mom using a baby thermometer

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Our use of the word ‘best’

All thermometers must pass federal standards. No brand of thermometer should be more accurate than another, even if the brand has more consumer trust behind it.

But people tend to prefer the features of some thermometers over others. And some types — rectal in particular — are known to be the most precise.

Is your little one feeling under the weather? Experts estimate that most babies get eight or more colds in the first year — yikes! Suffice it to say, a baby thermometer is a must-have for all parents.

You may also notice that your baby is warm. Keep in mind the following when it comes to babies and the flu.

  • A baby with a high temperature should be referred to the doctor.
  • If your baby is younger than 60 days old and has a fever, or even if they seem ill (with or without a fever), they need to be seen right away.
  • If your baby has a temperature that is 100.4F (37C) or higher, you should call your doctor.

To measure temperature with accuracy, you’ll need a reliable thermometer. And while there are many thermometers on the market today, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends using a rectal (inserted into the anus) option if your baby is under 3 months old.

The most accurate readings for babies and children are recommended by the A.P.

As your child grows, the AAP recommends using a thermometer.

Age Type
under 3 months rectal
3 months–3 years rectal, axillary, tympanic
4–5 years rectal, oral, axillary, tympanic
5 years–adult oral, axillary, tympanic

A temporal artery (TA) thermometer is another option for use with babies and children. In fact, recent studies show they may be as accurate as rectal temperatures in even the youngest infants when used properly.

The temperature is measured by starting in the middle of the forehead and then running the probe toward the ear, which is what the forehead thermometers are called. They are not the same as the strips that are placed across the forehead, which are considered accurate by doctors.

Related: Baby fever 101: How to care for a sick baby

“You may get dizzy scrolling through the options for the family’s temperature. We have you covered. The following thermometers earned high marks from parents and caregivers for their accuracy, quality, and affordability.”

Other criteria and considerations are also included.

  • “You won’t be sitting there for a long time trying to get a read on a baby.”
  • You can use it for different types of reads.
  • It is washability and waterproof when it comes to rectal thermometers.
  • There are features like no-touch design, color-coded reading, and multilingual audio functions.
  • Medical devices must meet FDA standards in order to be sold in the United States.
  • Money-back guarantees are in place if you are unhappy for any reason.

The thermometers in this article are all digital. The Apollution Advisory Panel says to get rid of the old mercury thermometers. Exposure to mercury is dangerous even in small amounts because the glass in the thermometer breaks easily.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $15
  • $$ = $15–$30
  • $$$ = over $30

Most popular baby thermometer

VAVA Smart Baby Thermometer

Price: $$$

Key features: The VAVA baby thermometer can provide peace of mind. Rather than feeling the need to continuously check your little one’s temperature, it alerts you once their temperature spikes by way of a safe, silicone patch you place near their armpit. A 1.5-hour charge will buy you 24 hours of real-time monitoring.

Considerations: It’s a very convenient option when you don’t want to disturb your sleeping baby but still need to monitor their temperature if you suspect they’re getting sick. If you do notice a temperature spike, it’s best to follow up with another method (ideally using a rectal thermometer if your baby is under 3 months old) to confirm.

Pros

  • Continuous temperature monitoring.
  • The charge lasts 24 hours.
  • Automatic alert when temperature is high.

Cons

  • Younger infants may not be as accurate.
  • It is possible that another type of reading is needed.
  • It is It is expensive..

Best rectal thermometer

Kamsay Digital Medical Thermometer

Price: $$

Key features: The Kamsay digital thermometer has a soft The tip is flexible. that makes it ideal for rectal use, though it can also be used orally and in the armpit. However, do not mix methods once you’ve used it rectally.

“It has been clinically tested and is 100 percent accurate. It is also FDA-approved. It has a simple alarm that will alert you if the result is too high or if it is in a normal range. The baby’s temperature will be displayed on the screen. You can set the temperature to read in either Celsius or Fahrenheit.”

Considerations: The 10-second results window may make it difficult to take temperatures if your child is squirmy or restless.

Pros

  • The tip is soft.
  • It can be used for rectal, oral, or underarm readings.
  • high accuracy

Cons

  • Results take 10 seconds.
  • It may be difficult to use on infants who are not comfortable.
  • If you are using for rectal or oral, you need to wash it carefully.

The probe cover should never be used for both oral and rectal use.

Best forehead thermometer

Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer

Price: $$

Key features: All you need is a gentle stroke across the forehead to get a reading for the Exergen temporal thermometer. It features a lit display and has indicator beeps that you can turn on and off.

“The company says that this product has been used in over 70 clinical studies. If you are worried about small cell batteries and tiny objects accidentally ending up in kids’ mouths, you will be happy to hear that this thermometer takes a 9-volt battery. It is also made in the United States.”

