Imagine this, it’s late at night and your baby begins to cry. You rush to check on him. Then you touch his body and sense a rise in his temperature. After which you find out that he is warmer than normal.
It could be a fever; you think, but how are you going to be sure about it?
What will be your next move?
You will take out your thermometer and begin to measure your baby’s body temperature.
But have you ever wondered if the thermometer that you use for your baby is the right one or not.
How accurate is your thermometer?
Is it right for your baby’s age?
Which is the best thermometer for your baby?
Are you using it the right way?
Is it safe or not?
Read below to find answers to your questions.
TYPES OF THERMOMETERS THAT YOU SHOULD BE AWARE OF
1. GLASS MERCURY THERMOMETER
Fever in babies is one of the most common problem that a parent and a doctor have to tackle and to do the same, Glass mercury thermometer is a famous instrument of its time. So famous that, it is still commonly used in most households.
They might be good, but they come with their own flaws. A glass mercury thermometer is no longer recommended for use in children. The reason is because they can break and the mercury could vaporise and be inhaled.
2. DIGITAL THERMOMETER
These are a new version of the classic glass mercury thermometer, which are much safer. Using a digital thermometer takes very little time compared to a glass mercury thermometer.
If you sense that your baby has fever and you are unsure; using a digital thermometer is the fastest and one of the most accurate ways to find out if your baby has fever or not.
A digital thermometer can be used by placing it in the rectum, mouth and armpit. Rectal temperature is considered the most accurate amongst the three methods. And armpit temperatures are considered the least accurate.
However, it is the best thermometer that you can use to measure your baby’s temperature.
3. DIGITAL EAR THERMOMETER
Digital ear thermometers can also be used to check your baby’s temperature, if you don’t want to use the rectal method.
To check if your baby has fever or not, you will have to insert the thermometer inside the baby’s ear. The sensor in the thermometer will then take a reading of your baby’s temperature. Good news is that it’s easy to do and takes very little time; bad news is that its readings are not always accurate. Even a little bit of earwax and curved ear canal can interfere with the accuracy of this thermometer.
4. TEMPORAL ARTERY THERMOMETER
Temporal artery thermometers are said to be so quiet and gentle that they can be used on a sleeping baby. It uses a non invasive method and a scan of forehead is taken. It might be gentle and soft when used on your baby but its readings are still not as accurate as rectal temperature readings.
5. DIGITAL PACIFIER THERMOMETER
Babies generally love pacifiers. So inserting a pacifier in their mouths for taking a temperature reading seems like a good and easy alternative.
A digital pacifier thermometer has a thermometer inside the nipple of the pacifier. It has a screen up front that shows the readings. However, even a pacifier thermometer fails to be accurate and is not recommended.
HOW IMPORTANT IS ACCURACY?
It is quite possible that the thermometer you use can give you precise readings, but at the same time it is also possible that they can be inaccurate.
Accuracy is very critical and important for infants and children in case of a fever. A fever can indicate a potential infection which can cause serious problems. So in most cases rectal reading, which is considered to be the most precise and accurate, is used to monitor and document baby’s temperature.
AGE RELATED GUIDELINES
Now you must be wondering what is the best thermometer for your baby. Your baby’s age is what will help you determine the best thermometer for him.
BIRTH – 3 MONTHS
A regular digital thermometer is used to measure the baby’s temperature. Rectal temperature or armpit temperature is taken to see whether the baby has fever or not. For accuracy rectal thermometers are recommended for newborns.
3 MONTHS – 2 YEARS
For this age group, both armpit and rectal thermometers can be used. Digital temporal thermometer can also be used to identify the infant’s temperature.
If you want to use a digital ear thermometer the baby must be over 6 months old.
FOR CHILDREN THAT ARE 4 YEARS OR OLDER
Children at this age can hold the digital thermometer under their tongue. It takes a while to obtain the oral temperature reading. A digital ear thermometer or a temporal artery thermometer can also be used to measure the baby’s temperature and identify if the baby has fever or not.
|When was the reading taken||Normal Temp. Range|
|ARMPIT||94.5 – 99.1°F|
|EAR||96.4 – 100.4°F|
|ORAL||95.9 – 100°F|
|RECTAL||97.9 – 100.4°F|
|Reading||Fever if Temperature Above|
PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES TO BE FOLLOWED
- Read the instructions that come along with the thermometer.
- Check if the thermometer is faulty or broken.
- Clean the thermometer’s tip before and after every use with lukewarm water.
- Rub the thermometer with rubbing alcohol or soap and rinse it with cold water.
- Use a different thermometer for the rectal and oral readings.
- Label the thermometers so that no confusion occurs.
- Never leave your child alone with the thermometer.
- Stay with the child while the reading is being taken.
- If the surrounding environment is too hot temperature readings might be inaccurate.
- Don’t document your child’s temperature straight after a bath, wait for an hour.
- Rectal thermometers can appear to be uncomfortable at times, choose one with a flexible tip and don’t insert it more than an inch.
However, most rectal thermometers are designed in such a way that can not be inserted too far.If a child protests and denies a rectal reading, in-ear and temporal artery method are the next best options.
If your child appears to be very sick, call the doctor immediately.