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How do I take my child’s temperature?

Answered by Dr Ellie Cannon
8th September 2015

The best way to take your little one’s temperature is with a digital thermometer. It’s hard to keep a wriggly, curious baby still long enough to take their temperature by mouth, so use their armpit instead. Hold your child in your lap to help keep them still and to make sure the thermometer stays in place. Luckily, most digital thermometers don’t need more than a minute or so for a reading.

Just remember that temperatures taken from the armpit are usually about 0.5°C lower than core body temperature and the reading you would get by mouth.

If your child is older (roughly five years and up), you can take their temperature by mouth. Just be sure to stay with them during the reading and that they don’t bite the thermometer. If they’ve had anything hot or cold to eat or drink, wait ten minutes before taking their temperature to make sure it’s accurate.

Other factors, like environment or activity, could affect the temperature reading as well. If your child is overheated, their temperature might read higher than it is. Have them to cool down for a few minutes and then retake their temperature.

Keep in mind that, while they may seem easier, ear and strip thermometers are less likely to be accurate. For safety reasons, you should never use a mercury-in-glass thermometer.

 

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