Considerations: The small display is difficult to read in low light. There’s no color-coded option to indicate fever. Some people say that readings are “consistently inconsistent” and may be off by several degrees (lower) or that their thermometer worked for several months just fine and then became inconsistent. Sweat may also cause inconsistent results.

Pros

  • The forehead reading is quick and gentle.
  • No cell batteries for safety.
  • Clinical studies have proven accuracy.

Cons

  • “It’s hard to read in low light.”
  • sweat can change readings
  • Results It may be inconsistent..

Best ear thermometer

Braun ThermoScan Electronic Ear Thermometer

Price: $$$

Key features: This Braun digital ear thermometer measures the infrared heat put out by the eardrum and surrounding ear tissue. It has a pre-warmed tip to help with comfort and accuracy and disposable lens filters to help keep things clean.

Reviewers appreciate the A large screen., and the reading takes only a few seconds. You can use the There is a memory feature. to remember your last recorded temperature. It has a 3-year warranty.

Considerations: The product description explains that this thermometer is suitable for the whole family and “even for newborns” — it’s important to remember that the AAP doesn’t recommend the use of ear thermometers with children younger than 3 months of age. And for the price, this thermometer is lacking some handy features, like a color-coded display and audible fever alert.

Pros

  • Pre-warmed tip for comfort.
  • A large screen.
  • There is a memory feature.

Cons

  • It is It is expensive..
  • Not for use on newborn babies.
  • There were no features for the price.

Best ear/forehead combo thermometer

iProven Ear and Forehead Thermometer

Price: $$

Key features: The iProven infrared thermometer offers two different recording options — ear and forehead — and boasts readings in just 1 second. It also features a fever alarm, backlit display, and temperature color guide. It even allows you to save up to 20 readings in its memory.

The product is backed by a money-back guarantee.

Considerations: Thousands of people have purchased and reviewed this product. While the bulk of the reviews are positive, many people say this thermometer stopped working after 6 months to a year of use.

Pros

  • The ear and forehead are read.
  • Results are provided in 1 second.
  • A money-back guarantee for 100 days.

Cons

  • It may take 6 months for the work to stop.
  • It may provide false high readings.
  • It may be inconsistent.

We hate to sound like a broken record, but if you’re going to use the same thermometer for rectal and oral use, never use the same probe cover for both.

Even better? If you have a rectal use only thermometer in your home, label it so no one gets confused.

Best thermometer for newborns

Vicks Baby Rectal Thermometer

Price: $

Key features: Reading temperature rectally is what’s recommended for the youngest infants. New parents — well, anyone, really — may be squeamish about sticking a probe in too deep. The Vicks rectal thermometer is ergonomically designed and features a short, flexible probe with a wide base so you can’t go too far.

“It has a memory function that will light up when you’re done reading. It is made for easy cleaning.”

Considerations: The The tip is flexible. may not seem all that flexible, but that’s because it’s short. Some people feel it becomes less and less accurate as time goes on. And despite being waterproof, the display in some cases may stop working well after submerging the thermometer in water.

Pros

  • works for the youngest babies.
  • The design is ergonomics.
  • It is a wide base for safety.

Cons

  • tip is not very flexible.
  • It may become less accurate with time.
  • It may not be waterproof.

Best baby thermometer for tech-savvy parents

Kinsa Smart Thermometer

Price: $$

Key features: Want a “smart” thermometer with additional bells and whistles, like an app? The Bluetooth-enabled Kinsa has you covered. This flexible-tip thermometer takes There are readings of oral, rectal, and underarm. in 8 seconds or less.

It allows you to keep this information in your phone. Why might this be helpful? If you have multiple babies or kids, you should think about doctor calls. If used every day, the battery can work for up to 600 readings. There is no need to use a thermometer every day when you are well.

Considerations: This thermometer works with iPhones on iOS 10 or higher and on Androids on 5.0 or above. The body itself is water-resistant, Not waterproof., so the company advises cleaning it with alcohol on cotton swabs. Some people feel that this thermometer may be inaccurate, especially at high temperatures. You have to enable location services on your phone to use the app, which may feel invasive to some users.

Pros

  • There are readings of oral, rectal, and underarm.
  • readings in 8 seconds
  • The app has temperature readings.

Cons

  • Not waterproof.
  • It was inaccurate at high temperatures.
  • must allow location services to use the app

Best no-contact thermometer

iHealth No-Touch Forehead Thermometer

Price: $$

Key features: The iHealth touchless thermometer works within 1.8 inches from the forehead (aim for the center). Its infrared sensor 100 data points per second is read.to deliver results in just 1 second.

It has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon. Reviewers said that the speed made temp-taking convenient when the child was asleep. It was critiqued slightly less accurate than other types of thermometers, which is likely because it is an external method.

