When can I stop using a rectal thermometer to take my child's temperature?
When can I stop using a rectal thermometer to take my child's temperature?
Submitted by Parents.com Team

It may make both you and your kid a little squeamish, but it's best to take your child's temperature rectally until age 3 or so. That's because it's the most accurate, and with babies and toddlers, even small differences in temperature can affect how serious a fever is or whether to call/see the doctor. But after this age, you can try other types of thermometers, like axillary (under the arm), tympanic (in the ear), or oral (in the mouth). If you go the oral route, make sure your child knows not to bite it, which can skew the results. Whatever type of thermometer you choose, be sure to pick a digital one, which can give you a reading in a minute or less, depending on the brand, which is key when you have a toddler who won't sit still.

To use a digital thermometer, first be sure it's clear of old readings. If your thermometer uses plastic sheaths, place a clean one over the tip and take your child's temperature per the directions. Give your pediatrician a call if your child is under 3 months and has a fever of 100.4 F. or higher, is between 3 and 6 months old and has a fever of 101 F. or higher, or is older than 6 months and has a fever of 103 F. or higher. When you're done, toss the plastic sheath (reusing them can skew the next reading).

Copyright 2009

Answered by Parents.com Team
Community Answers (4)

Try the Exogen Temporal Thermometer. It's non intrusive and is one of the few temporal thermometers that actually works.
Submitted by el_loco.tortuga

As a recent graduate from nursing school, we were taught to take an infant/toddler temp rectally because it's more accurate. With axillary temps you have to add a degree to the temperature and that can get confusing so my peds instructor told us rectal is the way to go. I also have an 11 week old and his pediatrician has told me rectal temp gives a better idea of what's going on.
Submitted by future_nurse081

Actually you shouldn't being taking a rectal temp. The recommendation has changed to taking an axilary temp.(under the arm-parallel to the body). If you feel the temp. reading you are getting is totally inaccurate, then you can "confirm" the reading by doing a rectal temp., but to use that as a secondary method, not as the primary way of taking the temp.
Submitted by kristen_turner1