I call it “mom’s instinct” when you can read what is going on with your child by just one look. I bet that you have also mastered natural ways to know if your little one has a fever. However, learning how to check your baby’s temperature is critical for an accurate result.
When it comes to fever, we can never be sure.
Fever in Babies
Fever is a sign that the body is fighting an infection. For babies, body temperature is confusing at first. Newborns are not capable of regulating their body temperature. So, when there are changes in weather or other factors that can affect the body heat, they find it difficult to adjust.
A normal temperature for an infant is 37 deg. Celsius. A reading that is more than that is already an indication of fever. Nevertheless, there are situations that even though babies are too hot, they are completely healthy. Therefore, it is vital to pay attention to such conditions.
I encourage you always to keep a digital thermometer at home.
How to Make Temperature Readings Accurate?
Temperature readings are a significant data for an accurate treatment of your child’s illness. Although there are other methods to determine the body temperature such as fever strips, I still recommend using a digital thermometer for an accurate result. Below is a guide on what to do first before checking the temperature.
- Let your child rest and calm down for a few minutes before taking the temperature. Physical activities like playing or warm showers increases the body temperature level and may cause reading inaccuracy.
- checkLoosen your baby’s clothes. Swaddling, multiple layers of clothes or blankets or crib sheets will keep them warm or too hot. Make sure to cool your baby first before taking the temperature.
- checkThere are different types of digital thermometers. Make sure that you read the manual before use.
Points to Remember
- It is a rule to keep the thermometer OUT OF REACH for children to prevent choking risks.
- check-circleClean the thermometer entirely before and after use. Keep it in a cool, clean and safe place.
- check-circleDO NOT use a glass thermometer that contains mercury. It might break and scatter the fragments of the broken glass and mercury is poisonous.
- check-circleIf you cannot find any instructions in the thermometer package, you can always search for it online or just ask directions from a medical practitioner.
- check-circleLabel the thermometer “rectal” to prevent it for oral use.
Different Kinds of Digital Thermometer
#1. Standard Multi-use Digital Thermometer
This type is for oral, rectal and axillary (under the arm) use. There is a heat sensor at the tip of the thermometer. It reads the temperature when it touches the body. Remember that it is unhygienic to use the same thermometer for both areas.
#2. Tympanic (Ear canal) Digital Infrared Thermometer
Tympanic Digital Thermometer gets the reading from the heat waves released by the eardrums. This is effective for babies that are six months and above. Keep in mind that too much earwax can make the reading incorrect.
#3. Temporal Artery (Forehead) Digital Thermometer
The forehead thermometer takes its reading from the infrared heat waves released by the temporal artery of the forehead. This type is reliable for newborns that are three months old and below.
How to check your baby’s temperature correctly using a digital thermometer?
#1. Rectal Thermometer – Reads any slight fluctuations of temperature. Therefore, it is the most accurate thermometer.
- Step 1- Disinfect the thermometer first before use. Make sure that it is clean and dry. Apply a bit of petroleum jelly at the tip. The jelly will serve as a lubricant to make it comfortable during insertion.
- arrow-rightStep 2- Place the baby on her stomach, bottom-up and ensure to hold her securely. If you have nobody to help you, place the baby on his back with her legs bent to her chest preferably on a soft surface.
- arrow-rightStep 3- Turn on the thermometer and gently insert the bulb into the rectum (2.5 cm) or just enough to insert the whole portion of the tip. NEVER push it too far.
- arrow-rightStep 4- Make a steady grasp of the buttocks by cupping them with your hand (to keep the baby from moving) that is holding the thermometer. Never let go until you hear the beeping sound. Keep it steady for a minute.
- arrow-rightStep 5- When you hear the beeping sound, take out the thermometer and read the result. Do not forget that inserting anything into a rectum stimulates a bowel movement. Therefore, it will not be startling to see some poop coming out. Wash the thermometer thoroughly and let it dry before storage.
#2. Temporal Thermometer – is a lot easier to use than the rectal.
- Step 1- Place the thermometer flat on your baby’s forehead just in between the eyebrow and the hairline area.
- arrow-rightStep 2- Turn on the thermometer by pressing the button while gently pressing it against your child’s skin. Without releasing the button, swipe it crossways the forehead.
- arrow-rightStep 3- Lift the thermometer from the forehead without turning it off. Let go of the button then get the reading.
#3. Armpit Thermometer – is usually the first method that any will use in checking the temperature. It is simple, convenient, and safe. However, since it is external, it tends to be less accurate than the others by about two degrees. Therefore, if your baby is three months old or lower, it is better not to opt for this type.
- Step 1- For higher accuracy; take off the upper clothes of your baby while placing her in a position close to you either on your lap or beside you. Make her relax.
- arrow-rightStep 2- Slip the bulb into the armpit (make sure the armpit is dry) and grip your child’s arm firmly against the side. The pressure will make the thermometer in full contact with the skin. Let it stay for five minutes.
- arrow-rightStep 3- When you hear the beeping sound, pull the thermometer out and do the reading.
#4. Ear thermometer – is the fastest to get a reading amongst all. It is safe and does not create any discomfort to babies. However, you need to insert it correctly for a precise and reliable result. Remember, babies that are six months and younger cannot use this thermometer. Their ear passage is still narrow making it hard for insertion.
- Step 1- insert the tip of the thermometer into the ear canal (notice the marking) until where the marking indicates. Let it stay for a few seconds.
- arrow-rightStep 2- Take two or three readings to get an accurate data.
#5. Oral Thermometer – is the typical temperature method even for adults. Only children 4 years old and older are safe to use this procedure. They can already hold the thermometer while waiting for the result but ALWAYS keep an eye on them.
- Step 1- Ensure that the child has not eaten or drink liquids that are hot or cold for thirty minutes beforehand. Let the child relax in a sitting position.
- arrow-rightStep 2- Place the tip of the thermometer in between the tongue and the lower palate. Let the child hold it in position by the tongue and the lips. DO NOT let her use the teeth. Hold it for three minutes before reading the temperature.
Since the rectal thermometer is the most accurate but also the most difficult to use, I am showing you a video on how to do it correctly.
Here is an age guideline for measuring temperature. Take the temperature using the thermometer according to the child’s age.
- Three months and younger- rectal thermometer measurement.
- checkThree up to six months- rectal, temporal and axillary thermometer measurement.
- checkFrom six months to four years- axillary, temporal and tympanic temperature measurement. The rectal method is applicable too on some conditions.
- checkAbove four years old- Oral temperature measurement is already applicable.
Knowing what to do when baby has a fever is crucial for a mom. Learning how to check your baby’s temperature is necessary for monitoring when she is sick. Using digital thermometers are less stressful than those traditional types. However, you must know when to need help from doctors especially when the reading is consistently high.