While a 2012 study did conclude that no-contact infrared thermometers are reliable, researchers felt more studies were needed to confirm accuracy. Rectal is still the gold standard for babies — particularly newborns. You may want to have a backup rectal method when using this thermometer with younger children.

Considerations: This type of thermometer is best used as a quick read before confirming with a rectal temperature because there isn’t much evidence of its accuracy yet. Remember: Rectal is most accurate with newborns and young babies. While you can put the thermometer on silent mode, the actual beep of the on/off button is very loud and can’t be turned off.

Pros

  • No touch is needed for temperature readings.
  • 100 data points per second is read.
  • quick results

Cons

  • It is possible that the read on the external may not be as accurate.
  • Younger babies may need a backup method.
  • “Loud on/off can’t be turned off.”

Best budget thermometer

iProven Digital

Price: $

Key features: For approximately one Alexander Hamilton (he’s on the $10 bill), you can get a best-selling flexible-tip thermometer that reads both oral and rectal temperature in just 10 seconds. (Always use a separate probe cover for rectal readings.)

The design makes cleaning easy. The display has a smile guide and temperature reading to help show when a person is high or low. The device is backed by the company.

Considerations: When not calibrated correctly, this thermometer It can be off as much as 4F., so be sure to follow calibration instructions. If you’re hard of hearing, it may be difficult to hear the beeps indicating when the temperature has been read. And despite package promises, a few people note that it takes longer than 10 seconds to read a temperature — more like 20 to 30.

Pros

  • It costs less than $10
  • Readings of the rectal and oral parts.
  • The tip is flexible.

Cons

  • It can be off as much as 4F.
  • It may take longer than 10 seconds for the reader to read.
  • Reading the beeps is quiet.

Price Thermometer Type Key Features Considerations
VAVA Smart Baby Thermometer $$$ most popular • Continuous temperature monitoring
• Charge lasts 24 hours
• Automatic alerts when temperature is high
• May not be as accurate in younger infants
• May need to follow up with another type of reading
• Expensive
Kamsay Digital $$ best rectal • Soft, The tip is flexible.
• Can be used rectally, orally, or under arm
• High accuracy
• Results take 10 seconds
• May be hard to use on squirmy infants
• Need to wash carefully if using for rectal and oral, etc.
Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer $$ best forehead • Quick and gentle forehead reading
• No cell batteries for safety
• Proven accuracy in clinical studies
• Hard to read in low light
• Sweat can alter readings
• Results may be “consistently inconsistent” (low/high)
Braun ThermoScan Electronic Ear Thermometer $$$ best ear • Pre-warmed tip for comfort
• Large display screen
• Memory feature
• Expensive
• Not for use on newborns
• Lacking features for the price (color code, fever alert, etc.)
iProven Ear and Forehead Thermometer $$ best ear/forehead combo • Reads ear and forehead
• Provides results in 1 second
• 100-day money back guarantee
• May stop working within 6 months of purchase
• May provide falsely high readings
• May be inconsistent
Vicks Baby Rectal Thermometer $ best for newborns • Works for even the youngest babies
• Ergonomic design
• Wide base for safety
• Tip isn’t very flexible
• May become less accurate with time
• May not be waterproof, as described
Kinsa Smart Thermometer $$ most tech-savvy • Oral, rectal, and underarm readings
• Readings in just 8 seconds
• Temperature readings stored in app
• Not waterproof
• Inaccurate at high temperatures
• Must enable location services to use app
iHealth No-Touch Forehead Thermometer $$ best no-contact • No touch needed for temperature readings
• Reads 100 data points per second
• Quick results
• External read may not be as accurate
• May need backup method for younger babies
• On/off beep cannot be turned off, loud
iProven Digital $ best budget • Costs less than $10
• Oral and rectal readings
• Flexible tip
• Can be off as much as 4°F
• May take longer than 10 seconds for reading
• Reading beeps are quiet

“There are five basic types of digital thermometers, including oral, axillary, rectal, temporal artery, and tympanic. The budget, your child’s age, and your preference are all factors that can be used to choose the right one.”

The general price range for consumer thermometers is between $10 and $50. While there are more It is It is expensive.. medical-grade ones, like this $260 oral probe from Welch Allyn, you can definitely get a reliable thermometer on the cheap.

Expect to pay more for features like quick readings, memory tracking, and multiple reading types. These features do not always mean a better thermometer, so you should consider whether or not you need these extras.

So, what to choose?

You may want to use a rectal or ear thermometer with newborns. If you ever question a reading, you can use the rectal thermometer.

You can choose between rectal, axillary, or tympanic for older babies and toddlers. If you have more than one child, you may want to consider rectal as a backup reading method.

Other tips can be found.

