Temperature-taking Tips

By Dr. Ramaz Mitaishvili
Fever is nothing to fool around with in young children. If your child feels warm
or seems under the weather, you probably should take his or her temperature.
Sounds simple enough, but if you're new to it, you probably have a few
questions. What kind of thermometer should you use? Should you take a baby's
temperature the same way you take the temperature of a five-year-old? Here
are the answers.
New thermometer options
If you grew up before the 1980s, your parents probably took your temperature
with a glass mercury thermometer — a skinny tube with a narrow, rounded tip
containing mercury. Such thermometers are becoming scarce these days
because the mercury they contain creates health and environmental risks. Since
2001, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended against the use of
mercury thermometers.
But you can still choose among many types of thermometers. Thermometers
with newer designs, in fact, may be easier to use and to read than mercury
thermometers. And, all the better for your child, they give you a very quick
How to take a child's temperature
The best method depends on the child's age.
Newborns. For babies less than 3 months old, start with an armpit (axillary)
temperature. If it's higher than 99 F (37.2 C), take a second measurement
rectally. A rectal measurement of temperature is more accurate than an axillary
measurement. Rectal temperatures higher than 100.5 F in infants require
immediate medical attention.
3 months old to 4 years old. For this age group, doctors recommend using a
rectal thermometer or an electronic pacifier thermometer. For children 3 months
or older, an ear thermometer can be used.
Five years and older. After age 4, most children are able to hold an oral digital
thermometer under the tongue for the short time it takes to get a temperature
reading. Once children start school, doctors say it's preferable to take their
temperature by mouth.
Instructions vary depending on the type of thermometer and the method you
use — oral, rectal, axillary or ear. One safety rule applies to all methods and
thermometers: Don't leave your child unattended with a thermometer in his or
her mouth, armpit or rectum. Similarly, you — not your child — should insert an
ear thermometer and hold it in place.

Color I Color II Color III

Log In or Register