Taking your baby’s temperature seems like an easy task, but add on the wiggles and the crankiness (because they’re probably sick!) and it can be pretty difficult! To help you take your baby’s temperature with accuracy, Resident Pediatric RN, Kate Morse is sharing with us how you can take your child’s temperature using digital thermometers rectally, orally, on their forehead, in their ear or under the arm. She’s gotcha covered!! Stay well, everyone!
“I love you so much it hurts!” Have you ever heard this saying? I feel this for my daughter, Ella, every single day. It’s an indescribable, almost gut-wrenching, kind of love. Right? You all know what I’m talking about. You love this person so much and you don’t want to see them sad, hurt, upset, or, worse…. sick.
We’re right in the middle of cold and flu season and it’s pretty inevitable that your little one will come home with some type of viral bug at some point, if they haven’t already. It starts out fairly harmless: a runny nose, and then a cough… and then the fever strikes. Ugh!
If your child isn’t feeling well, it’s always important to check their temperature to see if they have a fever. So let’s chat about a couple of different methods you can use to check your child’s temperature, which methods are most accurate for your little one’s age and what you can do to help them feel better.
Using a digital thermometer (the Little Z team recommends this one, which also has red lettering making it easy to identify your rectal thermometer from your other thermometers – RED for RECTAL):
You can take your child’s temperature under the arm from age 3 months to 4 years old. An axillary temperature of 99°F (37.2°C) is considered a fever.
Using a digital thermometer (this one can also be used orally):
By 4 years of age, your child should be able to hold a thermometer under their tongue. However, some children may show resistance. If this is your child, try explaining that the thermometer is like a straw and all they need to do is hold it in their mouth, as if sipping from a straw. If this does not work, you can revert to taking their temperature under the arm (or using a forehead or ear thermometer). If your child has recently eaten or had something to drink, wait 15 minutes before taking their temperature orally in order to ensure accurate measurement. An oral temperature of 100°F (37.8°C) is considered a fever.
Using a digital thermometer:
A forehead thermometer measures the heat coming from the temporal artery, which is located on the forehead just beneath the skin. This thermometer can be used from 6 months of age and older.
The Little Z team recommends this one, as you can switch out the parts to use as an ear thermometer, too.
*Note: some newer models do not require a slide across the forehead. Follow your thermometer’s directions*
A tympanic thermometer measures the heat coming from the eardrum. This thermometer can be used from 6 months of age and older.
The Little Z team recommends this one, as you can switch out the parts to use as a forehead thermometer, too.
Alright, so we know your child has a fever, now what?
If your child is fussy, you may give acetaminophen or ibuprofen based on your child’s age and weight.
Do NOT give ibuprofen to a baby less than 6 months old (unless directed by a doctor).
Do NOT give aspirin to a child less than 18 years old (unless directed by a doctor). Reye Syndrome, a rare but sometimes fatal disease, has been associated with aspirin.
If you are unsure of the appropriate dose to give your child, call your healthcare provider to find out. It’s important to note that medicine will not cure the cause of your child’s fever. Medicine provides comfort only. Once the medication wears off, your child’s fever may come back until they are no longer sick.
Be sure to offer your child plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Popsicles, ice chips, water, soup and jello are all great options. Try to avoid beverages high in caffeine as this can make dehydration worse.
If your child has vomiting or diarrhea, speak with your healthcare provider about an oral electrolyte solution. Avoid beverages high in sugar as this can prolong diarrhea.
Your child may not feel well enough to eat, so don’t force it. Just ensure they are getting plenty of liquids. Once they feel better, their appetite will return.
Have your child wear lightweight clothing, use light sheets or blankets and ensure their bedroom is at a comfortable temperature – not overly warm, and not overly cool.
A fever can take it out of your child and cause them to be sleepier than usual. Ensure they are getting adequate rest and relaxation until they begin feeling better. Keep your child home from school or daycare until they have been fever-free (without the use of fever-reducing medication) for 24 hours.
Here’s hoping your little one stays healthy all cold & flu season long 🙏
Resident Pediatric RN, BSN
Little Z’s Sleep
*Disclaimer: The content provided by the Little Z team is not intended, nor recommended, to replace medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please contact your healthcare provider for medical conditions and questions.*
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