they are finished, but quiet notifications are useful for those nights when baby is sleeping and noise could wake him up.

There are two other features that are often found on high-end thermometers. Some of them have memory features that let parents record temperatures. This can be helpful for parents who have to communicate with their physicians and keep a close eye on their baby’s temperature. The other high-end feature is a color coded warning system. These thermometers will use colors like red, orange, or yellow to help parents understand when it is ok to relax or when baby needs to get to the hospital immediately.


When it comes to choosing the best baby thermometer for your child, the best option is to have several different types in your first aid kit. The rectal thermometer is recommended for the newest babies, but after they are able to sit up on their own, the temporal thermometer is a useful tool. However, having both on hand from the day baby comes home from the hospital can be helpful. As babies get older, rectal thermometers can be replaced with ear canal thermometers and oral thermometers, too.