How to Take a Rectal Temperature
Like it or not, rectal thermometers are the gold standard for infants under 1 year. Ear thermometers, pacifier thermometers, forehead strips, and even underarm thermometers are simply not as accurate -- temperature readings may vary by 0.5 to 1.0 degree, and that difference matters. "Fever in an infant can be a true emergency," says Dr. Stevens. "You want to be very precise."
Taking a rectal temp may seem awkward, but it's not difficult. "Ask your pediatrician to show you how," Dr. Jana advises. "It's better to ask now than when you're panicked because your child's very hot and throwing up." Today's digital thermometers feature soft, flexible tips and display the results in seconds. Simply lubricate the tip with petroleum jelly or a water-soluble lubricant and insert it a half inch to an inch. (Diaper-changing position is ideal.) Hold the thermometer in place by squeezing your baby's butt cheeks together until the temperature registers. Call your physician if the temperature is over 100.4 degrees F. or under 97.5 degrees F.