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How to Take your Baby’s Temperature

Author GreatDad Writers
Submitted 08-10-2007

If you suspect your baby feels warmer than usual you may need to check for fever. Always use a modern digital thermometer to take your child’s temperature. These are not only more accurate and easy to use, but also avoid the risk involved in older designs that use mercury.


While the rectal temperature is the most accurate method for babies and very small children, parents often opt for the less accurate armpit reading because it is easier to do for a first reading. You can take your child’s temperature in the following ways:


  • Rectum: Let your baby lie down on the stomach or on the side. Then apply a little petroleum jelly on the thermometer tip and gently insert it into your child’s rectum. Avoid the use of force and take care not to insert more than about an inch from the tip. Keep the thermometer in place until it beeps, then remove it and take the reading.

    This method usually gives the most accurate results. It is best for children who are older than three months old. For reasons of hygiene, do not use a thermometer that you insert rectally, inside your child’s mouth. However, if you must, clean it with rubbing alcohol before you do so.

  • Mouth: Position the tip of the thermometer under your child’s tongue. Ask your child to close his mouth, while keeping it in place with the lips so that it does not shift from under the tongue. Keep the thermometer in place until it beeps, then remove it and take the reading.

    This method is ideal for older kids; those over four years old.

  • Armpit: Position the thermometer under your baby’s armpit in such a way, that it lies in direct contact with the skin. Hold your child steady. Keep the thermometer in place until it beeps, then remove it and take the reading. This is the least accurate method. It is ideal for a primary reading in case of babies who are younger than three months old. If on the higher side (above 99° F), it can be followed up with a rectal reading.

Call the doctor immediately if:

  • Your child under 3 months old records a temperature of 100.4° F or higher.

  • Your child over three months old records a temperature higher than 104° F.