A must-have household item for new parents is of course a baby thermometer. There are many different types of thermometer available in today’s market. To choose the right device to measure your child’s temperature accurately, you should understand and consider each type of thermometers suitability for various different uses.
Types of Thermometer
- Temporal thermometer (which you apply to the forehead);
Temporal thermometer uses infrared technology to detect the temperature of the temporal artery on your baby’s forehead. Although it is easy to use and fast, using forehead thermometer needs multiple readings to identify your baby’s real temperature. Thus, changes in the environment may affect its accuracy.
It takes time for parents to get used to using the forehead thermometer and identify the temperature correctly, but it’s suitable for parents with young children as it’s gentle and non-intrusive.
- Ear thermometer, (which also called tympanic);
Unlike temporal thermometer, if inserted correctly in the ear canal, the ear thermometer gives a very accurate reading and is, therefore, a reliable way of picking your baby’s temperature. However, ear thermometer is not recommended for babies under 6 months as their ear canals are still too small.
- Mouth (oral) thermometer;
Oral temperature measurement is a common way to take a body temperature. It is more convenient compared to rectal measurements, though the latter is more accurate. The idea is to insert the thermometer sensor or probe into the mouth, wait for a minute and get the exact temp reading.
- Mercury-free oral thermometer;
Since mercury thermometers are no longer recommended because they can break and allow mercury — which is toxic — to escape, the mercury-free oral thermometer is now in demand – the thermometer contains no mercury, it is safe and environmentally friendly.
- Armpit (which also called axillary) thermometer;
An axillary temperature is lower than one taken in your mouth, rectum, or your ear. This is because the thermometer is not inside your body such as under your tongue.
- Rectal thermometer.
The rectal temperature is the most exact way to know if your child has a fever. Taking an axillary temperature — under the armpit — is more time-consuming and often less accurate than taking a rectal temperature. For very young babies, the rectal method may be preferred for accuracy. A temperature taken in the rectum is the closest way to finding the body’s true temperature. Rectal temperatures run higher than those taken in the mouth or armpit (axilla) because the rectum is warmer.
What you should know
- The average normal oral temperature is 98.6°F (37°C).
- A rectal temperature is 0.5°F (0.3°C) to 1°F (0.6°C) higher than an oral temperature.
- An ear (tympanic) temperature is 0.5°F (0.3°C) to 1°F (0.6°C) higher than an oral temperature.
- An armpit (axillary) temperature is usually 0.5°F (0.3°C) to 1°F (0.6°C) lower than an oral temperature.
- A forehead (temporal) scanner is usually 0.5°F (0.3°C) to 1°F (0.6°C) lower than an oral temperature.
|Comparison of temperatures in Fahrenheit by method|
|Axillary/Forehead (°F)||Oral (°F)||Rectal/Ear (°F)|
|Comparison of temperatures in Centigrade by method|
|Axillary/Forehead (°C)||Oral (°C)||Rectal/Ear (°C)|
Keep in mind that
- You don’t have to subtract or add a degree when using different types of All you need to do is tell your doctor the temperature and let he/she know the type of thermometer you used.
- For children, fevers are a bit more complicated. If your child’s temperature is 103 F (390C ) or higher or if you’ve had a fever for more than 3 days, call your doctor. Also call if the fever goes with symptoms like severe throat swelling, vomiting, headache, chest pain, stiff neckor rash.
Knowing the pros and cons of each types of thermometer will help you choose the right device for your child