The thermometer plays an important role in not only telling what temperature your child or baby has, it also lets you know how serious their condition is or if they’re even sick to begin with. However, what you may not have thought of is that there are a variety of thermometers out there and not just any kind should be used on your baby or child. Regardless of how old your child or children are, it is important to know which types of thermometers should be used with certain age groups.
Just as there are various types of thermometers, there are various areas where you can take your child’s temperature: the armpit, mouth, ear, and rectum are the main areas. Each type of thermometer is meant for one or more of these areas.
No matter what thermometer you get, make sure you stick it in the right place! If you have more than one child, you may want to stick to just one thermometer to make things easier and in that case, you’ll be fine with a regular digital thermometer that can be used under the armpit, in the mouth or ear. However, to cover all your bases, you may want a digital ear thermometer, and/or a pacifier thermometer (for babies) in addition to your main thermometer.
The best way to find out what kind of thermometer to use is to go by your child’s age. For newborns up to three months of age, a regular digital thermometer should be used in the rectal area to get an accurate reading.
Be sure to lubricate the tip of the digital thermometer with petroleum jelly. Only put the thermometer one inch inside of your baby’s rectum (he/she should be lying comfortably on his/her back with the thighs up). Make sure to keep it in place until the digital thermometer beeps. For babies from three months up to four years of age, parents can use a digital ear or pacifier thermometer. Read the instructions thoroughly for these types of thermometers. However, you can also safely use a regular digital thermometer in the armpit or rectum.
Parents of children four years of age and older can use a digital thermometer under the tongue for an accurate reading. However, if your child is too sick or congested to breathe, avoid taking their temperature under their tongue and instead put the digital thermometer under their armpit or in the rectal area. Digital ear thermometers are also ideal for a child that is too sick to take an oral temperature reading.
Each time you use the thermometer, make sure you are following the directions exactly or else you won’t get a good reading. For mild fevers, it’s okay to give your child Tylenol if they are up to six months of age. Children older than six months can be given Ibuprofen. Aspirin should not be given to anyone under 18 years of age. You may want to contact your doctor if your child exhibits the following temperature readings based on their age: 100.4 F or higher (3 months and younger), 102 F or higher (3 months and older and is lethargic, irritable, or uncomfortable), and 102 F or higher (older than 3 months and does not respond to over-the-counter medication).