A Step by Step Guide on How to Take a Child’s Temperature


As a parent, you know the feeling of dread when you see signs your child is getting sick. In today’s Covid world, the worries escalate even more if you see some signs of illness. 

One of the first signs that your child is getting ill or is fighting illness is when they have a fever. So, it’s extra important to know how to take a child’s temperature so you have accurate information. 

Read on for the guide to fevers in children and how to take a child’s temperature.

Understanding Fevers in Children

What exactly does it mean to have a fever for a child? There is a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. It understands what temperature the body should be and helps to send signals to regulate temperature. For most, people a normal temperature is 98.6°

For most people, kids included, body temperature will vary depending on activity level and even time of day. If the body is trying to ward off an infection or illness, the hypothalamus will change the body’s temperature and a fever will present itself. 

This is a sign from the body that something else is happening in the body. Here are the temperatures to be concerned about in children:

  • 100.4° or higher if taken by rectal, forehead or ear
  • 100° or higher if taken by mouth
  • 99° or higher from under the armpit

To get an accurate reading, experts don’t believe ear temperatures are accurate before 6 months of age. 

Where to Take a Child’s Temperature

It used to be the way to take a temperature was with the glass thermometer under the tongue. In fact, experts encourage you to dispose of that type of thermometer if you still have one. More on good types of thermometers shortly. 

Now there are several ways to take a child’s temperature. 

For infants aged 3 months and younger, the most accurate method of taking a temperature is to use a digital thermometer and take a rectal temperature.

Put a small amount of lubricant on the thermometer. You can hold the baby on their belly on your lap or lay them down with their legs in the air. Gently insert the tip of the digital thermometer in their anus until the thermometer beeps giving you a temperature reading. Sure to clean and sanitize the thermometer after use. 

For older children, you can take an oral reading by placing a digital thermometer in their mouth under the tongue or under their armpit. 

With specialized thermometers, you can also take their temperature on the forehead or in the ear. 

Types of Thermometers

Most experts agree that a digital thermometer works best for kids of all ages. Look here for a great digital thermometer option.

Temporal artery thermometers scan an artery on the forehead and are good for taking quick readings of older kids. You can also purchase a Tympanic thermometer for taking readings from the ear. 

Understanding How to Take a Child’s Temperature

As a parent, it’s absolutely necessary to learn how to take a child’s temperature. Kids getting sick is an unavoidable reality as they go to school and are around others. 

Make sure you have a quality working digital thermometer at the ready for those times when your child feels feverish.

For more parenting articles like this one, be sure to visit our blog page often. 

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