  • Digital thermometers are important. If glass or mercury breaks, it may be dangerous.
  • Comfort and safety features like a The tip is flexible. and wide base are must-haves when shopping for rectal thermometers.
  • If you have a vision impairment, backlit displays or even talking thermometers are good options to help you see nighttime readings.
  • The pacifier thermometers look like a genius option, but they are not super-accurate and may take longer to capture a reading.
  • “Skin strips that read temperature aren’t accurate on babies.”

A note about consistency and accuracy

You can find consistency complaints in customer reviews for any thermometer.

If you suspect your temperature is incorrect, contact the manufacturer. Many companies will allow you to exchange or refunds faulty devices.

“Take your thermometer to your child’s next appointment. You can check the reading against what your doctor gets with their device.”

Related: What you should know about colds in newborn babies

We all may be resistant to this, but always read the instructions. How you use your thermometer depends on what kind of medicine you have. Some general guidelines for use are here.

Rectal thermometers

  1. Rub alcohol on the thermometer to wash it. Let the water dry before rinsing. Put hands in a container.
  2. Before entering the anus, lubricate the end with a little lubricant.
  3. Place your baby on their tummy on a stable surface. Place your palm on their back. You can lay your baby face-up with their legs bent toward their chest, resting your hand on their thighs.
  4. “Put your thermometer into the anus by turning it on and then putting it in. Hold it in place with two fingers. It may be helpful to cup your hand on the child’s butt. When you hear the beep, it means you have successfully taken a reading. Put hands in a container.”
  5. “Before storing the thermometer, make sure it is clean. You should consider labeling it so you don’t accidentally use it for readings.”

Tympanic (in-ear) thermometers

  1. If you have to use a cover, make sure your thermometer is clean.
  2. “Pull your child’s ear back and place the cone-shaped end in the ear canal. You want to make sure you point it at the eye on the other side of your child’s head.”
  3. Wait until you hear a sound, which indicates you have a reading, before turning on the thermometer.

The tympanic thermometers are not recommended for babies under 3 months old. The ear canal is too small for an accurate reading with babies under 6 months.

If your child has an earache or has recently been in the pool, you should avoid this type.

Temporal artery (forehead) thermometers

  1. Make sure your sensor is clean.
  2. “The probe should be placed in the center of the baby’s forehead. Press the button to move the thermometer.”
  3. “Release the button and read your baby’s temperature.”

Axillary (underarm) thermometers

  1. “Make sure your thermometer is dry. This is good for the upkeep of your device, even though it isn’t as important as placing it in the rectum or mouth.”
  2. “Put the reading end into the space of your baby’s armpit. Make sure the end is not touching your child’s clothing.”
  3. Hold it in place until you hear a sound that says you have taken a reading.

Oral thermometers

  1. Rub alcohol on your thermometer to clean it. Let it dry.
  2. Put the thermometer under the tongue of your child to make sure it reaches the back of his mouth. You can remove it when you hear a sound that indicates you have taken a reading.

Babies and children under 3 years old can be difficult to use an oral thermometer for. You may want to wait until your child is older, and able to cooperate with holding a thermometer fully under their tongue until it beeps, to use this method.

You should wait at least 15 minutes after your baby eats or drinks to take their temperature.

You might be wondering “how high is too high?” when it comes to a fever in babies. It depends on various factors, including your baby’s age, how they’re behaving, and whether or not the fever responds to treatment.

If you have a baby, call your doctor.

  • Is under 3 months old and has a fever of 100.4°F or higher
  • Is between 3 and 6 months old and has a fever of 102.°F or higher
  • Has other symptoms, like a cough or a rash.
  • Has had the fever for 5 days or longer
  • “Isn’t acting like their usual self, for example, not eating or being sleepy.”
  • There are signs of dehydration, such as no wet diaper, no tears, and no dehydration.

“If your baby’s temperature isn’t responding to treatment with over-the-counter medication, you should let your doctor know.”

At what age can my child use an adult (oral) thermometer?

Experts generally recommend waiting until a child is 4 years old before using digital oral thermometers. Before this point, your little one may not be the best at keeping the thermometer in their mouth, which can impact the temperature reading.

It is best to stick to rectal, axillary, or tympanic readings for children under 4.

How can I tell if a thermometer isn’t working?

Is the temperature reading 92F or 120F? It is good to question readings.

Follow the instructions on the package when recording temperature and reading results from the thermometer. If you want to see if it works for everyone or just one person, you can take the temperature of other members of your family.

Refer to package instructions if the reading is questionable. You might need to change the batteries.

What thermometer will my doctor use on my baby?

The age of your child and the office practices will affect the type of thermometer you use on your baby. Before your appointment, ask what type they use and why.

If your child has a temperature or a possible temperature, you can always call your doctor.

“There is a lot to learn in your baby’s first few years. You will figure this out and be a pro in no time.”

“It may take a few tries to get used to taking your baby’s temperature. If you want to get some pointers, ask your child’s doctor or nurse at the next visit. Your doctor may have specific recommendations for you.”