Your Kid Has a Fever: Which Thermometer Is Best?

Tap to see the pros and cons of forehead, ear and other devices

Your kid seems tired and out of sorts. Her forehead feels hot to your wrist. What’s the best way to take her temperature? Follow these tips from pediatric nurse practitioner Melanie Klein, CNP:

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Practical tips for taking kids' temperatures

Whichever type of thermometer you choose, always follow the package directions, says Ms. Klein. Here are other useful tips:

  • Wait at least 15 minutes after kids drink anything to take an oral temperature.
  • Don’t take kids’ temperatures right after a bath or if they’ve been bundled up for a while.
  • Rectal and ear temperatures are 0.5°F-1°F (0.3°C-0.6°C) higher than the mouth’s temperature.
  • Armpit and forehead temperatures are 0.5°F-1°F (0.3°C-0.6°C) lower than the mouth’s temperature.
  • Use a standard digital thermometer to take your baby’s rectal temperature? Label it “rectal” and keep it separate from other thermometers.

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